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Teacher of the Deaf-Blind Work Group

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Teacher of the Deaf-Blind Work Group

Interveners and Qualified Personnel

This page was last updated on Apr 26, 2017 at 10:30 am


Students with deaf-blindness are considered a low incidence population nationally. Partners in this community are developing strategies to ensure that this group of students have teachers with knowledge and skills to meet their needs. NCDB has, for many years, collaborated with the various programs across the United States who deliver deaf-blind content in their personnel preparation programs.  The programs represented in this effort are working to maximize the assets that all programs can use to expand courses and materials that are competency based.  This group will also collaborate with CEC’s DVIDB to cultivate an active professional home for teachers and TA providers in the field of deaf-blindness.   

The information presented on this page captures some of the ongoing work.  

The Council for Exceptional Children has developed national competencies for teachers:
CEC DVI Knowledge and Skills for Initial Special Educators Serving Students with Deafblindness.

If you have questions about these efforts, please feel free to post to the Forum that is part of the Interveners and Qualified Personnel Initiative Group or contact Linda McDowell

The Evolving Role of TDB

The Need (Blaha, Cooper, Irby, Montgomery & Parker)

 “Teachers of deafblind are needed both direct and consultative services. Direct instruction may include activities incorporating the following:

  • vision awareness or vision efficiency activities;
  • auditory awareness or training;
  • activity routines which facilitate use of object symbols, tactile symbols, spoken, signed or picture symbols;
  • tactile awareness training leading to tactile symbol or pre-braille activities;
  • spatial awareness and exploration;
  • literacy awareness including pre-braille or print activities; and
  • assistive technology devices and applications.”

“Consultative services include supporting and participating in planning with the entire educational team, particularly the classroom teacher and intervener. Areas in which the teacher of students with deafblindness will have particular expertise are:

  • assessment and evaluation of sensory and communication skills;
  • creating, providing and supporting the use of materials appropriate for the student's sensory needs; 
  • information and support of communication systems;
  • supporting the use of assistive technology;
  • collaborating on accommodations and modifications of instructional materials and activities to meet the students sensory needs; and developing meaningful educational activities.”

CEC Knowledge and Skills Competencies for Teachers of the Deafblind

The Council for Exceptional Children recognizes special standards for interveners and teachers with specific training in deafblindness.

  • Specialization Knowledge and Skill Set for Paraeducators who are Interveners.
  • Initial Special Educators serving students with deafblindness.

These two points represent the overlap in knowledge and skills required to have a complete educational model with qualified Teacher of Deafblind for assessment, planning coordination and instruction.

State Examples of Building the Role Through Partnerships in Practice and Preparation


“The task force created a state plan for children and youth who are deafblind and task force members, particularly parents, successfully lobbied the state legislature for funding.  According to the state plan, statewide services for children and youth who are deafblind consisting of interveners and deafblind specialists were to be housed at USDB along with the federal technical assistance project which became the Utah Deaf-Blind Project”

(Nelson & Sanders, 2014).


  • In an effort to develop and enhance educational services to students, TSBVI launched a mentor program in 2009. Five teachers from 3 regions were selected because of their background and training in DB. They were also chosen because of their experiences in DB. They received intensive technical assistance and support. The pilot teachers engaged in rich discussion about the role of teachers.
  • Partnership happened with local districts (Houston) where there was recognition of this unique instructional need.
  • From June 2011 through May 2013, 7 TDBs and their administrators met with project staff to define unique practices for serving students.
  • Over the course of the collaboration, student, teacher and systems outcomes were measured as case studies.
  • The model continues to grow with administrative support for additional training at Texas Tech University and intensive partnership with Texas Deaf-Blind Outreach Staff.

(Montgomery, 2014 & Montgomery, 2015)

National Next Steps

At Summit 2017, a session covering this national need produced a detailed list of challenges along with examples of state solutions to some of the inherent challenges of meeting this national need.  Results from that session will eventually be published. 

National Center on Deaf-Blindness logo.

Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind logo.

Texas School for the Blind logo.

College of Education at the University of Utah logo.

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