• Boston Abilities Expo
    September 8 - 10, 2017
    The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Hall C
    Fri. 11am-5pm | Sat. 11am-5pm | Sun 11am-4pm

FREE workshops!

Plan your Abilities Expo experience today!

Here's what we did in 2016. Stay tuned for 2017!

Please check back three months
before the Expo for the new schedule.

Take advantage of Free Workshops that focus on everything from tips for traveling with a disability and the accessible homes to how you can get the best accessible vehicle. Discover how both dogs and monkeys help people be more independent. Parents – take a break and enjoy two great sessions for parents of kids with special needs – both filled with laughs and ideas for thriving, not just surviving, as the parent of a child with special needs. Plus there’s information about assistive devices, clinical trials, and emergency preparedness.

Workshops are FREE! All attendees are welcome – you don’t need to register or sign up in advance. Just arrive early to the workshop to make sure you can get a seat!

There is so much more happening at Abilities Expo! Be sure to check out the FREE Events for demonstrations of adaptive sports, dancing, assistance dogs, horse therapy – and more. Most events include time for attendees to participate!


  • Certificates of participation are available for all workshops. Please see the Accessibility Help Desk following each workshop for your certificate. (Please note there are no CEU approved courses at this year’s Abilities Expo).

* Dates and times of workshops are subject to change without notice. The opinions presented at the workshops are those of the presenters and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Abilities Expo. Workshop content should not be considered as a replacement or substitute for the services of trained professionals in any field, including, but not limited to, financial, medical or legal matters. We encourage you to seek the advice of professionals, as appropriate, regarding the evaluation of any specific information presented in these workshops.

Living Well with Chronic Pain

Presented by: Casey Cashman, Executive Director, U.S. Pain Foundation

Living Well with Chronic Pain

In America pain affects 100 million adults - more people than heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined. This presentation will offer tips for those living with chronic pain, including ways to work through pain on your own. Discover steps you can take on your own, today, to gain some of your life back from pain. From traditional approaches to alternative therapies, much is available with the potential to lower your pain. Visit for resources, programs, publications and more.www.uspainfoundation.org

Helping Hands Monkey Helpers: Is a Service Monkey Right for You or Someone You Know?

Presented by: Natalie Shelton, Placement Trainer, Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers

Service Monkeys

Capuchin monkeys are wonderful service animals for adults with significant mobility impairments as the result of spinal cord and other injuries/illnesses. Learn about Helping Hands capuchin monkeys: how they are trained, the tasks they perform, the benefits of the human/service monkey bond, and eligibility requirements for potential applicants. A film will be shown featuring a number of our clients documenting life with a monkey helper. A question and answer session will follow the presentation. More information is available at www.monkeyhelpers.org.

Wheelchair Accessible Travel: Tips for Completing Your Bucket List

Presented by: John Morris, Founder, WheelchairTravel.org

Wheelchair Accessible Travel

Wheelchair users need not revise their Bucket List because of a disability. The world is more accessible than you might believe. Think Big: the Eiffel Tower, Great Wall of China and the Kremlin can remain on your list! This workshop will guide you through the steps of planning an accessible journey, while addressing some of the most critical questions about traveling with a wheelchair. HOW TO: Board an airplane if you cannot walk, book an accessible hotel room to meet your needs, utilize public transportation, access the world’s most popular cities and sights — all these questions and more will be answered. The presenter will bring firsthand knowledge from nearly 300,000 air miles traveled with a power wheelchair. You’ll leave this workshop with inspiration for your next vacation and tips to make an accessible trip enjoyable for all, including your family members, friends or caregiver. Read more about accessible travel at WheelchairTravel.org.

Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Presented by: Patrick Gleason, MA, Emergency Preparedness Trainer, E. K. Shriver Center Brenda Jones, MSPA, Project Director, Boston Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management Dr. S. Atria Martin, Chief Resilience Office, City of Boston Nancy Shea, J.D., MPA, Project Coordinator, Emergency Preparedness Initiative Sara Zalieckas, All-Hazards Planner, MA Emergency Management Agency Stacey Kokaram, MPH, Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness, Boston Public Health Commission

Emergency Preparedness

Join emergency management officials and disability advocates at a vital workshop for individuals with disabilities and their caregivers on personal and community preparedness strategies for hazards like fires, floods, storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. Regional experts will provide information and resources on drafting your own emergency plan that incorporates your disability needs, establishing personal support teams, personalizing disaster supply kits, evacuation/shelter-in-place considerations, and community stakeholder engagement opportunities. Join us and become more resilient in the face of disaster!

Learn more at www.bphc.org. For national resources visit www.disability.gov (click on Emergency Preparedness). 

How to Select the Right Accessible Vehicle for You

Presented by: Brian Harper, Manager of Sales Operations, BraunAbility

Selecting the right adaptive vehicle

Does the process of purchasing adaptive equipment for a vehicle leave you feeling challenged and frustrated? Consumers and related healthcare professionals alike are invited to join us to learn the tips to successfully navigating the purchase of vans and accessible modifications. This workshop will cover such topics as what solutions are available and where to find them, key terminology, the shopping and evaluation process, funding options and much more. Following the session attendees are invited for a hands-on van demo at BraunAbility's Booth #201. Learn more at www.nmeda.com.

Intensive Pediatric Physical Therapy 101

Presented by: Michelle Haney, PT, MSPT, Director of Euro-Peds National Center for Intensive Pediatric PT

Location: Workshop Area

Physical Therapy

Intensive Pediatric Physical Therapy for children and young adults who have gross motor disorders is inspired by Eastern Europe’s methods and varies from traditional physical therapy. This workshop will present an overview of intensive therapy, its concepts and techniques, primary and secondary benefits, how it varies from traditional and school PT, and current research. Children who benefit from this type of therapy include those with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injuries, and other neuromuscular disorders. The primary goal and benefit of the therapy is to teach new and lasting functional physical skills. The presentation will include video footage of this model of therapy and how it creates better outcomes for children at several levels. Learn more at www.europeds.org.

Exoskeleton Technology: A Step For Healthy Living

Presented by: Colin Buchanan, Market Development Manager, ReWalk Robotics

Exoskeleton Technology

Whether we were born with a mobility impairment condition or face one later in life, the diagnosis is often the same: You will live your life with impaired mobility and/or rely on a wheelchair full time. Exoskeleton technology has come a long way to assist in altering this diagnosis to allow individuals to live a life upright, more mobile, and gain health benefits all in one! Join us to learn about the past, present, and future of exoskeleton technology, and most importantly, the profound effect it has had on the lives of individuals with spinal cord injury. See the ReWalk in action, and hear about how this technology. Learn more at www.rewalk.com.

Therapeutic Cannabis: Use as a Pharmaceutical Agent and Appropriate Therapeutic Delivery Systems

Presented by: Dr. Gary Witman, Medical Director, Canna Care Docs

Medical Marijuana

For more than 2,500 years the plant marijuana has been known and used for a wide spectrum of therapeutic indications. Indeed, prior to 1932 more than 40% of all drugs sold in the United States were based on the use of hemp. Our Founding Fathers both grew and used marijuana. It is now known that 80+ cannabinoid compounds and 1,000+ unique strains exist. This workshop will discuss how these agents work in the human body, specifically with the brain, spinal column, solid organs, and peripheral tissues. Attendees will learn how these drugs can provide unique therapeutic benefits for those with disabilities. For example, the THC cannabinoid is able to bridge the gaps in the myelin sheaths of patients with multiple sclerosis, thus promoting nerve transmission. For patients with spinal cord injury it can completely eliminate shoulder pain. This clinical presentation will provide the audience with a comprehensive knowledge of indications, usage, and benefits. Learn more at http://garywitman.tumblr.com/garysstory and www.cannacaredocs.com.

Reeve LogoCaregiver Day at Abilities Expo

The following workshops are presented by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and are geared for the loved ones who give so much.

Caring Together: How to Make it Easier for Family and Friends to Help with Caregiving

Presented by: Yosaif August ACC


This presentation will outline how caregivers can overcome common barriers like discussing task preference, getting past beliefs that hold them back and how to affirmatively ask for help with caregiving.

Relax Your Mind and Body

Presented by: Jay Gupta RPh, MScIM, MTM, RxYT and Terry Gupta MSW, RxYT, RMT

Relax with yoga

The presenters will demonstrate several science-smart techniques around mindfulness and yoga that will help caregivers rejuvenate their mind and body.

* No special clothing or flexibility level is required for the yoga portion.

Care for the Caregiver: Take Charge of Your Health Through Self-Care

Presented by: Regina Rosenthal PT, MA

Accupressure Techniques

This presentation will outline acupressure techniques and other self-care practices as well as an action plan for these practices.

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