With the 2017 Chicago Abilities Expo in the books, I'd like to summarize the weekend and share a few highlights from my wheelchair travel workshops.
If you attended the Chicago Expo, thank you! It was such a pleasure to meet so many of you at my workshops, in the meet-up zone and at my booth. I loved hearing about all the places you want to travel, and I was glad to answer your questions about traveling with a disability.
The Chicago Expo was held in the beautiful suburb of Schaumburg, Illinois, at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center and Hotel. As an event venue, it was perfect for a disability-focused convention, with accessibility throughout. In fact, another disability conference - for those with Huntington's Disease, was going on right next door to ours.
Although I didn't stay at the Renaissance Hotel (the ADA rooms were sold out by the time I tried to book), it was easy enough to access by public transport or using the wheelchair accessible shuttle contracted by the hotel. As an alternative, the wheelchair taxis in Chicago will also pick-up and drop-off in Schaumburg.
Accessible Travel Workshop
I give a lot of talks throughout the year, but my accessible travel workshop at the Abilities Expo is always the most difficult to prepare. The audience is the most diverse that I address and includes users of both power and manual wheelchairs, walkers, canes, exoskeletons and none of the above. They are people with disabilities and their family members, friends, caregivers, aides, doctors and therapists.
This year, I revised my presentation so that it would include more time for Q&A. On Friday, I was able to fit in about 20 minutes before my hour time slot expired, and on Saturday we had time for 25 minutes of questions from the audience. It really worked well, and I believe the presentation was a big step towards opening the world to a lot of my peers in the disability community.
As I promised the audience, my powerpoint presentation is available for download as a PDF document HERE. Obviously, it won't include notes from the Q&A, but I will try to videotape my workshops at future Abilities Expo events.
Abilities Expo Exhibit Hall
The main expo hall was filled with exhibitors serving the disability marketplace and community. Exhibitors included disability organizations, public and government entities, wheelchair manufacturers, mobility equipment suppliers, adapted vehicle developers, medical device companies and even Ms. Wheelchair America.
I almost forgot to mention - I was there too, in booth #209! My mission wasn't to sell anything, but to answer questions and meet as many WheelchairTravel.org readers as possible. I can't ever talk enough about travel, and it was a real joy to share my passion for exploration with so many amazing people.
If you attended the conference and took one of my business cards, don't hesitate to e-mail me with any questions. I hope you'll also e-mail me with reports from your travels, and maybe even a guest blog post if you're so inclined! 🙂
Don't Miss the Abilities Expo!
With July just around the corner, there are only four Abilities Expos left this year - Houston in August, Boston in September, San Francisco in October and Washington, D.C. in December. You won't find any event like this, so don't miss it when it comes to your region of the country!
If you'd like to meet me, mark your calendars for December 1-3, 2017 in Washington, D.C., where I will be offering another accessible travel workshop while exhibiting throughout the weekend. I'm trying to add the Boston Expo to my calendar, and will report back on that once my travel calendar is set.
For more information on an upcoming Abilities Expo, visit www.abilities.com. I hope to see you there!