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AIDB Receives $28.5 Million To Build Satellite Campus in Decatur

Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind Receives $28.5 Million

TALLADEGA – Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has announced that over $298 million has been awarded to twenty Public School and College Authority projects around the state with Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) receiving over $28 million to fund the creation of AIDB North, a 160-acre campus in Decatur that will feature STEM, manufacturing and independent living educational programs for K-12 students and adult consumers.

Work will soon begin to transform the Lurleen B. Wallace Developmental Center in Decatur into a premiere education center that will allow AIDB to serve more of Alabama’s children and adults who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing or multidisabled. AIDB North will house programs for K-12 students as well as adults. 

“Helen Keller once said that if you can dream it, you can do it,” said Dr. John Mascia, AIDB President. “We appreciate the dedication of Governor Ivey and the strong support from the Alabama Legislature. They believe in the dream of Alabama’s citizens to lead limitless lives. Together, we can make more of those dreams come true as we expand our services.”

According to Mascia, the creation of AIDB North will not replace AIDB’s flagship programs that have been located in Talladega since AIDB’s founding in 1858. “AIDB North will allow us to expand our world-class operations, however, this will not lessen our commitment to the state of Alabama as a whole. AIDB is a statewide organization; proudly serving all 67 of Alabama’s counties.”

AIDB North will offer three rapidly-growing NTID STEM programs in mechatronic engineering, robotics and cybersecurity and the creation of the Southeast STEM Academy for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Short-term programs will be offered to students who are blind or visually impaired that will allow students to maintain enrollment in their current school while gaining benefits of instruction through immersion experiences provided by certified instructors. The creation of an Independent Living Training program for students and newly-disabled adults will maximize independence which can be transferred into their homes and workplaces. AIDB North will also house Alabama Freedom Center for the Blind, a program held in partnership with Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, that is designed to guide adults who are blind or low vision through the necessary skills and processes of adjustment to blindness so that the student can lead the independent, productive and fulfilling life of their choice.

“The addition of programs that embrace new technologies and strategic partnerships will change the future of our students and consumers for generations,” said Frances Taylor, Chair, AIDB Board of Trustees. “We are introducing services that will greatly enhance the lives of our clients, their families and the surrounding community.  The most exciting, and certainly impactful changes, are the new programs that allow students to build a future that integrates the latest technology into their educational foundation, preparing them to be leaders in the community after graduation.”

AIDB North will provide opportunities to expand AIDB’s partnership with The University of Alabama in Huntsville and National Technical Institute for the Deaf through our Cyber Security curriculum and with Gallaudet University, in the creation of a regional center in which Gallaudet staff would provide virtual instruction to students on-site in Alabama. In addition to this post-secondary option, AIDB hopes to create a Resource Center for Deaf Education as a satellite of the federally-funded National Deaf Education Center in Washington, D.C. AIDB North will also pave the way for increased collaboration with local governments, businesses and foundations. 

“This area of the state is excited at the location of a satellite campus here,” said Senator Arthur Orr. “I’ve been contacted by several in the deaf and blind community who are absolutely thrilled to have AIDB and the services it provides in this area of the state. Local officials have also contacted me asking how they can help with this new endeavor. We are all grateful to Dr. Mascia and his team, along with the AIDB Board of Trustees, for sharing the positive impact AIDB will have on us all. We also look forward to having such a world-renowned entity like Gaulladet participating in this effort and welcome them to ‘the neighborhood’ as well.”

“This is an ‘1858 moment’ for AIDB,” said Dr. Dennis Gilliam, Executive Director, AIDB Special Projects. “We often think of Dr. Johnson who founded AIDB in 1858 and how that one action, coupled with his belief in Alabama’s children, affected change that would go on to positively impact thousands of lives. The creation of AIDB North is another life-changing moment in AIDB’s history. We are – again – stepping out to transform the lives of the children and adults we serve beyond expectation by refusing to let adversity limit their potential.”

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Established in 1858, the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind is America’s most comprehensive provider of education and services to people who are blind, deaf, deafblind or multidisabled. Through five campuses in Talladega and eight Regional Centers throughout the state, AIDB provides services to over 14,000 people per year and employs over 1,100 workers throughout Alabama.