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Fall 2002 Table of Contents
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Update: Educational Interveners in Texas

by Robbie Blaha, Texas Deafblind Project

Children with deafblindness in early intervention and school settings have unique educational needs due to the combined effects of their dual sensory loss. As result, the families and educators who comprise the IEP teams must have information about deafblindness to develop and implement an appropriate IFSP or IEP. Paraprofessionals can play an important role in this process.

Services are more effective when paraprofessionals have training and skills in the area of deafblindness and clearly understand their role on the child's educational team. The Texas Deafblind Project continues its efforts in supporting and expanding effective paraprofessional services. A critical part of this effort is the focus on the Intervener Model. An intervener is a paraprofessional with specialized skills and training who is designated to provide direct support to a student with deafblindness for all or part of the instructional day, supporting the rest of the team in implementing the student's IEP.

What's happening with the paraprofessionals serving the students with deafblindness in Texas?

The Texas Deafblind Project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education to support and train people involved with students who are deafblind. Project activities include developing training products for and about interveners, tracking interveners in Texas, providing training for interveners, and participation in national activities regarding the use of interveners. The following is a snapshot of what is happening this year.

How do you identify the training needs of interveners?

One product developed by the Project is a list of competencies, or skills and knowledge, every intervener should have to work effectively. This allows interveners and those on their teams to evaluate what training is needed to help the intervener support students who are deafblind better. This document is tailor-made for interveners in Texas, and is based on information developed and used around the country.

Each intervener identified in Texas is asked to fill out the competency form, keep a copy, send one copy to a local administrator, and mail another copy to the Texas Deafblind Project. The Project looks at the needs revealed in the competency forms when designing statewide training activities. The Project is also beginning to explore the possibility of training interveners for college credit in Texas.

This year the Deafblind Specialist at each Education Service Center (ESC) will be mailed a summary of the needs indicated by the Interveners in his/her region. This can help guide the training at the regional level. So not only do these competencies give districts a way to track progress of their staff, but they help guide technical assistance efforts around the state. The competencies for each intervener are updated annually. New competency forms have been mailed this fall to participating districts. If your school district is using an intervener and interested in participating, contact the Texas Deafblind Project for more details.

What type of training related to deafblindness is available to the interveners and other paraprofessionals serving this population?

The biannual Texas Symposium on Deafblindness offers a variety of topics that have been requested by interveners and their teammates. Eighteen interveners/paraprofessionals attended the 2001 Symposium, and we hope to see even more in 2003. An award for the Outstanding Intervener will be presented during the closing general session. Also, this year there will be a working luncheon for interveners during the symposium to support networking and information sharing. On years opposite the Symposium, there is a statewide intervener conference in the fall. To participate in this, the intervener must have a current set of competencies on file with the Project, and attend with a professional from the educational team.

Workshops on deafblindness are offered at many of the Education Service Centers as well. Contact the Deafblind specialist in your region for dates and topics. You may also check TSBVI web site for a list of trainings in other regions. Another option for training is onsite technical assistance regarding a particular student. Information on this type of training may be obtained from your ESC Deafblind Specialist or the Texas Deafblind Project.

By the way, interveners don't just attend training; sometimes they provide it to others. Three of the current interveners have presented with their teams at statewide trainings over the past several years.

Where are Interveners being used in Texas?

The Texas Deafblind Project database lists interveners in 14 of the 20 regions of Texas. Interveners are identified in a variety of ways. The Texas Deafblind Census form asks if an intervener is assigned to each child reported. Interveners are also identified by a call from a district or an ESC deafblind specialist. The Project has a database tracking intervener location and training.

Conclusion

The Intervener Model is gaining recognition and being used more frequently throughout the state and country. A national position paper on interveners was developed, reviewed, and made available from NTAC http://www.tr.wou.edu/ntac. Materials on interveners in Texas are available from the Texas Deafblind Project http://www.tsbvi.edu/Outreach/deafblind/. For more information, or to take part in intervener training opportunities, contact the Texas Deafblind Project at (512)206-9242.


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Last Revision: August 29, 2003