Four Key Components of Deafblind Intervention

Anticipation, Motivation, Communication, and Confirmation

Students who are deafblind have visual and auditory differences such that they they have a difficult time gathering consistent, undistorted information from the environment. 

The Key Components of Intervention are four interconnected areas where students with deafblindness tend to have a hard time because they are missing out on crucial information. These areas are anticipation, motivation, communication, and confirmation. 

When planning any activity, ask yourself:

  1. How will I let the learner know what is about to happen in both the immediate and distant future?  (Anticipation)
  2. What's in this activity for the learner? (Motivation)
  3. How will I communicate with the learner in this activity (receptive), and have I built in opportunities for the learner to communicate expressively? (Communication)
  4. How will I let the learner know the effects of his actions, whether or not he has been successful, and when he is finished with the activity? (Confirmation)

Remember that each of these components do not stand alone. The components of Intervention merge and blend with each other throughout all activities. One strategy or technique may include elements of all four components.

A student with deafblindness often does not get enough information from the environment to be able to anticipate what is about to happen to them and around them. Anticipation is important for safety and overall well-being. People have different levels of comfort with uncertainty, but generally everyone likes to have an idea of what is going to happen and feel frustrated and unsafe when they don't know what is going on. It is the Intervenor's role to provide the learner with the information needed to be able to predict what is going to happen.  

Examples of Anticipation Strategies:

  • Find a way to let your student know what is happening, both in the immediate and more distant future. Use cues. Create a calendar schedule. 
  • Familiarize your student with the environment. 
  • Use routines.
  • Preview materials to be covered in class.

Motivation is important for everyone because we generally don't do things we aren't motivated to do! If you aren't interested in the task you are being asked to do because it's too difficult, too boring, or you don't understand its purpose, it will be very difficult to get it done. For students with deafblindness, motivation is very difficult because they may not know what their options are, are not able to observe the environment to be motivated, have had limited experiences, or have had bad experiences with new experiences or items. The Intervenor needs to understand how the individual with deafblindness can be motivated to be an informed and active participant in the world around them.

Examples of Motivation Strategies:

  • Establish a trust bond with your student. Participate in activities you both enjoy. Show respect. 
  • Expand on your student's existing interests and motivators. 
  • Offer choices whenever possible and respect the choice when it's made. 
  • Use your calendar schedule to let your student know when their favourite activities are coming up. 

Communication is key to everything that an individual with deafblindness does. Through a variety of communication modes, based on the needs of the individual, the Intervenor communicates WITH the person who is deafblind. It's not enough to just tell the learner what is going to happen, the individual with deafblindness needs opportunities to be expressive and inquisitive. Intervenors need to be attuned to their students and recognize when they are attempting to communicate, however subtle that attempt may be and respond appropriately so the student knows they have been heard. 

Examples of Communication Strategies:

  • Make sure your student has a way to communicate, things to communicate about, and reasons to communicate. 
  • Communicate in whatever ways your student can understand, using a variety of modes to get the message across. 
  • Be consistent with your communication expectations. 
  • Be aware of the cues you are sending. 

For more about communication strategies, click on the link below. 

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In deafblindness, confirmation means that the student understands or is aware of the outcome of an action or event. An individual with deafblindness may not be able to gather sufficient feedback from their environment to know how successful or unsuccessful they have been in attempting to perform a specific action. It is the Intervenor’s role to provide this information so that the individual knows the effects of their actions and have necessary information for learning and developing competence.

Examples of Confirmation Strategies

  • Create a responsive environment that provides clear feedback, making the results of their actions evident to learners with deafblindness. 
  • Respectfully provide feedback about the results of actions - successes and attempts that can be learned from. 
  • Always let students know when activities are finished, and when people they have been interacting with are leaving. 
  • Respond to any communication attempt the student makes so they know their communication has been received.