Category Archives: Staff news

Video to showcase ADRS Business Relations versatility

A video project that will be used as part of a best practices toolkit for the 80 vocational rehabilitation agencies nationwide will feature several Alabama businesses as partners of the ADRS Business Relations Program. Once completed, the video – entitled Focus on Alabama: Business Engagement at Five Phases – will serve as a companion to a toolkit on the five different stages of business engagement: advising, capacity

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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 to other ADRS offices over the

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A Q&A with new Commissioner Burdeshaw

Q: Tell us a bit about your background in rehabilitation. A: My first real job after receiving my degree was with the Alabama Elks Memorial Center in Montgomery. It’s closed now, but my time there might have positively impacted my career more than anything else I’ve done since. The Elks Center was an ADRS CRP (community rehabilitation program) with a

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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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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 course to ensure our counselors are

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Field offices honor Lamona Lucas’ legacy (photo gallery)

ADRS certainly celebrates Cinco de Mayo in style. From one corner of Alabama to another, ADRS offices paid special tribute to Founding Commissioner Lamona Lucas on May 5. Under Lucas’ leadership, groundbreaking legislation was drafted to unify and house the state’s services for Alabama’s babies, children, teens, and adults with disabilities under one roof. Prior to May 5, 1994, each

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May 5 event honors founding commissioner (video, photo gallery)

  Founding Commissioner Lamona Lucas, who more than 22 years ago led the drive to establish an independent department for Alabamians with disabilities of all ages, was honored today in Montgomery and in all ADRS offices around the state. Under Lucas’s leadership, groundbreaking legislation was drafted to unify and house the state’s services for Alabama’s babies, children, teens, and adults with disabilities under

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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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Department’s AT program nationally recognized

STAR – Alabama’s assistive technology resource – has quietly grown its device reutilization program to be ranked second in the nation by the Center for Assistive Technology Act Data Assistance (CATADA) for four straight years, said Helen Baker, STAR director. “It’s a great bragging point for us, but really all of the kudos should go out to our partners and six reuse

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Social workers make a difference in people’s lives

People – especially children – with disabilities often face a unique set of challenges in their everyday lives and need to receive services is a variety of settings. Professionals who hold a master’s or bachelor’s in social work help individuals with disabilities in a variety of ways. “In CRS, our social workers help our families to identify access and utilize resources,” said

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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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ICC formally welcomes four new representatives at quarterly meeting

The Early Intervention System’s Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC) recently welcomed four new faces. Tametria Conner, Rachel Harrison, and Lori Skidmore are the newest parent voices for the ICC, formally joining the council at its quarterly meeting March 9. With the addition of Susan Bradt as the new Head Start representative, the ICC now comprises a full 21 members. Conner comes to the ICC having

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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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Blind strategic planning underway

Attendees gather for the blind strategic planning town hall in Mobile

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 so that we can stay on

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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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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 State of Alabama Independent Living (SAIL)/Homebound

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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 Seals of Alabama, and is good news

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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 initiatives she started. It’s certainly a

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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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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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