Parent Shares Her "Piece of the Puzzle" in Module Collaboration

Posted on October 30, 2013


Patti McGowan   

It is hard to believe that it has just been about a year now when the “buzz” in the field of deaf-blindness began about creating open access national training modules to help states prepare and train interveners.  At that time, we were hearing that these recommendations were being developed in response to a direct request from the Office for Special Education Programs (OSEP) to support the intervener practice across the country.

Personally, I thought this was positive news as I am a parent to a son with Usher Syndrome Type II who has an intervener working with him in his high school classes.  While our state has had several cohorts of intervener training, many states have not had these opportunities. So the thought of additional training resources and information for every state just made sense to me.

As a parent leader, I was inspired to have been asked to be a part of the Open Hands Open Access (OHOA) module contributing writing team. In particular, I was excited to be a part of a powerful activity. Together, OSEP and NCDB were moving forward to engage and support our deaf-blind network.  Secondly, I was thrilled with the idea that we would have the chance to work collaboratively with representatives from diverse states. The collaboration across State Deaf-Blind Projects, parents, teachers, interpreters, university professors, and interveners was a part of the strategy for building this resource. Not only do I embrace being surrounded by professionals in the field of deaf-blindness to gain knowledge, I was ready to share my story of my son and his intervener. Through this collaboration, I would be able to share my voice for other students with deaf-blindness.

My son is educated in the general education setting of his home district high school.  He is on grade level because of his intervener and his assistive technology.  He needs his intervener to be his eyes and ears because he does not know what he does not see or hear. In his fast-paced classes, he does not know what he misses; it is that simple. Hunter’s intervener is a very important piece of his educational puzzle. When his intervener is working with other educational team members, the puzzle fits together.

As I reflected on my journey with Hunter, I wanted to share the message about the diversity of students who are deaf-blind with future interveners. There is a huge continuum of students with deaf-blindness and they all need to be represented equally and individually. Although interveners need a good base of training, at the same time an intervener needs to be as individualized as a student’s IEP.  I truly believe all students with deaf-blindness need support, but that support looks very different with each student.  Because of the intense collaboration that happened to create this tool, I feel that the OHOA modules represent the continuum of students with deaf-blindness. My experience with Hunter and what I have learned over the years from other families was able to be my piece of the puzzle to bring to this work.

The experience of being not once but twice brought together to write, to film, and to create learning activities for the good of students with deaf-blindness was one of my best life experiences in my journey with deaf-blindness.  Not only was I able to learn from the professionals, but I knew the professionals were learning from us as parents of kids who are deaf-blind.  Ideas were shared and we were true partners in this endeavor.  There was such a mutual respect, in all the while working for the same goal.  It is my hope that the outcome for those who will have the opportunity to work and learn from the OHOA modules will be as educational and rewarding.


Comments (3)

Patti, the intervener learning modules developed thus far are truly dynamic and I am so thankful that parent leaders and professionals collaborated on this project! You are so right about the range of training that is needed for interveners depending on the deafblind student's needs (and age, educational setting, home setting, community setting). Thanks for sharing your piece of the puzzle!

Jenny Lace

Posted Nov 1, 2013 by Jenny Lace

Patti I love your story about Hunter. This is a true testament of the power of the Intervener Model I always ask the question...what would Hunter's life look like if he did not have someone to bridge his world with the seeing and hearing world? This is why we believe so much in the Intervener and do what we do. Thank you so much for sharing. Melanie K.

Melanie Knapp

Posted Nov 1, 2013 by Melanie Knapp


Melanie Knapp

Posted Nov 1, 2013 by Melanie Knapp

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