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Building Expertise and Boosting Communication: Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services

The Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services is a state agency that offers medical, educational, vocational, and independent-living services to children and adults with disabilities. The department has two dozen locations throughout Alabama, and rehabilitation professionals need to attend meetings, conferences, and training sessions to maintain certifications and stay up-to-date on best practices. However, limited time and budget made it difficult for staff to attend every mandatory meeting in person. They had looked to the state's existing ISDN-based videoconferencing system as an option for certain meetings, but at a cost of $80,000 per year to run, it was too expensive to be a practical alternative. They needed a more cost-effective way to enhance the team's collaboration and educational access. In the end, they decided to migrate the state's existing ISDN-based system to one that was IP based. The department was pleasantly surprised to find that the new solution cost 90 percent less than maintaining the existing one, which allowed for the addition of new sites. Director Buck Jordan addressed their experience:

  • We're spending approximately $58,000 total during this first year and already have more than 10 of our sites running. With Cisco technology, we can run data and video across the same circuit, so we are saving a lot of money.

Their solution features both desktop and room videoconferencing systems and accommodates both point-to-point and multipoint calls. Weekly staff meetings are now conducted via videoconferencing, saving numerous hours of travel time and thousands of dollars in phone-conference call charges. The staff is also able to meet federal mandates to achieve the highest degree and certification possible by participating from their offices in e-learning courses from colleges and universities instead of having to travel.

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