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The SKI-HI Institute at Utah State University and NTAC invite you to join!

What is a Community of Practice?

Communities of Practice “are groups of people who share expertise and passion about a topic and interact on an ongoing basis to further their learning…”(Zeller, 2004; Weager, 2003).

What do Communities of Practice do?

Communities of Practice “members typically solve problems, discuss insights, and share information” while developing “tools and frameworks that become part of the common knowledge of the community…” (Zeller, 2004;).

Who are the Members of Community of Practice?

The community is open to anyone who is involved or interested in the topics of interveners and paraprofessionals with children and youth who are deafblind.

Why use Communities of Practice as a Technical Assistance Strategy

States and state deaf-blind projects are facing a variety of complex issues as they attempt to meet the paraprofessional standards of “No Child Left Behind”, as well as to determine standards and training requirements related to the use of interveners with children and youth who are deaf-blind. Although each state project must address these issues within the context of their individual state, there are many common needs for information and resources which have been identified and successfully addressed by others. Sharing these resources and strategies among others in a Community of Practice enhances the collective knowledge base through the sharing of what others know, have developed and found to be successful. 

Need for the Community

Early intervention and educational agencies have attempted to respond to the unique needs of students with deaf-blindness in many ways throughout the years. One such response, which has been increasingly relied upon in recent years is the use of a one-to-one paraprofessional or a one-to-one intervener. Although their roles and job assignments often appear similar, paraprofessionals and interveners are typically differentiated by the amount and type of specialized skills related to deaf-blindness which are recommended for interveners. Also, a variety of topics related to the design of training systems, adoption of competencies and training systems integration into larger state paraprofessional initiatives has been identified.

Many state and multi-state deaf-blind projects have already, or are currently initiating paraprofessional and intervener training programs. What is needed is the melding of values-based content recommendations with research-based strategies into a model of recommended practices, which can then serve as the basis for the state/multi-state deaf-blind projects training activities and to further research and validation of the practices.

Focus of the Community of Practice on Interveners and Paraprofessionals working with Students who are Deaf-Blind

Based on the needs and activities previously identified and initiated by the National Intervener Task Force and others, the identification of recommended practices related to the use of paraprofessionals and interveners has been targeted as the initial focus of activities proposed to the Community. Five specific areas for the identification of recommended practices have been identified to date. These areas are:

  • Refining competencies for interveners and paraprofessionals working with students who are deaf-blind and the content of their training
  • Designing and delivering effective training and implementing effective models
  • Integrating training activities into larger state NCLB and IDEA CSPD infrastructures
  • The design and implementation of evaluation models for documenting systems change, training and child impact
  • The identification of recommended standards of practice related to the use of interveners and paraprofessionals

The Community will address additional focus and activities as they emerge.

Participating in the Community

The SKI HI Institute is hosting a dedicated Paraprofessional and Intervener Training listserv, which will be used as the primary discussion board for the Community. To join the listserv, simply go to the following website and follow the enrollment directions:

http://lists.usu.edu/mailman/listinfo/intervener-para

Once you have registered, go to: to submit postings.

Face-to-face meetings of Community members will be scheduled in future naturally occurring opportunities, such as NTAC’s Annual Project Directors Meeting and/or Topical Workshops.

Contacts

For further information contact:

Linda Alsop
SKI-HI Institute

John Killoran
NTAC