AgrAbility understands how the life and work of an agricultural worker can be impacted because of disabilities. The purpose of AgrAbility is to support farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers so that they can enjoy a high quality life and continue to succeed in rural America, along with their families and communities.
AgrAbility assists individuals working in agriculture who experience a large array of disabling conditions like arthritis, spinal cord injuries, brain and head injury, amputations, and impairments in vision and hearing as well as many other impairments or disabling diseases.
The National AgrAbility Project (NAP) is funded through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). AgrAbility was established in the 1990 Farm Bill, and funded projects started in 1992. The program has been very successful in assisting farmers and ranchers with disabilities or health impairments continue working in production agriculture.
NAP is led by the Breaking New Ground Resource Center at Purdue University in partnership with Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, the Arthritis Foundation: Heartland Region, the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, and Colorado State University.
AgrAbility works to provide the following services:
National AgrAbility Project
Breaking New Ground Resource Center
ABE Bldg., 225 South University Street
West Lafayette IN 47907-2093
Phone: (800) 825-4264 (toll-free)
One of the most used resources on the NAP website is The Toolbox. The Toolbox contains current and relevant assistive technologies, modification ideas, and publications by the Breaking New Ground Resource Center. Product descriptions and contact information are included in the database along with techniques and suggestions.
The Toolbox has publications on:
The Toolbox contains a database with a wide variety of assistive technology. Assistive technology is organized into different categories, which include:
What is the AgrAbility Project? AgrAbility increases the likelihood that individuals with disabilities and their families engaged in production agriculture (AgrAbility’s clients) become more successful. The program supports cooperative projects in which state Cooperative Extension Services (CES) based at either 1862 or 1890 land-grant institutions subcontract to private, nonprofit disability organizations. Measures of success may include improvements in clients’ financial stability or access to life activities and in the capacity of the states and regions to deliver services this population requires in a timely and satisfying manner.
What is the National AgrAbility Project? The National AgrAbility Project (NAP) has a dual mission. The NAP provides limited, on-demand services in geographic areas without funded state and regional AgrAbility projects (SRAPs). However, more significant to the success of the program, the NAP helps funded SRAPs and unfunded affiliated AgrAbility projects become more successful at meeting their objectives. The NAP typically produces or recommends education materials, forums, networking tactics, assistance protocols, and marketing products SRAPs adopt for their own use. The NAP connects all SRAPs by moderating information sharing forums as well as identifying, promoting, and addressing opportunities and challenges for AgrAbility. It also recognizes and capitalizes on economies of scale and evaluates the program’s impacts annually.
Where is the National AgrAbility Project located? Purdue University and the Breaking New Ground Resource Center, located in West Lafayette, IN, are honored to provide the current home for the National AgrAbility Project. For nearly three decades, Purdue has been providing services to farmers, ranchers, agricultural workers, and their families impacted by disability. This has included direct services such as on-site assessments, toll-free helpline, research related to disability and agriculture, development of evidence-based resources for use by consumers and rehabilitation professionals, public awareness activities, professional development opportunities, and development and documentation of assistive technology appropriate for agricultural workplaces. Being a partner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) AgrAbility Program to host the National AgrAbility Project provides a wonderful opportunity to expand and enhance these activities through working directly with all of the state and regional AgrAbility projects. In addition, being a host for the National AgrAbility Project provides added opportunities to reach out to over half the states that currently do not have AgrAbility projects through NAP’s partnerships with Goodwill International, The Arthritis Foundation, and other organizations. Ultimately, the goal is to provide farmers, ranchers, agricultural workers, and their family members with disabilities nationwide the opportunity, to achieve a lifestyle of high quality and satisfaction.
How can I receive AgrAbility services if I live in a state that does not have an AgrAbility project? The National AgrAbility Project will provide information and resources for people in states without an AgrAbility project.
Are AgrAbility Program materials available in alternative formats? Generally, yes. Most AgrAbility Program materials can be made available in alternative formats such as Braille or audiotape if requested in advance. Due to limited demand only very few items are kept in stock in alternative formats. If you are in need of an alternative format for any of the AgrAbility materials, contact the National AgrAbility Project at (800) 825-4264.
Does AgrAbility provide direct funding to clients? Generally, no. The provisions of the legislation do not allow for either the NAP or the state and regional AgrAbility projects to provide direct funding to clients related to worksite accommodation, starting a new enterprise, or paying for assistive technology. Currently, both the NAP and state and regional projects have, as funding has allowed, provided scholarships to cover travel-related costs of clients attending the National AgrAbility Training Workshop. Check with NAP AgrAbility project directors for additional details.
Does the National AgrAbility Project have a website? Yes, www.agrability.org.
Are there costs associated with receiving services from the state, regional, or national AgrAbility projects? No, state and regional AgrAbility projects (SRAPs) are not allowed by their contracts with USDA-NIFA to charge clients for services provided that are within the scope of the AgrAbility Program guidelines contained in the federal legislation. AgrAbility staff may recommend resources, assistive technology, or expert consulting services such as from a professional engineer that may have costs associated with them.
Do I have to live on the farm to receive services? No. Anyone with a disease, disability, or disorder and who is engaged in farming, ranching, or in other agriculture-related occupations is eligible to receive services.
Do I need to show proof of U.S. citizenship to receive AgrAbility services? No.
For what kind of disabilities does the AgrAbility Program provide services? Farmers, ranchers, their family members, and agricultural workers, including seasonal and migrant farm workers are eligible to receive AgrAbility services. In addition, those engaged in agricultural-related occupations, forestry, fishing, and lawn care will find many of the resources available through AgrAbility applicable to their workplaces.
AgrAbility serves individuals with a wide range of disability types including physical, cognitive, or illness-related, and AgrAbility resources are available that address the needs of individuals with:
AgrAbility is not capable of providing comprehensive assistance for all disability-types but is often able to refer individuals to better-equipped sources of information and assistance.
How do I encourage my community to become more accessible? To advocate for personal rights or form disability coalitions, contact a nearby center for independent living and involve others interested in disability rights.
How do I know what equipment will best fit my needs? The AgrAbility projects are a network of information resources. This network includes community-based experts such as extension specialists, rehabilitation therapists, independent living specialists, and others who have attended training sessions. The AgrAbility management team members, advisory committee members, NAP technical consultants, and peer mentors are also available to share research, experience, and insight.
How much information do I have to share regarding personal finances? You decide what information you are willing to share. Staff working with the program are professionals and will not gather unnecessary information, nor will they share information without your permission or violate your right to privacy.
I do not receive Social Security funds. Can I still receive services from AgrAbility? Yes. Services provided are not linked to Social Security Disability insurance programs.
Is there a cost for the services of the National AgrAbility Project? Generally, no. All consultation services provided via mail, email, or telephone by the staff of the National AgrAbility Project and its partners are provided without cost. In some cases, certain print or audio-visual resources or bulk quantities of resources are available at a nominal charge. In addition, reimbursement of expenses is requested when NAP staff participate in certain activities where travel is required.
Is there any recourse if I am dissatisfied with the services I have received from an AgrAbility staff member? If you are unhappy with the services received from an AgrAbility staff member, you should contact the state or regional project director at the land-grant institution hosting the project. If you remain unsatisfied contact the Director of Extension at the hosting land-grant institution. If you still cannot resolve the issue, contact the AgrAbility Program Manager at USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
This position is currently being filled by:
Aida Balsano, National Program Leader
National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA
800 9th Street, SW Room 4433
Washington, DC 20024
Phone: (202) 720-4436
Phone alt: (202) 690-1899
Fax: (202) 720-9366
What is assistive technology? Assistive technology for those who live in farming/ranching communities includes any kind of device, modification, or service that will help an individual with a disability work and live more independently in the rural setting.
An assistive technology device is any item or piece of equipment used to maintain or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities, allowing them to function independently in any setting including recreation, education, employment, and daily living.
Assistive technology enables an individual with a disability to complete tasks within an agricultural setting. Examples of assistive technology include:
Where can I find more information about AgrAbility services and resources? To discover more about AgrAbility services, computer-based and printed resources, operation, regional coverage, funding, and assistive technology databases, go to:
Who qualifies for AgrAbility services? All farmers, ranchers, agricultural workers, and members of their families are eligible to receive AgrAbility services. This includes both seasonal and migrant farm workers. Other occupations that have been served include loggers, fishermen, gardeners, lawn maintenance personnel, Christmas tree growers, truckers, agricultural implement service technicians, and wood workers.
Will other people find out I have a disability? The AgrAbility projects provide information to agricultural producers with disabilities and their families that will enable them to improve or restore agricultural productivity. Your neighbors may notice that you are able to perform tasks that you formerly were prevented from pursuing. If they ask how the recovery happened, we hope you will share your experience with them, but you are not required to do so. You may decide to mentor farmers with a disability in your community, and if so, you will become a valuable resource to others.
Although Oklahoma no longer will have a funded state AgrAbility project, the state continues to have expertise in farm and ranch assistive technologies, environmental modifications, and disability resources through Oklahoma ABLE Tech, an affiliated program of Oklahoma State University.
Oklahoma ABLE Tech has comprehensive information on assistive technology, durable medical equipment exchange programs, funding for assistive technology, equipment loans, grants and loans for home and workplace assistive technology, free smoke alarm program for the visually or hearing impaired, accessible voting, children and youth services, and much more. The program has an excellent reputation in advocacy, partnership, and information across the state of Oklahoma. To contact Oklahoma ABLE Tech:
Oklahoma State University
Department of Wellness
1514 W. Hall of Fame
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: (405) 744-9748
Toll-free: (888) 885-5588
Office Hours & Additional Information:
Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Appointments are required.
AgrAbility promotes success in agriculture for farmers, ranchers, and their family members who have conditions of disability. Many farmers and ranchers have been provided with information, resources, advocacy, and recommendations in partnership with AgrAbility so they can remain working in production agriculture. AgrAbility continues to be a go-to resource for agricultural producers and workers who want to work.