By Steve Leer
Farming is a physically demanding occupation for an able-bodied person. Imagine what it's like for a farmer who has a disability, such as an amputation, paralysis or a visual impairment.
With these challenges in mind, Purdue's Breaking New Ground Resource Center created The Toolbox, a resource manual for farmers with disabilities. First published 15 years ago, The Toolbox was believed to be the only such catalog of assistive technology for farmers.
The third edition recently rolled off the press with many new and updated sections, says Paul Jones, manager of the center, Purdue's outreach program for farmers with disabilities.
"You'll find such things as tractor lifts, hitching devices and power gates," Jones says of the more than 500 items featured in the catalog. "Fifteen to 20 percent are homemade products that people submitted." Commercially available items are listed with supplier contacts.
Both the 1986 and 1990 editions sold out print runs of more than 1,000 each. Jones hopes the new edition will do the same.
The manual's market is substantial. More than a half-million farmers and other agricultural workers in the United States have physical disabilities that make it difficult to perform routine farm tasks. And approximately 10,000 new debilitating injuries or illnesses occur each year.