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Strategies for Disseminating Assistive Technology Information to Farmers and Ranchers

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2007 ASAE Annual Meeting  075112.(doi:10.13031/2013.23403)
Authors:   Clifford W Racz, William E Field
Keywords:   Assistive Technology, disabilities, disabled farmers, dissemination, information, formats, media, computers, Internet, World Wide Web, print

Since the introduction of the USDA-CSREES AgrAbility program through appropriations contained in the 1990 farm bill, a variety of methods have been utilized to disseminate information on essentials for working and daily living to farmers and ranchers with disabilities and, in some cases, their spouses. To date, no known research has been conducted to assess various dissemination strategies from the perspectives of either the farmers with disabilities needing information or the education and rehabilitation professionals who work with them. This study reviewed various dissemination strategies, in order to identify methods documented to be most effective, and conducted surveys in order to summarize perspectives of the USDA-CSREES AgrAbility Project staff and the Barn Builders, a national network of farmers and ranchers with disabilities. Significant findings included: farmers most preferred receiving assistive technology information in "printed newsletters" (71%) and "printed publications" (67%); AgrAbility staff most preferred receiving "Internet-based publication access" (61%), "e-mail" (60%), and "printed publications" (58%); many farmers (53%) perceived dissemination strategies were moving toward the Internet, and a large portion (38%) perceived that assistive technology information was generally more available than in the past; both farmers and responding AgrAbility staff tended to agree that farmers still wanted to receive information in print; and neither age nor educational level appeared to be strong predictors of Internet use by farmers. Recommendations were made to enhance the effectiveness of current dissemination strategies including: implementing effective document management strategies for all information resources, especially for World Wide Web content; and for most AgrAbility projects to avoid language translation.

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