Author Archives: kathleenmcgehee

ICC honors retiring commissioner (photo gallery)

Interagency Coordinating Council extends well wishes to Commissioner Boswell

  The Governor’s Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC) for early intervention services honored ADRS Commissioner Cary Boswell at its June 8 meeting. The group presented Boswell, who is retiring June 30, with a signed and inscribed copy of the book ‘Sweet Dreams: 5-Minute Bedtime Stories.’ Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind President John Mascia, who serves on the council, was also on

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Camp teaches IL skills to seniors with vision loss (video, photo gallery)

Eight seniors with visual impairments attended the sixth edition of Camp SAVI (seniors adjusting to visual impairments) at E.H. Gentry Technical Facility in Talladega last week. Held each spring, the camp teaches skills to help 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.

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Construction continues on Tuscaloosa facility (photo gallery)

The view from the second floor

  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 of Alabama Independent Living (SAIL)/Homebound on

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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 cohesion and camaraderie.  

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

The fair attracted more than 300 students

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 about a number of career options

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Birmingham CRS district office adds new administrative space

A workman assembles a desk

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 Coordinator Cassie Sigler-Allen, “but the office

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Conference offers ‘colorful’ training for parents, providers

AEIS Coordinator Betsy Prince shares a story at the keynote session

Alabama’s Early Intervention System (EI) and the District II and District III councils of the Early Intervention Council collaborated to present the “Color Your World Early Intervention Conference” on Feb. 25 in Homewood. The one-day conference, which featured 11 distinct sessions, provided a training opportunity for early intervention professionals as well as parents. The conference attracted more than 250 attendees,

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GATE Program paves way out of sheltered workshops

A trainee preps potatoes

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. GATE currently has five trainees

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Students around state attend Smart Work Ethics training

A student receives a reward for participation

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; organizationals skills; self-management and personal life

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ADRS Med Aspects conference offers training opportunity for staff

Laura Lieb, a nurse practitioner, speaks at the 'Understanding Parkinson Disease' session

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.

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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 unique obstacles that require a customized

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10th Technology Symposium for the Blind attracts 300 visitors

Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist Craig Rogers, who works at ADRS-Lakeshore, speaks at the session on adaptive driver rehabilitation programs

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 and responding to potential road hazards.

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Printer adds new dimension to rehab technology

The 3D printer creates a part for a cell phone/tablet holder

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. Different grades of plastic are used to

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Inaugural Fall Festival draws large crowd in Anniston

A sign welcomes visitors to the Anniston EI-CRS Fall Festival

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. Local businesses and community organizations donated

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Tuscaloosa SAIL staff collect household items for consumers and families

A table holds the items collected in the SAIL drive

  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 ADRS staff members and local churches.

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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, with Early Intervention offices and

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

CRS State Parent Consultant Susan Colburn welcomes parents to the families-only session on family leadership

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, maternal depression, working with Hispanic families,

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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 Services Accessibility Specialist Jason Martin, and

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300 attend Muscle Shoals CRS carnival, wheelchair wash

Photo of train at Spring Park

Earlier this month, the CRS office in Muscle Shoals hosted the inaugural Carnival and Wheelchair Wash for children with special health care needs. The carnival, planned and coordinated by Muscle Shoals CRS staff, attracted 300 local children and adults, with 40 volunteers pitching in to wash 25 wheelchairs. The free event was held at Spring Park in Tuscumbia and included

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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 waiting for appointments. Most recently, teaching

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Shelby County Career Prep program participants learn teamwork

Shelby County Career Prep participants and staff gather at Camp McDowell

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 a sense of unity and teach

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Parents, professionals gather for 14th Early Intervention Update

Brian Harrison, the father of a child with special needs, spoke in the session entitled 'From a Father's Perspective'

Parents and early intervention providers and other professionals gathered in Tuscaloosa today for the 14th Annual Early Intervention Update. The event was sponsored by the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (for Alabama’s Early Intervention System) and the Three Rivers Early Intervention District VII Coordinating Council. Some 200 participants attended the one-day workshop, which featured sessions on the importance of early

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Camp helps older Alabamians adapt to vision loss

  The fifth edition of Camp SAVI (Seniors Adapting to Vision Impairments) is being held this week in Talladega. The weeklong camp – sponsored by the department’s OASIS program, the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, and E.H. Gentry Technical Facility – teaches independent living skills to older Alabamians with vision loss. This session’s eight campers and their significant others

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Students explore career options at Birmingham-area Transition Career Fair

More than 300 students, parents, and educators attended the 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 information about educational, community service, and

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