In 1900, a group of Birmingham citizens established the Workshops program for the rehabilitation of people with disabilities, and especially people with vision impairments. Workshops initially provided clients with the opportunity to create products for sale. During the Great Depression, Workshops made mops and brooms, and sewing rooms were established for women to sew pajamas and sheets for hospitals and tuberculosis sanitariums. In each of the World Wars, Workshops flourished with government contracts, and from the 1950's through the 1970's, Workshops established wood-working, upholstery, and general craft work capabilities. At one point, Workshops even had a band - the Alley Cats - made up of people with various disabilities. The Alley Cats even played for President Nixon!
More recently, Workshops has focused on training consumers in program areas that provide business solutions for the larger community - including assembly, mailing, fulfillment and handwork solutions for the printy industry - as well as in our cafeteria and janitorial training programs.
Just as our business services have changed over the years, so too has our clientele. While we only serve people with documented disabilities, low vision is no longer the prevailing disability among consumers. Today the vast majority of our consumers have developmental disabilities or mental illness. Many of our consumers have dual diagnoses - meaning drug or alcohol abuse in addition to mental illness or other disabilities.
Workshops is located in the Avondale neighborhood of Birmingham. The full legal name is Workshop & Rehabilitation Facilities for the Blind and Disabled, but has been shortened to "Workshops, Inc."
Although no longer in this original building, Workshops has been in the same location for more than 60 years.
The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is more than 50% greater than for people without disabilities
People with disabilities constitute the nation's largest minority group, and the only group any of us can become a member of at any time
Of 70 million families in the United States, more than 20 million have at least one family member with a disability
The unemployment rate of people with disabilities is ten times greater than the national unemployment rate
People with disabilities are nearly twice as likely as people without disabilities to have an annual household income of $15,000 or less
According to the U.S. Department of Education, workers with disabilities are rated consistently as average or above average in performance, quality and quantity of work, flexibility, and attendance.
Alabama has the second highest rate of disability in the U.S.