What does it mean to be an intervener in Iowa?

The following is the definition of “intervener” used by Iowa’s Deafblind Services Project. This definition was developed by the Deafblind Project Intervener Committee with input from members of the Deafblind Advisory Committee. It is adapted from the definition provided by the National Center on Deaf-Blindness.

Interveners provide access to information, communication, as well as facilitate the development of social and emotional well-being for children who are deaf-blind. In educational environments, intervener services are provided by an individual who has received specialized training in deaf-blindness and the process of intervention. An intervener provides consistent one-to-one support to a student who is deaf-blind (age 3 through 21) throughout the instructional day. The intervener will work under the guidance and direction of a student’s classroom teacher or another individual responsible for ensuring the implementation of the student’s IEP.

An intervener’s primary roles are to (Alsop, Blaha, and Kloos, 2000):

  • provide consistent access to instruction and environmental information that is usually gained by typical students through vision and hearing, but that is unavailable or incomplete to an individual who is deaf-blind;
  • provide access to and/or assist in the development and use of receptive and expressive communication skills;
  • facilitate the development and maintenance of trusting, interactive relationships that promote social and emotional well-being; and,
  • provide support to help a student form relationships with others and increase social connections and participation in activities.

An intervener does not work in isolation. Instead, he or she:

  • participates as an active member of the student’s educational team,
  • attends and participates in IEP meetings,
  • attends regularly scheduled planning and feedback meetings with the teacher and other team members,
  • is actively supervised and supported by the classroom teacher and other professionals responsible for the child’s IEP, and
  • receives ongoing support from professional educators with expertise in deaf-blindness (National Center on Deaf-Blindness, 2013).

In closing:

A skilled intervener facilitates a deafblind child’s access to environmental information, supports the development and use of communication, and promotes social and emotional well-being (Alsop, Blaha, & Kloos, 2000). Interveners enable Deafblind children to become aware of what is occurring around them, attach language and meaning to all experiences, minimize the effects of multisensory deprivation, and empower children to have control over their lives (Henderson & Killoran, 1995, p. 3).