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What is AgrAbility Unlimited?
For the majority of over three million Americans who earn their living in agriculture, the work involved is not just their livelihood, it is their way of life; productive, satisfying and a great source of personal and professional pride. It goes without saying that agricultural production is hazardous. It is estimated that more than 200,000 farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers experience lost-work-time injuries and occupational illnesses every year, of which approximately five percent have serious and/or permanent results. Tens of thousands more fall victim to general health conditions, such as heart disease, arthritis, or cancer, as well as disabilities associated with aging.
The Breaking New Ground Resource Center estimates that more than 500,000 persons working in agriculture have physical disabilities that directly impair their ability to perform essential tasks on the farm or ranch. For those with disabilities who work or live in agricultural settings, the majority want to continue to do so. However, they are all too often frustrated by the many obstacles that make this difficult: limited personal and financial resources, rural isolation, and inadequate access to agriculture-oriented assistance, to name a few.
Illinois was one of the first states to benefit from the USDA initiative for a state-level program to provide information on accommodating disability in agriculture. Building on the strength of nationwide resources and a statewide network of agricultural, rural health, safety and social agencies, AgrAbility Unlimited offers education and assistance in identifying ways to accommodate disabilities, eliminate barriers, and create a favorable climate among rural service providers for people with disabilities. AgrAbility strives to help agricultural people maintain their livelihood by keeping them 'on the farm', providing information on safe, affordable modifications and solutions, regardless of disability, whether the farming operation is a large or small one.
AgrAbility Unlimited, a joint program of the University of Illinois Extension and Central Illinois Easter Seals, seeks to promote independence in agriculture for people with disabilities and their families. Authorized by the 1990 Farm Bill, in 1991 the U.S. Department of Agriculture initiated funding for state-level programs to provide information on accommodating disability in agriculture. Twenty-four (24) states are currently operating individually with this funding, and together they represent a common national effort know as the AgrAbility Project.
As one of those states, Illinois has a service available called AgrAbility Unlimited. U of I Extension has combined with Central Illinois Easter Seals to establish this program, which offers comprehensive assistance to individuals and their families engaged in farming or a farm related activity and who have been affected by a disability.
Building on the strength of nationwide informational resources, along with a statewide network of agricultural, rural health, safety, and social agencies, AgrAbility Unlimited offers individualized services aimed at increasing self-sufficiency and independence.
Through AgrAbility Unlimited farmers, their families and agricultural workers
will continue to enjoy their way of life. The program seeks ways to overcome
*A toll-free information and referral hotline
*Networking with local agricultural and rehabilitation professionals
*Community Resource Coordination
*Equipment Modification Information
*Alternative Job Development
*Comprehensive Assistance to farmers, farm workers, and their
families who have any form of disability.
*Individualized Services aimed to increase self-sufficiency and
AgrAbility assists with:
*On-Site assessments to determine adaptive requirements
*Equipment/Worksite Modification and Consultation
*Job Task Restructuring
*Agricultural Occupation Alternatives
*Stress Management Referral
*One-to-One Peer Support Network
*Safety/Secondary Injury Awareness
# For more on AgrAbility Unlimited visit;
For information, questions, concerns, please contact:
Dr. Robert Aherin, Program Director
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Easter Seals Central Illinois
2715 North 27th St.
Decatur, IL 62526