EDISON, N.J. — Education. Products. Solutions. Choices. These are all words that come to mind after attending the Abilities Expo NY Metro, April 15-17 in Edison, N.J.
The 11,535 attendees had the chance to speak with manufacturers of a wide variety of products. Everything from seating/positioning systems and bath safety equipment to automobile and van conversions was exhibited. Booths from local and national service organizations were also there to distribute information.
Daily seminars for both consumers and professionals featured topics ranging from assistive technology trends to family parenting strategies for those with a special needs child.
Special events included the New York Brookhaven Wheelchair athletes in a wheelchair basketball game and a weekend-long appearance from Ms. Wheelchair New York, Melissa-Kaye D. Ortiz, who stopped by the MM booth for a photo and a chat with attendees.
Chad Crittenden, a reality TV contestant from Survivor Vanuatu, delivered a keynote address. Crittenden, an amputee, is the first Survivor contestant to have an ambulatory disability.
“I personally like the Abilities shows better than the trade shows because I get to meet and understand what end-users are looking for,” says Peggy Townsend, VP of sales and marketing for Teftec Corp. “And they get to see the products we offer.”
The show is all about consumers, and consumers know exactly what they want: solutions. Diane Bonelli from Washington, N.J., says, “I’m looking for a new van. The new wheelchair I bought for my son doesn’t fit into our van.”
Bonelli describes a problem unfortunately common: She purchased a chair for her son, and then purchased the conversion van. Now that her son has grown out of his old chair, the new model is too long. “I can’t even fit it on the lift!” she says.
“End-users come out to get information or to make decisions,” says George Cavanaugh, area representative from SureHands Lift & Care Systems, a manufacturer that has been exhibiting at the Abilities Expo since its inception. “They want to see things one more time before they make their decision.”
The next Abilities Expo will be held June 3-5 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif.