DeafBlind Interveners in Illinois

What is an intervener?

An intervener has specialized training in providing one-to-one support for students who are DeafBlind in the following areas:

  • Helping them gain access to information and communication in the classroom
  • Facilitating their social development and emotional well-being
  • Supporting their communication and concept development

An intervener is a member of the student’s educational team, working under a classroom teacher’s direction. In the United States, state DeafBlind projects and university certificate programs are the primary sources of intervener training. Coaching and supervision, in addition to coursework, are essential components of training.

Why interveners?

Trained interveners help schools meet the challenge of providing students who are DeafBlind with access to communication and information they are unable to gather via vision and hearing. Without access to communication and information, they cannot participate in the general education curriculum or receive a free and appropriate public education, as required by IDEA.

DeafBlind Intervention is a Related Service in Illinois

The language regarding DeafBlind Interveners is approved and intervention is a related service for students with combined vision-hearing loss in Illinois. You can find this language at p. 219.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are four of the frequent questions regarding DeafBlind Interveners in Illinois:

Question: Must a student's primary disability on the IEP be deafblindness?

Answer: No, but the student's combined vision-hearing concerns will cause issues with academic and social access, the gathering of environmental information, and the formation and maintenance of social connections. Interveners are trained to meet these specific needs created by the dual sensory loss, no matter what the educational team (including the family) has determined is the primary disability.

Question: Can any person fulfill the role of an intervener?

Answer: While many people can provide supportive interactions, this language requires that persons providing intervention as a related service have the ISBE approval. To get the approval, individuals obtain a national credential or certificate that is the result of a training program aligned with the knowledge and skills established by the Council for Exceptional Children. Approved portfolios lead to certification or credential, which is submitted to ISBE as part of the approval process.

Question: Won't having a one-to-one make the student more dependent?

Answer: Training for interveners focuses on how to provide missing sensory information to students, so that they are empowered to make choices, connect with others, and do as much as possible on their own. The motto of interveners is to "Do with, not for." This means that interveners have specific training that other paraprofessionals do not have to support the independence of students who are DeafBlind.

Question: What if a team determines an intervener is appropriate, but one is not available?

Answer: As with any newly recognized profession, this may happen. There are two training paths to train a local person to fulfill a needed role, and project funds are available to help support the intervener candidate’s training. See the training options below.

Another option is to advertise to find an intervener in the U. S. and Canada with the Interveners and Deafblindness Facebook page or with the National Center on Deafblindness at Both systems are free.

Deciding if an intervener is needed

Some teams wonder whether a student who is DeafBlind is a candidate for an intervener. "Are Intervener Services Appropriate for Your Student With Deaf-Blindness? An IEP Team Discussion Guide" is an invaluable tool to support a team discussion and can be found at IEP Team Discussion Guide. ILDBP staff would be happy to support any IEP team considering this information. Please feel free to contact us with questions.

Two paths for training

State training program

The Illinois DeafBlind Project (ILDBP) is pleased to offer its full Deaf-Blind Intervener Training Program, at no cost to school districts, families, or participants! The program is ON DEMAND, beginning when needs and candidates are identified. ILDBP hosts the online modules, and provides the in-school observations, coaching, and classroom activities needed for applicants to complete portfolios for National certification and the Illinois approval. For information on the full ILDBP training program, see the Illinois Intervener Training Program Overview. Questions? Contact the ILDBP staff.

University coursework

The project offers honoraria to intervener candidates who successfully complete coursework from either of these university training programs.

Central Michigan University Deafblind Intervener Undergraduate Certificate (can be accessed from anywhere)

Utah State University Deafblind Intervener Training Certificate (can be accessed from anywhere)


Are Intervener Services Appropriate for your Student with Deaf-Blindness? An IEP Discussion Guide

Intervener Compensation Information

Illinois Intervener Training Program Overview

Illinois Intervener Training Program Application

Intervener Overview Factsheet

Sample Intervener Job Description