For the past five years, AgrAbility funding has been included as part of the President’s budget. Prior to that time, or for approximately 20 years, the line item existed through the Farm Bill, but no funds were allocated to it in the President’s budget. During those years, funding for the program was included in the final federal budget through the actions of one or more senators or representatives.
In the initial USDA/NIFA 2018 Budget, the entire $4,601,000 AgrAbility/farm safety amount was eliminated. Reasons included the Administration's efforts to "redirect available resources, as appropriate, from lower-priority areas to other science and technology activities."
However, in its "markup" session, the House Appropriations Committee recommended that the entire AgrAbility/farm safety line be funded at its current level. This does not guarantee that AgrAbility funding will be included in the final federal budget for FY18. The process, in short, is:
The NAP will do its best to keep all stakeholders apprised of the most current information on AgrAbility funding.
The 2017 Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) annual conference was held June 26-30 in New Orleans, LA., with the theme of "AT innovation across the lifespan". The event was attended by AgrAbility staff from Nebraska, Kentucky, and the NAP! Kentucky AgrAbility and the NAP both staffed exhibit booths disseminating information to physical therapists (PT), occupational therapists (OT), assistive technology professionals (ATP), and researchers. A workshop was conducted by Dr. Shawn Ehlers titled: "New and Improved Methods of Accessing Large Off-road Machinery". A week of learning about new technologies to assist AgrAbility clients, and outreach concerning the mission and offerings of AgrAbility was well received.
The 2018 RESNA conference will be held July 13-15th in Arlington, Virginia.
Submitted by Shawn Ehlers
Ever seen a blind man playing checkers? Just one of the inspiring proceedings encountered when Chuck Baldwin, National AgrAbility Project, joined Abbie Spackman, AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians, to staff a booth at the annual Amish Handicap Gathering (as the Amish call it), held this year on June 10 in the Martindale Reception Center, Hinkletown, Pennsylvania. Six hundred and nine Amish and Older Order Mennonites attended from VA, PA, MO, IN, OH, NY, and as far away as Ontario, Canada. Many good contacts were made, and several requested a visit from AgrAbility.
The day was filled primarily with personal sharing among the participants, encouraging each other in their lives impacted by disability. Chuck was particularly fascinated by a game of checkers played between a blind Amishman and several opponents over the course of the afternoon. The handmade checkerboard was constructed with the black and brown squares on two different levels, and the wood checkers were two different diameters so that the black and brown pieces could easily be differentiated by feeling them. The Amishman knew when his opponent had moved a checker by the sound it made, and then he would "read" the board with his hands and make his move. Guess who won most of the games!
Submitted by Chuck Baldwin