Alabama School for the Blind is located in Talladega, with a large, tree-shaded campus and buildings connected by covered walkways. Alumni Hall faces South Street across a wide, pleasant lawn. This building is home to the school library, Alabama Instructional Resource Center for the Blind or AIRCB and the Subregional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. The school library has hundreds of volumes of fiction and nonfiction books in Braille and large print and subscribes to magazines of interest to readers up to age eighteen. More resources are available to students at ASB and all students with vision loss around the state through the Alabama Instructional Resource Center for the Blind (AIRCB). Most residential students have an hour-long study hall at the library at the end of the school day.
The Wood Science Center is a unique facility designed to help overcome the difficulties of learning about science and math when vision is limited. A fully equipped chemistry lab, interactive displays and a wide range of specialized teaching tools help students with vision loss learn about our world and grasp scientific and mathematical concepts in new and exciting ways. On the ground floor of this building is the Sensory Safari, a remarkable collection of wild and domesticated animals stuffed and displayed specifically for hands-on access. Children with low or no vision can use their sense of touch to learn about animals most children experience in a zoo or through photographs or videos.
The main academic building is Oliver Hall; our Helen Keller Fragrance Garden is adjacent to the cafeteria, and Landreth Hall, our band and music facility, borders the garden on the other side. Four dormitories bring a touch of home to the campus – one is new, another was recently renovated and through AIDB’s Living with Pride Campaign other renovations will follow. A new Independent Living Center also brings new dimensions to residential life.
Brockman Hall houses shop and art classes and Asbury Hall is the center of student activity with a gymnasium, snack bar, swimming pool and an area for students to socialize after school.
And residential students make regular trips to the Hackney Play Therapy Center on the Helen Keller School campus, the Marianna Greene Henry Special Equestrians Arena for horseback riding and hippotherapy or to area venues for shopping, sporting and musical events or other recreational activities. Dances, clubs and other activities fill up the afternoons, with one or two study halls each day set aside for homework. Clubs and activities build leadership skills and nurture the beginnings of lifelong friendships. The Student Government Association, Scouting for girls and boys, Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta, Chess Club, Drama Club and more address just about any interest a student might have.
Just down the street from the ASB campus is Hawkins Chapel, an interdenominational chapel for students from all AIDB campuses. ASB students can attend Sunday School classes and worship services and our chaplain is available for counseling when students request it. Some ASB students attend other churches in Talladega.
Even with all this activity, there is no substitute for family. Every third weekend, AIDB's fleet of busses leave Talladega to take students home for a long three-day weekend. The bus trips home are free, just like tuition, room and board. Alabama School for the Blind maintains close ties with the families of our students, too, with calendars, reports and grades sent home regularly, videoconferencing available from nine different regional centers around the state, and easy access to teachers and staff through the telephone and internet.
The goal of every good school is to help children grow into happy, productive adults. After graduation, some ASB students will return home and find jobs. Others might live at home and attend a nearby college or university. But for some students life after school means independence – and we want to help make that transition a successful one. While instruction in home economics and related subjects are taught during the school day, actual hands-on experience in home and personal management is needed in a practical environment. A new 5,500 square foot facility allows students access to develop these crucial skills.
Semi-independent living quarters allow students some flexibility, and an independent living apartment lets them stretch their wings. Students in the independent living program have a little less supervision and a lot more responsibility for taking care of themselves - good practice for when they leave high school.