Author Archives: kathleenmcgehee

Early Intervention conference opens 34th year with record crowd

Glenn Harger, president and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile, greets conference attendees

A standing-room-only crowd gathered Monday, Oct. 15, for the opening keynote of the 34th Annual Early Intervention and Preschool Conference. Phuong Palafox, a speech language pathologist with Bilingual Speech and Language Services in Austin, Texas, delivered the opening remarks, “How a House Is Built: Family First.” More than 700 early intervention professionals and families pre-registered for the three-day convention, which is

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VR sponsors summer transition programs around the state

Students participated in a drunken driving simulation during Deaf Services' College Prep session at Jacksonville State University

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 to school, with topics ranging from

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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. The outside will feature water access

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SAIL, Carpenters for Christ partner to provide ramps to consumers

The brutal Alabama heat and humidity could not erase the smiles on the faces of the Carpenters for Christ volunteers as they worked on one of their most recent projects. The group, which operates through First Baptist Church of Tallassee, has assisted Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services Independent Living Specialist Sharon Weaver in providing wheelchair ramps for clients who would

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

Mark Gillard, certified O&M specialist with Guide Dogs for the Blind, explains the back-chaining and patterning methods to class participants

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. Class topics included assessing a client’s

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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 included the Alabama Department of Transportation,

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New clinic ‘one-stop shop’ for youngsters with craniofacial disorders (photo gallery)

A student takes a photograph of a patient's mouth

Homewood’s CRS office recently launched a clinic to specifically address the orthodontics needs of children with craniofacial disorders. The CRS Orthodontic Clinic for Craniofacial Disorders – first held this past summer – offers a one-stop shop for consumers with craniofacial anomalies. The new clinic is the only one of its kind in the state and is held quarterly onsite at

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

Steve Woodson, chief executive officer of the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR), explains the goal of the roundtable

  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, known as Vision 2020. The roundtables

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OASIS program marks 30th anniversary (photo gallery)

Photo of council meeting with OASIS graphic overlaid with text reading "Serving older Alabamians with vision loss for 30 years"

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 recognized for its innovative approach to

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

Students participate in a team-building activity at the Shelby County career prep session

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.    

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

Board members Eddie Williams and Jimmie Varnado speak with members of the Adaptive Driving Program team following the board meeting

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 well as members of the ADRS

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

Elizabeth Turnbull, an instructor in the UAB School of Business, speaks at her session

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 of Financial Literacy. Over four days,

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EI Update draws professionals, families (photo gallery)

Mary Bryan, a speech-language pathologist at the University of Alabama, gestures during her session on abnormal and normal feeding in infants and toddlers

  The 16th Annual Early Intervention Update was May 23 at University Church of Christ in Tuscaloosa. The daylong event was sponsored by Three Rivers Early Intervention District VII Coordinating Council, the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (for Alabama’s Early Intervention System), and Auburn University Montgomery. The morning began with Lauren Wilson, the parent of a child with a disability, whose general

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Deaf Services celebrates 30th anniversary of annual training

Juniors and seniors from the Alabama School of the Deaf introduce themselves to staff and guests of the retreat

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 for the Deaf.

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Kids Wish Network honors Tuscaloosa CRS consumer (photo gallery)

Hero of the Month graphic w/ photo of Ashlyn with cheerleaders

Ashlyn Wilson, a CRS consumer from Tuscaloosa, was named April’s Hero of the Month by the Kids Wish Network. To celebrate the honor, staff in the Tuscaloosa CRS office sponsored a party for Ashlyn and her family, complete with pizza and cupcakes. Ashlyn, who has Down syndrome and bilateral hearing loss, loves cheerleaders and cheerleading, so CRS staff worked with

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

A photo of eye glasses used to improve contrast

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 people with visual impairments. The five-day

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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 60 ADRS staff. The Tuscaloosa offices

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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.

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EI conference draws 500 to Montgomery (photo gallery)

Rachel Harrison interviews her son Wren about his little sister Anna Pruitt (nicknamed 'AP' by the family) as dad Brian listens in

Some 500 parents and early intervention and preschool professionals are gathering in Montgomery this week for the Early Intervention and Preschool Conference. The theme of this year’s conference is “Once Upon a Time … Everyone Has a Story.” The opening session for the two-and-a-half-day conference featured the Harrison family of Tuscaloosa, who shared their personal story about Anna Pruitt, their youngest

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Muscle Shoals office re-locates to new facility (photo gallery)

A shot of the exterior of the building, which features covered accessible parking

The Children’s Rehabilitation Service office and clinic in Muscle Shoals is in the process of moving to its new facility. The 5,000-square-foot building is newly renovated to include a spacious clinic, state-of-the-art audiology suite, and offices for the six-member staff. The office serves almost 400 children with special health care needs in the Muscle Shoals area. Staff will begin conducting

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

A telehandler operator empties debris in a dumpster in front of the building is abuzz with activity

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 Living (SAIL)/Homebound. The 56,000-square-foot complex will

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

Commissioner Burdeshaw speaks to the group at the Blind Services staff retreat

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. After leaving Muscle Shoals, Burdeshaw

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Mississippi State-ADRS study examines efficacy of summer work program

Elizabeth Patton and Samantha Wadsworth discuss the team assignment with the group

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 on Blindness and Low Vision. The

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