Tag Archives: VRS-Blind & Deaf

Readers relay news articles to blind and low-vision listeners

Keeping up with the latest news and events in the River Region can sometimes be a challenge for blind or low-vision residents. Fortunately, a partnership between the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services and Troy University’s WTSU public radio ensures that listeners can stay informed of what is happening in the Montgomery area. The Radio Readers, a group of volunteers who

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ADRS hosts meeting introducing Hands & Voices Guide By Your Side program

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services and Alabama’s Early Intervention System hosted the Alabama Hands & Voices Guide By Your Side kick-off meeting Friday, May 17. Throughout the day, those in attendance learned about Hands & Voices and how to provide non-biased support for the families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. For more information on the

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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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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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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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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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‘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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Class prepares people who are deaf or hard of hearing for work

This team-building exercise requires participants to come up with the best strategy to knock over cups of water

  The Montgomery office of VRS-Deaf Services is holding a five-day Job Readiness Class this week to equip job seekers with hearing impairments with the information necessary to ensure success on the job. During the course, attendees are learning how to better market themselves when meeting potential employers, receiving advice from several area employers and job training providers including Wells Fargo, Wind Creek Casino, Alabama

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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 emergency communications system useful for persons with disabilities

In an emergency situation, minutes — and even seconds — count. A new service is now available in several areas of the state to boost the functionality of emergency 9-1-1 calls. Known as Smart911, the service allows you to create a customized profile detailing various disabilities, mobility limitations, medical conditions, allergies, medications, emergency contacts, or special transport needs before an emergency occurs. This

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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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White Cane Walk 2014 features activities, vendors

Walkers arrive at their destination

The White Cane Day Walk was Oct. 30 in Talladega. The event highlighted the importance of the white cane to the independence of people with visual impairments. The free, public event was organized by the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) and the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB). The festivities began with a one-mile walk that took

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Conference offers ‘wave’ of support for people with visual impairments

Commissioner Cary Boswell provides the ADRS update at the AER Conference

The Alabama Chapter of the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) held its 31st annual conference Oct. 4-7. “Wave of the Future” served as the theme of the theme for this year’s conference, which included several educational and informative presentations from professionals, parents, and practitioners. The conference focused on providing answers to many

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ADRS partners with AIDB, Troy University to provide pro-tactile training

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Troy University Interpreter Training Program, and the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind partnered to provide a comprehensive Pro-Tactile training for members of the DeafBlind community and professionals in the field. The approach is designed to give the Deafblind person more access (that is, more information) to the environment as well as the

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ADRS, AIDB sponsor upcoming White Cane Day Walk

ADRS Orientation and Mobility Specialist Yolanda Smith teaches white cane skills to an individual who is visually impaired

An upcoming event in Talladega will highlight the importance of the white cane to the independence of people with visual impairments. National White Cane Awareness Day will be celebrated Thursday, Oct. 30, with a free, public event organized by the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) and the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB). The festivities will begin

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Retirements lead to reorganization in Blind and Deaf Services

Blind Services staff listen to a speaker during their August retreat

The recent retirements of VR assistant commissioners Joe Helm and Rita Houston have led to a reorganization in VRS-Blind and Deaf Services. The initial change came as a result of the reallocation of Helm’s duties, including his oversight of the department’s highly regarded Business Enterprise Program, which employs almost 100 blind vendors at snack bars, cafeterias, vending machine facilities, dining

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Camp teaches ‘SAVI’ seniors independent living skills

A photo of a Camp SAVI tote bag

It’s no secret that vision loss among older Alabamians is common and can have a dramatic effect on daily life and independence. Camp SAVI (seniors adjusting to visual impairments) seeks to restore that lost confidence by teaching independent living skills to older Alabamians with vision loss. The five-day camp, now in its fourth year, was launched in May 2011 by ADRS’ OASIS program

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