Event Coverage

Abilities Expo Rolls In to Southern California

ANAHEIM, Calif. — "Wow," the young woman said to her mother, rolling alongside her in a wheelchair as they surveyed a small parking lot of accessible cars, minivans and vans. "You can put ramps into just about anything nowadays."

They were just two of the rush of attendees at the Southern California venue of the 2006 Abilities Expo, a series of educational conferences, demonstrations and exhibit halls targeting people with disabilities and their families. The show at the Anaheim Convention Center during the weekend of June 16-18 was the second of five events planned for this year, and like the first stop in Edison, N.J., in April, attendees crowded the aisles starting on Friday morning.

As has become common for Abilities Expos, the adaptive automotive community was out in force. Automakers such as DaimlerChrysler/Dodge, Ford Motor Company, Toyota Motor Sales and Volvo Cars of North America exhibited alongside aftermarket auto access companies such as Braun Corp., RediAuto Sport and Silver Star Lifts. Local mobility dealers were also on hand to provide product demonstrations and to help with assessments, and the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) helped to educate consumers on how to search for the right adaptive automotive equipment.

Education remains a key component of the Abilities Expos' lineup, with the Anaheim show offering classes on a wide range of topics, from "Approaches to Maximizing the Value of the Ticket to Work Program" to "How to Select the Right Vehicle for You" (Braun Corp.'s Carolyn Watts and Troy Schultz teamed with Terry Barton of The Ability Center to answer attendees' questions in the latter session). Wheelchair sports demonstrations — basketball, football, hockey, quad rugby and tennis — took place in the exhibit hall, as did the Abilities Networking Lounge, where attendees could hang out, try Freedom Concepts' Chill-Out Chairs, get an autograph from extreme wheelchair skater Darwin Holmes, or check out an accessible trike built by Orange County Choppers.

The consumer show series continues next in Detroit, August 18-20; Northern California, Nov. 3-5; and Houston, Dec. 1-3. For more information on the special offerings for each remaining venue, go to www.abilitiesexpo.com.

This article originally appeared in the August 2006 issue of Mobility Management.

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