CEC Competency Based Dialogues to Support Students with Deaf-Blindness
Posted on October 28, 20159 Comments 0 Likes Like this post
Amy Parker - NCDB Coordinator of Professional Development and Products
Over the past few years, professionals and families in the field of deaf-blindness have been engaged in renewed dialogues about the need for local-level interveners and trained teachers that serve students who are deaf-blind. Some exciting examples of these national conversations have been captured in NCDB’s Intervener Services Recommendations that were published in 2012 and in the 2014 Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Visual Impairment and Deafblindness Quarterly issue on deaf-blindness. Themes about the need for qualified teachers, interveners and efforts to promote these roles were also prominent at national gatherings such as the 2012 NFADB Symposium, the 2014 Texas Deafblind Symposium, and the 2015 CHARGE Syndrome International Conference in Chicago. Through the collective efforts of family and professional leaders, language about the need for qualified teachers, interveners, and state plans related to serving students with deaf-blindness, was added to the Cogswell-Macy Act which was recently re-introduced in Congress.
The words “renewed dialogues” are appropriate because there have long been voices in the field of deaf-blindness that have called attention to the need for trained teachers and interveners. In 2008, there was a significant step forward when leaders began working with the Council for Exceptional Children to develop specific knowledge and skills competencies for teachers serving students who are deaf-blind and for interveners (Zambone & Alsop, 2009). The publication of these competencies offered members in our low-incidence community a way to describe the needs of students and to begin to work on paths to establish national recognition for these roles.
The competencies for teachers serving students who are deaf-blind and for interveners provide a valuable framework for systematic training for personnel, and, importantly, they provide legitimacy for educators who serve the rarest of the low incidence disability groups. Only a handful of state systems formally recognize teachers with certificates in deaf-blindness or trained interveners, yet national competencies have been developed within a respected international organization that provides standards for special educators. From this standpoint, it is worth exploring the role of a national technical assistance network that is funded to serve students who are deaf-blind and to ask ourselves what roles we may play in supporting dialogues for teacher and intervener competencies.
past three years, a few highlights of our network based efforts to promote
interveners and teachers include:
- Development and dissemination of a national
definition of intervener services, including clarification of the occupational
role of the intervener. The definition was based upon a synthesis of materials.
See the full
technical report for a description of the synthesis process:
- Development of a participatory network
approach to co-create Open, Hands,
Open Access (OHOA) Deaf-Blind Intervener Learning Modules on an accessible
learning platform. Eighteen of 26 modules have been produced and released to
the community. Many state partners are using the modules to offer high quality
outreach, training and technical assistance to teachers and teams. The modules are also being used to bolster
current intervener training programs as well as launch new programs.
- A partnership between NFADB and NCDB to host
cohorts of families in OHOA Module 3- The
Role of the Intervener in the Educational Setting.
- Ongoing development of an e-portfolio
performance-based assessment process for interveners with network partners that
is aligned with the CEC competencies for interveners
- Hosting conversations with personnel preparation
groups and technical assistance providers to explore opportunities for creative
partnerships in teacher training
In the realm of personnel preparation, some university partners in the past 3 years have received new funding related to training specific teacher cohorts in deaf-blindness at the master’s and doctoral levels. It is also encouraging to see that some university partners have received specific funding to examine how teachers in the areas of Blindness/Visual Impairments or Deaf/Hard of Hearing might increase their knowledge and skills in serving students who are deaf-blind. Researchers have encouraged technical assistance providers to use asset-based approaches to build upon areas of strength in professional learning communities (Blase, Kiser, et. al, 2013; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). In this vein, our technical assistance network must continue to look at examples of strength and partnerships within our states and regions for supporting teachers and interveners. To nurture opportunities for strengths-based growth, we must look for ways to develop new teachers and interveners by supporting comprehensive training programs while, concurrently, developing the knowledge of service providers currently supporting children. Our competencies give us a framework for engaging in those conversations and building those individual and systemic capacities.
The power of a network comes from our collective energy and focus to build an infrastructure that better serves students who are deaf-blind and their families. The CEC Knowledge and Skills Competencies for teachers and for interveners gives the field a way to focus on what is essential for service providers who interact with students who are deaf-blind in schools across the country. Also it is important to acknowledge that competencies, far from being carved in stone, evolve from the needs of the students themselves that are defined by both practice and research. As with any field, competencies must be explored and revisited as our own knowledge evolves. Through the engagement with organizations like the CEC, and the concerted attention of the technical assistance network, family organizations, and university partners, we have an opportunity to provide students who are deaf-blind with greater access to quality instruction and supports. Together, we may truly promote a system of education for students who are deaf-blind that supports their achievement, participation, and quality of life across the nation.
Blase, K., Kiser, L., & Van Dyke, M. (2013). The Hexagon Tool: Exploring context. Retrieved from http://implementation.fpg.unc.edu/resources/hexagon-tool-exploring-context?o=nirn
CCF National Resource Center. (2010). Strengthening Nonprofits: A Capacity Builder’s Resource Library. Delivering training and technical assistance. Retrieved from http://strengtheningnonprofits.org/resources/guidebooks/Delivering_Training_and_Technical_Assistance.pdf
National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness. (2012). Recommendations for Improving Intervener Services. Retrieved fromhttp://interveners.nationaldb.org
Parker, A. T. (Ed.). (2014). Deafblindness: Growing a professional home with DVIDB [Special issue]. Visual Impairment and Deafblind Education Quarterly, 59(5). Retrieved from http://dvi.uberflip.com/i/422067-vidbe-quarterly-volume-59-5
Zambone, A. M., & Alsop, L. (2009). Ensuring access to highly qualified interveners and teachers: Establishing intervener and teacher specialized professional associations in Council for Exceptional Children. Division on Visual Impairments Quarterly, 54(3), 44-47.Photos feature Johanna Borg from Texas and her student, Christopher.