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”

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”

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”

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’”

‘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)”

Blind Strategic Planning underway

VRS Blind Services is in the early stages of developing a new three-year strategic plan for serving Alabamians who are blind or have vision loss. The plan – which will be in effect through 2019 – will be shaped by five town hall meetings being held in Mobile, Montgomery, Decatur, Homewood, and Talladega. “Blind strategic planning gives us guide soContinue reading “Blind Strategic Planning underway”

Class prepares people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing for work

  The Montgomery office of VRS-Deaf Services is holding a five-day Job Readiness Class this week to equip job seekers with hearing impairments with the information necessary to ensure success on the job. During the course, attendees are learning how to better market themselves when meeting potential employers, receiving advice from several area employers and job training providers including WellsContinue reading “Class prepares people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing for work”

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”

New emergency communications system useful for persons with disabilities

In an emergency situation, minutes — and even seconds — count. A new service is now available in several areas of the state to boost the functionality of emergency 9-1-1 calls. Known as Smart911, the service allows you to create a customized profile detailing various disabilities, mobility limitations, medical conditions, allergies, medications, emergency contacts, or special transport needsContinue reading “New emergency communications system useful for persons with disabilities”

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”

White Cane Walk 2014 features activities, vendors

The White Cane Day Walk was Oct. 30 in Talladega. The event highlighted the importance of the white cane to the independence of people with visual impairments. The free, public event was organized by the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) and the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB). The festivities began withContinue reading “White Cane Walk 2014 features activities, vendors”

Conference offers ‘wave’ of support for people with visual impairments

The Alabama Chapter of the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) held its 31st annual conference Oct. 4-7. “Wave of the Future” served as the theme of the theme for this year’s conference, which included several educational and informative presentations from professionals, parents, and practitioners. The conference focusedContinue reading “Conference offers ‘wave’ of support for people with visual impairments”

ADRS partners with AIDB, Troy University to provide Pro-tactile training

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Troy University Interpreter Training Program, and the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind partnered to provide a comprehensive Pro-Tactile training for members of the DeafBlind community and professionals in the field. The approach is designed to give the Deafblind person more access (that is, more information) to theContinue reading “ADRS partners with AIDB, Troy University to provide Pro-tactile training”

ADRS, AIDB sponsor upcoming White Cane Day Walk

An upcoming event in Talladega will highlight the importance of the white cane to the independence of people with visual impairments. National White Cane Awareness Day will be celebrated Thursday, Oct. 30, with a free, public event organized by the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) and the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and BlindContinue reading “ADRS, AIDB sponsor upcoming White Cane Day Walk”

Retirements lead to reorganization in Blind and Deaf Services

The recent retirements of VR assistant commissioners Joe Helm and Rita Houston have led to a reorganization in VRS-Blind and Deaf Services. The initial change came as a result of the reallocation of Helm’s duties, including his oversight of the department’s highly regarded Business Enterprise Program, which employs almost 100 blind vendors at snack bars,Continue reading “Retirements lead to reorganization in Blind and Deaf Services”

Camp teaches ‘SAVI’ seniors independent living skills

It’s no secret that vision loss among older Alabamians is common and can have a dramatic effect on daily life and independence. Camp SAVI (seniors adjusting to visual impairments) seeks to restore that lost confidence by teaching independent living skills to older Alabamians with vision loss. The five-day camp, now in its fourth year, was launched in MayContinue reading “Camp teaches ‘SAVI’ seniors independent living skills”