This center covers Blount, Chilton, Walker, Jefferson and Shelby Counties. Most of our services are free to residents of Alabama who have a diagnosed vision or hearing loss of at least 25%, and for children with a diagnosed developmental delay.
The earlier children learn, the better. Some experts estimate that up to 20% of the skills learned in a lifetime are learned in the first five years. That's why we place so much emphasis on helping families,and encourage families to come forward with their concerns as early as possible.
The most important issue is the acquisition of language. Without language skills, we are isolated, cut off from the rest of the world. Language is the key. And, just as for sighted and hearing children, the early acquisition of language skills typically means a higher level of comprehension.
Everyone around your child can be a teacher. Brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, caretakers. Infants and toddlers will soak up language and information from every source. Regional Center staff members can show you how to make this happen. It may take more time, more creativity to communicate with a child who is blind or deaf, but the rewards of making that effort are incalculable.
Parent Infant Preschool Program -- PIP
This program was established in 1980 to help families adjust to their child's needs without accepting limitations. We work closely with medical professionals to spot problems as soon as possible, because the earlier we can offer support to the family, the easier it is to adapt.
Adjusting to family life with a child born deaf or with a visual impairment is the first step. Regional Center staff members will come to your house and explain which expectations are realistic and which are not. Home visits provide families with support and encouragement during these critical early days.
Our staff will also help train parents and family members to be effective teachers and advocates, and introduce you to community services offering specialized programs. For children under three, Regional Center services focus on the home and family.
Children three to five years old benefit from our Kinderprep classes, which provide learning in a school-like environment with a uniquely qualified staff. It is our goal to stimulate the child's language development and enrich the world around them, so they are all prepared to reach their full potential by the time they enroll in school full time. Some children may take advantage of residential programs at Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, while others may attend their local school systems, but all are ready to meet the challenges ahead.
AIDB staff work closely with other agencies, including the state Department of Rehabilitation Services, to comply with federal regulations. Federal law provides for special assistance for children from birth through age two (Part C) and children aged three to five (Part B).
For children and families, we offer the following services:
- Information and referral services
- Early intervention service coordination
- Evaluation and ongoing assessment of child
- Parent Infant Preschool home training in skills and techniques appropriate to child's sensory needs
- Kinderprep, a center-based classroom for sensory impaired preschool children three to five years old
- Special instruction
- Speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy
- Technical assistance for families and community agencies such as daycare centers and preschools
- Transition services
- Parent support groups
- American Sign Language classes for parents and families
- Pre-Braille and Braille instruction
- Family support and counseling
- Parenting classes
- Low Vision Clinic
- Chill Out, a summer day camp for children ages three to 14
- AIDB SerTeen, an offshoot of Sertoma civic clubs for deaf, blind, hearing and sighted teens which meets monthly
- Participation in Individual Family Service Plan(IFSP)/Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings for developing child and family goals
- Information about general child development and management
- Resource lending library, including braille children's books and descriptive videos
The Birmingham Regional Center offers a variety of services for our clients. We serve as a primary source for referrals in the area for people who are deaf and blind. We can tell you everything from where to find a special piece of adaptive equipment to how to get special transportation to the store or the doctor.
Interpreter services for deaf people are an important aspect of our program. AIDB interpreters can be found in the business world, the healthcare field, in courts, churches, schools and clubs. American Sign Language classes are held regularly, offering skills for beginners through advanced levels.
Providing mental health services to people who are deaf is another part of our mission. The communication barrier is especially formidable when you have sensitive issues to discuss, and a translator is seldom the ideal solution. In addition, a mental health professional who is also deaf brings a special understanding of the culture and the nuances of the language to the counseling process. Our deaf clients experience problems with their spouses, children and workplace, just like everyone else, and having someone to talk to can be a great relief.
We offer braille classes and brailling services, translating important documents into braille for our clients or providing area businesses with braille translations of their literature or restaurant menus.
We also make presentations to students, businesses, educators, civic and community groups. This makes issues facing our clients easier to understand, and forges stronger ties to the rest of the world.
As we age, many of us experience a loss of vision or hearing; adjusting to these changes can be difficult unless we're aware of the many resources our community offers to help. Making connections between our older clients and these resources is an important part of our services.
Assistive Technology Laboratory
Adults and senior citizens who become hard of hearing or deaf may try adaptive devices such as doorbells that attach to lights in the home, smoke alarms with strobe lights, amplified telephones, and other devices in the adaptive technology laboratory.
Clients who are visually impaired or blind may come in for evaluations for technology that may benefit them in the classroom, the office, or in the home. We have more than 100 adaptive devices in our technology lab including talking watches, talking scales, lighted magnifiers, electronic magnifiers, computer programs that enlarge the screen, talking computers, braille printing, and more. Equipment may be loaned to determine the true benefits to the consumer. Computer classes and training are available.
Services we offer to adult and senior clients include:
- Information and referral services
- Client advocacy
- Non-clinical counseling
- Family support and counseling
- Assistive/adaptive technology evaluation and training
- TDD training
- Technical assistance and consulting to community agencies and schools
- Sign language classes
- Braille instruction
- American Sign Language interpreters
- Braille printing
- Transition services
- Home visits for blind clients
- Referrals to disability support groups
- Referrals to recreational opportunities
- Orientation & Mobility training coordination
- On Site Store, selling assistive devices for the blind
Services we offer to the community include:
- Community education on hearing and vision loss, early intervention, disability awareness
- College seminars and lectures on sensory impairment
- Internship opportunities through colleges and universities
- Observation site for practicum credits for college students
- Volunteer opportunities for high school ages and older
- Community involvement in accessibility issues
- Resources for projects, papers, reports from elementary through graduate school
- Resource lending library
Become an Ambassador.
Over the years, we have reached out to literally hundreds of people. While our services are free, they often make an invaluable contribution to the quality of life. In appreciation, many families ask what they can do to help.
There is a place for you to make a contribution of your time and energy. Other families who may be in the same situation you were years ago can use your informal support and encouragement. If you have special skills in ASL or Braille, you can help other clients. Or you can help us by talking to other people about sensory impairment and what we do at AIDB. We call these volunteers "Ambassadors," because they go out into the world as living proof of our focus on abilities. To become an Ambassador, call us. It's one way to return the gifts others have given you.
How can we help you? Click here to email us. Or contact us at:
Larscene Turk, Director
Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind Birmingham Regional Center
220 34th Street South
Birmingham, Alabama (205) 323-3691(fax)