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Serving the Needs of Nebraska's Farm and Ranch Families Affected by Disabilities.


AgrAbility Partnership Helps Nebraskans with Limitations

From Nebraska Farmer, December 2008
reprinted with permission from Nebraska Farmer

Nebraska AgrAbility, a partnership of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension and Easter Seals Nebraska, helps Nebraska farmers and ranchers with disabilities find assistive technologies that will help them get back to work, says Sharry Nielsen, Extension Educator focused on farm safety in West Central Nebraska.

UNL Extension provides a local gateway for Nebraskans who have experienced an injury or disabling illness, Nielsen says. To get assistance in finding ways to work with a disability, the local extension office can be a first stop for programs to help.

“It’s important for ag producers to know they can return to their jobs with proper assistive technology,” says Rod Peterson, Rural Rehabilitation Specialist for AgrAbility.
The first thing Peterson does when he meets a new client is to get to know the individual and the operation. He learns everything he can about the disability and how it limits the client.
He visits the farm or ranch and sits down at the kitchen table with the person struggling with a disability. He asks about tasks that have to be performed.

After that initial interview, he goes outside with the client and watches him or her perform those tasks, so he can see how the client is limited. Based on these assessments, Peterson makes a recommendation.

Some tasks may have to be reassigned, but more often Peterson can recommend something that will allow the client to do the work.

The largest number of requests is for help accessing equipment. The first step onto the tractor may require an additional step or a complete new set of steps. Depending on the disability, it may require a lift.

The assessment might reveal a need for a different tool or a modification to an existing one. It might indicate a major adaptive device that helps get the job done.

For more information about assistive technologies for farmers and ranchers, call Peterson at (800) 471-6425, Sharry Nielsen at (308) 832-0645 or your local extension office.


Nebraska AgrAbility is a joint effort of the University of Nebraska Extension and Easter Seals Nebraska. This material is based upon the work supported by the Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under special project number #2006-41590-03461.

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