Clanton Lions Club showcases Alabama blind industries

Published 12:20 pm Monday, April 4, 2022

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

The Clanton Lions Club welcomed the Alabama Industries for the Blind to their weekly meeting on April 1. Donovan Beitel, director of special operations for the AIB, was the keynote speaker describing all of the ways the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind are helping Alabama residents see the world. Beitel, who is from Jasper, is legally blind himself.

“No one centralizes blind and deafness more than Alabama,” Beitel said. “This is the best model to get our products out to people. The Lions Club motto is ‘We Serve,’ that’s the AIDB motto as well.”

The AIDB have three different schools— Alabama School for the Deaf, Alabama School for the Blind and the Hellen Keller School, all which are under the AIDB guidance. The AIB is a separate program that helps give those who are visually impaired an opportunity in the workforce after completing high school.

The AIB makes many different products such as hats, notebooks, tools, furniture and printers. Every necktie issued with the military service uniform in each branch of the United States military is made by the AIB employees in the Talladega factory. They also make every hat for the Honda Assembly Plant in Lincoln.

“Sometimes we get so focused on serving the community and helping people, although we are set up to help the blind, we don’t really get to engage with folks like this all the time,” Alan Childress, president of the Clanton Lions Club, said. “We were wondering why we didn’t have a connection with the Alabama School for Deaf and Blind, we reached out to Donavon and realized there was a lot he could enlighten us with.”

The industry employs 278 people and 75% of labor has to be done by legally blind workers.

There is not necessarily a large blind or deaf population in Chilton County, but the problem is residents not being able to afford the appropriate eyewear.

Alabama Lions Sight, a project of the Lions of Alabama, has a mobile unit that comes to the health department in Clanton every month and offers appointments to help people in the community get new glasses.

The presentation helped showcase a community out there that is in need, and the Clanton Lions Club is prepared to assist those in need.

“When the club says they support sight, this is who we support,” Childress said. “We’re willing to come aside someone locally who may not be able to get the proper eyewear they need.”