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May 22, 2003

Deaf and blind junior college plans scrapped

From: Daily Home Online, AL - May 22, 2003

David Atchison

TALLADEGA — The Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind Board of Trustees scrapped plans Wednesday for a deaf and blind junior college.

The board unanimously agreed to discontinue efforts to pursue establishing a deaf and blind junior college.

Board member Melissa Williamson said efforts to establish a junior college in Talladega were in the works for more than two years.

She said there is no need for a deaf and blind junior college because other institutions around the state offer college courses to deaf and blind students.

Lynwood French agreed, saying it was doubtful a deaf and blind junior college would attract students from around the state.

"We have a junior college already right here in Talladega (County)," said board member Chip Dobbs. "The deaf and blind communities do not want a college."

Dobbs said not many deaf and blind students would attend a junior college for deaf and blind in Talladega.

"I think Chip hit it right on the nail," said board member Ronnie Garrett. "It won't attract deaf and blind students in the state."

Board member Clarence Haynes said he was initially in favor of a deaf and blind junior college, which he thought could be established with federal dollars.

"I just want to offer as much as we can to our students," he said.

But board members said a junior college just wasn't wanted by the deaf and blind community.

"We're butting our head if the students and people do not want it," said board chairman Morris Savage.

AIDB President Dr. Terry Graham told board members federal funding did not look favorable because of opposition, including from one of two deaf and blind colleges in the country, as well as other consumer groups.

"I would not pursue it unless it has support of the deaf and blind community, and it doesn't," Graham said.

However, Graham told the board, AIDB should pursue other avenues that could gain support, not only locally, but possibly even by state or federal representatives.

He said there is a need for a deaf sign language interpreter training program in the state.

"There is a crisis now in the state for interpreters," Graham said.

The Board of Trustees gave the president the nod to seek support in establishing an interpreter training program at AIDB.

In other matters Wednesday, the board:

o Approved changing the name of Alabama School for the Deaf Vocational Department to ASD Career/Technical Education Department in order to follow state and federal terminology.

o Approved raising student activity fees at ASD from $75 to $100 per student and from $50 to $60 per student at Helen Keller School of Alabama. Board members said activity fees have not be increased for more than 20 years.

o Approved naming the Talladega Regional Center on the corner of Cherry and Oak streets to "The Hackney Foundation House," in honor of Brenda and Morris Hackney of Birmingham, who have supported AIDB with major private gifts. The Hackneys supported more than half the cost of renovations to the Victorian house.

o Approved naming the ASB dining room in memory of longtime AIDB employee Naomi Garrett. The dining room will be named the Naomi Garrett Dining Hall.

o Approved naming a park, which provides basketball and a playground for ASD girls, as Alumni Park. Alabama School for the Deaf Alumni Association funded all the money to build the park between Ganey and Mary Leonard halls on the ASD campus. In the future, the park will be equipped with benches, tables and a gazebo.

o Approved a resolution commending state Sen. Jim Preuitt for his involvement and support for AIDB.

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