Abilities Expo brings you thousands of game-changing products, services and technologies all under one roof. Regardless of the type and level of your disability, we strive to provide the resources you need to exceed your own expectations and thrive.
Abilities Expo is Back in June!
Summers Really ARE the Best in Chicago
Even better than deep dish pizza, the Chicago Abilities Expo brings you life-changing opportunities. It could be the products and tech. It could be the chance to play quad rugby or dance with the Rollettes. It could be the workshops or connections you make with others in the disability community. It's free so join us and register today.
Coronavirus Update: We are closely monitoring COVID-19 situation and, as the event is still months away, the Chicago Abilities Expo is proceeding as scheduled. If anything changes, we will update Abilities.com. Stay safe and click here for more information.
Attend free, info-packed workshops on issues that matter to you. Get tips on financial planning, making your home more accessible, traveling with a disability and how medical cannabis can help a variety of conditions. There's more, check it out!
Find your new favorite pastime at Abilities Expo! Try such inclusive activities as adaptive sports, dance, assistance animals and so much more for the kids of all ages! If something sparks your interest, you can find out how to engage year-round.
Must-See and Can't-Miss Expo Experiences
There is just so much to see and do at Abilities Expo. Here are a few opportunities you don't want to let pass you by.
Using his specially designed adaptive equipment, adventure athlete and Paralympian Mark Wellman will help attendees of ALL abilities scale the wall. Mark is also a Guinness Record Holder for the first paraplegic to summit Half Dome and El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
Not only is this activity completely accessible and a tremendous opportunity for kids to express themselves, they get to take their creation home with them! Hope there's room on the fridge.
Accessible to nearly everyone, chess is not just a powerful tool for brain growth, it's super fun! Learn from chess enthusiasts of varying abilities and meet their entertaining mascot, Jibo. This cute little robot will dance, tell jokes, and snap a quick pic of you winning your chess game!
Jazzy® Zero Turn
The Jazzy® Zero Turn features panted-pending iTurn Technology™ for the ultimate in maneuverability, along with CTS suspension, LED lights, under-seat storage, and feather-touch disassembly for a truly innovative travel scooter.
Come see us at Booth #809 and test ride!
Plan Your Visit to Abilities Expo
Don’t miss our life-enhancing exhibits, dynamic workshops and fun events for kids of all ages!
Check back 3 months before the Expo for our exciting 2020 line-up.
Disability Services for Expo-goers
In our efforts to ensure a positive show experience, Abilities Expo endeavors to accommodate the disability community with a host of special show services including loaner scooters, sign language interpretation, free wheelchair, captioning services for the workshop and so much more!
For those who would like assistance in getting around the show, free loaner scooters are available during show hours on a first come, first served basis. Is your wheelchair in need of a tune-up? Look to the Free Wheelchair Repair Pavilion for minor maintenance.
American Sign Language interpretation services will be available for those need translation. Workshops will also offer CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) services where everything spoken by the presenter will be captioned on a large screen.
Braille and large print versions of the exhibitor list and the events/workshops schedule will be available by request at the registration counters.
Assistance Animals Play Critical Role in Disability Community
Animals have become an intrinsic part of the disability community. Some are essential to the healing process, while others help their human partners become more independent.
We get by with a little help from our furry friends
All About Service Dogs
Presented by: Mallory Anderson, Canines for Disabled Kids
Saturday, June 22: 4:00 - 4:30 pm
Discover how service dogs are meeting the needs of people with many different disabilities. Find out the many ways service dogs can help achieve independence in people's lives – from picking up a cell phone to providing physical stability, even counting money! Service dogs are available for many different types of disability, including vision and hearing loss, mobility, autism and seizure/allergy alert. Learn about funding support, the process to acquire a dog, and what to expect from your service dog provider organization.
Service Dogs 101
Presented by: Jack Giambrone, Barking Angels Service Dogs Foundation
Friday, June 21: 12:00 – 12:45pm
Sunday, June 23: 2:00 - 2:30pm
Discover how service dogs are meeting the needs of people with many different disabilities. Several service dogs will be on hand to demonstrate the how they work to achieve independence in various areas of people's lives. Find out how these dogs can help with many different types of disability, including vision and hearing loss, mobility, autism and seizure/allergy alert. Learn how funding works to acquire a dog and what to expect from your service dog provider organization. Bring your questions!
Miniature Therapy Horse Demonstration
Presented by Jodie Diegel, RN, MBA, SOUL Harbour Ranch Animal Therapy Program
Friday, June 21: 2:00 – 2:30pm
Saturday, June 22: 2:00 - 2:30pm
Curious about how horses can help people with disabilities? Bring your questions! Miniature horses have been gaining attention for their strengths as therapy animals. This is your chance to meet some "mini's"! Learn why they are called horses (and not ponies) as well as the types of tasks they can perform as service and therapy animals. Time is included to meet the equine staff who will be visiting with their human counterparts.
Learn the Latest Adaptive Dance Moves
Dancing is great for the body, and even better for spirit! Don't miss your change to get in the groove with the Rollettes dance team and Vincent Tufano's From The Heart We 2 Can Dance.
The Dancing Wheels Company's Quest for Equality
Presented by: The Dancing Wheels Company
Saturday, June 22: 12:00-12:45pm
Under the direction of Founding Artistic Director Mary Verdi-Fletcher, The Dancing Wheels Company is recognized as the first and foremost professional physically integrated dance company in America uniting the talents of dancers both with and without disabilities. Since its inception in 1980, the highly skilled ensemble of stand-up and sit-down (wheelchair) dancers has reached over five million people worldwide with innovative mainstage performances, school assembly programs, guest appearances, masterclasses and numerous outreach activities. Seeing a need for accessibility to the arts and dance, The School of Dancing Wheels opened in 1990 and became a world-class training center for dancers, choreographers, and educators. The Dancing Wheels Company & School is proudly hailed as the World Center for Integrated Dance & Arts Access.
Presented by: L-Theory Collective
Sunday, June 23: 3:00 – 3:30 pm
Modern dance performance with Lamaiya Lancaster!
The Rollettes Los Angeles Presents!
Presented by: The Rollettes
Friday, June 21: 1:00 – 1:30 pm
Saturday, June 22: 2:45 – 3:15 pm
Sunday, June 23: 1:00 – 1:30 pm
Kick off the day with a high-energy, live performance by The Rollettes Los Angeles, an incredible wheelchair dance team. The dance team performs unique and captivating routines across the country as well as sharing their stories of adversity and how through determination and high spirits they've gone on with their lives to fulfill their dreams to dance. Following the performance, it's your turn! Everyone will have a chance to get out on the dance floor and learn some moves.
Unlock Imagination with Face Painting
Treat your kids to a little magic at Abilities Expo! Let them indulge in the fantasy of transforming into a graceful fairy, a mysterious wildcat, a delicate butterfly, a swaggering pirate or choose from another inspired design.
Saturday, June 22: 11:30 am – 4:30 pm
Sunday, June 23: 12:00 – 3:30 pm
Don't miss this wonderful opportunity for your little one to build self-esteem, develop a sense of self-importance and showcase their individuality. If your child has sensitive skin, don't worry. Only high-quality, non-toxic, professional, FDA-approved theatrical make-ups will be used to capture your son or daughter's fancy. And when you can convince them to transform back into their real selves, some good old-fashioned soap and water will do the trick.
Get in the Game with Adaptive Sports
The sidelines are no place for you so take your pick from a variety of interactive, adaptive sports. Not only will you get the blood pumping, improve fitness and build confidence, the fun factor is off the charts!
Adaptive Climbing Wall
Accessible/Adaptive Chair Yoga Class
Presented by: Jackie Gadd, BYOMYOGA
Friday, June 21: 3:45 - 4:45 pm
Sunday, June 23: 3:45 - 4:45 pm
Yoga IS for Every Body - no experience needed. Bring your body (and whatever you need to support). You are invited to attend a playful 45-minute session to experience how yoga can be accessible and beneficial for everyone. This inclusive and accessible program includes breathwork to illustrate the energizing and calming effects yoga can have on the body and mind, and to prepare the body for movement flow.
Adaptive Climbing Wall
Presented by: Mark Wellman, Adventure Athlete, Paralympian, No Limits Tahoe
All Day, Every Day
Adaptive climbing is a sport that is open to people of all abilities! It's not just for experienced athletes. There is no better person to learn adaptive climbing from than Mark Wellman of No Limits. Mark has SCI and is an adventure athlete, speaker and author. Come climb the wall using Mark's innovative adaptive climbing techniques and adaptive sports gear!
ParaCheer - First Time Ever at Abilities Expo!
Presented by: Elpis Factor
Saturday, June 22: 3:00 – 3:30 pm
Discover the new sport of ParaCheer, only in its second year! ParaCheer brings two kinds of athletes together: those with disabilities — or "with limitations," according to Team USA — and those without.
Presented by: Chicago Bears Wheelchair Rugby Team
Saturday, June 22: 11:15 -11:45 am
Invented by individuals with quadriplegia in the 1970s, Wheelchair rugby is a full-contact co-ed Paralympic sport. It combines elements of rugby, basketball and handball. Players compete in teams of four to carry the ball across the opposing team's goal line. Contact between wheelchairs is permitted and is in fact an integral part of the sport as players use their chairs to block and hold opponents. Currently there are 43 active rostered teams within the United States Quad Rugby Assocation (USQRA). Come meet athletes from the Chicago Bears and the Oscar Mike Militia teams in a mini-scrimmage, try out our chairs, and learn something new!
Experience Creativity at the Artists Market
The area's most celebrated artists with disabilities will feature an eclectic mix of original, unforgettable artistry. From paintings to photos to poetry and more, their amazing works will be available for appreciation and purchase.
Artfully Gifted, Artist Market Sponsor
Artfully Gifted is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports and promotes artists with disabilities. The organization provides an avenue for disabled artists to show and sell their work. Artfully Gifted is currently located at the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education at Roosevelt (ICRE-R) in Chicago.
In addition to housing the Artfully Gifted Storefront, ICRE-R offers two programs aimed at improving the independent functioning and facilitating vocational outcomes for people with disabilities. The first program is a residential program for transition-aged youth with physical disabilities; the second program is a day program called the Vocational Initiative Program (VIP) that includes individuals with a wide variety of disabilities, autism, ADHD, intellectual disabilities, as well as physical disabilities. Artfully Gifted works with both programs to provide comprehensive services for artists like the individuals featured at this year`s Expo.
David Farber, Photographer
David's interest in wildlife and nature photography began at the age of 13 and has been his passion for the last 42 years. Not even his 1981 motorcycle accident which left him a triplegic could distract him from one of the great loves of his life. Able only to move his right arm, David shoots photos with the help of a utility frame to hold his camera and sipping tube to take the picture. His one functioning hand never has to leave the focusing ring. David also does all his own processing, mat cutting and frame building. For more information, visit Naturally Farber Photos at www.naturallyfarberphotos.com.
Jerwayne Balentine, Poet
Jerwayne Balentine is a passionate writer and gifted artist. Jerwayne was born in San Diego, California in 1992, and then moved to Chicago as a young boy. At the age of six, he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. He uses a power wheelchair and accesses his computer via an adapted mouse and voice-recognition software.
Julian Francisco, Kiwi Photography
Julian Francisco Aparicio Gomez is the owner of Kiwi Photography. In the summer of 2005, Julian`s life took a dramatic turn when he suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) after an accident involving a car. Through Julian`s willpower and support of his family, he not only regained his ability to walk—he completed high school and graduated from Harrington College of design with a degree in digital photography.
Marlena Danice Gamble, Jewelry and Ceramics Artist
Marlena Danice Gamble is an artist. She has been involved with creating and crafting since she was a child. Because of her learning disability, traditional academic activities that showed her talents were difficult for her. Marlena learned to express herself best by using her hands. When she was 12 years old, she took a ceramic class at the Beverly Arts Center. Her grandmother taught her to crochet and, in 2015, she took a jewelry making class.
Taron Parker, Lampshade Artist
Taron Parker, a 20-year-old with an intellectual disability, resides in the Southside of Chicago. Currently enrolled in the Vocational Incubator Program, Taron is committed to doing something positive for his community and becoming a successful business owner.
Directions From the North:
Take 294 South or 94 East. Take 90 (Northwest Toll way) West. Exit on 53 North. Take first exit - Algonquin Road – and turn right/West. Turn left on Thoreau Drive or Meacham Road.
Directions From Chicago:
Take I-90 (Northwest Toll way) West from Chicago. Exit on 53 North. Take first exit - Algonquin Road – and turn right/West. Turn left on Thoreau Drive or Meacham Road.
Directions From O’Hare Airport:
Exit airport and take I-90 (Northwest Toll way East. Exit on 53 North. Take first exit - Algonquin Road – and turn right/West. Turn left on Thoreau Drive or Meacham Road.
Directions From the West:
Take I-90 (Northwest Toll way) East. Exit on 53 North. Take first exit - Algonquin Road – and turn right/West. Turn left on Thoreau Drive or Meacham Road
Directions From the South:
Take 294-N - Merge on 290 West. Exit on Algonquin Road- turn right/ West. Turn left on Thoreau Drive or Meacham Road.
For maps and directions, please visit google.
Parking and Drop-off
To access complimentary parking, enter the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center (RSHCC) and proceed to the convention center entrance located on the East end of the complex by following the posted signage. If you would like to drop of any passengers before you park, please do so at the entrance facing North and just to the East of the ballroom entrance. Then proceed to the outdoor lot all around the building.
Self Parking is free. If you would prefer to valet your vehicle, the costs are $13 for daytime valet and $17 for overnight.
Transpo to the Expo
Public Transportation Accessible travel
Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)
The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) oversees the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra, Pace Suburban Bus and Pace ADA Paratransit. Please visit https://www.rtachicago.org to plan your itinerary.
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates the nation's second largest public transportation system and covers the City of Chicago and 35 surrounding suburbs. Click here for details on accessible transit. Please visit https://www.transitchicago.com/ to plan your itinerary.
Metra provides accessible travel all over Chicagoland and most of its stations are wheelchair accessible. Click here for details. Please visit www.metrarail.com to plan your itinerary. The closest train station to the Schaumburg Convention Center is the Arlington Park station on the Metro Union Pacific Northwest line.
Pace Suburban Bus Service
All Pace fixed routes are accessible for persons who use mobility aids and service is available in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. Please visit www.pacebus.com to plan your itinerary.
Pace ADA Paratransit Service
Reservations hours for Pace Suburban ADA services will be taken Monday through Friday 6:00am to 7:00pm, Saturday 8:00am to 5:00pm (when Sunday ADA service is available) and Sunday 8:00am to 5:00pm. Please click here for details and fares.
The Village of Schaumburg provides free accessible service from the Woodfield Mall to the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center. The trolley runs during show hours every 20 minutes on Saturday and every 30 minutes on Friday and Sunday. The Woodfield Mall stop is located on the lower level between Nordstrom and J.C. Penney. This may be a viable option for those travelling to Abilities Expo via public transportation and are having issues with the timing of the Pace Bus. Please visit the Woodfield Trolley website for more information or call (847) 923-3880.
Traveling from the City of Chicago
If you are traveling to the Expo from Chicago, here are two itineraries to consider:
- Take the CTA Blue Line to Rosemont. Then take the 606 Pace Bus to Woodfield Mall, where you can catch the trolley to the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center (details above).
- Take the CTA Blue Line to Rosemont. Then take the 600 Pace Bus to the Northwestern Transportation Center. Then take the 611 Pace Bus to the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center.
Meet the Ambassadors
Local disability activists spearhead Abilities Expo's community outreach initiatives.
Mike Ervin is a writer and disability rights activist living in Chicago. His plays have been produced in theaters across America.
Vanessa Harris, P.E. is an able-bodied/disabled licensed professional engineer and artist who creates short documentaries which can be seen at Fun 4 the Disabled to inspire joy for disabled and non-disabled persons alike about fun topics.
For some it would seem like an impossible situation being told that you would never walk again and not to bother, but for Vincenzo it was a challenge worth meeting head on. The former aspirations of becoming an EMT were a thing of the past as, after a fall and a diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy, he was paralyzed on his whole right side. It would take around five years for Vincenzo to be able to gain enough function in his arm to use a manual wheelchair and begin his journey into a new life he never thought was possible.
National Disability Law Ambassador
Stephanie Woodward is a passionate Disability Rights activist and proud disabled person. She is the Director of Advocacy at the Center for Disability Rights, Inc. (CDR) a disability led, not-for-profit Corporation that works for national, state, and local systemic change to advance the rights of people with disabilities.