• Abilities Expo Houston Event
    July 31 - August 2, 2015
    NRG Center (Formerly Reliant Center), Hall E
    Fri. 11am-5pm | Sat. 11am-5pm | Sun 11am-4pm

FREE workshops!

Plan your Abilities Expo experience today!

CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) services will be available at all of the workshops.

Take advantage of Free Workshops that focus on everything from tips for traveling with a disability and the benefits of standing to how you can get the best accessible vehicle. Watch the Season 2 Finale of the Sundance Channel’s “Push Girls” and meet one of the stars, Auti Angel. Discover how to get what you need from the doctor’s office and discuss ways to improve your dating and relationships. Parents – take a small break and enjoy Karen Kain’s session packed with ideas for thriving, not just surviving, as the parent of a child with special needs.

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, July 25, 2014

11:45am – 12:45pm

Assistive Listening Devices and Resources, An Overview: Your Tools for "Hearing"!

Hearing Loss, Devices and other tools for Hearing

Presented by Teri Wathen, Hearing Loss Resource Specialist, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitation Services Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services

Many people who lose their hearing think "I'll get a hearing aid and that's all I need." But wait!! So much more is available to help with hearing loss. Technology is becoming more and more utilized. Many resources are available. Come find out what is out there, so you can be on the cutting edge and even with everyone else! Learn more at http://www.dars.state.tx.us/dhhs/hoh.asp

1:00pm – 2:00pm

Accessing the World: Tips for Traveling with a Disability

Presented by Debra Kerper, Easy Access Travel

Traveling with a Disability

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.

2:30pm – 3:30pm

ADA: A Civil Rights Legacy

Presented by Lex Frieden, Director, Southwest ADA Center at ILRU, a member of the ADA National Network

Getting help at home.

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 initiative's 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.

3:45pm – 4:45pm

Help! I Need Somebody: Getting and Keeping the Help You Need at Work, Home, Travel, and Play

Presented by Eric Clow, Project Coordinator, Opening Minds, Opening Doors; and Gene Rodgers, Expert Traveler and Creator, The Gene and Dave Show

Getting help at home.

Getting the help you need is a delicate skill, balancing giving and taking. This practical session will give you inside knowledge on how to enlist friends, coworkers, travel companions, and personal care attendants to help you without causing resentment. Eric Clow and Gene Rodgers have learned the good, the bad, and the ugly related to eliciting support through experiences in housing, college, work, travel, and social life. They will provide you with a useful Tool Kit and a List of Dos and Don'ts. These 2 speakers, both from the Opening Minds, Opening Doors (OMOD) Project of VSA Texas, will share stories, slides, and hilarious anecdotes to assist you in getting and keeping the help you need.

Saturday, July 26, 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

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

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

Medical Marijuana: Benefits and Legalization

Presented by Thalia Michelle, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism

Review any major news website and you will likely encounter articles discussing the legalization of marijuana and the various reasons to do so. At this session the presenter, a Co-Founder of both Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism (MAMMA) and Thinking Mom's Revolution (TMR) will share with attendees what is happening regarding legalization including the various types of legalization that are possible. She'll explore what research tells us about the positive medicinal impacts of therapeutic cannabis for people on the Autism spectrum and with other types of disabilities, specifically SCI (spinal cord injury). Peppered into the discussion will be additional key points including how the plant is farmed (organically or conventionally) and what will happen when genetically modified (GMO) varieties enter into this arena. Bring your questions as all! Learn more at texasmamma.org and thinkingmomsrevolution.com.

2:30pm – 3:30pm

Pregnancy and Spinal Cord Injury

Presented by Claudia Salley

Claudia Salley from Discovery Health Channel's "Paralyzed and Pregnant with Twins" will share her personal story of life, loss, spinal cord injury (SCI), pregnancy, and then the big surprise of twins. In 2006 Claudia Salley lost her four month old son in a car accident that also left her paralyzed from the chest down. Relying on her faith, Claudia rallied and three years later became one of only 10 known paralyzed women in the United States to successfully given birth to twins. Along the way Claudia, who was a nurse before her accident, will also offer helpful information about pregnancy when you have SCI as well as pregnancy with a disability in general. Learn more about Claudia's story at discoveryfitandhealth.com/pregnancy-and-parenting/videos/pregnancy-paralyzed-and-pregnant-with-twins.htm. Follow Claudia on facebook.com/unsfaith.

3:45pm – 4:45pm

The Parent Journey: Staying Together and Finding Normal

The Parent Journey: Staying Together and Finding Normal

Presented by Kim "Rooster" Rossiter, Major, USMC and Executive Director, Ainsley's Angels of America

Disability can bring many issues into a family – the challenges of disability management, the stress of caregiving, the loss of "normal" family activities. Many families splinter; the natural instinct to flee is very well documented. Kim Rossiter – better known as Rooster – faced this situation seven years ago when his daughter Ainsley was diagnosed with a rare, degenerative and terminal condition. He'll share his family's personal story of fight instead of flight, and how they found "normal" in their lives. Together with Ainsley, his wife and their other two children, Rooster discovered running and marathoning. Discover how this sport brought "normal" to their lives, connected them as a family, and actually took them on exciting new adventures. Learn more at AinsleysAngels.org.

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