How Does an Intervener Differ from an SSP?

National Center on Deaf-Blindness Home and Community Intervener Workgroup

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Interveners in the Home and Community: An Under-Recognized Imperative, which was written by the National Center on Deaf-Blindness Home and Community Intervener Workgroup (2014). We are sharing this with our readers to provide more background information on individualized services for people who are DeafBlind. To read the entire document, please visit

Like interveners, support service providers (SSPs) are an emerging support service for individuals with deaf-blindness in the United States (Bourquin, et al., 2006). SSPs provide support in accessing communication, information, and environments at the direction of the person with deaf-blindness, who is the decision-maker in the relationship. The SSP model is designed for people who are deaf-blind and have the skills, abilities, maturity, and experience to independently provide direction to the SSP. The primary roles of an SSP are to provide transportation (e.g., by car or bus and as a human guide while walking) and to relay “visual and environmental information that may not be heard or seen by the person who is deaf-blind” (Bourquin, et al., 2006). A typical SSP assignment might include providing the support a person needs to fully enjoy a social event—for example, providing transportation, describing the scene and the people, and facilitating activities like mingling, getting refreshments, finding a place to sit, and participation in games. In addition to social occasions, SSPs provide support for activities like meetings, doctor’s appointments, banking, shopping, travel, and reading mail.

While SSPs and interveners both provide sensory access to guide and facilitate communication, interveners provide support in many additional ways that SSPs traditionally do not. Interveners assist in the home and community by performing activities with, rather than for, the individuals they are supporting. Some people who are deaf-blind may not be comfortable with or capable of self-direction because of additional disabilities, youth, or lack of experience. These individuals may not be able to plan and initiate activities, or they may not have the knowledge and experience to take the lead and make decisions. In these cases, the intervener’s role is to provide the initiation and direction needed so that the person can have more opportunities for meaningful and satisfying experiences with preferred activities. This may include assistance with making decisions if the person is unable to do so successfully on his or her own and teaching new skills to increase independence.

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