In October 2011, as part of 2-year extension of funding, The National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) was asked by the Department of Education′s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) to provide recommendations for the improvement of intervener services for children with deaf-blindness. Intervener services are provided by an intervener, typically a paraprofessional, who has received specialized training in deaf-blindness and works one-on-one with an infant, child, or youth who is deaf-blind.
When both vision and hearing are diminished or lost, especially from birth or early in life, natural opportunities to learn and communicate can be severely limited. A skilled intervener can help compensate for this by providing a child with access to information and communication and promoting socialization and emotional well-being.
The process that NCDB used to develop the recommendations involved a number of intensive activities.
First, we gathered data and other information using a variety of methods including surveys, interviews, and literature reviews. The surveys and interviews targeted a broad range of individuals who have professional or personal knowledge and experiences with intervener services. They included family members, state deaf-blind project personnel, early intervention and educational administrators, interveners, and teachers.
Next, after analyzing the information and data that were collected, we held a series of 2-hour online panels with participants representing the same groups of stakeholders. During the panels, participants were asked to respond to structured questions based on key issues related to intervener services. They were also provided with an opportunity to provide any additional information they wished to share either in writing or by phone following their panel.
Finally, after all of the panels were completed, NCDB staff conducted numerous meetings to develop the recommendations. The recommendations are based primarily on our analysis and interpretation of information and data we collected and insights gained during the panel discussions.
The recommendations are presented in a web-based report format that includes additional information such as data summaries, videos, and presentations of “community voices” (quotes from stakeholders). A traditional print report is also available. The recommendations were submitted to OSEP on May 31, 2012 and will be made publicly available at the end of July.
Although the recommendations were determined by NCDB, we were assisted in this initiative by experts who have been actively engaged in intervener services activities for many years and by individuals and agencies involved in the lives of children who are deaf-blind in other ways. They provided essential information for the development of the recommendations. We are deeply grateful to everyone who assisted us in this endeavor.
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