In 2004, the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) and the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) collaborated to include a Summer Work Experience Program as a part of the transition experience.  That year, through the collaboration of ADRS and AIDB, five students who attended Alabama School for the Blind participated in a summer work program in the Talladega area.  

The Summer Work Experience Program has grown each year since its inception.  In 2005, the program was expanded to a statewide program that included students attending public schools.   In 2008, another dimension was added to the Summer Work Experience Program by having an orientation session at the beginning of the program and an exiting session at the end.  Participants, parents, and employers all provided positive feedback regarding the orientation and exiting events.   They all stated these activities added an important element to the program.  In 2009, when the Summer Work Experience Program was expanded yet again to include students attending college. Today, the program serves some 40-plus students each summer. 

This program is real work, with students working up to 40 hours a week for six weeks earning minimum wage.  Every effort is made to secure student work sites that match their vocational interest and are in the student’s home community so they can connect with community resources and networks.  These employment opportunities are developed by school job coaches, counselors and business relations coordinators from ADRS, and community rehabilitation program employment staff.  

Oftentimes, teenagers who are blind or have low vision find it difficult to have opportunities to work in a “real job.” The comments of those who employed these young people indicated that they proved to be an asset to the work environment and were regarded as valuable employees.