Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Mwachofi, A. (2007). Rural access to vocational rehabilitation services: Minority farmers’ perspective. Disability and Rehabilitation, 29 (11), 891-902.
Title:  Rural access to vocational rehabilitation services: Minority farmers’ perspective
Authors:  Mwachofi, A.
Year:  2007
Journal/Publication:  Disability and Rehabilitation
Publisher:  Taylor & Francis
Full text:    |   PDF   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Yes

Structured abstract:

Background:  The National Safety Council ranks farming as one of the most hazardous occupations with high rates of job-related illnesses, injuries, and disabilities. Individuals with disabilities experience exceedingly high unemployment rates. Rural minority farmers are one of those groups who receive fewer rehabilitation services and are less likely to seek services.
Purpose:  The purpose of this study is to assess the need for VR services, the obstacles encountered in accessing services, and the perception about services received among rural minority farmers.
Study sample:  The study interviewed 1308 individuals and 290 service providers, including 168 personnel from the U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies
Data collection and analysis:  Following initial data analysis, 18 focus groups with 254 farmers and 72 VR counselors were conducted, resulting in feedback and qualitative data. Descriptive statistics and themes were presented.
Findings:  25% of those surveyed indicated they could benefit from VR services, but only 5.7% had contacted VR agencies. Only 5.6% had received services from VR, and only 3.4% were currently being served. Participants did not know what services were available, who was eligible for services, or how to access services. There was also a fear of being labeled as disabled. Lack of information was they overwhelming issue stemming from the focus groups.
Conclusions:  Neither the rural farmers nor VR counselors had adequate information about how to effectively facilitate service delivery. It is critical to close the information gap so that when rural individuals experience a disability, they will know what services are available and how to access them. One important recommendation was increased corporation between VR and the farm cooperatives (e.g., cooperative extension services), which could serve as a way for VR to become more aware of rural individuals’ needs. VR also needs to increase its presence in rural communities.

Disabilities served:  Multiple disabilities
Populations served:  Culturally diverse populations (e.g., African Americans, Native Americans, and non-English speaking populations)
Interventions:  Vocational rehabilitation
Outcomes:  Other