DeafBlind Interveners in Illinois - UPDATE June 13

A meeting was held May 24, 2017 to respond to public comment. The following analysis led to the modified criteria to the intervener language below. This language was filed and effective June 2, 2017; final posting is pending.

Section 25.560 Approvals of Interveners for Students who are Deaf-Blind

Taken from

Comment:  Thirteen commenters asked to reinstate the stricken "ors" in the Section listing the approval requirements for educational and sign language interpreters and the new Section that provides for approval of interveners for students who are deaf-blind. Their concern was that with removing the "ors" made the first three listed criteria required then the last one optional. The commenters felt this change was unwarranted and would exacerbate the ongoing shortage of interpreters.

Analysis:  The intent of the change was never to make the criteria in the list requirements. The current Administrative Code style does not permit a conjunction after each item in a list. The conjunction must be placed between the final two items in the list. However, ISBE does agree a change should be made to be clear interpreter and intervener applicants must have one of the listed criteria.

a) Approval Criteria

1) Each applicant for approval as an intervener shall either:

A) Have completed 60 semester hours of college credit from one or more regionally accredited institutions of higher education;

B) Hold an associate's degree issued by a regionally accredited institution of higher education; or

C) Have achieved the score identified as passing by the State Board of Education on one of the examinations for paraprofessionals discussed in Section 25.510(b).

Comment: Thirteen commenters also expressed concern over the addition that sign language interpreter approvals shall be renewed in accordance with the timelines established for professional educator licenses (PELs). Similar concerns were expressed with respect to parallel language in the Section regarding interveners for students who are deaf-blind. The commenters felt that because the approvals are not PELs, clarification must be made to ensure the approval will not lapse and the holder will not incur penalties when the approval is not in use. Incurring fines would create a financial burden to the holder and would add to the shortage of interpreters.

Analysis:  Approval of an educational interpreter or intervener does not lapse upon nonrenewal. The approvals do; however, expire if not renewed. The reference to the Section in the School Code was meant to provide the same time period for renewal. ISBE will amend the proposed rule to indicate the specific period for renewal.

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.

When 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). BOTH PROGRAMS CAN BE COMPLETED WHILE CONTINUING TO LIVE AND WORK IN ILLINOIS.  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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