DeafBlind Interveners in Illinois

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) recently posted under “Proposed Rules and Amendments” an invitation for public comment regarding language on approval standards for interveners for students who are deaf-blind (among other additions and changes to Rulemaking for Educator Licensure, Part 25). Public comment for DeafBlind Intervener language is open until April 24, 2017, and may be submitted either via e-mail (addressed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or via standard mail (addressed to Lindsay M. Bentivegna, Agency Rules Coordinator, ISBE, 100 North First Street - S-493, Springfield, Illinois 62777-0001).

To find the language proposed for Deafblind Intervener, go to and scroll down to page 67. The text regarding DeafBlind Interveners is on page 67-68.

If this or similar language is approved, DeafBlind Interveners will become a related service for students in Illinois. “Related Services, in Brief…help children with disabilities benefit from their special education by providing extra help and support in needed areas…”

DeafBlind Interveners are still a new concept to many in Illinois. The National Definition notes that interveners:

  • Provide consistent access to instruction and environmental information that is usually gained by typical students through vision and hearing, but that is unavailable or incomplete to an individual who is deaf-blind;
  • Provide access to and/or assist in the development and use of receptive and expressive communication skills;
  • Facilitate the development and maintenance of trusting, interactive relationships that promote social and emotional well-being; and
  • Provide support to help a student form relationships with others and increase social connections and participation in activities.

To be eligible to provide this service as an intervener, an individual would have to hold the national credential or the national certification Currently, the only training programs that could lead to these portfolios are college training programs. The required intervener program can be completed with 3-4 classes, total. A bachelor’s or associate’s degree is NOT required.

There are currently two online college training programs where people can be trained to become a DeafBlind Intervener: Utah State University (USU) and Central Michigan University (CMU). This flier has information and USU’s program. The summer session flier is posted at and more information is available at about 2/3 down the webpage under “Registration.”

Here is a link to get more information and CMU’s program:

Here is a link to register with CMU’s program:

Project Reach wants to support individuals who wish to become and work as DeafBlind Interveners in Illinois, and are currently working with students on the Project Reach child count. Project Reach can reimburse scholars who pay for intervener classwork on their own up to $600 per semester. The application for financial assistance requires the applicant to be working with a student on the Project Reach child count, and get the signature of that student’s parent and director of special education. The student’s classwork is benefitted by photography and videography of the scholar’s work with the student to demonstrate their skill with intervention techniques, so collaboration among family and school is critical.

Project Reach can also support individuals taking classes with textbooks, the loan of video cameras, acting as deaf-blind coaches, and other supports.

Some teams wonder whether a student with deaf-blindness is a candidate for a Deaf-Blind Intervener. “Are Intervener Services Appropriate for Your Student With Deaf-Blindness? An IEP Team Discussion Guide” is an invaluable tool to support that discussion and can be found at Project Reach staff, and your deaf-blind specialist, would be happy to support your family and team with any of this new information. Please feel free to contact us with questions.

Ideas that Wrok

This project is supported by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the U.S. Department of Education.

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