Sonja Biggs Educational Services, Inc.
Creating Education and Accessibility for All Students
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Sonja Biggs Educational Services, Inc. partners with districts in providing quality, highly trained Interveners who are fluent in sign language, know braille, and are a bridge between the sighted/hearing world and the student who is both deaf and blind.
Deaf can mean any type of hearing loss and Blind can mean any type of vision loss. When both are combined together, the student misses so much of in the way of language development, concept development, and being able to access their education. An Intervener can open up language, communication, concept development, and access for the student with a dual sensory loss. Our Interveners are either credentialed or enrolled in the credentialing program through Utah State University’s Intervener program.
Interveners work one-on-one with the student who has the dual sensory loss. Interveners have specialized training and skills in deafblindness. An intervener provides a bridge to the world for the student who is deafblind. 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).
What is Deafblindness?
Deafblindness involves a combined vision and hearing loss, to the extent that neither of these primary information-gathering senses (vision or hearing) compensates for the loss of the other sense. The educational and functional impact of these combined losses on each student will vary depending upon the degree and type of vision and hearing losses, the stability of the losses, the age of onset of each loss, the presence or absence of additional disabilities, and the quality of educational services provided. It is critically important to understand that the student’s vision and hearing losses are not additive in nature (deafness plus blindness), but rather are multiplicative (deafness times blindness). Therefore, sometimes even students with seemingly mild simultaneous vision and hearing losses can be greatly impacted by them (Huebner, Prickett, Welch, & Joffee, 1995; McInnes & Treffry, 1982).
Deafblindness creates a disability of access to the visual and auditory information about the environment (people, things, events) that is necessary for learning, communication, and overall development. Consequently, incidental information (visual and auditory information which sighted and hearing students receive automatically without effort) is not readily accessible to students with combined vision and hearing loss. Instead of effortlessly receiving a flow of information like others, these students must work to attend, gather, and interpret partial amounts of information which are often distorted and incomplete. Without clear and consistent information, the brain cannot function normally and learning cannot occur naturally. As a result, students who are deafblind have a difficult time connecting with and understanding the world, and often experience significant isolation and limited opportunities for self-determination (Alsop, Blaha, & Kloos, 2002; Robinson et al., 2000).