This is a picture of LeeAnn Bryan, an adult deaf blind person who is receiving the 2006 Annual DBMAT “Christian Knapp Award” for being a Great Motivator. From left to right are Lee Ann’s mother, Jackie Bryan, Lee Ann’s long-time intervener, Helen Porter, Gary Knapp, the father of Christian Knapp, Lee Ann Bryan herself, and Melanie Knapp, mother of Christian Knapp
“Once I knew only darkness and stillness... my life was without past or future... but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living.”
What is an Intervener?
An Intervener provides a bridge to the world for the person who is deafblind. By definition, an Intervener is a one-to-one service provider with specialized training and skills in deafblindness. The Intervener helps the person gather information, learn concepts and skills, develop communication and language, and establish relationships that lead to greater independence. The Intervener is a support person who does WITH -- NOT FOR- the person. Specialized training is needed to become an effective Intervener. Training should address a wide range of topics necessary to understanding the nature and impact of deafblindness, the role of the Intervener, and appropriate educational strategies to work with persons with combined vision and hearing loss.(Alsop, Killoran, Robinson, Durkel, & Prouty, 2004;McGinnes, 1986; Robinson et al, 2000)
The role of the Intervener
The basic role of the Intervener is three-fold. The Intervener:
1. Facilitates access to the environmental information that is usually gained through vision and hearing, but which is unavailable or incomplete to the person who is deafblind.
2. Facilitates the development and/or use of the person's receptive and expressive communication skills.
3. Develops and maintains a trusting, interactive relationship with the person who is deafblind that promotes social and emotional development and well-being (Alsop et at, 2002)
What is DBMAT doing about Interveners?
DBMAT is working on a number of Intervener issues:
1) Job Standards - DBMAT wants to see the Intervener as a recognized profession. We are working with a number of entities to support a nationally recognizable certification. To be a certified Intervener, people will need to have a qualifying level of training, experience, and pass a certification test. This will help promote respect for the role of the Intervener as a profession similar to Orientation and Mobility instructors and Interpreters. This is a national effort which DBMAT has been collaborating with other interested parties around the nation.
2) Intervener training - DBMAT wants to see more training offered to people who want to be Interveners. Currently the Utah State University (no longer offering college credit) and Central Michigan University (for college credit) offer on-line courses and practicum specifically for Interveners. There are no other options currently being offered that lead to national credentialing. DBMAT is working to increase accessibility and availability of courses. The U.S. stands in contrast to our neighbors to the North in Canada. There, a 2 year course is offered to Interveners at the George Brown College. The course is heavily supplemented by the Canadian government. While this level of training may not happen in the near future in the U.S., DBMAT is working to ensure that the amount and quality of training continues to improve.
3) Intervener Scholarship - In order to develop the pool of qualified Interveners, DBMAT offers a scholarship for the college credited courses offered on-line for Interveners.
We welcome applicants!
4) Intervener salary - Interveners are typically employed by schools and by private service providers. Texas has the benefit of a statewide Deaf-Blind Medicaid Waiver, which requires college credit, that employs Interveners through private service provider agencies. Thanks to the efforts of DBMAT, the Deaf-Blind Medicaid Waiver provides a higher base pay for Interveners based on their education and experience. Gradually, school districts around Texas have also recognized the value of having trained and experienced Interveners working with deafblind children and have started rewarding the people in those roles with higher salaries. We feel strongly that a person who devotes his life to making the world accessible to others should be able to receive a rewarding wage and support his own life.