Support Service Providers (SSP)

by NCDB on May 1, 2014
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Support Service Providers (SSPs) are individuals who provide services not necessarily included with interpreting, such as guiding, providing visual information when interpreting is not occurring, and sometimes light interpreting (such as at a bank or store). The following resources provide a more in-depth look at the role and functions of SSPs.


GUIDELINES: Practical Tips for Working and Socializing with Deaf-Blind People, Smith, Theresa B. -- Sign Media, Inc: 2002, 288. This second edition of Guidelines includes expanded chapters on topics such as tactile sign language, interpreting, conversation and physical environment. New information and more examples are included. Three new chapters include: Support Service Providers; Authority, Power and Control; and Meetings. The book is intended for people who know Sign Language, who are already experienced in "deafness" and in interacting with Deaf people, and who want to know more about "deaf-blindness" and interpreting for Deaf-Blind people. Professional interpreters, student interpreters, and anyone who wants to communicate and/or work more effectively with Deaf-Blind people will benefit from reading this book. May be ordered from Sign Media, Inc., 4020 Blackburn Lane, Burtonsville, MD 20866. Phone: (800) 475-4756. Cost: $24.95 Publisher's web site:


GUIDING TASKS FOR INTERPRETERS WORKING WITH DEAF-BLIND TRAVELERS, Bourquin, Eugene. 2005, 7. This article includes specific techniques and guidelines for human guides working with travelers who are deaf-blind. The author is certified in O&M, interpreting and low vision. VIEWS, Vol. 22, #11, December 2005, pp. 17-13


INDEPENDENCE WITHOUT SIGHT OR SOUND: Suggestions for Practitioners Working with Deaf-Blind Adults, Sauerburger, Dona. -- American Foundation for the Blind: 1993, 194. This book was written to help service providers in working with persons who are deaf-blind. There are numerous examples from actual experience and discussions of practical applications. Sections on service needs, communication, orientation and mobility, sensory deprivation and a survey of dog guide schools. Available from: AFB Press, Customer Service, P.O. Box 1020, Sewickley, PA 15143. Phone: 800-232-3044. Fax: 412-741-0609. Cost: $39.95. Specify print or braille.


INTERDEPENDENCE WITH OUR VALUABLE SSPS, McNamara, Jamie. 2000, 5. This article is excerpted from a speech given by Jamie McNamara at the Missouri Deaf-Blind Association’s 7th Anniversary Dinner, April 15, 2000. Presents the concept of interdependence versus independence and the role of support service providers (SSPs). Discusses SSP issues and how to identify problems and brainstorm solutions. Identifies a few ideas to get started on how to find SSPs, and keep them. DEAF-BLIND AMERICAN, vol. 38, #4, July-September 2000, pp. 31-36.


INTERPRETING AND WORKING WITH DEAFBLIND PEOPLE, Bar-Tzur, David. 2000, 9. Offers advice to interpreters working with persons who are deafblind. Covers four areas: meeting and negotiating needs, communication, guiding, and interpreting. Online version has links to additional information. Publisher's web site: This document is available on the web at:


INTRODUCTION TO THE SEATTLE DEAF-BLIND COMMUNITY AND THE ROLE OF THE SUPPORT SERVICE PROVIDER, Deaf-Blind Service Center. 2010, 7 minutes, 5 seconds. This video describes the Seattle Deaf-Blind Community and the Role of the Support Service Provider.  Seattle has had a Support Service Provider (SSP) program for the past 20 years and the community wishes to share their knowledge and experience so that other individuals who are deaf-blind in other parts of the country can begin to receive Support Service Provider assistance.  The video briefly describes the variations in how a person who is deaf-blind communicates depending on their level of vision and/or hearing.  This video is available on the web at:


NATIONAL SUPPORT SERVICE PROVIDER PILOT PROJECT ROLLS OUT NEW CURRICULUM, Jacobs, Rhonda. RID VIEWS, vol. 27, #3, Summer 2010, pp. 18-19. This article highlights the importance of support service providers (SSPs) for individuals who are deaf-blind and the establishment of the National Support Service Provider Pilot Project. In 2008, there was a federal appropriation that allowed the Deaf-Blind Service Center (DBSC) of Seattle, WA to begin Phase I with the development of a curriculum for training SSPs as well as training people who are deaf-blind to learn more about how to work with SSPs. A copy of the curriculum is available for free download from the DBSC website in regular print, large print, and Braille 1 and 2. A tactile publication was also produced and presented to approximately 40 individuals who are deaf-blind. Phase II will include multi-media tools such as PowerPoint presentations to go with each section of the curriculum, DVDs and other instructional materials. The funding received was enough to cover the technology tools, but not enough to cover training trainers, so more funding may be needed to make this happen.


PROVIDING AND RECEIVING SUPPORT SERVICES: Comprehensive Training for Deaf-Blind Persons and Their Support Service Providers/ Nuccio, Jelica; Smith, Theresa B. -- Deaf-Blind Service Center: 2014, xviii, 293. This curriculum is designed to be used to train support service providers (SSPs) and to train deaf-blind people to work with SSPs. It defines an SSP as an individual who is trained in communication (typically ASL) and sighted-guide skills, who accompanies a deaf-blind person, providing visual information and casual interpreting in the performance of personal responsibilities, in social situations, and during travel. The curriculum consists of three modules containing lessons for SSPs and two modules containing lessons for deaf-blind persons. 293 pages. The curriculum is available for a free download from the Seattle Deaf-Blind Service Center at: 


SSPs: What Are They and Why Are They Necessary? Chambers, Diane Lane. Denver, CO: Ellexa Press LLC, 2011. This DVD documentary shows SSPs in action, as people who are Deaf-Blind experience various travel adventures and activities, with support of Support Service Providers (SSPs). Donna Ragland, who is Deaf-Blind, and others discuss how SSPs contribute to their independence, and connect them to a variety of people, places, interactions, and experiences. Available from the author's website:


UNDERSTANDING SSP SITUATIONS: Workshop Proceedings, Thomas, Laura J. (moderator) 1998, 2. An outline of workshop discussing improving relationships between SSPs (Support Service Providers) and deaf-blind consumers in working and playing; learning how to express wants and needs to each other; and developing skills in respecting one another's opinions and suggestions. DEAF-BLIND AMERICAN, vol. 37, #1, 1998, pp. 6-7.


WHAT MAKES A GOOD SSP AND A GOOD DEAF-BLIND CONSUMER, Gasaway, Mark; Lascek, Susan. 2003, 5. The information in the article was compiled from deaf-blind consumers and Support Service Providers (SSP) at Georgia's Deaf-Blind Access of the South camp. It includes lists developed by participants on what makes a good SSP and what makes a good deaf-blind consumer. The section on a good SSP includes attributes such as attitude, time, skills, transportation, and other issues. The section on a good consumer includes attitude, skills and knowledge, and speaking up. The article gives specifics on each attribute as well as information on how the lists were developed. THE DEAF-BLIND AMERICAN, vol. 42, #2, April-June 2003, pp. 23-28.


"WHAT'S MY ROLE?": A Comparison of the Responsibilities of Interpreters, Intervenors, and Support Service Providers, Morgan, Susanne, M.A., C.I., C.T. -- Teaching Research Division: 2001, 3. This article compares and contrasts the various roles and responsibilities of interpreters, intervenors, and support service providers. It compares each in table form in a variety of categories. Categories range from age of clients, ethics, certifications required, confidentiality issues, and professional training. This document is available on the web at: DEAF-BLIND PERSPECTIVES, vol. 9, #1, Fall 2001, pp. 1-3.

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