Abilities Expo 2011 Review


I drove down from Milwaukee to Chicago to attend the 2011 Abilities Expo this past weekend to see what it was all about. In the past I haven’t been in the right place at the right time in order to attend but finally had the chance. I was interested in checking out the new vehicle modifications as well as some of the home modifications, particularly a slide-in tube if there happened to be one there.

Here are my top five observations about the 2011 Abilities Expo:

1. There was a wide variety of information there.

From vehicles to home modifications to non-profit organizations there were many national and regional companies there providing information and demos. It was neat to be exposed to new technologies and old ones as well. I was also asked to participate in a survey about a proposed omni-directional wheelchair that runs on a rolling ball instead of two wheels. Sounded interesting!

2. If you are shopping for accessible vehicles, this is definitely worth checking out.

Aside from your standard side/rear entry mini-van modifications there were several neat vehicles to check out:

  • Honda Element
  • Scion
  • Modified pickup truck
  • Modified three-wheel motorcycle

I wanted to see what the Scion mod looked like and if I fit into it. I liked the mod a lot but unfortunately it was too short and a bit cramped for my wheelchair. Would be great for a manual chair user.

3. There was some great accessible exercise equipment to try out.

From roll-up stationary hand cycles to on-road versions, it was neat to see the equipment in person instead of just on a website somewhere. It was encouraging to see all the different types of equipment being developed.

4. If you are in the market for a new chair, this is the place to go.

Often times wheelchair providers don’t have demos of every chair they offer. But companies like Quickie and Permobil had a ton of chairs on display. People were trying out all sorts of chairs and cushions without pressure to pick a particular one.

5. It’s great to see what’s possible.

From accessible scuba to rock-climbing and wheelchair sports, the event had demos showing you what’s possible to do with a wheelchair. The overall attitude was very positive and it was great to see all this involvement.

Overall thoughts

The expo was definitely a worthwhile event to attend. I encourage you to go if you live within driving distance of it especially if you are in the market for new products. I also encourage attendance for those who might need a little bit of a nudge towards greater independence or activity. It would definitely leave a great impression to see the exhibits, not to mention the other attendees, doing what they do.

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