Fast Facts about AIDB and Sensory Loss
Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB)
Established in 1858, Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind provides education and rehabilitation services in all 67 counties of Alabama to more than 20,000 deaf, blind and multidisabled infants, children, adults and seniors. Programs include Alabama School for the Deaf, Alabama School for the Blind, Helen Keller School (for children who are deaf and blind with multiple disabilities), E. H. Gentry Technical Facility (a postsecondary rehabilitation program for adults) and Alabama Industries for the Blind (providing job training and employment opportunities for blind and deaf adults). A network of regional centers - providing early intervention for infants and children, and interpreter, counseling, technology and education services for adults and seniors - are located in Birmingham, Dothan, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Talladega, Tuscaloosa and the Shoals.
AIDB is the nation’s most comprehensive education and service program of its kind in the country and through a consolidated administrative structure commands the best use of financial and human resources, expertise, facilities and specialized equipment to benefit individuals who are deaf and blind.
AIDB’s Funding Source is Unique...
By law AIDB does not receive revenue from tuition or local tax. State and federal law guarantees children and adults with disabilities the right to free and appropriate public education. AIDB cannot charge tuition or room and board as colleges and universities do. And as a state entity, AIDB does not receive revenue from local taxes as virtually all city and county public schools do each year.
Ninety percent of funding for AIDB’s schools and services' budget is provided through an appropriation from the Alabama Legislature. In comparison, the Legislature funds 30 percent of operating budgets for colleges and universities and approximately 60 percent of most public school budgets. AIDB has no recourse to recover lost funds through increased tuition or local taxes.
Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD) is accredited by the AdvanceED/Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Conference of Educational Administrators Serving the Deaf (CEASD).
Alabama School for the Blind (ASB) and the Helen Keller School of Alabama (HKS) are accredited by AdvancED/SACS.
The E. H. Gentry program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
A number of technologies exist to help people with vision or hearing loss function more independently at home and at work. AIDB faculty and staff are on the front lines, testing adaptive equipment as soon as it becomes available, and sometimes even developing their own. From things as simple as a kitchen timer that flashes and rings to complex computer programs that read text aloud, AIDB has answers.
Some Regional Centers provide adaptive technology devices on loan; all Regional Centers have technology labs where clients can test available adaptive devices. For our residential students, a complete evaluation of their needs and skills helps staff members determine which technologies are most appropriate for each individual child. At E.H. Gentry, a course in adaptive technology helps those who have lost their sight adjust to changes in the workplace using a highly-individualized approach. Our specialists go to the workplace with each client to perform evaluations on the job and implement any needed changes.
Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD) uses SmartBoards to enhance subjects being taught. The interactive screens allow students to watch the instructor signing while pulling-up individualized lessons or subject matter directly off the Internet.
A $9,500 Hill Crest Foundation award recently established an Alabama School for the Blind (ASB) Low Vision Lab and Resource Room. Goals include providing a distinct lab and resource room, equipped with optical and non-optical low vision devices to reinforce proper use of personal low vision devices resulting in the highest possible level of independence.
"Our goal with the Low Vision Lab is to provide life-changing and life-enriching resources," states Gina Valentini, ASB instructor and certified Orientation and Mobility specialist. "These are things that cannot be taught from a book. The message must be personal and tactile. When our students leave ASB, we want them to achieve any goal set for themselves, whether college-bound or headed into the workforce. Each student deserves that chance."
Aging and Sensory Loss
As we grow older, we can all expect changes in our abilities. Some of the most profound changes involve the loss of hearing or vision. While aging does not necessarily bring complete loss of hearing or vision, even small changes can make life more challenging.
Because we are experts in the area of deafness and blindness, AIDB's staff is uniquely positioned to help older people adjust to hearing and/or vision loss. Many of our Regional Centers have programs especially for seniors, ranging from fun classes in painting and recreational opportunities to evaluations and training in adaptive equipment. They can also help older people find and make use of resources within the community. Contact the Regional Center nearest you for details on special programs. To find the Regional Center closest to your home, click here.
In addition to our Regional Centers, AIDB's Department of Health and Clinical Services reaches out to an over-60 population who are experiencing hearing and vision loss. AIDB provides audiological and vision screenings, counseling, training and referral opportunities to seniors and those who serve them. This program continues to expand throughout Alabama. For more information on Senior Services email us!
The AIDB Purpose
The Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) purpose is to provide comprehensive educational and service programs of superior quality for deaf, blind, deaf-blind and multidisabled children, adults and their families. These services include early intervention, traditional and non-traditional educational and vocational programs, and rehabilitation and employment opportunities for clients of all ages.
The AIDB Values
- Respect for all individuals;
- Open and honest communication;
- Superior education, service and care;
- Integrity in all we do;
- Teamwork; and
- Commitment to service.
The AIDB Vision
To become the nation's premier institution serving individuals with sensory loss.
AIDB's Tax-exempt Status
The Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) is a component unit of the State of Alabama. A component unit is defined as a legally-separate organization for which the elected officials of the primary government are financially accountable. The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) in Statement Number 14, "The Financial Reporting Entity," states that a primary government is financially accountable for a component unit if it appoints a voting majority of the organizations' governing body and (1) it is able to impose its will on that organization or (2) there is a potential for the organization to provide specific financial benefits to, or impose specific financial burdens on, the primary government. In this case, the primary government is the State of Alabama and the Governor appoints the Institute's Board of Trustees. In addition, the Institute receives a substantial portion of its funding from the State of Alabama (potential to impose a specific financial burden). Based on these criteria, the Institute is considered for financial reporting purposes to be a component unit of the State of Alabama.
Braille is not a language, but a code. Raised dots are arranged in sequences which can be read with the fingers by people who are blind or who cannot see well enough to read print. People who do not have vision loss can read Braille with their eyes.
Braille is an important part of the curriculum at Alabama School for the Blind (ASB), not only because it is an effective means of communication, but also because it is a proven method for achieving and enhancing literacy for people without sight. Federal law regarding special needs children says that educators must assume that a child who is blind or low vision will be a Braille reader.
Reading and writing Braille is basic literacy for people who are blind. While technological devices such as large print software, tape recorders and print magnifiers are useful for those with useable vision, they cannot substitute for Braille as a basic method of communication. Braille is portable, independent, and requires no batteries to operate.
According to the National Initiative on Literacy at American Foundation for the Blind, only 10 percent of adults who are blind or who have low vision now use Braille as a reading medium.
Child Find Program
There are a number of excellent resources available for the parents of children with special needs. AIDB works closely with state agencies to comply with federal regulations mandating special, free assistance for children from birth to age five.
Experts agree that the sooner a child takes advantages of these services, the better. The state of Alabama encourages health professionals and others to help identify these children through a program called "Child Find." If you know a child who may have hearing or vision loss, or a developmental disability, call 1-800-543-3098.