How Interveners Contribute to Services for People who are DeafBlind

There are a variety of supports available to people who are DeafBlind. Yesterday, the Sign Shares’ blog discussed the difference between DeafBlind Interpreters and Support Service Providers, or SSPs.

According to the National Task Force on Deaf-Blind Interpreting, there are three support roles for people who are DeafBlind.

  • DeafBlind Interpreter
  • Support Service Provider (SSP)
  • Interveners

While a DeafBlind Interpreter supports formal communication situations, and SSPs may assist with informal situations, guiding, and transportation, Interveners help educate individuals who are DeafBlind in ways that enhance their independence.

According to the National Task Force on Deaf-Blind Interpreting, Interveners often work with students who are DeafBlind, but can also work with children and adults in their homes and communities. These individuals need the one-to-one support of a trained, consistent professional who understands and is prepared to address the needs of the student.

Two people use tactile sign language
Interveners and DeafBlind Interpreters may work together in educational settings, with the Intervener focusing more on meeting individualized educational plan goals. photo credit: Communication via photopin (license)

Interveners team with school staff, family, and community providers to achieve individual goals for the person who is DeafBlind, according to the task force. They are gaining recognition as a service for individuals who are DeafBlind to have access to education under the IDEA, the law that guarantees equal access to education, and within their home and community,

According to the task force, “an Intervener provides a bridge to the world for the student who is DeafBlind” by facilitating access to the environmental information that is usually gained through vision and hearing, such as:

  • gathering information,
  • learning concepts and skills,
  • developing communication and language, and
  • establishing relationships that lead to greater independence.

Qualified Interveners have completed training and credentialed through the National Resource Center for Paraeducators (NRCPara) and may work together with school districts on the student’s Individualized Education Plan, according to the task force.

According to What’s My Role? A Comparison of the Responsibilities of Interpreters, Interveners, and Support Service Providers, the Intervene:

  • “acts in a manner that is governed by the local education agency and federal education laws,”
  • “uses the Individual Education Program as a road map for learning,” and
  • “is considered a paraprofessional and works with, but does not replace, the teacher.”

You can learn more about Interveners at the National Center on Deaf-Blindness and at http://intervener.org/.

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The Difference between DeafBlind Interpreters and Support Service Providers

Many supports are available to people who are DeafBlind. Yesterday, the Sign Shares’ blog discussed DeafBlind Interpreters. There are others who provide support besides interpreting, so that people who have vision and hearing loss can live independently.

According to the National Task Force on Deaf-Blind Interpreting, there are three types of support roles for people who are DeafBlind.

  • DeafBlind Interpreter
  • Support Service Provider (SSP)
  • Interveners

If their need regards formal communication, such as medical appointments, education, meetings, etc., they will need a certified professional, a DeafBlind Interpreter, according to the task force.

What happens if the individual’s need involves more than communication, such as transportation?

Person walks down street using cane and talking to another person.
Traveling and navigating around unfamiliar locations are one of the reasons a person who is DeafBlind might need the services of a Support Service Provider, or SSP. photo credit: Marchez sur le trottoir (Walk on Sidewalk) via photopin (license)

If the person who is DeafBlind needs transportation and support navigating an environment such as a conference, shopping, hobbies and sports, or informal settings, they may need a Support Service Provider, or SSP.

Friends and family members often take the role of Support Service Providers, according to a white paper by the American Association of the Deaf-Blind.

There are problems with people close to the person who is DeafBlind performing the SSP role, according to the white paper. They often lack formal training, may not provide reliable support, and the person requesting SSP support “may have feelings about infringing on others’ time. Often, this will lead the person who is deaf-blind to change their plans or not get out into the community…”

According to the paper, not getting out into the community “can lead to isolation, depression, low self-worth, and frustration…”

Hiring SSPs may offer greater independence for the individual with need because they are involved in their travel experiences.

According to the National Task Force on Deaf-Blind Interpreting, SSPs:

  • provide visual and environmental information,
  • assist with communication access, and
  • guide within the physical environment, generally in community-based or informal settings.

In a white paper, the American Association of the Deaf-Blind describes the SSPs main role as:

  • “Providing access to the community by making transportation available (by car, bus, or other conveyance), and serving as a human guide while walking,” and
  • Relaying “visual and environmental information that may not be heard or seen by the person who is deaf-blind. This is done in the person’s preferred language and communication mode.”

    Several cars drive through traffic and between many people trying to walk through a crosswalk.
    While an interpreter isn’t needed for communication during heavy traffic situations, an SSP could provide support. photo credit: Californian Crosswalk via photopin (license)

An important aspect of the relationship between the person who is DeafBlind and an SSP is that the person who is DeafBlind makes all decisions, according to the white paper.

Support Service Providers, according to the task force, might assist in the following locations:

  • airports,
  • train stations,
  • restaurants,
  • shopping,
  • recreation and leisure sites,
  • during health and fitness pursuits,
  • errands,
  • community activities,
  • at home reading mail,
  • social gatherings, and
  • other activities in private settings.

SSPs may work in together with DeafBlind Interpreters at events like conferences, where the interpreter supports workshop communication, and the SSP supports travel and navigating the event, according to the task force.

According to the American Association of the Deaf-Blind, SSPs and Interpreters share some traits:

  • precepts they share:
  • remaining impartial,
  • maintaining confidentiality,
  • and working in a variety of settings.

However, they differ in important ways, because Interpreters:

  • work with people who are deaf, hard of hearing, and also people deaf-blind;
  • Interpreter education is available from colleges/universities and can culminate in state/national certification;
  • Interpreters are paid based upon their certification and/or the rate established by the referring agency/community.

SSPs work only with people who are DeafBlind or have a combination of hearing and vision loss, according to the association.

Their training is less formal than interpreters, may be taught in workshops or through life experiences. Because of the less formal education and certification of SSPs, they may be volunteers, or receive less pay.

Review a detailed Interpreter/SSP/Intervener comparison chart here under What’s My Role? A Comparison of the Responsibilities of Interpreters, Interveners, and Support Service Providers.

Tomorrow, we’ll examine the role of Interveners.

If you’d like to request a Sign Shares’ interpreter, you may do so here.

 

DeafBlind Interpreters: When and How They are Used

There are many supports for people who are DeafBlind, those who experience both vision and hearing loss.

People who are DeafBlind may have any combination of hearing and vision loss. For example, they may be Blind and have some hearing loss, or Deaf and have some vision loss, or a combination of both at any degree. Because vision and hearing are two sensory needs, having a loss of both presents an additional challenge with communication and navigating their world.

Two fingers read Braille on a page.
Some people who are DeafBlind read Braille. Others don’t need it. Each person has their own specific needs. photo credit: Aprendiendo a leer via photopin (license)

The goal of providing supports for the individual who is DeafBlind is that the individual can make decisions and live independently.

According to the National Task Force on Deaf-Blind Interpreting, there are three types of support roles for people who are DeafBlind:

  • DeafBlind Interpreter
  • Support Service Provider (SSP)
  • Interveners

When a person might need assistance from one of the support roles above depends on their needs, level of disability, and  preferences.

If their need regards communication, such as at medical appointments, school or college, conference workshops, government or professional meetings, then they will need a certified professional, a DeafBlind Interpreter, according to the task force.

According to the task force, DeafBlind Interpreters are skilled with:

  • Tactile signing, a hand-over-hand method for people who receive signed information through touch;
  • Tracking, used by DeafBlind people who have some vision but rely on understanding signed information by touching the interpreter’s wrist or forearm to visually follow their hands;
  • Providing visual environmental information in addition to spoken or signed content;
  • Modifying the signing space, the distance between the consumer and interpreter;
  • Adjusting pacing; and
  • Delivering the content in a manner which is meaningful and understandable way for the individual.

A DeafBlind Interpreter may also offer other additional support, according to the task force, which may include:

  • Guiding the individual when walking from one place to another,
  • Sharing visual information,
  • Note-taking,
  • Translation of printed materials, or
  • Assisting with seating arrangements.

Tomorrow’s blog will discuss the difference between DeafBlind Interpreters and Support Service Providers.