Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind
A Strategic Plan for
Believing in What Can Be
Executive Summary Update 10.27.16
Believing in What Can Be
Who is AIDB?
Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind is the nation’s (world’s) most comprehensive education and service program for children and adults who are deaf, blind, deaf-blind or with multiple disabilities and their families.
We are a statewide collection of four instructional campuses, eight regional centers, a manufacturing complex with three satellite locations.
We are a committed and specially-skilled workforce of more than 1,200 individuals who strongly Believe in the abilities, potential and dreams of the students and consumers we serve.
We are a life-long continuum made strong by our diversity of programs in a journey that begins with the new expectations of infancy and continues through the changing horizons of senior adults.
The AIDB experience ranges from 24/7residential and day campus instructional programs loaded with technology and specialized support services to statewide outreach efforts into homes, communities, public schools, colleges and businesses to job training and successful work opportunities.
Working with a total budget of more than $80 million in state and federal funds and sales revenue, AIDB generates an annual payroll of $49.9 million and an economic impact of $184 million. We place a strong emphasis on accountability in financial management, program innovation and measurable outcomes. But the more profound impact of AIDB is generated through thousands of individual life-changing success stories.
Through AIDB’s Strategic Planning Process, our Vision and Goals were clearly defined as follows:
To be the nationally recognized leader of diverse residential and community-based education, rehabilitation and employment programs for individuals who are deaf and/or blind.
Goal One – AIDB will design innovative instructional programs to meet the unique and changing education and rehabilitation needs of students, clients, consumers and families.
Goal Two – AIDB will recruit, develop and maintain highly skilled and trained staff to meet the needs of students, clients, consumers and families.
Goal Three – AIDB will create a network of state and national education, service, and employment programs that define our comprehensive mission to serve individuals who are deaf, blind, deafblind or with multiple disabilities.
Goal Four – AIDB will provide appropriate facilities and property management that meet student and program needs.
Goal Five – AIDB will pursue new opportunities for partnership alliances and revenue development.
Goal Six – AIDB will maximize the application of accessible technology in education and consumer training, administrative and communication functions.
Goal Seven – AIDB will expand the safety and security program that provides a safe learning, residential and working environment for students, consumers, families and employees.
Goal Eight – AIDB will design marketing and communication strategies that effectively inform, promote and sell AIDB products and services to its consumers and other key audiences.
During 2016, we began incorporating Stakeholder Feedback into the strategic planning process – and the results strongly indicate that AIDB demonstrates a powerful Commitment to Excellence.
More than 300 Consumers, Alumni, Employees and Board Members have responded thus far to a survey that asked 3 questions –
- What are AIDB’s strengths?
- What changes would you make in AIDB?
- What matters most to you about AIDB?
Overall the response rate from the survey reflects participation from stakeholders that represent their relationships with AIDB through –
ASD – 10%
ASB – 11%
Helen Keller School – 10%
Gentry – 12%
Industries – 11%
Health Services – 6%
Outreach – 3%
Regional Centers – 30%
Central Services and Boards – 7%
The most common strengths indicated positive satisfaction with –
- Our Communication with consumers, professionals, agencies and other stakeholders.
- The Resources we make available – including technology, library services, knowledge, training, etc.
- Outreach Programs and Technical Assistance – especially through our Regional Centers and assistance with public schools
- Good Customer Service
Our stakeholders also noted that –
- We are family!
- We are respectful.
- We are strong in Collaboration with our partners, school systems, etc.
- We Care!
- We are Timely and prompt in responding to consumer needs and requests!
- Our consumers and partners Trust Us!
- We are Knowledgeable!
- Students come first!
- We provide a positive and safe Environment for learning.
- We provide excellent and diverse training opportunities.
- Everyone – students and staff, – are treated with dignity.
- We believe in empowerment of students and staff.
- We provide the most diverse and quality services of our kind in the world.
- We believe in teamwork.
- We are strategically located to serve all of Alabama.
- We are committed to student and consumer success.
- We are a recognized brand.
What matters most to our stakeholders is that AIDB should continue to be a strong, diverse organization of knowledgeable professionals who care, who put our students of all ages first, treat them with dignity and provide them with quality education and training programs so that they can be successful in life.
The feedback reaffirms that AIDB is making positive and meaningful progress toward organizational goals that are consumer-driven and designed to strengthen the Institute’s performance and accountability.
Shared AIDB Goals
The updated Strategic Plan reflects stakeholder feedback and progress made toward the original plan – particularly in the five common areas that share priority organizational strategies. These include –
1 – Staff Development Training
2 – Recruiting and Developing a Diverse Workforce.
3 – Outreach
4 –Enrollment Management
Staff Development Training
Staff Development strategies address the critical issues of Goal Two – AIDB will recruit, develop and maintain highly skilled and trained staff to meet the needs of students, clients, consumers and families. How do we train ourselves to do the best job possible?
AIDB has more than 1,200 employees – all with unique responsibilities in carrying out our mission. Several key challenges that are being addressed through coordinated staff development training include –
- New employee orientation has been reinstated
- Improved Supervisor and Leadership Training in policies, procedures, management techniques, legal issues and conducting effective performance appraisals
- Allocating more time for in-service – and emphasizing the need for immediate training before new personnel begin work.
- Setting professional development goals that will address upward mobility, layering of specific skills, acquisition of certifications and licenses
Continuing emphasis for improvement will focus on –
- Mentoring program for new / veteran teachers, staff and professionals
- A need for sensitivity awareness training before new personnel begin working with individuals who are Blind, Deaf, Deaf-Blind or with multiple disabilities
- Competency-based training for all staff
Recruiting and Developing a Diverse Workforce
As a diverse and comprehensive education and rehabilitation organization, AIDB draws upon a unique blend and collection of talent and expertise. While other agencies can fill vacancies with individuals who have general education and experience, AIDB requires professionals with specific skills such as Braille, Sign Language, O&M, Tactile Sign Language, Deaf Education, Visual Impairment Certification, Adult Rehabilitation, residential setting experiences, and many other skills related to serving Deaf, Blind, Deaf-Blind, and multi-disabled individuals from birth to senior citizens. These individuals – with unique skill sets, certifications and licenses – are increasingly difficult to find.
It is critical, as a state and national resource in the education, rehabilitation and employment of individuals who are deaf and blind, that we develop leadership strategies and partnerships as an investment in training and recruiting our future workforce. A few of the issues we are addressing in this area include –
- Continuing to develop partnerships and leadership roles in College training programs
- Continue to develop an in-house training program for identified skill sets
- Continue to emphasize flexible cross training and multiple training opportunities
- Continue to foster a Mentoring/job shadowing program – especially for production employees
- Develop a Leadership AIDB program focused on Future leaders training and career succession/advancement opportunities
- Evaluate comparable pay scales for similar jobs
- Design Recruitment strategies targeting blind, deaf and other professionals
How can AIDB give Families, Students, Consumers and our Partners “What they Want and Where they Need it.”
AIDB’s Outreach model has its foundation in its network of Regional Centers and through the Alabama Instructional Resource Center for the Blind – working together and with other AIIDB campus programs, school and rehabilitation personnel to deliver quality services and programs in home communities and school systems statewide. But with expanded partnerships, planning and resources there is so much more we can do!
Children, adults and seniors who are deaf, blind or deafblind throughout this state need the experience and knowledge we have to offer in their own environment where they choose to live and work. So we have a natural responsibility to take our services out to where they are needed in rural areas and to school systems without hearing and vision resources and expertise.
- Our Strategic Plan calls for the development of a partnership model with the state’s education system and local education agencies that closely resembles AIDB’s excellent working relationship with the Department of Rehabilitation Services. It has potential to be a mutually beneficial effort from revenue and personnel training perspectives.
*Note – AIDB has expanded its Outreach efforts for students who are deaf and blind in public schools with the addition of Outreach Instructional Providers.
- We will develop a more effective and functional communication / information sharing system within AIDB in order to track our services to individual students and clients as they move through a continuum of programs. This will enable us to maintain relationships with students, families and local school systems and determine the need for new or expanded services in specific areas
- We continue to achieve Our Standard for Growth in outreach in home communities is to offer the same array of services in all of our regional centers. Transportation, case managers, job coaching are all excellent programs producing great results in the areas where the programs are offered. Growing this model statewide is our goal.
We are addressing the question – Why Choose AIDB – through specific strategies related to recruitment and retention of students and consumers. Strategies in this area are designed to provide innovative instructional programs to meet the unique and changing education and rehabilitation needs of students, clients, consumers and families.
It is not enough that we are charged by the state to provide education and rehabilitation services for individuals who are deaf and blind. We have to ensure that our programs are superior quality, the best. The total AIDB experience embraces classroom and residential life options but also includes technology, health services, equestrian and a wide range of support, extracurricular and recreational opportunities that are incomparable in Alabama or other states.
- We will continue to seek out new opportunities to collaborate with state and national organizations to develop state-of-the art training and education programs for students who are deaf or blind.
* Note – AIDB entered into a partnership in 2016 with National Technical Institute for the Deaf to expand STEM training for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students in the Region. The first Drones an Droids Summer Camp was held in June, 2016.
- We will continue to re-evaluate our summer and short-term camp offerings to incorporate new strategies – expand our age-groups or consider more family events – and expand our marketing efforts to reach parents, students and special education coordinators.
- We will design a system to collect more information and followup data on outcomes of our current students and alumni in order to better tell our story to parents, consumers and professionals through journals, presentations and public relations efforts. These facts and data should answer the question parents ask – Will my child go to college, get a job, live independently?
- We will continue to focus on improvements to our dormitory/residential and instructional program for our children and adult programs.
*Note – The new Eugene Landreth Music Center was dedicated in Fall 2015.
- We will continue to assess and create new training programs designed to meet consumer needs and expectations.
*Note – The Structured Discovery Program was developed and began serving adult consumers at the Birmingham Regional Center in the Fall of 2016.
*Note – The Gentry Facility developed a partnership with Alabama Industrial Development Training to implement the Ready to Work curriculum.
We must do a better job in telling AIDB’s story – to move beyond being Alabama’s best kept secret. Marketing and public relations impacts everything we do to serve deaf and blind individuals, to secure resources, to build understanding and support of our programs and services, to enhance and create new business and jobs at Alabama Industries for the Blind.
We are incorporating a number of strategies in this area including –
- Develop a comprehensive Marketing and Public Relations Plan that encompasses general and targeted audience strategies, effective use of the web site and social media, renewed branding efforts, media relations, events and new messaging concepts.
- Developing targeted communication plans for specific audiences such as parents, consumers, school and medical professionals, education and rehabilitation personnel, legislators and government leaders, potential donors, business community, etc.
- Create new business opportunities and relationships at Alabama Industries for the Blind in both military/government and private sector through new product, manufacturing and retail exploration.
Assessing AIDB’s Strengths
- Diversity, strength and distinctiveness of statewide programs, services and employment opportunities offered to individuals who are deaf and/or blind.
- Availability and use of technology.
- Positive public image.
- Dedication, skill and talent of employees.
- Sound financial practices and management based on accountability standards.
- Demonstrated successful outcomes of students, clients and consumers.
- Strong stakeholder involvement in programs and planning.
- Positive relationship with media, corporations, and other private and public entities.
- Positive relationship with Alabama’s Congressional Delegation and Alabama Legislature.
- Accreditation by Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), AdvancED, Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
- Availability of services for all ages through a statewide network of facilities.
- Development of new programs and/or expansion of existing programs.
- The opportunity exists for a seamless transition of services within AIDB for individuals of all ages.
Assessing AIDB’s Weaknesses
- Limited funding to update and maintain AIDB’s aging facilities and capital needs to meet program requirements.
- Insufficient staffing patterns to meet all program needs.
- Limited awareness and understanding of comprehensiveness of AIDB’s programs by consumers, general public, school districts and health professionals.
- Need for a comprehensive marketing plan.
- Fluctuating, unpredictable funding stream.
Assessing AIDB’s Opportunities
- AIDB could provide leadership in developing innovative programs in response to advancements and changes in the workforce.
- Senior citizens with hearing and vision loss represent a growing service market.
- AIDB can continue to develop partnerships and strategic alliances with local, state and national public and private agencies, organizations and school districts that will help fulfill our mission and funding initiatives.
- AIDB continues to develop comprehensive education programs, technical assistance and training for individuals with hearing and vision loss and LEAs statewide.
- AIDB continues to develop state of the art staff training programs that ensure high performance, accountability and effectiveness.
- AIDB can expand its partnership and funding opportunities by fostering new relationships.
- AIDB continues to provide additional program alternatives for children, adults and their families.
- AIDB will continue to benefit from training and employing qualified deaf and blind professionals for leadership roles.
- AIDB could benefit from improved communication between units.
- AIDB will continue to place a high priority on accessibility to all programs, technology and facilities.
- AIDB should continually analyze programs to create more effective and efficient service delivery and financial management.
- AIDB can improve efficiency of its overall operations by developing a plan to maximize the use of property and resources.
- AIDB could develop specific training or certification programs to address training needs of support personnel and paraprofessionals.
- AIDB can enhance program and student/client performance by continuing to expand the availability and use of technology.
- AIDB will benefit from the development and implementation of ongoing strategic planning.
- AIDB can promote ongoing improvement of facilities by updating the Campus Master Plan.
- AIDB should appropriately embrace the use of its web site and social media in order to positively impact marketing, recruitment and business opportunities.
- AIDB should develop a comprehensive marketing plan.
- AIDB should continually analyze its data collection system for improved application to outcome performances, enrollment strategies, business and program development.
Assessing Threats to AIDB…
- Insufficient statistical or analytical data that demonstrates AIDB’s accountability and measureable outcomes can negatively impact funding and educational growth.
- Volatility or unpredictable growth/decline in Education Trust Fund and financial markets.
- Outdated campus master plan to manage and repair aging facilities can negatively impact program and enrollment issues.
- Reduction and/or elimination of university training programs in deaf and blind education fields hurts employee recruitment at AIDB.
- A lack of public understanding/awareness of AIDB’s overall mission and comprehensiveness of programs can diminish opportunities for program and revenue growth.
- Changes in State or Federal legislation and regulations could negatively impact AIDB.
- Loss of experienced work force through retirement, etc.