The National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) is currently engaged in a national effort to design and implement a series of online modules in order to provide all states access to high-quality, accessible intervener training materials. Interveners are individuals, typically paraprofessionals, who receive specialized training in deaf-blindness in order to provide intervener services to children and youth who are deaf-blind. NCDB is partnering with members of the deaf-blind network, as well as experts who are outside the field of deaf-blindness who have expertise in module development, to produce and evaluate a foundational set of training modules by the end of June 2013. Using a participatory development process, NCDB will collaborate with university faculty, state deaf-blind projects, family leaders, interveners, teachers of the deaf-blind, and young adults who are deaf-blind who have been involved in supporting and sustaining the use of intervener services.
NCDB has built a coalition of teams of advisors, module leaders, and module contributors to share their expertise regarding how individuals gain the knowledge and skills they need to become effective interveners. By building modules based on the rich and collective knowledge of those who have a history of investing in intervener training, we aim to create materials that synthesize the network’s best practices at this time. Alignment of module content with the nationally recognized CEC standards (2009) for interveners, will help ensure that they incorporate skills and knowledge that interveners need to work effectively with children who are deaf-blind. After the draft modules are completed, NCDB will partner with field participants and field reviewers who will help evaluate the modules to support further refinement and revision.
The open access training modules will provide an important resource for the expansion and development of intervener training programs to augment the currently existing programs so that a sufficient number of well-trained interveners are available for children who require intervener services.
As recognition of intervener services increases, their use is likely to expand dramatically. It is crucial that the field of deaf-blindness prepare for this increase by strengthening the current system of intervener training. National open-access training modules, created by leading experts in the field of deaf-blindness, will support the expansion of consistent training opportunities across the country.
The development of training modules is just one of ten recommendations found in the NCDB report Recommendations for Improving Intervener Services (http://interveners.nationaldb.org). Collectively, the ultimate goal of the recommendations is to promote positive developmental and educational outcomes for children who are deaf-blind, from birth through age 21, by improving both the availability and quality of intervener services throughout the United States. An essential component of these services is the availability of sufficient high-quality training opportunities.
The goal is for every child who requires intervener services to have them available, and to have interveners with a core set of knowledge and skills that were obtained through a high-quality training program. The process of developing intervener training modules represents an opportunity to work with many partners, individual as well as organizational, to create a resource that can support all states in meeting current and increasing demands for interveners. Many students who are deaf-blind need interveners as a support for participation in schools. To paraphrase Helen Keller, NCDB looks to the participation of contributing partners so that we can all collectively accomplish more together than we may do alone.
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