The North Campus for the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) is officially open as of Wednesday. It is the only AIDB campus outside of Talladega.
People in Morgan, Limestone, Lawrence, and Cullman County who are deaf and blind can now receive services at the Decatur Regional Center. It allows more people to receive the services they may need to overcome any obstacles and help them live a successful life.
Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind opens North Campus in Decatur
“It will give you the resources to accept it, to grow, to learn, to live, whatever it is you want to to, AIDB will provide that," said Terrence Robinson.
Robinson lost his vision just before his 30th birthday in 2016. He lives in Morgan County, but the closest AIDB Regional Center was either in Huntsville or the Shoals so he had to travel about an hour each way to receive any services.
He said opening the North Campus will allow easier access to essential tools to people who are blind or deaf.
“It’ll teach you the necessary skills to live independently, assistive technology, case management, whatever it is you want to do in life, they’ll provide you with the services to get you there.”
The North Campus is currently building classrooms for STEM and manufacturing, as well as independent living areas, like the Alabama Freedom Center for the Blind.
Robinson previously stayed at the Alabama Freedom Center for the Blind in Birmingham.
He said between the center and AIDB, Robinson learned two vital lessons. "Overcoming and learning to accept my blindness," he said. "Attending the Alabama Freedom Center for the Blind, it gave me the confidence needed and AIDB gave me the resources I needed to excel in life."
The classrooms and living areas are under construction, but people can come to the Decatur Regional Center for job support and help with daily services, like getting an interpreter.
“They’re here to interpret things that you need, you know, you can ask for an interpreter to go to a doctor's appointment, hospital, so a variety of different ways their services are going to help people out," Amber Whitehead signed to an interpreter.
Robinson told WAAY 31 that receiving these services reminded him that nothing can prevent him from achieving what he puts his mind to.
AIDB offers free services to people from birth until death.
Senator Arthur Orr played an essential role in bringing AIDB to Decatur. He said it will help give people who are blind and deaf an opportunity to start a career.
"The best impact it will have is the workforce training and job training," Senator Orr said. "We have a serious need for workers in North Alabama, and deaf and blind folks can be just as competent and capable as anyone else, and with the proper training, we’ll be able to plug them in to help fill our workforce needs here in North Alabama.”
They anticipate the North Campus to be completed within 2 years.