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”

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)”

Project SEARCH programs statewide hold commencement ceremonies (photo gallery)

Project SEARCH, the Alabama program launched in 2012 to provide students with significant disabilities professional work experience, held 10 graduations at different program sites statewide throughout the month of May. In total, 85 students across 10 Project SEARCH locations graduated this year. Of those 85, 62 had already accepted job offers by graduation day. TheContinue reading “Project SEARCH programs statewide hold commencement ceremonies (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”

‘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)”

Muscle Shoals, Selma celebrate opening of new facilities (photo gallery)

  Last week, new ADRS facilities in Muscle Shoals and Selma opened their doors to the members of the community. At just over 5,000 square feet, the new home for CRS in the Shoals area offers more clinic space for families at one of the fastest-growing locations in the state. The 12,644-square-foot facility in downtownContinue reading “Muscle Shoals, Selma celebrate opening of new facilities (photo gallery)”

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)”

Burdeshaw makes first field visit as commissioner (photo gallery)

New ADRS Commissioner Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw made the first of many field office visits July 14, when she toured ADRS-Lakeshore and the CRS CP Neuro Clinic at Children’s South Pediatric Outpatient Center. Commissioner Burdeshaw also made time to visit Homewood CRS staff before attending the quarterly Alabama Business Leadership Network (ABLN) board meeting in the afternoon. Burdeshaw plans similar visits toContinue reading “Burdeshaw makes first field visit as commissioner (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”

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’”

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)”

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.

New transition training boosts employability, communication skills

A new course for transition-age VR consumers focuses on the development of “soft” skills and other characteristics students need to remember as they seek to make an positive impression on future employers. Smart Work Ethics (SWE) is an eight-part comprehensive training series for workforce employability skills and is designed to deliver information and positively change behavior, attitudes, and workContinue reading “New transition training boosts employability, communication skills”

ADRS, Easter Seals dedicate site for new Tuscaloosa facility

An enthusiastic crowd braved near-freezing temperatures to attend today’s site dedication for the new Easter Seals West Alabama facility in Tuscaloosa. The 56,000-square-foot complex will feature 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 StateContinue reading “ADRS, Easter Seals dedicate site for new Tuscaloosa facility”

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”

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”

Shelby County Career Prep program participants learn teamwork

The 2015 session of Shelby County Career Prep continues this week. The nine-day workshop, which began last June 2, prepares high school juniors and seniors with disabilities for the world of work. Last week, the students traveled to Camp McDowell in Winston County to participate in a number of fun activities designed to foster aContinue reading “Shelby County Career Prep program participants learn teamwork”

Students explore career options at Birmingham-area Transition Career Fair

Some 300 students with disabilities, parents, and educators attended today’s Teen Transition Career Fair held at Boutwell Auditorium in downtown Birmingham. Students and educators from Bessemer City, Birmingham, Fairfield, Homewood, Hoover, Jefferson County, Midfield, Mountain Brook, Tarrant, and Vestavia Hills school systems participated in the half-day event, which featured more than 75 exhibitors sharing informationContinue reading “Students explore career options at Birmingham-area Transition Career Fair”

North Alabama transition event prepares students for work world

More than 150 high school students from Limestone and Morgan counties recently participated in Transition Mentoring Day on the campus of Calhoun Community College in Tanner. The half-day event – sponsored by VRS and the North Alabama Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities – featured sessions on disability awareness, job interviewing skills, employment readiness,Continue reading “North Alabama transition event prepares students for work world”

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”

VR welcomes Akin, Stewart to new leadership roles

Two recent promotions find VRS staff members Craig Akin and Jean Stewart assuming new leadership roles. On Nov. 16, Akin replaced new VR Assistant Commissioner James Myrick as general VR state office administrator/director of special programs. Akin’s promotion left Montgomery’s VR office without a supervisor. That position was filled by Stewart, who moved into herContinue reading “VR welcomes Akin, Stewart to new leadership roles”

Tech event looks at solutions for the blind and visually impaired

Individuals who are blind or have low vision have a unique opportunity to try out innovative and cutting-edge technologies at a one-day tech event at the E.H. Gentry facility in Talladega on Jan. 23. The 2015 Technology Symposium – “Gaining the Edge: Assistive Technology for Education, Employment, and Entertainment” – is a free event sponsoredContinue reading “Tech event looks at solutions for the blind and visually impaired”

ADRS, DMH honor Project SEARCH employers

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) and the Alabama Department of Mental Health (DMH) honored Project SEARCH employer partners at a luncheon Tuesday, Dec. 2. The event, held at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Prattville, recognized the contributions of the seven Project SEARCH sites around the state: Baptist Medical Center South, Birmingham-SouthernContinue reading “ADRS, DMH honor Project SEARCH employers”

Montgomery area AGCEPD awards ceremony

The Montgomery Area Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities held its 34th annual awards luncheon Oct. 9th, honoring businesses, individuals with disabilities, professionals, transition youth, and educators. The Alabama Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities educates the public about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities and promotes greater independence forContinue reading “Montgomery area AGCEPD awards ceremony”

Innovative ADRS business partner invited to White House roundtable

An ADRS business partner has been invited to be part of an audience discussion at the White House regarding unique and innovative strategies on hiring persons with disabilities during a “Champions of Change” event Oct. 14. Doug Parks, director of the Office Depot distribution center in McCalla, is one of a few employers nationwide selectedContinue reading “Innovative ADRS business partner invited to White House roundtable”

NDEAM events honor success, contributions of workers with disabilities

As part of the upcoming October observance of National Disability Employment Awareness (NDEA) Month, the Alabama Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, a program of the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS), will have 14 special events around the state. The events will honor the success and contributions of individuals with disabilities inContinue reading “NDEAM events honor success, contributions of workers with disabilities”

Construction underway for new Talladega VR

There are visible signs of progress on the new Vocational Rehabilitation Service office under construction in Talladega. “We’re so happy to be getting a new home,” said Unit Supervisor Cayla Lackey. “Having a more usable space is going to make our office much more efficient.” The 11,790 square-foot facility will be located at 31 Arnold St.,Continue reading “Construction underway for new Talladega VR”

Huntsville consumer finds keys to success, gets keys to car

Not that long ago, Javonte Love was living in a small apartment with only a $30/week stipend provided by the Harris Home for Children in Huntsville. Close to aging out of foster care, Javonte knew all of this was about to change, and his future could go one of two ways. The Alabama Department ofContinue reading “Huntsville consumer finds keys to success, gets keys to car”

Program aims to change ‘TIDES’ for transition students

A  new initiative rolled out in Birmingham this summer to increase employability skills for teenagers with disabilities. The transition program named TIDES – teen interns developing employability skills – placed one dozen high school juniors and seniors with various disabilities in paid internship programs working for Birmingham Parks and Recreation. The program began to take shape when StateContinue reading “Program aims to change ‘TIDES’ for transition students”

ADRS business relations coordinator leads Southern Company recruitment training

An advanced disability training for recruiters representing all four branches of the Southern Company took place earlier this summer at the Southern Company headquarters in Atlanta. Peggy Anderson, state coordinator of business relations with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS), spearheaded the training for recruiters of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, and Mississippi Power.Continue reading “ADRS business relations coordinator leads Southern Company recruitment training”

YLF delegates target leadership, success

Graduates of the 16th annual Alabama Governor’s Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) left Troy University better equipped to take charge of their own lives following the five-day event that focused on self-esteem, self-advocacy, independent living, and assistive technology. Twenty-seven students with disabilities  participated in this year’s forum. The delegates are selected through a statewide competition that seeks studentsContinue reading “YLF delegates target leadership, success”

Birmingham Southern holds Project SEARCH commencement

  Project SEARCH, the Alabama program launched in 2012 to provide students with significant disabilities professional work experience, passed another milestone May 29. The Project SEARCH site operating at Birmingham Southern College (BSC) held its first graduation ceremony and reception to honor the 10 participants enrolled at that location. The program is a total immersion, business-led, school-to-work plan for youngContinue reading “Birmingham Southern holds Project SEARCH commencement”

Tuscaloosa VR honors area graduates

The Tuscaloosa VR office invited local business leaders, educators, friends and family to join them in congratulating area seniors for their many accomplishments at the 2nd Annual Tuscaloosa ADRS Graduation Party. Thirty-two seniors were recognized at the party, where they also had an opportunity to meet representatives of several community rehabilitation programs who discussed theirContinue reading “Tuscaloosa VR honors area graduates”