Sunday, May 28, 2006

World of Possibilities Disabilities Expo

Last weekend while in Washington DC we attended our first expo on disabilities. We attended the first of a three-day even at the Maryland State Fair Grounds building, which was full of booths and attendants, and bustling with networking and great ideas. We spoke with innovators, engineers, artists, caretakers, service providers, and Maryland state agencies specifically geared towards people with disabilities and their families.

Our highlights were getting into the fully accessible RV and onto the adapted Harley Davidson trike (pictured), but there were many wonderful companies that are worth mention as well. One that I personally was most impressed with was the Volunteers for Medical Engineering (VMA), an agency that places gifted and experienced engineers on home and office projects for people with disabilities that struggle with adapting their world to their needs. One project they showed me was a crib adaptation. The mother, a wheelchair user, could not reach into her baby's crib to pull her out, and the existing mechanism for lowering the side wall was no help. The VMA volunteer adapted the crib wall to swing outward, so the entire crib was now accessible! Sounds easy enough, but if you're no tinkering engineer, and/or have no time to tinker, these simple adaptations just don't exist. The VMA are always looking for more volunteers, so if you're in the DC area and think this agency sounds like a great idea, contact them for more information.

Other impressive agencies include: The Long and Foster Real Estate group that showed us a list of over 100 local MD and DC homes that were accessible and up for sale; the famed Kennedy-Krieger Institute, an internationally acclaimed center for research, treatment, education, and training for spinal cord injuries and children with disabilities; and Canine Companions for Independence, providing service dogs for people with disabilities. Mohawkie got to meet a one-year-old service dog in training who seemed to be doing very well with her instructor.

Keep an eye out for some of these businesses in our "Company Highlight" section of our monthly newsletter! And put the World of Possibilities Expo on your calendar for next year!

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