What is deafblind Intervention?


A student with deafblindness is one who has a combined loss of vision and hearing, such that neither sense can be used as a primary source of accessing information. Therefore, deafblindness is considered an information-gathering disability.

A student with deafblindness requires specialized support to meet their educational needs beyond those that would be provided for students with solely vision loss or hearing loss or severe disabilities. With this support in place, a student with deafblindness is able to benefit from integrated school and community programs.


Intervention is a process that allows an individual who is deafblind to receive visual and auditory information that they are unable to gather on their own. This process must be meaningful to the individual with deafblindness, so they can interact with their environment. Intervention enables the person who is deafblind to establish and maintain control over their life.

The concept of Intervention for individuals with deafblindness was developed in Canada and has been adopted worldwide. The link below will take you to the Principles of the Canadian Concept of "Intervention" on the CDBA National website. 

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An Intervenor is a professional who provides Intervention services to an individual who is deafblind.

According to McInnes & Treffry (1993), Intervention is not defined by the person acting as the Intervenor, but rather by the needs of the person who is deafblind.

Intervention Essentials

Deafblind Intervenors need to have the skills to facilitate communication, learning, and social interactions with students who are deafblind. In the educational system, these skills are needed across all environments, from the classroom to the gym, from the playground to the library. Below are three Intervention Essentials that deafblind Intervenors need to understand and be able to use effectively so that their student is able to be an active and informed participant.

Each person with deafblindness experiences a unique combination of vision and hearing loss such that making sense of their surroundings can be difficult. Each person with deafblindness may gather parts of information in different ways about what is happening in the environment through his/her senses. The Provincial Outreach Program for Students with Deafblindness supports the use of a Total Communication Approach when working with an individual with deafblindness. In the Total Communication Approach, the Intervenor uses a combination of communication methods and modes for the individual with deafblindness.

For more about Communication and deafblindness, click the link below. 

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There are 11 best practices for Intervenors to use in order to effectively support students with deafblindness. 

  1. Establish Trust - Emotional Bond
  2. Routines
  3. Involve the Learner in the Whole Process of any Activity
  4. Utilize all the Senses
  5. Learn by Doing
  6. Hand-under-hand
  7. Generalizing Skills
  8. Feedback
  9. Time
  10. Organization and Environment Management
  11. Independence

You can find a handy reference that explains each of the best practices in depth on the POPDB One-Page Handouts Section. 

One Page Handouts

A Responsive Environment refers to a setting that responds to a student with deafblindness. The learner has some influence over the things they do. 

Observational or incidental learning is not usually a learning strength for an individual with deafblindness. Due to their visual and auditory differences, they may not be drawn to interacting with others, nor see the effect of their actions on the environment. Consequently, learning about the environment may not be naturally motivating in the same way that their peers may experience it.

One of the responsibilities of the Intervenor is to create an environment so that the individual is motivated to interact, explore, and learn. There are 6 elements that the Intervenor considers when creating a Responsive Environment. These elements are:

  1. Establishing a trust bond with the individual who is deafblind. The trust bond is a basis for motivation to learn, communicate, and establish social connections.
  2. Acting as a communication partner with the learner who is deafblind, in order to provide clear, non-distorted information, and to ensure that the child has control over his/her world by being an expressive communicator.
  3. Ensuring that the learner is an active participant in every activity and that s/he has the information needed to be an informed participant.
  4. Helping the learner to explore and communicate about the things that interest him/her. Following the learner's lead and sharing in a two-way conversation about these interests.
  5. Challenging the learner to think for him/herself and problem solve.
  6. Providing an increasing range of experiences in an evolving and growing environment.

You can find a handy reference on Creating a Responsive Environment on the POPDB One Page Handouts page. 

One Page Handouts


Four Key Components of Deafblind Intervention

All about anticipation, motivation, communication, and confirmation.

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Getting Started

Congratulations! You accepted a position as an Intervenor! Now what?

Getting started