Disability Talk Stuff

Disability Awesome: Power Moves: John Mascia Creates Opportunities At The Alabama Institute For Deaf And Blind

Welcome to the Disability Awesome segment! Each week here on Geek Alabama, Disability Awesome will feature a person or persons with mental and / or physical disabilities who are doing awesome and great things! As editor / publisher Nathan Young has an disability (Autism), we here at Geek Alabama love it when others when disabilities do great things!

Although he was named the 17th president of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) in 2013, John Mascia began creating opportunities for students and others at the institute in 2005. He first served as AIDB’s executive director of the E.H. Gentry Facility and Regional Centers and later was vice president of Adult Programs.

And while Mascia holds advanced degrees in audiology and speech pathology, and has extensive experience in his field, he believes it is his passion that has helped his vision for AIDB.

“I view Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind as a civil rights institute for those who are deaf, blind and deafblind – in that our job is to level the playing field for individuals who may not have had an opportunity to have the same experiences and choices as others to independently live and work in the community of their choice,” Mascia said.

Since being named president, Mascia has established numerous programs and facilities to live out the institute’s mission of preparing people to reach their limitless potential. Though founded and established in Talladega, Mascia envisioned AIDB’s outreach extending to all Alabamians in their communities throughout the 67 counties.

“Our facilities in Talladega and statewide have continued to expand and improve. The recent openings of two new regional centers in Opelika and Decatur, bringing our total number of statewide regional centers to 10, will empower us to provide more impactful services statewide,” Mascia said.

Though many of Mascia’s visions for the institute have come to fruition, he believes none would have been feasible or would have happened as quickly without the support of each community and the institute’s partners. He is grateful not only to the Alabama Legislature and governor for believing in AIDB’s mission and supporting its basic needs, but also for the partners that support its training programs and campus expansions and help provide students with “next level” advantages to balance the playing field.

Alabama Power Foundation has been a prime example of such a partner,” Mascia said. “They most recently assisted in the building of a much-needed nursing clinic for our Talladega campuses. This facility allows us to provide 24-hour nursing care for our students, complete with four patient rooms that can be used as triage or, in the case of COVID, holding units until parents can pick up their child.”

Along with the Alabama Power Foundation, community partners have supported not only the students but also adult learners with training and job opportunities, giving them the chance to become more independent.

“At our Alabama Industries for the Blind facility, our employees manufacture all of the neckties worn by every branch of the U.S. military. It’s remarkable,” Mascia said.

Looking ahead, Mascia sees continuous improvement and development for AIDB. He hopes to continue to expand existing programs and introduce innovations that have the potential to positively affect all deaf, blind or deafblind people and their families in Alabama. The future looks bright for the institute, and Mascia attributes its success and growth to the support of so many communities and the relationships built along the way.

“The growth of AIDB would not be possible without the communities of Alabama,” Mascia said. “In order to provide great services, having relationships with the people we serve is very important.

“As we get to know the people we are serving as individuals, and not just by their disability, we develop a personal desire to find solutions to complex issues that are hard to address; it really is all about the relationships,” he said.

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