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AgrAbility expo to provide hands-on training in assistive technology

AgrAbility Evan Criswell, an Indiana farmer who has received AgrAbility services, demonstrates a truck-mounted lift. (Purdue Agricultural Communications photo)

The use of assistive technology by farmers with disabilities may be familiar to those in the agricultural sector, but not everyone has experience with the technology.

Indiana AgrAbility, in cooperation with its nonprofit partner Easterseals Crossroads, seeks to change this. Offering a full-day technology expo on April 13, the Department of Agriculture-sponsored organization will provide experiential learning opportunities with assistive technology, farm visits, demonstrations and training on assistive technology available for agricultural professionals.

The expo will be held at Purdue University’s Beck Agricultural Center, where participants will be able to climb into the cabs of various farm machines and experience some of the physical challenges involved in operating them.

Paul Jones, education and resource specialist for Indiana AgrAbility, describes the intended impact: “AgrAbility works with many professionals, such as vocational rehabilitation counselors and county Extension educators, to serve Indiana farmers with disabilities.  

“While our professional colleagues understand AgrAbility’s main mission, this event will help them better grasp the issues our farmers are facing and understand the technologies available to help them.”

Individuals will also be able to attend breakout sessions covering topics such as information on worksite assessments, The Toolbox Assistive Technology Database, the new AgrAbility AT (Assistive Technology) Loan Library and working with underserved populations, like migrant and seasonal farmworkers and veterans. Other sessions include a tour of Purdue agricultural facilities, like dairy, grain handling and sheep facilities.

While all agricultural professionals are invited to attend, the event is especially recommended for vocational rehabilitation counselors and their area supervisors, occupational therapists, physical therapists, Extension professionals and AgrAbility staff members in other states.

Registration starts at 8:30 a.m.; the expo ends at 4 p.m. Additional event details and registration information can be found at the Indiana AgrAbility event webpage.

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