• Chicago Abilities Expo
    June 23 - 25, 2017
    Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center
    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 home modifications to the steps to getting the best accessible vehicle. See a sneak peek of an upcoming episode from Season 2 of “Push Girls.” Find out how standing is benefitting people with spinal cord injuries. Pick up some tips for dating and intimacy at the “Creating Healthy Relationships” workshop. Newly disabled? Be sure to check out the discussion session “Life After A Serious Injury.”

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

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!

Did you know there’s more than the Workshops 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.


Friday, June 24, 2016

11:45am – 12:45pm

Making Your Home Accessible and Beautiful

Presented by: Rob Horkheimer, MPT, CEAC, ECHM, CAPS, Owner, Bridgeway Independent Living Designs; and Brian Drew, ASID, Certified Interior Designer and Project Manager, Bridgeway Independent Living Designs

Location: Workshop Area

Pediatric Physical Therapy

Making your home accessible doesn’t have to mean making it look institutional. Over the past 7 years there has been an incredible advancement in the number of aesthetic accessibility solutions and strategies to making your home beautiful. We will be looking at common accessibility needs and providing solutions and options that address concerns about cost, appearance, and functionality. We will look at accessibility solutions for common needs including: bathroom accessibility, kitchen accessibility, ramping and stair management, and transfer solutions. Learn more at www.bildnow.com.

1:00pm – 2:00pm

Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities

Location: Workshop Area

Presented by: Darnell Thomas, Chicago Department of Public Health; Laurie Dittman, Chicago Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities; Claire Pywell, MNM, Chicago and Northern Illinois American Red Cross Regional Preparedness Manager; and Heidi Rosofsky, Global Visions Consortium DAFN Consultant

Earthquake 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!

2:30pm – 3:30pm

How to Change Government Policy By Telling Your Personal Story

Presented by: Jenn Wolff, OTR/L, Manager, United Spinal Association's Advocacy Alliance

Location: Workshop Area

Government Change

In this session, you will gain knowledge about what advocacy is and how to do it at a local, state and even national level. Discover how your story is the key to helping change policy. Right now, our government and other policy makers are very focused on finances and sometimes are not aware of how their decisions affect us. By gaining confidence in your storytelling ability and doing a little research, you can help teach our leaders how current policies (insurance, employment, etc.) impact you and/or your family and why change is needed. Remember, we voted them into office; we can vote them out of office – so when enough of us join together and raise our voices, we can truly make a difference. Learn more at www.unitedspinal.org/action-center/.

3:45pm – 4:45pm

Living Well with Chronic Pain

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

Location: Workshop Area

Pain Control

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 www.uspainfoundation.org for resources, programs, publications and more.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

11:00am – 11:30am

Intensive Pediatric Physical Therapy 101*

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

Location: Workshop Area

Pediatric 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.

* Pre-registration is required for this workshop. Register with Euro-Peds National Center for Intensive Pediatric PT by Friday, June 17, 2016. To register email or call Euro-Peds at info@euro-peds.org or (248) 857-6776

11:45am – 12:45pm

How to Select the Right Accessible Vehicle for You

Presented by: Andrew Huber, North Central Area Sales Manager, BraunAbility

Location: Workshop Area

Selecting an Accessible 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 #501. Learn more at www.nmeda.com.

1:00pm – 2:00pm

Accessibility Features of Smartphones and Tablets

Presented by Ben Lippincott, Project Director, Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies; and Kendra Cox, Compliance & Outreach Manager, Corporate Accessibility Technology Office, AT&T

Location: Workshop Area

Therapeutic Cannabis Image

The workshop explores the many accessibility features found on today's most current smartphones and tablets. Uncover features that are helpful for people who use hearing aids, use text and video services, have communication difficulties, have difficulty seeing, have dexterity or mobility impairments, or have attention, concentration or sensory difficulties. Caregivers and professionals will also benefit by understanding these features as they assist people with disabilities. This workshop will focus on the latest Apple (iOS9) and Android (6.0) Operating Systems, as well as previous systems. Attendees will also discover resources for services, devices and mobile applications. This workshop is part of the "Wireless Independence Now!" workshop series presented by AT&T and Wireless RERC. Learn more at www.wirelessrerc.org.

2:30pm – 3:30pm

Exoskeleton Technology: A Step For Healthy Living

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

Location: Workshop Area


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.

3:45pm – 4:45pm

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy 101

Presented by: Shannon Kenitz, Executive Director, International Hyperbarics Association

Location: Workshop Area

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

At this session learn the basics of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, how it can help, and how you can access this treatment. HBOT has been shown to benefit numerous conditions including autism, cerebral palsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cancer, chronic inflammation, spinal cord injury, sports-related injuries and more. Attendees will find out how to obtain HBOT and what to expect from treatments. Shannon Kenitz will also share her own personal story of how HBOT saved her special needs daughter's life, and led to Shannon's own work starting an HBOT clinic and becoming a recognized advocate for HBOT on a global platform. Learn more at www.shannonandgrace.com.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Caregiver Day at Abilities Expo

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

11:45am – 12:45pm

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

Presented by: Yosaif August ACC

Location: Workshop Area

Help with caregiving

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.

1:00pm – 2:00pm

Relax Your Mind and Body

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

Location: Workshop Area

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.

2:30pm – 3:30pm

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

Presented by: Regina Rosenthal PT, MA

Location: Workshop Area

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

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