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AIDB Board Recognizes Graduates and Retirees


In its quarterly meeting this week the AIDB Board of Trustees recognized the 2018 Class of 42 graduates and honored 39 retirees who collectively represent 896.2 years of service.

Seven retirees had over 30 years of service including Dolores Brown, Robert Davies and Carolyn Graham from Alabama Industries for the Blind; Ella Swain, Alabama School for the Blind; Anthony Hutchinson, Alabama School for the Deaf; Carolyn Jones and Barbara Morgan, Gentry Technical Facility; and Dr. Robert Kline, Health and Clinical Services.

Commencement exercises for the 42 graduates of the Alabama School for the Deaf, Alabama School for the Blind and Helen Keller School will be held on Thursday, May 24.

The Board also presented resolutions to students who have won state and regional championships in athletic competition including the Alabama School for the Blind boys and girls track teams for their first place win in the South Central Association of Schools for the Blind tournament and to the Helen Keller School Powerlifting team for its first place win in state competition.


A revised Inclement Weather Policy was approved by the Board – outlining procedures for closing AIDB programs during declared inclement weather emergencies except for the essential personnel needed to maintain residential services.

The Board also approved the purchase of ten new vehicles for the AIDB Transportation fleet at a total cost of $213,836. They will replace 14 extremely high mileage vehicles ranging in age from six to 29 years.  


In his update report, AIDB President Dr. John Mascia highlighted a number of accomplishments including -


  • Several students in the Alabama School for the Blind Science Department were granted a unique behind the scenes experience at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. The ASB students were able to visit testing sites, observe rocket engine firing, and the experience of floating in space. The students were also able to converse with engineers about the new innovative process of 3D printing and the economic advantage it brings to space flight. Trustee Chip Dobbs helped provide the opportunity for students.


  • All 10th, 11th, and 12th graders at Alabama School for the Blind became CPR certified.


  • Rachel Hyche, an 8th grader, is a top ten finalist for the United States and Canada in the National Braille Challenge.  She will compete in Los Angeles in June.


  • Alabama School for the Deaf successfully implemented a new Data Collection and Evaluation program called Study Island. Initial data indicates not only a baseline from which to measure improvement, but that students are showing significant improvement since its implementation.


  • ASD successfully participated in a number of Academic Competitions, including the Gallaudet Academic Bowl competition, math and robotics competitions with public and other schools for the deaf.


  • Four classes from Helen Keller School traveled on Amtrak to learn from a real-life experience in different modes of transportation.


  • Effective May 1, Alabama Industries for the Blind has an expanded contract with NASA at Redstone for office supplies.  All Government purchase card holders received official notification May 2 to begin utilizing the Base Supply Center for all office supply purchases.  This is a great opportunity to further improve our financial bottom line.


  • After a year of negotiating, AIB on May 8 entered into an agreement with New Generation Product, Inc. to provide white-label slip sheet paper, wrapping and conversion services.  The initial requirement is for 800 cases (1 trailer load) per month with an increase to 1,600 cases (2 Trailer Loads) in six months.


  • AIB has established a Problem Solving Team to address issues and concerns of our employees. There will be representation from all departments and the intent is to create harmony and increase morale.


  • The AIDB Admissions Office held its first Preview Day on the ASB and ASD campuses on April 18 and 19. A total of 38 people visited the campuses including potential students and their families, a teacher of the visually impaired and a special education coordinator. 


  • The MGH Arena had a successful PATH Certification Workshop with over 25 participants representing states from all over the country, including New York and California. Two MGH Arena employees gained their certifications as PATH Instructors, bringing the total to four. This is the most PATH Certified Instructors the MGH Arena has ever had at one time.


  • Construction of the new Nursing Clinic adjacent to The Dowling Health Services building is expected to be completed and dedicated this summer.


  • AIDB and ADRS implemented four successful transition events for students, who are blind and visually impaired focused on Cyber Security. The events were held at Bishop State in Mobile, Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, Auburn University, and UAH. 75 students, 20 Teachers of the Visually Impaired and seven parents participated. In Mobile, for the first time, Deaf students participated with Blind students.

  • Montgomery Regional Center has shown significant growth in services to consumers.  As of April, Regional Center staff have served more consumers in the first six months of this fiscal year than they served the entire last year. 


  • E. H. Gentry’s Adult Education classes are currently exceeding the state mandated 50% measurable skill gain goal by 16.67 percent.  Gentry has the highest percentage in the state (65.315) for measurable skill gains.


  • Joey Woodle – who is profoundly Deaf, and has been a student in dual enrollment at Gentry and CACC, successfully passed the permit test and other requirements to obtain his CDL – commercial driver’s license. It has been Joey’s lifelong dream to become an “over the road” truck driver.  


  • AIDB kicked off a new Limitless Lecture series with Mr. Larry Thornton of Thornton Enterprises in Birmingham as the first speaker in the series. He was phenomenal and has returned for visits with our students and staff. Relationship building is the focal point of the Limitless Lecture series – introducing business and professional people to AIDB and providing an opportunity for our students to be motivated and inspired by others.


  • AIDB launched a new version of its web site – in mid April. It incorporates several new features including expanded social media options, a new intranet site and emphasis on accessibility. AIDB will be participating as a Beta testing site for a new Blackboard product called Ally which scans the site for accessibility issues and automatically repairs the problem or reports it to the webmaster. There is also a box located throughout the site to report any accessibility issues that users may encounter.


  • Alabama Heritage magazine, published by the University of Alabama and UAB, featured AIDB in its Winter 2018 edition as the cover story.  It was great statewide exposure, and we decided to have reprints of the 15 page article done and used it as a direct mail piece. As of May 4, the article and mailing has brought in almost $37,000.


  • The Alabama Public Service Commission approved AIDB’s proposal for $157,000 to distribute free, loaned telecommunications devices to persons in lower income brackets who are deaf, hard of hearing, DeafBlind and speech disabled for home, school or work use.  AIDB is also providing training on the equipment and has enjoyed a significant 18-year partnership with the Alabama Dual Party Relay system. 


  • Outreach efforts continue to help us provide AIDB services around the state as we have added another full-time outreach provider to our staff serving public schools.


  • The bid has been awarded to Douglas Builders, LLC for the Joe Tom Armbrester Agricultural Center. We anticipate ground to be broken soon on the actual building. In the meantime, our AgriScience teachers are busy preparing plants to put in the ground on site, and are making plans to assist with fencing and walkways. Our teachers are teaming with the JumpStart program at E. H. Gentry and will provide the on-site work component and training for this summer program. 


  • Our STEM programs, through a partnership with NTID, have reached almost 1,200 students within the first six months of this fiscal year - nearly triple the goal set for the entire year. Our recent robotics weekend brought ten teams from the nine states to AIDB for the inaugural Robotics Fair. A host of summer camps are coming up - Marine Biology in Key Largo Florida, Droids and Drones in Huntsville, GenCyber in Huntsville, and GenCyber in Kentucky. We are confident that these efforts will result in having more students interested in pursuing careers in STEM related careers.


  • AIDB and the Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education are collaborating to support reaching DeafBlind senior groups and adults in underserved or hard-to-reach areas of Alabama. The partnership will allow for both AIDB and the Helen Keller Foundation to share contacts made throughout the state in order to provide more resources to as many constituents as possible.


The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees is scheduled for August 21, 2018.