AgrAbility helps people with disabilities find success in agriculture

WEST LAFAYETTE — The National AgrAbility Project (NAP), modeled after Purdue Extension’s Breaking New Ground Resource Center and hosted at Purdue University, is celebrating 30 years of making agriculture accessible for people with disabilities.

Through educational programs that advance individual capabilities and the adaption of new technologies, networking opportunities and direct individual consultations, NAP and 20 State/Regional AgrAbility Projects (SRAPs) address a wide variety of disabilities, functional limitations and health conditions in agriculture workers. Traditionally known for helping those with physical disabilities gain access to assistive technologies, AgrAbility continues to evolve to meet the needs of underserved populations, including but not limited to veterans and caregivers.

“Without Voc-Rehab (Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services) and AgrAbility, I wouldn’t be able to do it,” said Mark Hosier, an AgrAbility client. “I thought if I couldn’t walk and do it by myself, it wasn’t going to happen. They’ve given me my life back.”

During October, AgrAbility projects from 20 states will participate in the AgrAbility Virtual State Fair on Facebook and Twitter. Each day, a SRAP organizer will highlight how it supports and serves within the state’s agriculture employment landscape. Educational programs and assistive information will also be shared each weekend for veterans in agriculture, assistive technology, caregivers, youth and underserved populations, including Black, Latino and Native American direct support.

Paul Jones

“We are excited for this year’s AgrAbility Virtual State Fair to share nationwide agriculture resources and success stories with those with a disability already working or interested in agriculture. The AgrAbility program has changed and continues to change as we add new educational resources and support for the challenges farmers face today,” said Paul Jones, project manager of NAP.

Carrie Castille

“Improving and enhancing the quality of life for our farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers to help them continue to enjoy agricultural work is incredibly important to NIFA,” said NIFA director Carrie Castille. “We are proud to support the tremendous work of the AgrAbility program and its 30-year legacy of fulfilling this important mission.”

Connect with AgrAbility on social media to learn the latest about assistive technologies, resources, safety tips, information, and more.

First authorized in the 1990 Farm Bill (with funding appropriations beginning in 1991), AgrAbility is a grant-funded program through the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA). Each project must involve a collaboration between a land-grant university and at least one non-profit disability services organization.

Information Abby Leeds,  mayer36@purdue.edu

Source: Paul Jones, jonesp@purdue.edu

Agricultural Communications: 765-494-8415; Maureen Manier, Department Head, mmanier@purdue.edu

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