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Winter 2004 Table of Contents
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What's Up with Interveners in Texas?

By Jenny Lace, Education Specialist, TSBVI Deafblind Outreach
With help from Jim Durkel, Statewide Staff Development Coordinator, TSBVI Outreach

Abstract: This article discusses training for Interveners in Texas and shares key components of intervention.

Key Words: Deafblind, intervener, intervention, training, No Child Left Behind, courses, portfolio

Intervener Model Growing in Texas

Did you know that fifty-six interveners have been identified in the state of Texas? The Intervener Model is recognized by the Texas Education Agency and Texas Deafblind Outreach Project as a supplemental service or modification consideration in the IEP (see "Documenting Instructional Considerations for the Student with Deafblindness" <http://www.tsbvi.edu/Outreach/deafblind/AppIDBInstructional-Modifications.doc> and "IEP Quality Indicators for Students with Deafblindess- Related and Supplemental Services" <http://www.tsbvi.edu/Outreach/deafblind/indicators.htm >.

An intervener is a paraprofessional who works one-on-one with a deafblind student and who receives training in the communication methods and modifications needed for an individual deafblind student to access information in their environment. It is not uncommon for deafblind children to need one-on-one support with someone they have bonded with and trust. If a deafblind child cannot access information going on at a distance and is left alone with no means to predict and anticipate events, the result can be withdrawal, aggression, and/or self-stimulating behaviors. It is important to remember that "alone" for a deafblind child can with limited vision and hearing can also occur in a group or in the middle of a busy classroom without direct intervention.

Go to <http://www.tsbvi.edu/Outreach/deafblind/intervener.htm> "Interveners for students with Deafblindness in Texas: A Model of Individual Support to Provide Appropriate Access to Education for Students who are Deafblind" to find out more. This document includes information about:

How Do Interveners Get Training?

Since deafblindness is a low incidence disability, the educational staff may need support and training in methodologies that address the unique needs of a dual sensory impaired student. When both vision and hearing are distorted, learning cannot occur from a distance or incidentally. The near senses must be used to experience learning and to develop concepts about how things work in the world. It is not uncommon for staff to need training in specialized communication techniques and training in how to implement modifications unique to the student's combined hearing and vision losses that will assist the student in accessing environmental information.

In Texas, interveners are asked each year to fill out an "Intervener Self-Assessment of Competencies Needed to Work with Students with Deafblindness" <http://www.tsbvi.edu/Outreach/deafblind/intervener-self-assess.doc> to identify their training needs. Their current training priorities are shared with their immediate supervisor, Texas Deafblind Outreach, and their regional deafblind specialist at the education service centers. This information is used to address training plans for the current year.

Training Options for Interveners and Teams

Training options available to Interveners and teams serving deafblind students in Texas, include:


2003 Statewide Intervener Team Training

Texas Deafblind Outreach supports training with at least one professional on the intervener's team to promote team competence in deafblindness and effective supervision and support to the intervener. An annual statewide Intervener Team Training was held November 21-22, 2003 in Austin, Texas with thirty-one interveners and thirty-two team professionals attending. Interveners completed their "Intervener Self-Assessment of Competencies to Work with Students with Deafblindness" prior to participating in the training. The team brought Student Profiles to assist them in applying training strategies to their deafblind student's individual hearing loss, vision loss and additional needs. Teams were asked to participate in a follow-up study on the effectiveness of training and documentation of the impact of the Intervener Model on student progress. They were sent home with an "Annual Student Assessment" http://www.tsbvi.edu/Outreach/deafblind/annual-student-assessment.doc to complete in the years 2003, 2004, 2005 to track the progress of students who are assigned an intervener.

Joyce Olson, Coordinator of the Provincial Outreach Program for Students with Deafblindness in British Colombia, was the presenter at the 2003 Annual Statewide Intervener Team Training. Participants experienced activities under simulation in roles as deafblind students and Interveners. Through these activities under simulation, partners learned:

Joyce's training focused on Four Key Components of Intervention (adapted from the work of John and Jacquie McInnes of Brantford, Ontario):


The intervener must provide the person with deafblindness with enough information to allow them to anticipate coming events for the individual (e.g. touch cues, environmental cues, object cues, picture cues, signing, print, speech, etc.). Once the person has sufficient information to anticipate what is happening the intervener should make the individual aware of any choices that may be made, so that they can continue to increase their independence.


The intervener will always provide motivation. In the early years it will be the intervener rather than the activity that will be the motivator. Later on the intervener's skill and enthusiasm for the activity will play a large part in the deafblind person's desire to learn, and to practice old skills.


Communication is the key to everything that an individual with deafblindness does. Through the use of a variety of communication modes, based on the needs of the individual, the intervener provides enough undistorted information so that the person with deafblindness can make appropriate decisions and carry them out.


A person with deafblindness may not be able to gather sufficient feedback from their environment to know how successful or unsuccessful they have been in attempting to do a specific activity. The intervener must provide this information so the individual knows what effect their actions are having on the world around them.

Interveners attending the training had time to network with each other and share their individual experiences in their roles as interveners. Email addresses and contact information were exchanged for the opportunity for continuing a dialogue with one another.

Portfolios To Document Intervener Skills and Training

With the enactment of the Federal "No Child Left Behind" legislation addressing quality public education, there are new guidelines concerning the qualifications of paraprofessionals <http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/pg2.html#sec1119> and <http://www.tea.state.tx.us/taa/comm050803.html>. During the 2003 Statewide Intervener Team Training, Jim Durkel from TSBVI Outreach provided the following guidelines for interveners to use a portfolio to document their skills and training <http://www.tsbvi.edu/Outreach/deafblind/portfolios.htm>.

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is a collection of work. It is easiest to imagine the portfolio for an artist or a writer; these portfolios would contain photographs of the artist's works or samples of the writer's writing. It may be a little harder to imagine how a portfolio for an intervener would look. Before discussing how a portfolio for an intervener would look, lets look at why an intervener might want to create a portfolio.

Why create a portfolio?

A portfolio is evidence of your skills and talents as well as a record of training you have completed. The portfolio can be used as a "scrapbook" to help you remember and reflect your successes, it offers you an opportunity to think about ways to improve your skills, and it can be used as proof of your abilities and accomplishments during annual performance reviews or when interviewing for a new position. Many colleges are using portfolios to document life accomplishments and are offering their students course credit for these accomplishments.

What can be in a portfolio?

Portfolios can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish. It is important that materials be organized in some way so that proof of an accomplishment is easy to find and is clearly labeled. A portfolio is not merely a collection of materials that have been stored willy-nilly in a cardboard box. Nor does a portfolio need to contain an example of everything you have ever done. A portfolio is an organized collection of samples of your accomplishments designed to showcase your skills.

These samples can take many forms. For example, a portfolio may contain a copy of a post-secondary degree or copies of certificate of attendance from workshops or conferences. The portfolio might contain videotape segments of you engaged in an activity with a student. It might contain a copy of materials you adapted for your students. Just keep in mind that the portfolio is a record of your work, not of the student's work. (Though you can create a separate student portfolio to document your student's accomplishments and progress.)

Here is a partial list of what might be in the portfolio. This list is not necessarily complete!

A summary of your credentials/qualifications/etc. which might include:

Written samples of your work, which might include:

Examples (either the material itself or photographs) of materials you have created or material adaptations you have made such as:

Samples of the student's work that reflect your role as an intervener, including:

A videotape or photographs of you supporting student success in some activity, for example:

Samples that demonstrate your competency in some procedure or instructional technique, for example:

Evidence of your thinking about your role as an intervener, for example:

Some hints for organizing the portfolio

If you are an intervener (paraprofessional, teacher aide, instructional assistant working one-on-one with a deafblind student) in Texas and need more information on: resources on deafblindness, technical assistance, training opportunities, self-assessment of competencies in deafblindness, participation in a study on the impact of the Intervener Model on student progress, or getting on a mailing list contact Cyral Miller, Director of Outreach, at <CyralMiller@tsbvi.edu> or (512) 206-9242.


Courses and Distant Learning on Deafblindness through Institutes of Higher Education

College and University Programs

Conferences, Courses, Events, Seminars, & Workshops Throughout the World about Deafblindness

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Last Revision: September 1, 2010