Soliday a success story for Ready to Work program

With a strong support system, a lot of hard work, and a positive attitude, Shonna Soliday has paved the way for others to find success through the Ready To Work (RTW) program. Soliday, with assistance from Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Dena Dodd and E.H. Gentry, recently became the first student to complete the program and securedContinue reading “Soliday a success story for Ready to Work program”

VR sponsors summer transition programs around the state

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services and its partners have had a busy summer conducting transition programs at colleges throughout the state to help students prepare for life after high school. These programs have provided hands-on lessons designed to develop and improve independent living skills for people with disabilities. The agenda differed from school toContinue reading “VR sponsors summer transition programs around the state”

Students complete inaugural College Quest program at AU

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services’ new College Quest program for students with vision loss conducted its initial session on the campus of Auburn University June 16-29. Twelve high school students from around Alabama worked with resident assistants to complete several intensive, hands-on workshops designed to develop and improve independent living skills. The two-week campContinue reading “Students complete inaugural College Quest program at AU”

Deaf Services consumer ready to hit the road after earning CDL

An exchange of smiles and a fist bump between newly certified truck driver Joey Woodle and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Quentin Morris allowed both to celebrate a huge milestone Wednesday, May 9. Woodle, who is deaf, realized a lifelong dream moments earlier by passing his driving test and earning a commercial driver’s license from the CentralContinue reading “Deaf Services consumer ready to hit the road after earning CDL”

Pilot program eyes college success for students with vision loss

A new ADRS College Prep program specifically for students who are blind or have low vision will debut this June at Auburn University. The two-week program – called College Quest – will host a dozen students from around Alabama, with at least one student from each of the seven workforce regions of the state, saidContinue reading “Pilot program eyes college success for students with vision loss”

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)”

Training helps first responders better understand mental illness, cognitive disabilities

Officers and first responders with Vestavia Hills Police Department are currently participating in a unique training program specifically designed to help them identify typical behaviors seen in persons with a broad range of cognitive disabilities and mental illnesses. Persons with cognitive disabilities or mental illnesses often have different reactions to stressful situations than persons withoutContinue reading “Training helps first responders better understand mental illness, cognitive disabilities”

READI-Net offers medical aspects of disability training for employers (photo gallery)

More than 100 people, representing some 50 employers, recently attended the Medical and Psychological Aspects of Disability in the Workplace mini-conference at the Trussville Civic Center. The daylong workshop featured a number of expert panels discussing orthopedic disorders, internal disorders, deafness/hearing loss, reasonable accommodations, mental illness and cognitive disorders, and trauma disorders. Participating employers includedContinue reading “READI-Net offers medical aspects of disability training for employers (photo gallery)”

Statewide AGCEPD awards ceremony honors businesses, exceptional people with disabilities (photo gallery + video)

  The Alabama Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities honored the success and contributions of individuals with disabilities in the workforce and recognized businesses that provide opportunities for successful employment for people with disabilities. The winners were recognized at a Dec. 7 ceremony/reception in the Old Archives Chamber of the Alabama State Capitol.Continue reading “Statewide AGCEPD awards ceremony honors businesses, exceptional people with disabilities (photo gallery + video)”

Employers weigh in on value of VR services at business roundtable (photo gallery)

  Representatives from 20 employers from around the state gathered recently for a business roundtable on disability in the workplace. Alabama was one of five states – California, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania being the others – to participate in the event as part of the Council for State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation’s strategic planning initiative, knownContinue reading “Employers weigh in on value of VR services at business roundtable (photo gallery)”

OASIS program marks 30th anniversary (photo gallery)

OASIS, the department’s program serving older Alabamians with vision loss, celebrated its 30th anniversary at the Oct. 17 meeting of the OASIS Advisory Council. The program began in 1987 with funding from a competitive grant and has served more than 30,000 people since its inception, 1,044 of them in FY16. The program is nationally recognizedContinue reading “OASIS program marks 30th anniversary (photo gallery)”

VR consumer gains work experience with man who saved his life

Two-and-a-half years after a surviving a horrific car crash, a Bibb County man is building work experience by volunteering at the fire department his family credits with saving his life. Dustin Rowe was ejected from the sunroof of his vehicle and thrown into a ravine when his car was side-swiped along a particularly bad portionContinue reading “VR consumer gains work experience with man who saved his life”

VRS summer programs teach students skills for college, work life (photo gallery)

Dozens of transition students from throughout the state have gained exposure to work and college life through a number of programs sponsored and presented by Vocational Rehabilitation Service this summer. The programs, held at various locations around Alabama, are designed to prepare students to transition to work and/or post-secondary education.    

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)”

JeffCo high schoolers begin Career Journey with stop at UAB (photo gallery)

More than 120 high school students from 30 Jefferson County schools are participating this week in “Money Express” at the Collat School of Business on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “Money Express” was developed by Stephanie Yates, an associate professor in the UAB School of Business and director of the Institute ofContinue reading “JeffCo high schoolers begin Career Journey with stop at UAB (photo gallery)”

Deaf Services celebrates 30th anniversary of annual training

VRS-Deaf Services recently marked the 30th anniversary of their annual training retreat at Alabama’s 4-H Center in Columbiana. Commissioner Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw joined the group for day two of the three-day training, where she provided an update to staff on departmental activities and led a mock interview session for 33 juniors and seniors from the Alabama School forContinue reading “Deaf Services celebrates 30th anniversary of annual training”

ADRS, Easter Seals open new Tuscaloosa facility (photo gallery + video)

Easter Seals West Alabama (ESWA) and the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) recently hosted a ribbon-cutting celebration for their new state-of-the-art facility. The new building – located at 1400 James I. Harrison Jr. Parkway Drive East – features 56,000 square feet of office space and houses all four major ADRS programs – Alabama’s EarlyContinue reading “ADRS, Easter Seals open new Tuscaloosa facility (photo gallery + video)”

Older Alabamians learn IL skills at Camp SAVI (photo gallery)

Seven seniors with visual impairments are attending Camp SAVI (seniors adjusting to visual impairments) at E.H. Gentry in Talladega this week. The camp, in its seventh year, teaches skills that help the participants remain independent in their homes. The program also features sessions to educate the relatives of the seniors about issues faced by peopleContinue reading “Older Alabamians learn IL skills at Camp SAVI (photo gallery)”

BRC teams with library to find gold at end of ‘Beautiful Rainbow’

When the Beautiful Rainbow Catering Company and Garden officially opened its doors inside the Gadsden Public Library on Valentine’s Day, it was a cause of celebration for everyone involved. The library café is the latest component of a larger garden-to-table education curriculum for adolescents and young adults with significant cognitive disabilities in the Gadsden City Schools. In addition to operating the area’sContinue reading “BRC teams with library to find gold at end of ‘Beautiful Rainbow’”

ADRS partners with AIDB to offer Structured Discovery program in Birmingham

The Alabama Freedom Center for the Blind recently opened its doors as the first Structured Discovery program offered in the state of Alabama. Located at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) Regional Center in downtown Birmingham, the nine-month training program offers people who are blind or have low vision an alternative to traditional independentContinue reading “ADRS partners with AIDB to offer Structured Discovery program in Birmingham”

ADRS, AIDB, and AIDT collaborate to offer accessible Ready to Work program at E.H. Gentry

Alabama’s Ready-to-Work (RTW) program provides a career pathway for adults who have limited education and employment experience through 66 sites at 22 institutions. One of those sites – E.H. Gentry in Talladega – is now fully accessible and operational, representing the culmination of a two-year partnership between ADRS, Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT), and the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB). TheContinue reading “ADRS, AIDB, and AIDT collaborate to offer accessible Ready to Work program at E.H. Gentry”

‘Mentoring Day’ preps Decatur-area high school students for next step (photo gallery)

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) and Athens State University teamed up to host Mentoring Day, a transition event to prepare students with disabilities for life after high school. Approximately 130 students from nine area high schools attended yesterday’s event on the Athens State campus. Attendees participated in a career fair, campus tour, andContinue reading “‘Mentoring Day’ preps Decatur-area high school students for next step (photo gallery)”

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.

Smart Work Ethics training underway in Autauga County (photo gallery)

The Smart Work Ethics (SWE) training to develop better soft skills, good work habits and boost the employability of transition-age VR consumers is currently underway for students in Autauga County Schools. The eight-part comprehensive training series began in October and will continue through December for students at the Autauga County Technology Center in Prattville. Prattville’s SWEContinue reading “Smart Work Ethics training underway in Autauga County (photo gallery)”

Disability Mentoring Day targets career building, personal goal development (photo gallery)

ADRS held a unique one-day mentoring program for job seekers with disabilities Oct. 21 at Auburn Montgomery. Disability Mentoring Day provides an opportunity for enthusiastic students and job seekers who are ready to jump-start their careers to connect with business leaders in a meaningful way. Participants in the program evaluate personal goals, target career skills forContinue reading “Disability Mentoring Day targets career building, personal goal development (photo gallery)”

PETS training updates transition counselors

With final regulations for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) released, transition counselors recnetly received the latest information on Pre-Employment Transition Services (PETS) through a series of trainings offered at five different locations throughout the state, said Rehabilitation Specialist III Karen Jenkins. “We visited our offices and informed staff about the the five requiredContinue reading “PETS training updates transition counselors”

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)”

Mississippi State-ADRS study examines efficacy of summer work program

VRS-Blind Services is partnering with Mississippi State University for a two-year study on the impact of job skills training on students with visual impairments who are participating in the department’s summer work experience program. The test group includes students age 16-22 who receive one-week job search skills training developed by Mississippi State University’s Rehabilitation Research and Training Center onContinue reading “Mississippi State-ADRS study examines efficacy of summer work program”

Thirty-five students graduate 2016 edition of Youth Leadership Forum (photo gallery)

Thirty-five students with disabilities are now graduates of this year’s Alabama Governor’s Youth Leadership Forum (YLF). The 18th edition of the program took place last week on the campus of Troy University and was sponsored by ADRS. YLF is an innovative, intensive, five-day career leadership training program for high school juniors and seniors with disabilities throughout Alabama. Program activities focusContinue reading “Thirty-five students graduate 2016 edition of Youth Leadership Forum (photo gallery)”

‘Transition Day’ readies students with vision impairments for next step (video, photo gallery)

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS), the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB), and the University of South Alabama (USA) teamed up to host Blind Transition Day, April 29, an event to prepare students with visual impairments for life after high school. Students attending Transition Day learned about the college experience from three panelsContinue reading “‘Transition Day’ readies students with vision impairments for next step (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)”

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)”

Dekalb County man cultivates need for adaptive tractor

Bryan Thomas of Fyffe will soon be able to independently tend to cattle on his ranch after necessary adaptations are made to his four-wheel drive tractor. “In all my years with Rehab,” said Kenny Maness, Thomas’s rehabilitation counselor, “I thought I had just about seen it all. That is, until I had a request from Bryan to add adaptive driving equipmentContinue reading “Dekalb County man cultivates need for adaptive tractor”

GATE Program paves way out of sheltered workshops

A program developed by ADRS-Supported Employment and the Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH) is preparing adults with significant disabilities for competitive employment. The GATE (gaining access to employment) Program is for individuals who have previously worked in sheltered workshops. Participants rotate through a series of jobs that provide real-world work experience designed to help them excel in a competitive work environment.Continue reading “GATE Program paves way out of sheltered workshops”

Students around state attend Smart Work Ethics training

Transition-age students around the state are participating in a new course that focuses on the development of the “soft” skills necessary to help them succeed in the workplace. The eight-part course – known as Smart Work Ethics – focuses on attitude and work ethic development; dress code, hygiene and grooming standards; interpersonal skills; problem solving and critical thinking; organizationalsContinue reading “Students around state attend Smart Work Ethics training”

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.

Teen Transition Clinic important piece of ADRS ‘continuum of services’

The transition to adult life is difficult, but it can be especially complicated for teenagers with disabilities. There are a number of challenges to consider: postsecondary education, work, family life, adult health care, functional independence and mobility, independent living, and recreation. In terms of transition, one size does not fit all. Each individual faces uniqueContinue reading “Teen Transition Clinic important piece of ADRS ‘continuum of services’”

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”

Awards ceremony honors businesses, exceptional people with disabilities

The Alabama Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities – a program of ADRS – honored the success and contributions of individuals with disabilities in the workforce and recognized businesses that provide opportunities for successful employment for people with disabilities. The winners were recognized at a Dec. 1 ceremony/reception in the Old Archives ChamberContinue reading “Awards ceremony honors businesses, exceptional people with disabilities”

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”

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”

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 partners with Mental Health to start IPS Supported Employment

VRS and the Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH) are partnering to enhance employment services for people with serious mental illnesses. ADMH was recently awarded a five-year grant through the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop and implement the first individual and placement support (IPS) supported employment model for the state. IPS takes anContinue reading “ADRS partners with Mental Health to start IPS Supported Employment”

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”