Category Archives: VRS

BEP partner Misty Dawn honored for performance during storm surge

From left, Business Enterprise Program Business Specialist Darryl McCaul, Sodexo District Manager, Lexis/Nexis General Manager James H. Winkler, ADRS Business Enterprise Program Director Lori Brady, and Misty Dawn Enterprises, LLC Owner David Talley pose for a photo after the awards ceremony. Misty Dawn earned the national “Spirit of Sodexo Award” and the Center for Domestic Preparedness 2018 “Government Services Segment Unit of the Year Award.”

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services’ Business Enterprise Program (BEP) has a long history of successful business operations and superior customer service.  Licensed blind vendors have been operating small businesses across the state since 1946 and achieving independence through self-employment. For almost 15 years, ADRS has partnered with Sodexo USA to provide dining hall services to the FEMA Center for

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Deaf Services strategic planning sessions shape plans for future

Members of the audience listen as Adams listen to Adams explain the next part of the process

  A series of ADRS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services strategic planning sessions has provided leadership with useful feedback for determining the direction of the program. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Coordinator Bedarius Bell said the meetings take place throughout the state every three years to allow leaders to receive input as they prepare their plans to move

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Two new transition programs now available through ADRS Lakeshore

This program will engage, educate, and equip high school and community college students with the skills they need for future employment.

The ADRS Lakeshore office is offering two new transition programs this fall. The E3 and SET programs are intended as supplements to the college prep and job readiness workshops offered each summer. E3 – which stands for engage, educate, and equip – launches Friday, Sept. 28, and provides high school and community college students with the skills necessary for employment, said

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ADRS helps Roberts give back with community garden

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Brittney Urquhart and Bill Roberts share a laugh during one of their recent meetings.

It is no surprise when Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services staffers make a difference in the life of a consumer. However, through their efforts, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Brittney Urquhart and Rehab Engineer Tim Driskell have literally helped plant the seeds for success in the lives of many in Sylacauga. The process began when consumer Bill Roberts, a former firefighter, fire

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White Cane Day 2018 coming up in September

White Cane Day will be observed Saturday, Sept. 29, this year in Montgomery. Pictured are participants from the 2017 celebration as they march down the street with the use of their canes.

Alabama’s White Cane Day will be celebrated Saturday, Sept. 29, in Montgomery. The event, which is in its sixth year, will begin at 9 a.m. at the Alabama State Capitol building. Lenore Dillon, coordinator of vision rehabilitation therapists and orientation and mobility specialists for the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, said the opening ceremonies will include the Star-Spangled Banner, the

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Soliday a success story for Ready to Work program

Shonna Soliday and ADRS Rehabilitation Specialist Denise Holmes discuss discuss the success of the 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 with vision loss to complete the program and secured a position

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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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Students complete inaugural College Quest program at AU

The participants mixed water, glue, and other items together to make the solution come together.

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services’ new College Quest program for students with vision loss conducted its initial session on the campus of Auburn University June 16-29. Twelve high school students from around Alabama worked with resident assistants to complete several intensive, hands-on workshops designed to develop and improve independent living skills. The two-week camp offered a full day of

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Deaf Services consumer ready to hit the road after earning CDL

Woodle poses with his support staff, which included Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Quentin Morris, far left

An exchange of smiles and a fist bump between newly certified truck driver Joey Woodle and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Quentin Morris allowed both to celebrate a huge milestone Wednesday, May 9. Woodle, who is deaf, realized a lifelong dream moments earlier by passing his driving test and earning a commercial driver’s license from the Central Alabama Community College’s Truck Driver

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Pilot program eyes college success for students with vision loss

College Quest logo

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, said Dana Barber, state coordinator for Blind

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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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Training helps first responders better understand mental illness, cognitive disabilities

ADRS Lakeshore Rehabilitation Specialist Samantha Wadsworth leads a training at Vestavia Hills PD

Officers and first responders with Vestavia Hills Police Department are currently participating in a unique training program specifically designed to help them identify typical behaviors seen in persons with a broad range of cognitive disabilities and mental illnesses. Persons with cognitive disabilities or mental illnesses often have different reactions to stressful situations than persons without those disabilities. Led by ADRS

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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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Statewide AGCEPD awards ceremony honors businesses, exceptional people with disabilities (photo gallery + video)

  The Alabama Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities honored the success and contributions of individuals with disabilities in the workforce and recognized businesses that provide opportunities for successful employment for people with disabilities. The winners were recognized at a Dec. 7 ceremony/reception in the Old Archives Chamber of the Alabama State Capitol. Gov. Kay Ivey personally congratulated

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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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Business Relations Administrator Peggy Anderson’s retirement reception (photo gallery + video)

Peggy Anderson is presented the VIP award from Lamona Lucas

Members of the Rehab Family gathered Sept. 29 to honor Business Relations Administrator Peggy Anderson for her more than 35 years of loyal service to Alabamians with disabilities. Friends, family, community partners, and colleagues as well as founding ADRS Commissioner Lamona Lucas gathered to celebrate Anderson’s many contributions as a passionate advocate for the creation of the department and a

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Leslie Dawson readies for Business Relations administrator role

With the Oct. 1 retirement of Statewide Business Relations Administrator Peggy Anderson, Leslie Dawson is preparing to fill some very big shoes. In August, ADRS Commissioner Jane Elizabeth Burdeshaw named Dawson to succeed Anderson as the department’s business relations administrator and a member of the Executive Leadership Team (ELT). “I’m honored and humbled,” Dawson said about her new role. “Peggy

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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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2017 YLF delegates target leadership, success (photo gallery + video)

YLF group picture with Timothy Alexander

  The 31 graduates of the 19th 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, career exploration, independent living, and assistive technology. “YLF provides an opportunity to empower young people with disabilities to fully realize their potential to lead,” said Karen Jenkins,

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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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Project SEARCH programs statewide hold commencement ceremonies (photo gallery)

Project SEARCH graduates from the UAB site stand on stage

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. The program is a total immersion, business-led, school-to-work plan for

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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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