2018 Rehab Recognitions
Jason Martin, a statewide accessibility specialist for professional staff who are blind or low-vision, has been selected to speak at Princeton University’s ninth annual ISLAND (Inclusion in Science, Learning a New Direction) Conference.
Martin, who will visit the New Jersey-based, Ivy League school Saturday, Sept. 15, was selected based on his work during the STEM Wars competitions at various transition events this summer. STEM is shorthand for science, technology, engineering, and math.
“We developed some cybersecurity curricula based off some work that the University of Alabama at Huntsville did, and we adapted it to blind students,” he said.
Martin said his topic will be cryptography.
“That is essentially hiding things in plain sight or hiding information,” he said. “What we were doing here in Alabama for students hasn’t been done very much, so the focus is adapting Braille and large print to cryptography concepts and how to teach cryptography using Braille.”
Inclusion of STEM into curricula for visually impaired students is not common, Martin said, and the events they hosted were groundbreaking.
Martin said that he is excited to have the opportunity to represent ADRS and the state of Alabama.
“Being that it is at Princeton, that is huge,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to present at one of the top schools in the nation, arguably the top school in the nation.”
Congratulations to Jason!
Aug. 17, 2018
Michael Washington has been named administrator of ADRS Lakeshore.
Washington, who has more than 14 years of experience with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, replaces Paige Hebson, who retired earlier this month.
Washington joined ADRS after a stint with Alabama Clinical Schools, where he was a therapist. He began his career with ADRS Lakeshore in 2004 as a rehabilitation counselor and vocational evaluator before becoming a senior rehabilitation counselor and vocational evaluator.
From there, Washington became a rehabilitation specialist II and program coordinator before becoming administrator.
Washington said he is excited to see what the future will bring and hopes to build on the past success of ADRS Lakeshore.
“I want to continue moving forward and developing cutting-edge services and ensuring that we are doing everything we can to help the counselors as they serve these great individuals,” he said.
Congratulations to Michael!
Aug. 17, 2018
Glenda Vansandt was recently selected as supervisor for Children’s Rehabilitation Service’s Tuscaloosa-Selma district. Vansandt said she is honored to have the opportunity to lead such a wonderful team and is eager to provide families with the help and resources they need. “I am excited,” she said. “It is challenging, but I love what I do. I always try to remember that the families we serve are the main reason I’m here. Any way I can make sure they receive the services they need and deserve, I am happy to do that.” Vansandt first worked with CRS as a masters-level social work intern in the spring of 2006. After graduating in May of that year, she began her career as a general social worker at a dialysis center. In 2010, she joined the CRS team as a general social worker at the Selma office. She was promoted to the position of transition social worker two years later and social work administrator in October of 2016. Vansandt said one of her goals is to assure members of the community that CRS is there to provide support. “Whether we can help them or not, we can still refer them to someone else,” she said. “I want people to know that we are a resource, and we are here to help.” Congratulations to Glenda!
Aug. 17, 2018
Governor’s Office on Disability Executive Director Dr. Graham Sisson was recently informed that his alma mater, the University of North Alabama, has created an award in his honor.
UNA Disability Support Services Director Jeremy Martin contacted Sisson recently to inform him of the establishment of the “Dr. Graham Sisson DSS Champion Award.”
Sisson, a 1987 graduate of UNA, said it is a privilege to be remembered by the institution where his college education began.
“I am honored to be recognized,” he said. “Certainly, we like to encourage advocacy by other people. Having an award named after me to recognize people that champion the rights of others with disabilities is a very high honor.”
Sisson graduated from UNA summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and minors in history and English. He is a 1990 graduate of Vanderbilt University’s Law School and earned a doctorate from Auburn University in rehabilitation, counseling, and leadership in 2016.
Aug. 17, 2018
Unit 41 Blind and Deaf Services Supervisor James Owens was recently presented with an Extraordinary Employer Support Award by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
This organization salutes business, organizations, and supervisors who show support to employees who serve their country in the military.
Owens was nominated by interpreter Josh Brewer, a member of the Air National Guard since 2011 and an Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services employee since 2013.
Brewer said he has been deployed or called to service several times through the years, and Owens always makes sure he knows he has the support of his coworkers.
“Every time I have gone to tell him I have been called to be deployed or have to do some training he has been supportive, encouraging, and never once made me feel bad for being gone,” Brewer said. “He has always been great about it.”
Owens was presented with a plaque and certificate during their most recent unit meeting. Brewer said he chose this event, because he wanted his coworkers to see what Owens’ support means to him and those who depend on him the most.
“Mr. Owens has always let me know that he cares that my family is taken care of, and he will do anything to make sure I don’t have to worry about what is happening at the office,” he said. “I feel like he deserves recognition. I had to go to Afghanistan for seven months in 2014, and it was stressful. I had to think about things that had to be taken care of so that my family was protected. He did not make work another stresser for me. That was a big deal. His leadership kept me from stressing out more than I had to.”