OASIS (Older Alabamians System of Information and Services)

General Information

OASIS (Older Alabamians System of Information and Services)
Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services
602 South Lawrence Street
Montgomery, AL 36104
(800) 671 6837

Brief Description

Since 1987, the OASIS (Older Alabamians System of Information and Services) Program has been serving older Alabamians with vision loss. The federally funded program is administered through the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services. It is designed to assist persons who are 55 and older and experiencing vision loss in living more independently and remaining in their homes for as long as possible.
Since its inception, OASIS has provided assistance to more than 1,000 older Alabamians annually, serving 1,080 in FY12. Services are provided through a statewide network of qualified rehabilitation teachers and orientation and mobility specialists, many of whom are certified by the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals.
Most persons using OASIS services have lost vision as a result of age-related changes to the eye. The four leading causes of vision loss in the older population are macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. Macular degeneration is by far the most common cause of vision loss in the older population, and OASIS serves many consumers with this condition. It is also common for OASIS staff to work with consumers who have secondary disabilities such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and hearing loss. More than 2,700 secondary disabilities were recorded among OASIS consumers in FY 2012.
OASIS offers rehabilitation teaching services, orientation and mobility instruction, low-vision examinations and devices, support groups, and information and referral. There is no charge for the services, which are available in all 67 counties in Alabama. In addition to the itinerant services which have been available since 1987, center-based services are also available in some areas of the state.
Rehabilitation teachers work with consumers in their homes. After establishing eligibility for services, the rehabilitation teacher conducts a functional assessment to determine in which areas the consumer needs instruction. As a part of the functional assessment, remaining useable vision is also determined. The consumer and rehabilitation teacher then work together to develop an individualized rehabilitation teaching plan. During subsequent visits, adaptive techniques are taught in conjunction with adaptive devices, which are issued to the consumer free of charge.
Orientation and mobility instruction is also a necessary service for those who have lost vision. Consumers are instructed in sighted guide techniques, protective techniques, and use of the long white cane. OASIS also provides instruction in ascending and descending stairs and entering vehicles.
In May, 2011, OASIS launched an adjustment program known as Camp SAVI (Seniors Adapting to Visual Impairment). This one-week program is designed to provide independent living and adjustment-to-blindness services to adults 55 and older who are blind or visually impaired. The camp is a collaborative effort between the OASIS Program and the E.H. Gentry Technical Facility at the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. At past sessions, the UAB School of Optometry also has provided low-vision assessments to camp participants. Through Camp SAVI, participants are able to gain personal insight, learn more about vision loss, enhance adaptive techniques for performing independent living skills, and gather information about some of the resources and services that are available through OASIS.
OASIS is making life more livable for older Alabamians with vision loss! To be eligible for services, a person needs to be age 55 or older, reside in Alabama, and have vision loss significant enough to interfere with conducting activities of daily living within the home.
For more information about OASIS, visit www.www.rehab.alabama.gov/OASIS. To make a referral, contact the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services office in your area or call Matthew Haynes at 1-800-671-6837.


Ashley Townsend, OASIS Program Director, ashley.townsend@rehab.alabama.gov, 334 293 7096

Services Offered

  • Assessment
    • Rehabilitation Teachers assess visual limitations with consumer using a Functonal Visual Assessment

  • Advocacy
    • Staff advocates for persons who have lost vision, facilitates the organization and functioning of support groups, and teaches support groups self-advocacy

  • Assistive Products
    • Low tech adaptive aids and low vision devices provided free of charge with instruction to those who qualify; referral made to other applicable resources

  • Braille/Electronic/Audio/Large Print Production
    • Braille and large print materials provided for instruction and training

  • Community Outreach Programs
    • Staff provides public education presentations to civic groups and in-service training to organizations regarding available services and general information regarding vision loss

  • Consultation/Technical Program Assistance
    • Technical assistance regarding blindness and low vision available as a public service

  • Education Services
    • Instruction in adaptive techniques and resources provided by Vision Rehabilitation Therapists; instruction in Orientation & Mobility providedd by Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialists

  • In-Home Services
    • Vision rehabilitation services provided in the consumer's home

  • Information and Referral
    • Information and referral to other services and resources available either locally or nationally

  • Library Services
    • Vision Rehabilitation Therapists certify consumers for Library of Congress Talking Book Program and other recorded materials

  • Low Vision Services
    • Limited low vision examinations provided on recommendation of staff Vision Rehabilitataion Therapists

  • Travel/Orientation and Mobility
    • Limited Orientation & Mobility instruction provided

  • Professional Training
    • Inservice training provided to staff Vision Rehabilitation Therapists and Orientation & Mobility Specialists; inservice training presentations provided to other agencies and organizations on request; informational presentations provided to civice groups on request

  • Daily Living Skills/Independent Living Skills Training
    • Vision rehabilitation services provided in consumers' homes

  • Support Groups
    • OASIS facilitates low vision support groups throughout Alabama. Call 1-800 671-6837 for the Support Group nearest you.