This center covers Colbert, Cullman, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Marion, Morgan and Winston Counties. Most of our services are free to residents of Alabama who have a diagnosed vision or hearing loss, and to children with a diagnosed developmental delay.
In 2001, AIDB built a new regional center facility in Tuscumbia, Alabama, the birthplace of Alabama's most famous citizen, Helen Keller. The new center is close to the Keller home at Ivy Green.
Helen Keller became a worldwide role model of courage and hope when her teacher, Annie Sullivan, miraculously broke through the barriers of deafness and blindness. AIDB champions that same message through the successes of thousands of children and adults who overcome similar disabilities.
The Shoals Regional Center has enabled AIDB to expand outreach programs in the Shoals area. The 5,000 square foot facility contains office and classroom space, an assistive technology lab, a conference and training room, kitchen, reception area, and meeting space for deaf, blind and other advocacy groups and organizations. Design of the building is a prototype for other centers across the state.
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 we 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. Just as for sighted and hearing children, the early acquisition of language skills by children who are deaf or blind 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 sooner because the earlier we can offer support to the family, the easier it is to adapt.
Adjusting to family life with a child born with hearing or vision loss 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 them to community services offering specialized programs. For children under three, Regional Center services focus on the home and family.
It is our goal to help stimulate the child's language development and enrich the world around them, so they are 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:
- Early intervention service coordination
- Parent Infant Preschool home training in skills appropriate to child's hearing or visual abilities
- Parent Infant Preschool Program workshops and training
- Evaluation and ongoing assessment of blind and/or deaf children
- Participation in Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP)/Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings for developing child and family goals
- Participation in District Coordinating Councils for Early Intervention in all eight counties
- Information about disabilities
- Information about general child development and management
- Review of child and parent rights and the law
- Technical assistance for community agencies such as daycare centers and preschools
- Referral or transition to other services or programs
- Resource lending library
- American Sign Language instruction in the home for enrolled families
The Shoals Regional Center offers a variety of services for our clients. We serve as a primary source for referrals to all kinds of resources in the area for people who are deaf and blind. Contract interpreter services for people who are deaf are available.
We frequently 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. Inclusion, braille, orientation and mobility techniques, sensory stimulation activities, low-vision aids, sign language, hearing aids, auditory trainers and oral communication approaches are just some of the topics we cover. We also offer in-service training for interested groups and serve as a resource for projects, reports and papers from elementary through graduate school students.
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.
Services we offer to adult and senior clients include:
- Information and referral services
- Technical assistance to community agencies and schools
- Sign language classes
- Community education/public speakers
- Adaptive technology information and referrals
- Information about signing and interpreting ratings and evaluations (SCPI, RID)
- Grant support letters
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.
You can make a gift of your time and energy. You have already been through the issues and stages many families we serve are now facing. They 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:
Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind
Shoals Regional Center
512 N. Main Street
Tuscumbia, AL 35674
(256) 383-3562 (fax)
(256) 383-3503 (voice/TTY)