Boston Abilities Expo Event

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 the accessible homes to how you can get the best accessible vehicle. Discover how both dogs and monkeys help people be more independent. Parents – take a break and enjoy two great sessions for parents of kids with special needs – both filled with laughs and ideas for thriving, not just surviving, as the parent of a child with special needs. Plus there’s information about assistive devices, clinical trials, and emergency preparedness.

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 2013. Stay tuned for 2014! 

Friday, September 20, 2013

11:45am – 12:45pm

Helping Hands Monkey Helpers: Is a Service Monkey Right for You or Someone You Know?

Presented by Megan Talbert, Executive Director, Helping Hands Monkey Helpers for the Disabled

Assistance Monkey and Man in Wheelchair

Capuchin monkeys are wonderful service animals for adults with significant mobility impairments as the result of spinal cord and other injuries/illnesses. Learn about Helping Hands capuchin monkeys: how they are trained, the tasks they perform, the benefits of the human/service monkey bond, and eligibility requirements for potential applicants. A film will be shown featuring a number of our clients documenting life with a monkey helper. A question and answer session will follow the presentation.

More information is available at

11:45am – 12:45pm

Feed the Mind, Body & Spirit with Sports and Recreation

Presented by Deborah Downey, CRC, PTA, Adaptive Sports Coordinator, Spaulding Cape Cod

For many years, Spaulding Rehabilitation has enabled individuals of all abilities to lead active, healthy lifestyles through sports and recreation. At this presentation you will gain an overview of the benefits of adaptive activities. Many elements contribute to your quality of life, from functional independence to social relationships and psychological health. Recreational activities are especially useful for people with disabilities for: fall prevention; improved ADL’s; increased strength, balance and endurance; greater lifespan. Equally important are the emotional benefits of reduced anxiety, depression and stress, for enhanced confidence, concentration and self-esteem. People of all abilities can participate; most activities can be modified through equipment adaptations, accessible environments, and instructions. Certain sports have minimum requirements, and some medical issues warrant precautions. We’ll give examples of equipment adaptations for cycling, kayaking, golfing and skiing, and resources for where you can participate locally.

1:00pm – 2:00pm

Travel the World! Tips for People with Disabilities or Who Are Aging

Presented by Debra Kerper, Easy Access Travel

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

1:00pm – 2:00pm

No More Pencils, No More Books, No More Parent and Teacher Dirty Looks

Presented by Gina (Terrasi) Gallagher and Patricia (Terrasi) Konjoian, imperfect sisters, and authors of Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid, A Survival Guide for Ordinary Parents of Special Children and creators of The Movement of Imperfection

Movement of Imperfection

For parents of special children, advocating for school services can be a stressful experience. In fact, in an imperfect study conducted on, 9 out of 10 parents indicated they would prefer a colonoscopy to a parent/teacher meeting. Patty and Gina offer a more pleasant alternative: an informative, interactive two-hour workshop that helps bridge the gap over the IEP table. Included in this workshop is a discussion based on the Sisters’ enlightening Youtube Video, The IEP Team Meeting, which is used as a teaching tool at Loyola University and other colleges throughout the country. Discover more at

2:30pm – 3:30pm

Accessible Homes: Design Lessons from the Field

Presented by Deborah Pierce, AIA, CAPS, Author of The Accessible Home

Accessible Home by Deborah Pierce

New and remodeled houses are the testing laboratories for innovative ideas, and homeowners with a variety of disabilities are setting the bar high for residential accessibility. Deborah Pierce's new book “The Accessible Home: Designing for All Ages and Abilities” showcases 35 homes, representing a variety of architectural styles and homeowner conditions to provide a clear picture of the state of the art in residential design. Learn how the most successful accessible homes go beyond barrier removal to create opportunities for comfort, safety, functionality, and happiness throughout the home. They demand resourcefulness, resilience, and perseverance from all members of an expanded design team. The result is a new vision of the home as a unique blend of spatial relationships and installations. Architect Deborah Pierce will present images from her new book and describe the groundbreaking work of thoughtful participants in this exciting new field.

2:30pm – 3:30pm

Clinical Trials: How to Find Them, What You Need To Know

Presented by Jennifer French, MBA, Executive Director Neurotech Network, 2012 Paralympic Silver Medalist and Rolex Yachtwoman of the Year

Jennifer French with Medal

In 1999 Jennifer French, a C6/7 quadriplegic, received a functional electric stimulation system as part of a clinical trial. The system, which includes implants directly on her muscles, allows her to stand many times each day and helped her “walk” down the aisle at her wedding with the aid of a walker. Clinical trials can offer great possibilities for people with disabilities. There are many different types, focusing on everything from the simple to the complex, including short surveys, pharmaceutical trials, and complex surgeries. Jen joins us to discuss the experiences of trial participants, including her own. She will highlight the need-to-know issues and discuss the many considerations to review before joining a clinical trial. Get the tools to help you in the decision-making process and the resources to learn about clinical trials. Learn more at

** Buy the book! Jennifer is the author of the recently published book, “On My Feet Again.” An author book signing follows her workshop from 3:30pm to 4:30pm at her workshop space. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

3:45pm – 4:45pm

Evacuating Safely-One Size Doesn’t Fit All!

Presented by Allan B. Fraser, CBI, CPCA Senior Building Code Specialist, National Fire Protection Association, Inc. (NFPA)

Are you prepared to get out of your home, apartment, or place of work quickly and safely in the event of an emergency? NFPA has published the first step-by-step guide for preparing a personal emergency evacuation plan from any building for people with disabilities. This workshop will share how the guide was developed and show people with disabilities and others how to put together and practice solid personal evacuation plans. “All people, regardless of circumstances, have some obligation to be prepared to take action during an emergency and to assume some responsibility for their own safety,” said Bill Scott, deceased founder of Abilities Unlimited, Inc. and former NFPA DARAC Chair. Gain a whole new perspective on what is needed and how to provide it. Each attendee receives a free copy of the guide.

3:45pm – 4:45pm

Therapeutic Recreation

Presented by Matt Frye, M.S. CTRS/L, Recreation Therapist, Program Coordinator, Northeast Passage

Did you know that going to the park, swinging on a swing, and hiking on a trail all provide therapeutic benefits? Discover what therapeutic recreation is - including the use of adapted sports and recreation activities, community recreation and goal-based recreational therapy interventions. We’ll discuss recreational therapy from the perspective of a provider, consumer and as a potential collaborative treatment for other allied health professionals. We’ll look at the various environments where therapeutic recreation treatment is employed and the interventions across those environments. The presenter will discuss the difference between prevention and treatment, the intersection of leisure and disability, and the impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other legislation on both recreational therapy and access to leisure for people with disabilities. Local and national resources pertaining to therapeutic recreation will be explored and discussed.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

11:45pm – 12:45pm

How to Select the Right Accessible Vehicle for You

Presented by Troy Schultz, BraunAbility

Are you feeling challenged by the process of purchasing adaptive equipment for a vehicle? 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 #401.

11:45pm – 12:45pm

Expanding a Child’s World with Light

Catherine Rose, PhD/MBA Title Senior Product Mgr, Healthcare Applications, Philips Color Kinetics

While at Philips Healthcare, Catherine has been able to share her daughter’s medical journey, patent a device she uses each day, and develop a new lighting product. Knowing that people with visual impairments can detect and respond to light, Philips worked with Perkins to create the LightAide. It uses colored LED lights to assess, engage and teach, and has benefits for children with many different types of disabilities. Professionals can use the tool to assess their students’ vision and to teach new skills. Parents can support their children with an easy to use and multifunctional device. Catherine will share how to extend the LightAide to other applications with your children. Her approach can also apply to other assistive technology devices, finding new uses in addition to the devices primary purpose. Learn more about LightAide in the video at this link: http:/Ibit.IyIXU5ZG3.

1:00pm – 2:00pm

Planning Accessible Travel

Presented by Mary Peterson, CTC, ABLE to Travel, a program of United Spinal Association

Does the perceived challenge of planning accessible travel keep you from going places? It may not be easy, but it does not need to be that hard. ABLE to Travel, an agency that specializes in the types of issues a person with a disability may encounter, is here to help make your trip accessible from start to finish and alleviate the headache for you! In this workshop the presenter will discuss the Air Carrier Access, the 2010 ADA Standards that have mandated increased accessibility to hotels and other travel destinations, tips for travelers, maneuvering through airport security and the mandates from TSA, and cruises (one of the most accessible ways to travel). Learn more at

1:00pm – 2:00pm

Navigating Social Media

Presented by Jessica Keenan Smith, Writer and Founder, Living Well With Epilepsy

Join Jessica Keenan Smith, writer and founder of Living Well With Epilepsy, as she discusses how to make the best use of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other social networks to accomplish your specific goals. She will share her own experience as a person with epilepsy and the journey she has taken via social media to increase awareness and build a career around work she loves. You will learn tips to save time, protect your privacy and connect with the people and organizations that matter to you.

2:30pm – 3:30pm

Thriving, Not Just Surviving, as the Parent of a Special Needs Child

Presented by Karen Kain, Founder, Lorrin's World and Abilities Expo Ambassador

Karen Kain, mother of Lorrin who was grievously vaccine injured in 1994, shares her story of how she went from being a broken-hearted, desperate mother who was isolated and alone to accepting, enjoying and even thriving as the parent of a unique child. Karen will tell the process that led her to a loving and fulfilling parenting experience, as she learned life lessons from Lorrin. Karen will describe how she found success in getting from despair to discovery to love of self. She brings you tips she learned from others along the way – parents, health-care workers, and more – along with discoveries of her own. If you are new to this journey, join Karen for this workshop to gain support and ideas for thriving in your new life. Learn more about Karen at and

2:30pm – 3:30pm

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Presented by Jay Gupta, RPh, Sleep Expert, Medication Management Specialist and Yoga Therapist

This session will explore sleep, its significance for our health and some steps you can take to improve it. Learn the fundamental reasons of why we sleep as well as exactly what happens during sleep. And of course - what about when we cannot sleep. The presenter will examine these key facets of sleep with special emphasis on the relationship between stress, sleep and memory. You will learn about biorhythms related to sleep and memory and the role of sleep in processing and storing memories. The presenter will discuss sleep medications and herbal remedies – do they work, which ones are best and how long can you take them. Plus you’ll gain helpful tips and techniques for sleeping better naturally.

3:45pm – 4:45pm

Increasing Your Independence with Canine Companions

Presented by Jessica Reiss, MSW, Northeast Regional Applicant Coordinator, Canine Companions for Independence

Learn about the role an assistance dog can play in increasing your independence. Discover how to know if you are eligible for a dog. Attendees will learn about the application process for obtaining a dog from Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), including the eligibility requirements. Graduates of CCI will be on hand to speak about their experience and how having a CCI dog has provided them greater independence. Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) is a national nonprofit organization that breeds, trains and places assistance dogs with children and adults with disabilities. CCI is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. There is no charge for the dog, its training and ongoing follow-up services. Learn more at


3:45pm – 4:45pm

Independence through Sports

Sheila Radziewicz, Self Advocate

In mainstream society, sports are seen as entertainment or an activity that one engages in for fun. For those with a disability, community sports can be an access to independence. The daily routine of physical and occupational therapy can be challenging but when integrated into a sports routine therapy – the experience becomes joyful and rewarding. Attendees will discover that success in sports leads to advancement in other parts of life including educational advancement or employment. A successful sports experience can empower and create an experience of positive self-confidence and determination.


Register for Abilities Expo