"The U.S. Department of Education is inviting comments regarding their regulations. The June 22, 2017 Federal Register contains a request for comments, In accordance with Executive Order 13777, ‘‘Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda", signed by President Trump February 24, 2017. The Department of Education is now seeking input on regulations that "may be appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification." This is our opportunity to send in comments to modify the Related Services regulation by adding Intervener Services to that list (“CFR Title 34, Subtitle III, Chapter III, Part 300, Subpart A, §300.34 Related Service)." Source: personal email.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I request a modification of the regulations to include Intervener Services on the list of Related Services. Trained interveners are difference-makers for DeafBlind children no matter what the children's ages are or skills and language they have. They are able to adapt to work WITH the child and not FOR the child, they seek out opportunities for the child to access and make connections with things, people and the environment, they are responsible for the child's social and emotional development.
Yes, education of DeafBlind children is a very young field. Even with early DeafBlind people, Laura Bridgman (b. 1829) and Helen Keller (b. 1880) (www.perkins.org), it is still new compared to public education and Deaf Education. In the short time this field has grown, knowledge and skills, for which there are currently Council for Exceptional Children standards (CEC link below), in interveners have proven time and time again it is a best practice in the education of DeafBlind children.
My 7 year-old DeafBlind son, Orion, is one of these students fortunate to have been assigned interveners over the years, his first one was when he was 3 years old. It was at that school and the first time for Orion, the IEP team voluntarily listed intervener services, which he received 1875 minutes of per week, under Related Services in his IEP document. With the support of personnel skilled and experienced with DeafBlind children, including interveners, Orion is walking more, drinking via straw, making choices when offered, making progress with requesting things or actions of other people. Most important of all, Orion is happier on these school days where he can understand what's happening and has been "heard" by competent people who understand him.
Unfortunately this is not true for all DeafBlind children during the critical early years of their life. Caregivers, one-on-one aides, nurses, volunteers who are not trained or experienced in this field do not reach the level of efficiency in schools that interveners bring.
The good news is that there are training resources available, some are online resources and online training programs through a few universities. One of them is a 27-module online resource developed by the National Center on DeafBlindness, funded by the Office of Special Education Programs called Open Hands, Open Access Intervener Modules (OHOA). There is national intervener certification available through NICE (National Intervener Certification E-Portfolio) that is based on the CEC intervener skills and knowledge standards.
By modifying the Related Services list to include Intervener Services, it opens the door to educate, empower and enable our early intervention, K-12 professionals and particularly DeafBlind children to successfully access education currently offered to all the children in our country.
Open Hands, Open Access Intervener Modules. National Center on DeafBlindness. http://moodle.nationaldb.org. Retrieved online August 2017.
Specialty Set: Special Education Paraeducator Intervener for Individuals With Deafblindness (PDBI). Council for Exceptional Children. https://cec.sped.org/~/media/Files/Standards/Paraeducator%20Sets/Specialty%20Set%20%20%20Special%20Education%20Paraeducator%20Intervener%20for%20Individuals%20With%20Deafblindness%20PDBI.pdf. Retrieved online August 2017.
What is NICE? National Center on DeafBlindness. https://nationaldb.org/pages/show/national-intervener-certification-e-portfolio-nice/what-is-nice. Retrieved online August 2017.