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Agriculture is a powerful economic force in Wisconsin. Wisconsin's farms and agricultural businesses generate more than $59.6 billion in economic activity and provide jobs for 353,991 people (Source - University of Wisconsin Extension).
And careers in agriculture can be dangerous. Over 4,000 injuries occur on Wisconsin farms each year, many resulting in permanent disabilities (Source - Wisconsin AgrAbility). In the entire United States, agricultural production is one of the most hazardous occupations with the highest disabling injury rate of any industry. Along with accidents, the physical nature of the work can cause wear and tear on the body and chronic conditions such as arthritis.
For farmers, this situation is further complicated by the fact that they are often isolated from services that could be of assistance to them. The result is a significant number of people with disabilities exposing themselves to further risk of injury by trying to continue in an agricultural lifestyle after the onset of disability.
For farmers who experience disability, DVR and AgrAbility, can provide the expertise and accommodations that allow a farmer to continue farming. AgrAbility is a successful partnership between the Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the FARM Program at Easter Seals Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin Extension.
Alan Kaltenberg uses the boom lift that allows him to access his grain bins without having to climb ladders.
Alan Kaltenberg experienced the dangerous nature of farming at an early age. When he was four years old, he was involved in an accident with farm machinery that resulted in the loss of his left arm.
Kaltenberg, who is now 50, took over the operation of his family farm and continues to farm about 300 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and raising beef cattle.
About 4 years ago, Kaltenberg again came face to face with the dangers of farming. He fell 30 feet from a grain bin, landing on his feet. The fall splintered the bones in his legs, from his ankles to his hips.
After a recovery of several months, Kaltenberg contacted AgrAbility, who provided an assessment of the farm, and Wisconsin DVR provided the accommodations that would make it possible for him to continue farming.
After his injury, walking on uneven terrain became almost impossible. An all-terrain vehicle with one-handed controls allows Kaltenberg to access all 300 acres of his farm. Other accommodations included a boom lift to eliminate the need for climbing ladders, a skid loader, and stairs built into various areas of his barn, again, to eliminate the need for climbing ladders.
For the farmers served by Wisconsin DVR and AgrAbility, farming is more than a job. More than even a career - it is truly a way of life. Kaltenberg said, "I love it. How many people can say they really love what they do?"
Many times, technology can play a large role in helping a farmer continue farming after the onset of disability. Disability Work Tools is an online company that provides a wide variety of adaptive tools and technology for not only agriculture settings but also for construction, trucking, auto maintenance, welding and home maintenance.
Users can search their catalog by tool type or by occupation.
Racine Journal Times - article that highlights the success of local businesses in accessing the talent pool of job-seekers with disabilities.
In a recent edition of the Goodwill newsletter, Good to Know, the partnership between DVR and Goodwill to deliver supported employment services to interns at the Milwaukee County Department of Family Care was highlighted.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued four revised documents on protection against disability discrimination, pursuant to the goal of the agency's Strategic Plan to provide up-to-date guidance on the requirements of antidiscrimination laws.
The documents address how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to applicants and employees with cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, and intellectual disabilities. These documents are available on the agency's website at "Disability Discrimination, The Question and Answer Series," http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/disability.cfm.
The revised documents reflect the changes to the definition of disability made by the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA). Each of the documents also answers questions about topics such as: when an employer may obtain medical information from applicants and employees; what types of reasonable accommodations individuals with these particular disabilities might need; how an employer should handle safety concerns; and what an employer should do to prevent and correct disability-based harassment.
DWD is in the process of deploying Microsoft Office 2010 and, along with it, an updated letterhead system that is easy to access and also compatible with the new software.
Once Office 2010 is installed on your computer, new letterhead templates will be accessible and maintained through our agency's SharePoint site. If you develop and send letters as part of your work duties, you can visit the DWD SharePoint Portal for step-by-step instructions to access the new letterhead by division: http://cs-enterprise/letterhead/documents/LetterheadSync.doc.
One important item to note - Division Administrator names will no longer be included on the letterhead header, just the Governor and DWD Secretary.
For your convenience, there is a DWD Letterhead icon installed on all Office 2010 desktops. If you have questions about the letterhead system or Office 2010 in general, contact the Service Desk: (608) 266-7252.
Starting with the July edition of the Rehabilitation Resource - Ethics and Boundaries. Each month, a scenario will be presented that raises questions about vocational rehabilitation ethics. Along with the scenario, resources for addressing ethical questions will be shared.
If there are ethics or boundary scenarios you would like to see addressed, please send them via email to Kristin Rolling.
Krystyna Mazur - VRC, Green Bay
I hope this email finds you doing well. Not sure if you're still at WI DVR or not. You helped me many years ago; 1997-2002 to be exact. I went to the University of Minnesota, and subsequently to the London School of Economics. I was going through some old emails and came across an email from you. Thought I'd shoot a quick note to let you know how things are going and to say thanks.
Things have gone very well for me. I worked for Target for 5 years at their headquarters in a variety of roles in merchandising. I then went to business school at Harvard (2007-2009). After Harvard, I joined a top tier consulting firm called McKinsey & Company and have been with them since, focusing largely on helping retail companies work through their hardest problems.
I thought you might appreciate the note to know how things have evolved.
Thanks for the assistance all those years ago. It was very much appreciated. I hope all is well, and thanks again.
Kitra Thomas - VRC, Kenosha
I just want to say how much I appreciate all you do to help us be successful ... you are a rock star!
Larnzetta McFadden - VRC, Madison
You guys have done so much for me and I wanted to say thank you. You guys are the best crew ever at DVR. Thank you all.