Category Archives: Blind Services

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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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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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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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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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 partners with AIDB to offer Structured Discovery program in Birmingham

The Alabama Freedom Center for the Blind recently opened its doors as the first Structured Discovery program offered in the state of Alabama. Located at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) Regional Center in downtown Birmingham, the nine-month training program offers people who are blind or have low vision an alternative to traditional independent living skills training. In addition

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ADRS, AIDB, and AIDT collaborate to offer accessible Ready to Work program at E.H. Gentry

Alabama’s Ready-to-Work (RTW) program provides a career pathway for adults who have limited education and employment experience through 66 sites at 22 institutions. One of those sites – E.H. Gentry in Talladega – is now fully accessible and operational, representing the culmination of a two-year partnership between ADRS, Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT), and the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB). The RTW curriculum is designed by

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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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‘Transition Day’ readies students with vision impairments for next step (video, photo gallery)

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS), the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB), and the University of South Alabama (USA) teamed up to host Blind Transition Day, April 29, an event to prepare students with visual impairments for life after high school. Students attending Transition Day learned about the college experience from three panels of experts: a college panel,

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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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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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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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New BEP director says future is bright

For 28 years, Lori Brady has witnessed Alabama’s Business Enterprise Program (BEP) grow to assist 100 blind vendors/small business owners with total gross sales of more than $25 million. As Brady settles into her new role as BEP director, she says she sees potential for much more. “What sets BEP apart from other programs,” she said, “is that we train and license our vendors to become independent

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Technology Symposium highlights latest in technology for visually impaired

Attendees visit the exhibits at the 2015 Technology Symposium

The 2015 Technology Symposium – “Gaining the Edge: Assistive Technology for Education, Employment, and Entertainment” – was held Jan. 23 at E.H. Gentry Technical Facility in Talladega. Sponsored by ADRS, the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB), and the Alabama School for the Blind Alumni Association, the free, one-day event featured hands-on access to new cutting-edge technology for people

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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 sponsored by ADRS, the Alabama Institute

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