Signer: Dr. S. Jordan Wright
The Role of DeafBlind Interveners
A guide for parents and families
Choosing the right support services for a DeafBlind child attending school can be an overwhelming experience. Since Deafblindness itself is a low incidence disability, parents often have difficulty accessing information regarding appropriate services for DeafBlind youth. An intervener is an excellent support choice for most DeafBlind children. Here, I will touch on the key points that provide insight on the role of Interveners, why they are important, and what services Interveners are trained to provide.
Interveners provide three key components that are essential to education: Access to Communication, Access to information, and Access to Social and Emotional Development. An intervener provides access to communication with others who are not skilled in the specific modalities a DeafBlind child may use. The Intervener becomes a trusted communication partner which bridges the gap between interlocutors by creating communication opportunities, facilitating communication, and providing the child with incidental information that is otherwise inaccessible.
Skilled Interveners are able to provide access to information in a way that is suitable for the deafblind child’s unique communication and cognitive needs. Where sighted children learn incidentally through visual cues and interactions, an intervener provides access to incidental visual learning which aids the child’s social and emotional development. The provision of access to visual information is paramount in social inclusion, human connection, and the ability to form friendships with peers.
Social and emotional development are important components to a child’s education. Social isolation and exclusion are common among deafblind children who do not have access to communication and visual information. A skilled Intervener is able to assist a child in overcoming anxiety of exploring the unknown, trying new experiences, and developing new skills. They also assist the child in making choices, processing consequences, and predicting future needs as they arise. The ability of a deafblind child to feel socially connected, confident in decision-making, and the freedom to explore out of curiosity are all necessary components of healthy social and emotional development.
The Intervener plays an important role in IEP development, often serving as the sole consultant with expert knowledge in the accommodations necessary for a deafblind child. Not only that, the Intervener is the individual who routinely assists teachers, paraprofessionals, and school personnel in carrying out the specific components of your child’s IEP. Contrary to popular belief, Interveners do not hinder the independence or emotional development of deafblind children. Interveners are trained to promote independence and further self-determination. A generic classroom aid cannot function as an intervener, as they have not received the specialized skill-set, language training, and knowledge of assistive technology that is commonly taught in superior intervener training certification programs.
If you would like more information about interveners, or how to locate such services in your state, please email email@example.com