Rehab engineering workshop under construction in Anniston

Construction is currently under way on a new rehabilitation engineering work and storage space for the Anniston area. The 864-square-foot workshop, which is being built behind the ADRS facility on Coleman Road in Anniston, will include a 24′ x 24′ workshop with work benches and a wash-out sink as well as a storage loft. TheContinue reading “Rehab engineering workshop under construction in Anniston”

A Q&A with retiring Executive Secretary LeAnne Bull

  Rehab news spoke with outgoing Executive Secretary LeAnne Bull – who has served under every commissioner since ADRS became a department in 1995 – a week before her retirement. A transcript of that conversation follows:   RN: LeAnne, you’ve been with our department for many years. What does “rehabilitation” mean to you?   Bull: When IContinue reading “A Q&A with retiring Executive Secretary LeAnne Bull”

Guide Dogs for the Blind staff offer glimpse of the ‘guide dog lifestyle’ (photo gallery)

Staff from Guide Dogs for the Blind were in Alabama recently for a training and workshop for ADRS staff and consumers. The group’s stay began with a two-day training session for orientation and mobility specialists from ADRS and other entities, including the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, E.H. Gentry, and Birmingham-area school systems. ClassContinue reading “Guide Dogs for the Blind staff offer glimpse of the ‘guide dog lifestyle’ (photo gallery)”

Business Relations Administrator Peggy Anderson’s retirement reception (photo gallery + video)

Members of the Rehab Family gathered Sept. 29 to honor Business Relations Administrator Peggy Anderson for her more than 35 years of loyal service to Alabamians with disabilities. Friends, family, community partners, and colleagues as well as founding ADRS Commissioner Lamona Lucas gathered to celebrate Anderson’s many contributions as a passionate advocate for the creationContinue reading “Business Relations Administrator Peggy Anderson’s retirement reception (photo gallery + video)”

Board holds quarterly meeting at ADRS Lakeshore (photo gallery + video)

The Alabama Board of Rehabilitation Services held its recent quarterly meeting at the ADRS Lakeshore office. Paige Hebson, field supervisor at ADRS Lakeshore, spoke to the group about the services provided through her office. Also addressing the group was Beth Curry, who works at the nearby Lakeshore Foundation. Following the meeting, the board as wellContinue reading “Board holds quarterly meeting at ADRS Lakeshore (photo gallery + video)”

Floyd is ADRS’s new software development manager

ADRS Computer Services recently promoted a familiar face to be the department’s new software development manager. Beverly Floyd assumed her post, previously held by Clay Weaver, on March 16. “Right now, I’m really serving dual roles,” Floyd said, “Not only am I taking over for Clay, I’m also still wearing my project management hat. I’m busy, but it’sContinue reading “Floyd is ADRS’s new software development manager”

ADRS staff re-locating to newly completed facility (photo gallery)

Earlier this week, the Vocational Rehabilitation Service (VRS) and State of Alabama Independent Living (SAIL) offices in Tuscaloosa began moving to their new location at 1400 James I. Harrison Jr. Parkway E. When the move is complete, the 56,000-square-foot, three-story complex – owned and built by Easter Seals West Alabama – will house some 60Continue reading “ADRS staff re-locating to newly completed facility (photo gallery)”

Business relations consultants gather for quarterly meeting (photo gallery)

Staff from the ADRS Business Relations Program held their quarterly meeting at Cheaha State Park earlier this week. The three-day retreat included sessions on important employment issues as well as updates on the RAVE program, business relations consultant specialty areas, and the U.S. Business Leadership Network.

New Tuscaloosa complex progressing on schedule (video, photo gallery)

Work continues on schedule on the new office complex for the ADRS offices in Tuscaloosa. The facility, which is owned and being built by Easter Seals West Alabama, is on James I. Harrison Jr. Parkway East, near the current location of the Tuscaloosa office for Vocational Rehabilitation Service (VRS) and State of Alabama Independent LivingContinue reading “New Tuscaloosa complex progressing on schedule (video, photo gallery)”

Commissioner visits Muscle Shoals offices, Blind Services staff retreat (photo gallery)

Commissioner Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw visited the CRS and VRS offices in Muscle Shoals recently, introducing herself to and getting to know staff serving the northwest section of the state. While in the area, Burdeshaw also toured the new facility for Muscle Shoals CRS, which is currently being renovated. CRS staff are scheduled to re-locate to their new building Oct. 1.Continue reading “Commissioner visits Muscle Shoals offices, Blind Services staff retreat (photo gallery)”

Francisco becomes new director of HRD

Commissioner Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw recently named Tracy Francisco the department’s new director of Human Resource Development (HRD). Francisco’s promotion was effective Aug. 16. She joined ADRS in May 2015 as the department’s personnel manager. “When I first arrived at ADRS,” Francisco said, “it immediately felt like home to me. What excites me most about this promotion isContinue reading “Francisco becomes new director of HRD”

VR counselors go back to basics at ‘Boot Camp’

For the third time in five years, VRS got back to basics with a special training course for new counselors. Approximately two-thirds of all vocational rehabilitation counselors have fewer than 10 years of service to the department, said James Myrick, VRS assistant commissioner. “With such a young counseling staff,” Myrick said, “we’ve devised a special 16-hour training courseContinue reading “VR counselors go back to basics at ‘Boot Camp’”

May 5 event honors founding commissioner (video, photo gallery)

  Founding Commissioner Lamona Lucas, who more than 22 years ago led the drive to establish an independent department for Alabamians with disabilities of all ages, was honored today in Montgomery and in all ADRS offices around the state. Under Lucas’s leadership, groundbreaking legislation was drafted to unify and house the state’s services for Alabama’s babies, children, teens,Continue reading “May 5 event honors founding commissioner (video, photo gallery)”

Construction continues on Tuscaloosa facility (photo gallery)

  Work is progressing on the 56,000-square-foot facility that will house the ADRS offices in Tuscaloosa. The complex, owned by Easter Seals West Alabama, will boast three floors, with Alabama’s Early Intervention System offices and Children’s Rehabilitation Service offices and clinic space occupying the first floor and office space for Vocational Rehabilitation Service and State ofContinue reading “Construction continues on Tuscaloosa facility (photo gallery)”

Social workers make a difference in people’s lives

People – especially children – with disabilities often face a unique set of challenges in their everyday lives and need to receive services is a variety of settings. Professionals who hold a master’s or bachelor’s in social work help individuals with disabilities in a variety of ways. “In CRS, our social workers help our families to identifyContinue reading “Social workers make a difference in people’s lives”

VR supervisors gather for annual training retreat (photo gallery)

VRS supervisors gathered this week for their annual training retreat at the 4H Center in Columbiana. The three-day training included sessions on quality control, the legal implications of supervision, innovative approaches to management and supervision, and dealing with difficult people. The group also participated in group activities that were designed to foster a sense of cohesionContinue reading “VR supervisors gather for annual training retreat (photo gallery)”

Teen Transition Career Fair draws crowd (photo gallery, video)

Students and teachers from schools throughout the Birmingham area gathered March 16 for Teen Transition Career Fair 2016. The half-day event was sponsored by the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services and the Exceptional Education Department and Career Technical Program of Bessemer City Schools. More than 300 students flocked to the Bessemer Civic Center to learn aboutContinue reading “Teen Transition Career Fair draws crowd (photo gallery, video)”

Birmingham CRS district office adds new administrative space

Seven members of the 11-person staff in CRS’ Birmingham district office are moving this week into a larger administrative space. The suites of offices is on Highland Avenue in Birmingham, less than two miles from the district’s clinic space at Children’s of Alabama. “The clinic area at Children’s is fine,” said Social Work Administrative/Office CoordinatorContinue reading “Birmingham CRS district office adds new administrative space”

ADRS Med Aspects conference offers training opportunity for staff

The ADRS Medical Aspects of Disability Conference attracted some 250 EI, CRS, VRS, and SAIL staff to the Hyatt Regency in Birmingham. The two-day conference featured 16 distinct concurrent sessions on such topics as diabetes, dementia, traumatic brain injury and vision, dysphagia, professional ethics, seizures and epilepsy, spasticity management, Parkinson’s disease, “hearing privilege,” and stroke.

10th Technology Symposium for the Blind attracts 300 visitors

The 10th Technology Symposium for the Blind was held Jan. 7 at the E.H. Gentry Facility in Talladega. More than 300 people attended eight concurrent sessions, visited the 15+ exhibitors, and saw the ‘self-driving’ 2016 Honda Pilot. The new Pilot features Honda Sensing™ technology, a suite of technologies designed to expand the driver’s situational awareness while sensing andContinue reading “10th Technology Symposium for the Blind attracts 300 visitors”

Selma VRS, CRS office moves to new space

Selma’s ADRS office now has a new address. The Vocational Rehabilitation and Children’s Rehabilitation offices in Selma moved Dec. 7 to a newly renovated existing location at 720 Alabama Ave. – in downtown and just across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The facility triples the space of the office’s former location on Citizen’s Parkway, which was shared with Easter SealsContinue reading “Selma VRS, CRS office moves to new space”

Dana Barber has vision for Blind Services

When Dana Barber took over as the new state coordinator for Blind Services following Debbie Culver’s retirement Oct. 30, she was the first to admit she has big shoes to fill. “Everything Debbie has done — virtually everything she touched — has been a benefit,” said Barber. “And here I am continuing the very initiativesContinue reading “Dana Barber has vision for Blind Services”

Printer adds new dimension to rehab technology

A new gadget is giving the department’s rehabilitation technology specialists another way to create assistive technology devices for consumers. The new LulzBot TAZ 5 3D printer allows rehab tech specialists to design and then print assistive devices customized to meet the individual needs of consumers. 3D printers use plastic to generate successive layers and create an object. DifferentContinue reading “Printer adds new dimension to rehab technology”

Inaugural Fall Festival draws large crowd in Anniston

The Early Intervention and Children’s Rehabilitation Service staff in the Anniston office recently sponsored a Fall Festival for area consumers and their families. Spearheaded by CRS Social Work Administrator Stacie Rolf and CRS Nurse Coordinator Amy McQueen, the inaugural festival attracted some 200 children and families. The event featured games, face-painting, prizes, and treats. LocalContinue reading “Inaugural Fall Festival draws large crowd in Anniston”

Tuscaloosa SAIL staff collect household items for consumers and families

  Staff in the Tuscaloosa SAIL office recently collected household and personal hygiene items for SAIL consumers. The drive, which began Oct. 1 and wrapped up in early November, brought in enough items for 41 bags. Items collected include paper towels, laundry detergent, body wash, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper, facial tissue, and deodorant. Donations were received from ADRSContinue reading “Tuscaloosa SAIL staff collect household items for consumers and families”

Site prep begins for new Tuscaloosa facility

  Site preparation is underway at the location of the new ADRS facility in Tuscaloosa. The facility, which is owned and being built by Easter Seals West Alabama, will be on James I. Harrison Jr. Parkway East, a short distance from the current location of the Tuscaloosa VRS-SAIL office. The 56,000-square-foot complex will feature three floors,Continue reading “Site prep begins for new Tuscaloosa facility”

31st EI and Preschool Conference ‘knocks it out of the park’

The 31st Early Intervention and Preschool Conference is being held this week in Montgomery. The two-and-a-half day conference includes sessions on positioning equipment for children with special needs, promoting positive behavior, child-guided assessment, transition to preschool, strategies for improving social-pragmatic communication skills, EI in child-care settings, assistive technology for children with complex communication needs, maternalContinue reading “31st EI and Preschool Conference ‘knocks it out of the park’”

ADRS celebrates 20 years of independence

Twenty years. Four commissioners. Six sites. The statewide commemoration of the department’s 20th anniversary kicked off Monday, Sept. 14, in Mobile and wrapped up two weeks later in Huntsville. Founding Commissioner Lamona Lucas made a special appearance at events in Mobile and Montgomery. Former Commissioner Winona Nelson spoke to the Montgomery group, and Former Commissioner SteveContinue reading “ADRS celebrates 20 years of independence”

ADRS team assesses accessibility at Career Centers statewide

A team of ADRS staff members has begun the daunting task of reviewing the accessibility of all 48 of the Career Center’s main and satellite offices around the state. The group is comprised of Governor’s Office on Disability Executive Director Graham Sisson, Rehabilitation Technology Specialist Michael Papp, Rehabilitation Technology Specialist for the Deaf Daniel Lute, Blind ServicesContinue reading “ADRS team assesses accessibility at Career Centers statewide”

Orientation welcomes new staff to the ‘family’

Family is a large part of our department’s culture, and the “Rehab Family” is a notion that’s familiar throughout the agency — all except, perhaps, our newest employees. This week, ADRS held a two-day training for approximately 40 of the department’s newest staff to help grow their knowledge of the history of the department and provide them with a thorough overviewContinue reading “Orientation welcomes new staff to the ‘family’”

A Q&A with SAIL Director Lisa Alford

Rehab news spoke with Lisa Alford following her first two weeks on the job as the new director of the SAIL program. “Listen in” on the conversation here: RN: Lisa, you’ve now been the SAIL director for two weeks after spending 25 years in VR. Has this change in direction been difficult in any way for you? Alford: I startedContinue reading “A Q&A with SAIL Director Lisa Alford”

Overstreet’s journey: from stay-at-home mom to Jackson CRS office coordinator

Before Jennifer Overstreet gave birth to her daughter, she didn’t give much thought to the many issues that families of children with disabilities face in the state of Alabama. Today, Overstreet is a far cry from where she was 25 years ago. Recently named the new office coordinator for the CRS office in Jackson, she overseesContinue reading “Overstreet’s journey: from stay-at-home mom to Jackson CRS office coordinator”

Wounded Warrior visits CRS Limb Deficiency Clinic

Children attending today’s Homewood CRS Limb Deficiency Clinic had the opportunity to visit with a soldier who lost a limb as a result of a service-related injury. The visit was part of a pilot program of the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2). If successful, the program will be expanded to sites in San Diego andContinue reading “Wounded Warrior visits CRS Limb Deficiency Clinic”

Birmingham-area artist volunteers time at Homewood CRS clinic

A popular art program at the CRS office in Homewood is continuing, thanks to the generosity of a Birmingham-area artist and Homewood CRS staff. Since 2005, the program – funded through a grant to VSA Alabama – has given children attending clinics at the Homewood office an opportunity to explore their artistic side while waitingContinue reading “Birmingham-area artist volunteers time at Homewood CRS clinic”

New Selma office set for October opening

A major renovation currently in the works at 720 Alabama Ave. in Selma is good news for ADRS consumers in west Alabama. That is the address for the new Vocational Rehabilitation and Children’s Rehabilitation offices that will be serving children and adults with disabilities in Dallas and the surrounding counties. Though the construction project kickedContinue reading “New Selma office set for October opening”

Meet ADRS’s new personnel manager

Human Resources Development (HRD) recently welcomed a new face to ADRS as the department’s new personnel manager. Tracy Francisco assumed her post May 1. “When I first arrived,” Francisco said, “this new job immediately felt like home to me. (HRD Director) Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw is a wonderful mentor. In my short time here at Rehab, I’ve already learned soContinue reading “Meet ADRS’s new personnel manager”

LTI graduation readies next generation of department leaders

In the same week that ADRS celebrates its 20th anniversary, 23 employees representing a new generation of leadership graduated from the 2014-15 Leadership Training Institute. The intensive training program, which began last October, is designed to prepare staff to assume positions of leadership within the agency as well as establish and strengthen camaraderie and working relationshipsContinue reading “LTI graduation readies next generation of department leaders”

New BEP director says future is bright

For 28 years, Lori Brady has witnessed Alabama’s Business Enterprise Program (BEP) grow to assist 100 blind vendors/small business owners with total gross sales of more than $25 million. As Brady settles into her new role as BEP director, she says she sees potential for much more. “What sets BEP apart from other programs,” she said, “is that we train and licenseContinue reading “New BEP director says future is bright”

ADRS welcomes newest staff to ‘the family’

Family. It’s a major component of our department’s culture, and the “Rehab Family” is a concept that is familiar to all ADRS staff – except, perhaps, our newest employees. Yesterday, ADRS Commissioner Cary Boswell, along with members of the Executive Leadership Team and shared services staff, welcomed the department’s newest staff into the Rehab Family atContinue reading “ADRS welcomes newest staff to ‘the family’”

‘A-Team’ tackles accommodations issues with cross-divisional approach

The ADRS A-Team — that’s the accommodations team — isn’t taking pity or prisoners when it comes to helping all consumers achieve their maximum potential. The team’s innovative approach targets consumers with the most-significant disabilities, and cleverly uses creative solutions through rehabilitation technology to better prepare individuals for life at home, school, work, and in theContinue reading “‘A-Team’ tackles accommodations issues with cross-divisional approach”

Needs Assessment findings presented to CRS

Children’s Rehabilitation Service received the needs assessment survey results from the University of Alabama at Birmingham on March 9. The in-depth survey is conducted every five years by agencies that receive money through the Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant. “The purpose of the survey is to identify both the strengths and theContinue reading “Needs Assessment findings presented to CRS”

Therapy dogs visit Montgomery VR, CRS clinic

This week, Mark Vosel, VR state office administrator, held a Lunch & Learn session at the State Office for Dogs On Call, a therapy dog team organized through Easter Seals to provide assistance and compassion to adults and children. Dogs On Call trains and certifies therapy dog teams to provide comfort to persons who are at-risk, livingContinue reading “Therapy dogs visit Montgomery VR, CRS clinic”

EI’s Blakeney welcomes ‘brand new challenge’ in leadership role

On Jan. 1, Amy Blakeney stepped into her new role of assistant coordinator of Alabama’s Early Intervention System, a position long held by Kim Hill, who retired in December. “Having been with ADRS for 15 years, and working with persons with disabilities throughout my entire career, I already have a love and a passion for what I do,”Continue reading “EI’s Blakeney welcomes ‘brand new challenge’ in leadership role”

Talladega VR ribbon-cutting (photo gallery + video)

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services formally opened its newest office Friday, Feb. 6, to better serve adults with disabilities in Talladega and 10 other surrounding counties. ADRS Commissioner Cary Boswell, along with state and local dignitaries, was on-hand at 10 a.m. to cut the ceremonial ribbon on the 11,790 square-foot facility. The new home for VocationalContinue reading “Talladega VR ribbon-cutting (photo gallery + video)”

LTI group visits Civil Rights Memorial Center

The Leadership Training Institute took its first-ever field trip today to the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery. The afternoon excursion aimed to show the group how a rich history and profound past shapes future events. After taking in the powerful imagery of the museum, the LTI class was tasked to draw connections from our pastContinue reading “LTI group visits Civil Rights Memorial Center”

LTI session II underway

  Twenty-three ADRS staff members returned to Montgomery for the second session of ADRS’s Leadership Training Institute (LTI), which kicked off yesterday and continues through Thursday. LTI is an intense training program designed specifically to prepare staff to assume positions of leadership within the agency. It consists of five four-day sessions to establish and strengthenContinue reading “LTI session II underway”

SAIL staffer Autrey receives national leadership award

SAIL Rehabilitation Specialist Steve Autrey is this year’s recipient of the National Rehabilitation Association’s (NRA) Yvonne Johnson Leadership Award. Autrey received the award Nov. 1 at the NRA Annual Training Conference in Des Moines, Iowa. Since 2001, the Yvonne Johnson Leadership Award has been given annually to an individual who is highly committed to issues concerning people withContinue reading “SAIL staffer Autrey receives national leadership award”

LTI preps next generation of leaders

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services has always believed in promoting from within. The department’s commitment to that philosophy is even evident in the “Blueprint for the 21st Century,” which states that “we value leadership at all levels and we will … provide support and leadership development opportunities.” In keeping with that commitment, the departmentContinue reading “LTI preps next generation of leaders”

Dec. 1 paychecks to include bonuses for eligible employees

Most state employees can expect a boost in their Dec. 1 paychecks. The increase includes a one-time $400 bonus for state workers employed on Oct. 1 and continuously thereafter through Nov. 30. Taxes and other deductions will cut that amount to $249.40. That same check will also include the annual longevity bonus for state employeesContinue reading “Dec. 1 paychecks to include bonuses for eligible employees”

Assistant Commissioner Jim Harris III’s retirement reception (video and photo gallery)

Members of the Rehab Family gathered last week to honor VRS-general Assistant Commissioner Jim Harris III for his 39 years of service to Alabamians with disabilities. Attendees included friends, family, and colleagues as well as former ADRS commissioners Steve Shivers and Lamona Lucas.