Abilities Expo, the nation’s leading exhibition for people with disabilities, enjoyed record attendance at the event held March 15-17 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
The Expo’s attendance, which has been trending up since its purchase by 5Net4 Productions in late 2008, spiked with a 27 percent increase over 2012, setting an attendance record. Some 7,323 adults crossed the threshold to see the latest products and services, learn from dynamic workshops and engage in fun events and activities. Counting non-registered children under the age of 18, estimated at an additional 25 percent, the total number of visitors to the Expo was more than 9,100.
“The energy was incredible,” said David Korse, president and CEO, Abilities Expo. “We’re thrilled that so many from the community of people with disabilities were able to come and join us for the celebration. We hope to see everyone again.”
In the vein of a superstore, the Expo featured a wide variety of products to appeal to people of all ages encompassing the full spectrum of disabilities. There were bionic exoskeletons to help paraplegics and quadriplegics walk, adaptive vehicles, wheelchairs and accessories, adaptive clothing, home modification devices, daily living aids, medical equipment, adapted furniture, assistive technology for people with sensory disabilities, developmental disability products and much more from the nearly 200 vendors.
The workshops addressing critical issues for people with disabilities included presentations on travel, finances, managing emotions, disaster preparedness, finding the right mobility device and more.
“Abilities Expo was fabulous,” said attendee Ana Gamboa. “Tons of great information, wonderful people, cherished and treasured old friends, interesting new friends, inspiring people, beautiful artwork, clever and innovative products, fun events, great workshops, numerous professional connections, lots of cool toys and more than enough information to last us until the next Abilities Expo.”
Abilities Expo continued its trademark of balancing a wealth of education and product information with fun events and activities. When attendees weren’t engaged with exhibiting companies, they were ringing the bell at the top of the 25-foot adaptive climbing wall, learning new dance moves, giving commands to assistive dogs, getting their face painted, participating in flash mobs and meeting celebrities.
KABC Radio’s Dr. David Kipper and Peter Tilden did a live broadcast of The Medical Show, where attendees could ask any health-related question. Rupert Issacson, author of the book and star of the film The Horse Boy, gave a workshop where he shared his Horse Boy Method to attendees hoping to better connect to children with Autism. Guinness World Record holding paraplegic mountain climber Mark Wellman helped attendees climb with his specially developed adaptive climbing equipment.
Paralympian Angela Madsen proudly displayed her bronze medal and her new ocean rowing boat which she will use to row solo to Hawaii from California this summer. Sundance Channel’s Push Girls were there in full force to talk about the upcoming second season and sign autographs. And dance sensation Team Hotwheels, including Glee’s Ali Stroker and Push Girl’s Chelsie Hill, pumped up onlookers with spectacular dance routines.
Abilities Expo is designed for people with disabilities, their caregivers, families and healthcare professionals. Abilities Expo, now in its 34th year, is held annually in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, San Jose and now Boston and Singapore. Abilities Expo is privately held by 5Net4 Production’s David Korse and Lewis Shomer, senior veterans of the tradeshow industry.