An Intervener is a person who has received extensive training and education to work 1-on-1 with a student who has both hearing and vision loss.  An Intervener provides a bridge to the world for the student who is deafblind. From an education perspective, any child who has combined hearing and vision loss  that  severely affects their ability to communicate, learn, and succeed in school (including classrooms for deaf OR blind students), is considered “deaf-blind.”  Most of these students are not totally blind and profoundly deaf. The Intervener helps the student gather information, learn concepts and skills, develop communication and language, and establish relationships that lead to greater independence. The Intervener is a support person who does with, not for the student. Specialized training is needed to become an effective Intervener. Training should address a wide range of topics necessary to understanding the nature and impact of deafblindness, the role of the Intervener, and appropriate educational strategies to work with students with combined vision and hearing loss (Alsop, Killoran, Robinson, Durkel, & Prouty, 2004; McGinnes, 1986; Robinson et al., 2000).

The Intervener’s job is individualized to the student they work with, depending on the amount of vision and hearing the child has, whether their vision and/or hearing will progressively deteriorate, and the cognitive level of the child.  With the specific student in mind, interveners will require skills and abilities from the following:

  • fluency in American Sign Language or Signed English

  • contracted and uncontracted braille skills

  • skills in tactually modifying print material

  • an understanding of proper Orientation and Mobility techniques

  • the ability to facilitate communication between their student and adults around them

  • the ability to facilitate communication and relationships between their student and peers

  • the ability to encourage and foster their student’s independence

  • the ability to provide access to visual and auditory environmental information

  • the ability and desire to develop a relationship with the student so that the student knows s/he is safe and included 

  • the ability/desire to consult with and take direction from the Teacher of the Blind/VI, Teacher of the Deaf/HH, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, classroom teacher, etc.  

Properly trained Interveners are rare, and in demand.  A person who has a true understanding of deaf-blindness has to almost see the world through their student, so that they can determine what the child is missing due to their hearing and vision loss.  The Intervener can then begin to develop a plan as to what their job should be to fill in those gaps.  This requires an intense relationship with and respect for the student.  We are all born to do different things, and some things cannot be taught. Rather, they need to be a part of who you are.  A part of who Interveners are, without the necessary training, includes this ability to observe, learn, and want to communicate with the child with deaf-blindness.  Students with deaf-blindness can understand much more than they can demonstrate.  The Intervener will “do with, and not for.” 


Deaf-Blindness and the Role of the Intervener –


A Family’s Guide to Interveners –


Interveners in the Classroom


Comparison between Interveners and Paraprofessionals –


Intervener Training –

Utah State University (online)


Intervener Competencies –


What Every Special Educator Must Know –