• Boston Abilities Expo
    September 18 - 20, 2015
    The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Hall C
    Fri. 11am-5pm | Sat. 11am-5pm | Sun 11am-4pm

FREE workshops!

Plan your Abilities Expo experience today!

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).

* Please note dates and times of workshops are subject to change without notice. Abilities Expo is not responsible for the materials or opinions of the speakers.

Here's what we did in 2014. Stay tuned for 2015!

Friday, September 5, 2014

11:45am – 12:45pm

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 for the Disabled

Assistance monkey helping insert a CD.

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 monkeyhelpers.org.

1:00pm – 2:00pm

ADA: A Civil Rights Legacy

Presented by Stacy Hart, Trainer, New England ADA Center, a Project of the Institute for Human Centered Design and a member of the ADA National Network

ADA - a civil rights legacy.

The ADA National Network in collaboration with the ADA Legacy Project invites you to join this session as we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the passage of the ADA. Use this opportunity to gain a better understanding of the history of the ADA and civil rights for people with disabilities. This session will provide a discussion of the events that led up to the ADA's passage and will provide an overview of how the ADA is structured, including how it is enforced and where technical assistance is available. Learn more about the various initiatives that support the ADA's legacy and history and what the future challenges and opportunities are under the ADA and its promise of equal access and opportunity for citizens with disabilities. Learn more at adalegacy.com.

2:30pm – 3:30pm

Logo for Life After Spinal Cord Injury

Connecting with New Friends via Social Media Support Groups

Presented by Bert Burns, Founder, Life After Spinal Cord Injury; Lisa Wells, Community Moderator, LASCI and Wheel:Life; and Kristina Rhoades

Social media is one of the best and quickest ways for you to connect with people who roll in the same shoes you do! Join Life After Spinal Cord Injury [LASCI] founder Bert Burns, a C6-7 quadriplegic and Paralympian, as he takes you through a tour of some of the best support groups online for meeting new friends and finding resources related to your disability. While Facebook seems like plenty of fun, there's also a healthy benefit to joining online community groups that are condition-specific. Studies have shown that people who are connected to a strong network of support are healthier, happier and live longer lives! During this workshop, you'll also learn how to use social media to find research news, new products and services, adaptive sports, contests, and free giveaways. The presenters will also discuss what is and is not normal behavior in social communities, and how you can protect against trolls and predators online. Attendees will receive free and fun motivational materials from LASCI, including our famous bumper stickers and more. Learn more at uromed.com/living-with/lasci/.

3:45pm – 4:45pm

Empower You: Lessons from a Medical Journey

Presented by Catherine Rose, PhD, MBA, Senior Product Manager for LightAide and Healthcare Lighting Applications, Philips

I Alexis: Lessons from a Medical Journey.let the hospital manage my daughter's care until I could stand it no more. Alexis was a surviving twin who spend two and a half months in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). When a nurse reviewed her records, she responded, "You realize that Alexis almost died during her fundoplication (a surgical procedure) and g-tube placement surgery?" I had no idea. Since April 2006, I have resolved to know and be aware of all aspects of Alexis' treatment and care. We've acquired 18 different specialists along the way to treat her intertwined complexities. I've learned that I am an "ePatient" for Alexis - I am empowered, engaged, equipped and enabled. I have taken small steps along the way – speaking at conferences, documenting our updates to medical records, and building a productive team. I am passionate for making sure that Alexis' care is not an exception but the norm. And I am passionate to support other parents to insist on this norm for their own children as well. At this workshop I'll share how I've learned how to better engage productively in healthcare conversations, to become empowered, and to organize and thrive during complex healthcare experiences. Information will be shared that is beneficial to individuals managing their own care as well as parents and caregivers.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

11:45am – 12:45pm

Service Dogs 101: The Basics of Bringing a Dog into Your Life

Presented by Kristin Hartness, Executive Director, Canines for Disabled Kids

Bringing a Service Dog into your life.  Photo of girl with service canine.

Have you considered getting a service dog for you or a loved one? Not sure of the process or if a service dog can assist you? Did the ADA Amendments Act change the definition of a legal service dog? At this session you'll find the answers to those questions and more. Learn the legal definition of a service dog, the wide range of skills they can be trained to provide to people with disabilities, where you can obtain a dog, how to select a training program, along with a solid understanding of what to expect from a service dog team working in public places. Limitations of service dogs will also be discussed along with other consideration to be aware of, especially related to schools. The session is presented by an organization focused on public awareness and education about service dogs. A brief demonstration of skills will be shared if time allows. Learn more at caninesforkids.org.

1:00pm – 2:00pm

6 Reasons to Consider Intensive Physical Therapy (PT) for Children and Young Adults with Gross Motor Disorders

Presented by Melissa McGinnis, PT, MPT, Senior Pediatric Intensive PT, Euro-Peds National Center for Intensive Pediatric PT

Intensive Physical Therapy for Children and Young Adults

Intensive Pediatric PT has transformed the way we look at therapy for children and young adults with gross motor disorders (i.e., Cerebral Palsy, Traumatic Brain Injury, Down Syndrome, and other non-progressive neuromuscular disorders). In this presentation, consideration is given to the top 6 situations in which a child will most benefit from this emerging therapy, such as before or after certain surgeries, spasticity procedures, or when the child is on the verge of learning a new life skill that will lead to more independence and self-esteem. This presentation will also provide definitions and video of European-inspired Intensive Pediatric PT, and highlight benefits beyond physical that are based on increased activity levels. The speaker is a licensed PT who has specialized in this progressive pediatric therapy for over ten years. Learn more at europeds.org.

2:30pm – 3:30pm

Accessing the World: Tips for Traveling with a Disability

Presented by Debra Kerper, Easy Access Travel

Traveling with disabilities

Would you like to travel the country or the world, but believe you cannot because of your disability? At this workshop you will learn that travel by air, sea and car is a real option for you. The presenter, a professional travel agent who has a disability and has travelled extensively, will share with you how to plan a trip, including what to expect form hotels, rental car companies, cruise lines and the airlines. Learn about the common challenges, methods for addressing them and what the law requires. Attendees will receive recommendations for disability-friendly destinations and accessible travel resources. Be sure to bring your pressing questions and a list of places you'd like to visit. Learn more at easyaccesstravel.com.

3:45pm – 4:45pm

Young, Hip and Disabled

Young, Hip and Disabled: College, Work and More

Presented by Stevie Hopkins, Co-Founder/Annie's Brother, Director of Awesome, 3E Love

Now that you've finished high school, you're ready to venture out on your own. There's a lot of excitement about these changes but also a lot of challenges too. Hiring and firing PA's (personal attendants), living on your own, dating and relationships, and getting a job. Stevie Hopkins, co-founder of 3E Love, will share his thoughts on making the jump to life after school. Stevie is a serial entrepreneur. After many ventures he found his life's work in 3E Love, his sister Annie's dream. Calling on his experiences in the financial industry, music business, and web startups, Stevie was able to turned the dream into a reality. The experiences he has had traveling thousands of miles, meeting people all over the country and speaking to groups telling his story, has changed his life forever. Learn more at www.3elove.com.

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