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Trending Topics-Support Service Providers (SSP)
Trending Topic – Support Service Providers (SSPs)
With more communities and states providing SSP services, now is a great time to learn more about the subject.
What is an SSP?
An SSP (support service provider) serves as the eyes and ears of the person who has both vision and hearing loss. (This definition is from the SSP White Paper by the American Association of the Deaf-Blind – AADB.) There are four key components of the SSP role:
1) relays visual and environmental information such as the price of a bottle of tea or chips in a store;
2) provides access to the community by serving as a human guide and making transportation available when further SSP services are required;
3) facilitates communication, such as what a store clerk is saying during the checkout process; and
4) insure the safety of the person with vision and hearing loss when they are together.
SSPs are sometimes confused with other roles such as interveners, interpreters, or personal care attendants. One big distinction is that the person with vision and hearing loss makes all the decisions when working with an SSP. Thus, the person with vision and hearing loss must be able to make their own decisions.
What an SSP CAN do:
SSPs strive to increase one’s independence through these type of activities:
- Food/clothing shopping
- Social/recreational activities
- Running errands
Basically, leveling the playing field for people who are deaf-blind with their neighbors.
What an SSP CANNOT do:
- Run errands FOR the person with dual sensory loss
- Personal care (bathing, grooming)
- Clean house
- Formal interpreting (unless the SSP is certified as an interpreter)
- Make decisions for the person
- Provide transportation only
Where can I find SSP services?
HKNC maintains a listing of the SSP programs across the country, both community-wide and statewide programs. There are 17 states providing statewide SSP services and over 30 programs nationwide. Some programs receive private grants or state funding for their services, while other programs rely on volunteers with big hearts. Updates are being made to the national program listing with current contact information. The list will be posted to this Transition Forum once it is complete. Until then, you can always contact your HKNC regional representative to find out if SSP services are available in your community. https://www.helenkeller.org/hknc/nationwide-services
Additionally, there are a number of resources on the Internet about SSP services. There is an SSP White Paper (that is also currently being updated) on the American Association of the DeafBlind website and a number of resources on NCDB’s website: https://nationaldb.org/library/page/2166 including this article that compares the responsibilities of interpreters, interveners and SSPs. http://documents.nationaldb.org/dbp/pdf/sept01.pdf
Questions for Thought:
- Does your community have SSP services?
- How have SSPs improved your son/daughter’s life?
- Have you been involved in establishing SSP services in your community?