AT Spotlight: Walk Through Gates

Gates of all types and sizes can be found in locations all across the farm. Without realizing it we can be opening and closing gates hundreds of times a day!

Many of us take the ability to do so for granted. But unlatching and opening the gates can be especially difficult for individuals with upper limb impairments.

Previously, we looked at a gate option for driving equipment through. However, sometimes we just need to walk through a gate. Gates inside barns are accessed extra frequently and often while carrying tools. One solution is installing or building walk through gates.

There are many styles of walk through gates, but the general principle is to create an opening accessible for an individual, but not accessible by the livestock.

Here are two examples!



New Contest Opportunity Launches for FFA Students in Pennsylvania

AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians is launching a new contest open to students involved in Pennsylvania FFA Chapters. The contest is aimed at making a positive impact in communities across the state for farmers or agricultural workers with a disability or long-term health condition.

The Bridging Horizons PA Community Service Contest provides an opportunity for students to use their problem-solving and leadership skills to benefit the community, or directly impact a farmer and/or their farm. The winning entry in each category will be awarded $400; an additional $800 will be awarded to an overall grand-prize winner.

The contest will accept entries in three categories:

1.    Design and create an assistive technology table-top demonstration
2.    Develop an AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians promotional video
3.    Complete a service project that helps farmers with disabilities and/or their family members


“This event is an excellent opportunity for community-centered, student-driven agricultural education programs to continue to provide their FFA members with challenging, rewarding programs of activities,” said Dr. Daniel Foster, Associate Professor of Agricultural and Extension Education, who also serves as the liaison with Pennsylvania agriculture science teachers and the Pennsylvania FFA Association. “The event allows for students and teachers to gain financial reward and provide great ideas to help make their communities better for all to engage in agriculture.”

Contest details and criteria for each category are available at Entries must be submitted online or mailed directly to contact information listed below. Entries must be submitted or mailed by March 21, 2017 (National Ag Day).

Judging criteria varies among categories, but the core elements of safety, accessibility, and person first language will be looked at and judged in each category. Judges are members of the AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians staff and members of the AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians Advisory Board who have knowledge related to the subject of agriculture and/or expertise in disabilities. Monetary prizes will be presented to the winning entry in each of the three categories as well as an overall winner. All entries will be recognized at the Pennsylvania FFA State Convention in June 2017.

For more information, contact Kendra Martin, Digital Media & Outreach Coordinator, AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians:

Phone: 717.975.0611
Toll-Free: 800.998.4827
Mailing Address: 44 South 38th Street, Camp Hill, PA 17011

About AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians

AgrAbility for Pennsylvanians (AgrAbility PA) is a statewide partnership between Penn State Extension and UCP Central PA in support of a project funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Since initial funding in 1991, NIFA has awarded AgrAbility grants to more than 35 states resulting in on-farm assistance to more than 12,000 farmers, while educating thousands of professionals on how to accommodate those with disabilities in agriculture.

The AgrAbility PA project is designed to assist farmers and other agricultural workers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with disabilities or long-term health conditions by providing the resources and support they need to live independently and to continue working in or return to production agriculture. AgrAbility PA has been providing information and direct services to farmers and farm family members affected by disability or long term health condition since 1995. Some of the more common disabilities or health conditions that Pennsylvania farmers may have include: arthritis, spinal cord injury, amputation, traumatic brain injury, stroke, diabetes, visual or hearing loss, respiratory problems, and back impairment or joint injuries.

AgrAbility PA staff can provide a variety of services, at no cost, for farmers and farm families who have a disability or long-term health condition who want to remain in or return to production agriculture:
•    On-site farm assessment to identify barriers to completing essential everyday tasks and chores, both in the agricultural workplace and the home.
•    Identification of safe and appropriate assistive technologies (equipment/devices and efficient modified work practices).
•    Referral to information resource materials on a variety of topics related to agriculture and disability.
•    Access to face-to-face educational training opportunities through workshops, conferences, and seminars as well as online blogs and programs.
•    Referral to other service providers for potential assistance (e.g., funding resources, occupational or physical therapy assessments) specific to the farmer’s or farm family’s needs.
•    Provide peer support opportunities to connect farmers to one another.

AgrAbility PA does not provide direct funding for equipment, however, the AgrAbility PA staff works with the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF), Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT), and other third-party funding sources to help farmers and farm families obtain needed assistive technology and modifications.

AT Spotlight: Spring Loaded Automatic Gates

Growing up on a farm the “shotgun” seat wasn’t the coveted seat in the pickup truck… it was the middle seat we all wanted! Sitting in the middle seat meant you didn’t have to jump in and out to open and close gates. 🙂 But when you are working solo (and the middle seat isn’t an option) opening and closing those stubborn gates can really wear you out.

When you are alone, opening just one gate requires climbing out of the pickup truck or piece of equipment, walking to the gate, unlatching the gate, moving the gate out of the way, climbing back in the pickup truck or equipment, moving it through the gate, climbing back out to close and latch the gate, and then climbing back in to be on your way. And most farmers open gates many times a day.  This can become excruciating for individuals with joint or mobility impairments.

Thankfully there is an assistive technology (AT) solution to this problem! 


A farmer can drive through gates without climbing on and off a tractor or in and out of a vehicle.

For accessing a pasture with electric fences a Spring Loaded Automatic Gate is a great solution! With this gate, you can drive through with any piece of equipment or pickup truck from either direction. Then the gate swings shut behind you.

For more solutions and ideas, visit our Assistive Technology on the Farm board on Pinterest!