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Tools to Employ and Support Interveners

April 2022

Skilled interveners provide consistent one-to-one support to help students who are deaf-blind gain access to information and communication and facilitate the development of their social and emotional well-being. An intervener is typically a paraeducator who is a member of the student’s educational team, working under a classroom teacher’s direction. Other service providers such as interpreters and nurses may also decide to seek training to become interveners. Oftentimes, individuals who are interested in intervener training are already working with a child who is deaf-blind in some capacity.

Deaf-blindness can severely limit access to visual and auditory information that forms the basis for learning and communication. This creates real challenges for educational systems, which are required by law to provide a free and appropriate education to students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. Intervener services are a way to meet the challenges of providing students who are deaf-blind with access to information they are unable to gather via vision and hearing. Likewise, interveners can help students with deaf-blindness compensate for the difficulties with communication and concept development that occur as a result of combined vision and hearing loss.

Three photo collage of interveners working with children who are deaf-blind in the classroom.

A Child Who Is Deaf-Blind Without Intervener Support

  • Can experience a profound lack of access to sensory information that limits their ability to know what others are communicating and predict what will happen
  • Is cut off from meaningful information that sighted and hearing children receive incidentally
  • Has difficulty attaching language and meaning to experiences
  • May lack a sense of security and trust that others will respond to their needs, which can compromise their readiness to learn and achieve their potential

A Child Who Is Deaf-Blind With Intervener Support

  • Has greater access to sensory information that sighted and hearing children obtain incidentally
  • Is better able to communicate their needs
  • Has a greater awareness of what is occurring around them and is able to attach language and meaning to experiences
  • Is better able to predict events
  • Has more control over their life
  • Is able to access the general education curriculum in the least restrictive environment

What Others Are Saying About the Impact of Interveners

Intervener Services - Roles and Responsibilities

Interveners are important members of IEP teams for many students who are deaf-blind; however, they are not teachers or experts in deaf-blind education. Every IEP team of a student who is deaf-blind should also include access to a professional educator who is an expert in deaf-blindness. Learn about the specific roles and responsibilities of interveners, their supervisor, and others in educational settings in the factsheets to the right.

Employment Tools and Materials

Because there are no standardized criteria for hiring an intervener, the resources in this section will help guide your decision making during the employment process. For example, learn how to determine whether intervener services are appropriate for a particular child and access materials to help you more smoothly navigate the hiring process.


Intervener Training and Certification

As with any professional or paraprofessional role, it’s important that interveners have a strong foundation of training and professional development. The following materials provide important information on how to support an intervener’s professional growth.


State Deaf-Blind Project Services

The availability of intervener services varies from state to state and district to district. Check with your state’s deaf-blind project for more information on interveners and the support services available in your area.