Why Are Intervener Services Important?

As stated in the National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) guide, Are Intervener Services Appropriate for Your Student with Deaf-Blindness? An IEP Team Discussion Guide, deafblindness severely limits access to visual and auditory information that forms the basis for learning and communication and creates challenges for educational systems mandated to provide a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. Intervener services are a way to meet the challenge of providing students who are deafblind with access to information they are unable to gather via vision and hearing and to help them compensate for the difficulties with communication and concept development that occur as a result of sensory deprivation.

What Is the Role of an Intervener?

"An intervener is defined as a person who works consistently one-to-one with a child who is deafblind and who has training and specialized skills in deafblindness.” (A Family’s Guide to Interveners for Children with Combined Vision and Hearing Loss, 2012).

According to Deafblindness and the Role of the Intervener in Educational Settings (Utah State University, SKI-HI, 2010), the role of an Intervener is to support children with combined hearing-vision loss by improving:

  • Access to Information - the intervener provides access to the environmental information that is usually gained through vision and hearing, but that is unavailable or incomplete to the child who is deafblind.
  • Access to Communication - the intervener facilitates the development and/or use of receptive and expressive communication skills for the child who is deafblind.
  • Access to Social and Emotional Development - the intervener develops and maintains a trusting, interactive relationship that promotes social and emotional well-being for the child who is deafblind. (Utah State University, SKI-HI Institute, 2012)

Individuals who provide intervener services:

  • Increase and clarify information
  • Facilitate access to information
  • Facilitate the learning of concepts
  • Provide consistency and constancy
  • Facilitate both receptive and expressive communication development
  • Serve as motivating and trusted partners who consistently respond to a child’s communication
  • Provide opportunities for conversations and interactions with others
  • Develop a bond of trust with the child that decreases anxiety
  • Help the child know where he is and who is around him
  • Encourage interactions with others
  • Support self-determination by helping the child make choices, solve problems, and develop self-esteem

What Knowledge & Skills Do Individuals Providing Intervener Services Usually Possess?

An intervener typically demonstrates knowledge and skill in:

  • Deafblindness and its impact on learning and development
  • The process of intervention and the role of the intervener, and have the ability to facilitate that process
  • Communication including methods, adaptations, and the use of assistive technology, and have the ability to facilitate the development and use of communication skills
  • The impact of deafblindness on psychological, social, and emotional development and have the ability to facilitate social and emotional well-being
  • Sensory systems and issues, covering all five senses, and have the ability to facilitate the effective use of the senses
  • Motor, movement, and orientation and mobility (O&M) strategies that are appropriate for children/students who are deafblind, and have the ability to facilitate the development of orientation and mobility skills
  • The impact of additional disabilities on the child/student who is deafblind and have the ability to provide appropriate support
  • Professionalism and ethical practices

Developing Intervener Knowledge and Skills: Available Training Options

The Open Hands Open Access intervener training modules – available through NCDB at www.nationaldb.org – are useful in supporting the development of knowledge and skills for individuals working with children with combined hearing-vision loss and children with multiple disabilities including sensory loss.

Individuals interested in developing intervener skills to work with students with deafblindness may complete the online modules independently or as part of a facilitated training. OCDBE (www.ohiodeafblind.org) offers facilitated intervener services training using the OHOA module content. OCDBE’s Developing Intervener Services Competencies Using the OHOA Module Content: Outcomes Associated with the OHOA Modules lists module categories, modules by title, and learning outcomes for each module. OCDBE offers contact hours to individuals who complete OCDBE facilitated training.

Content addressed through OHOA modules are organized into the following five topical categories:

  1. Impact on Deafblindness and Learning (7 modules)
  2. Communication (5 modules)
  3. Promoting Learning (8 modules)
  4. Preparing for Adult Life (3 modules)
  5. Professionalism (3 modules)

OCDBE Intervener Services Training

OCDBE intervener services training is provided through a variety of formats as shown below and offers contact hours to individuals who complete the assignments and participate in the webinars associated with the training.

  1. Teams of educators and parents working with an individual student may contact OCDBE and arrange a facilitated online training using specific OHOA modules that focus on the student’s or team’s needs.
  2. Groups of educators (general education teachers, intervention specialists, related service providers, etc.) with common needs and interests can arrange for an OCDBE facilitated, online training using specific OHOA modules based upon the needs or interests of the group.
  3. Educators and parents may participate in OCDBE advertised, facilitated online training on predetermined groupings of OHOA modules that focus on specific topics. Individuals or teams may participate in the online training.
  4. Individuals may select one or more modules of interest and complete them as an independent student.

Interested in Becoming Credentialed or Certified as an Intervener?

NCDB and the Paraprofessional Resource and Research Center (PAR2A Center), with support from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), created a national certification system for interveners. The National Intervener Certification E-portfolio (NICE) System is an assessment process that individuals can use to submit evidence of their knowledge and skills. Information about the certification process can be found at www.nationaldb.org - search word NICE.

Several universities offer online intervener training programs leading to a certificate of completion and/or the National Intervener Certification. These include:

  • Utah State University (www.intervener.org)
  • Central Michigan University (www.cmich.edu - search work intervener)
  • San Diego State University (www.sdsu.edu - search word intervener)
  • Shawnee State University – program under development

For more information on how OCDBE can assist individuals or teams in scheduling Intervener Services trainings using the OHOA module content, or provide assistance to obtain national certification, contact Lynne Hamelberg at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (614) 897-0020.

Click here for more information about the Open Hand, Open Access (OHOA) module learning outcomes.

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