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SSP + DEAF - BLIND = SUCCESS!. Presented by: Dorothy Walt, Helen Keller National Center Molly Rimer, Helen Keller National Center Jamie Pope, American Association for the Deaf-Blind. Workshop topics. Brief introduction to deaf-blindness Role of an SSP in the life of a deaf-blind person

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ssp deaf blind success


Presented by:

Dorothy Walt, Helen Keller National Center

Molly Rimer, Helen Keller National Center

Jamie Pope, American Association for the Deaf-Blind

workshop topics
Workshop topics
  • Brief introduction to deaf-blindness
  • Role of an SSP in the life of a deaf-blind person
  • Positive impacts that an SSP can have on the employment of a deaf-blind person
  • Resources
definition of deaf blindness as written in the helen keller act
Definition of deaf-blindness as written in the helenkeller act


  • Central vision loss of 20/200 or less in the better eye with corrective lenses
  • Peripheral vision of no greater than 20 degrees
  • Progressive vision loss


  • Chronic hearing loss so severe that most speech can’t be understood without amplification
  • Progressive hearing loss
definition of deaf blindness helen keller act cont d
Definition of deaf-blindness helenkeller act (cont’d)

Combination causes extreme difficulty in:

  • Attaining independence in daily life activities
  • Achieving psychosocial adjustment
  • Obtaining a vocation

Functional and performance assessments

  • Used for those with cognitive and behavioral constraints

American association for the deaf-blind

Definition of Deaf-Blind:

Combination of hearing and vision loss of any

varying degrees that affects a person’s

ability to:

  • Communicate
  • Get environmental information
  • Participate in the community
  • Obtain and keep a job
  • Maintain independence
diversity of deaf blind people
Diversity of Deaf-blind people

From the Deaf community

  • ASL, Usher 1, Deaf culture

From the Blind community

  • Spoken language, multiple etiologies, Braille readers, mobility skills

With low vision and are hard-of-hearing

  • Spoken language, Usher 2, and multiple etiologies, many seniors

With multiple challenges

  • Alternative communication systems, usually born deaf-blind, may live in a group home
how does vision and hearing loss affect a person
How does vision and hearing loss affect a person?
  • Communication
  • Independence (traveling, living alone)
  • Psychosocial adjustment (esp. related to identity)
  • Technology


support service providers
Support Service Providers:

Are the “eyes and ears” for deaf-blind people, allowing them equal access to the community where they live and work.

ssp s assist with visual information
ssps assist with visual information
  • What’s happening around them
  • How the room is set up, who is there, what they are doing, their mood
  • Reading a menu
  • Product information when shopping: size, color, shape, price, and options available
ssp s assist by providing human guide
ssps assist by providing human guide
  • To and from a meeting place
  • To and from the restroom
  • Through a lunch line
  • To and from special events
  • At recreational activities
  • To and from work
ssp s assist with communication
sspS assist with communication
  • Connect with people
  • Basic, informal interpreting i.e. social interactions
  • Make phone calls, read and respond to mail and emails
ssp s assist with transportation
ssps assist with Transportation
  • Rides to job interviews, conferences, workshops, errands, recreation,

doctor’s appointments,


  • Important in rural areas where public transportation is limited
  • Communicate with bus drivers, ticket agent
  • Navigate subway system, catch the right bus
ssp s assist with everyday life
SSPs assist with everyday life
  • Food/clothes shopping
  • Basic banking
  • Watching sporting event
  • Participating in extra-

curricular activities

  • Connect with families
  • Vacations
  • Church, temple, synagogue, etc
  • Access to systems (rehab.,

medical, education, and social security)

it is not appropriate for ssp s to
It is not appropriate for ssps to:
  • Be a personal care attendant
  • Run errands without the deaf-blind person
  • Teaching
  • Formal interpreting (unless already a certified interpreter)
  • Ask personal questions
  • Make decisions for the deaf-blindperson
  • Give opinion if not asked
ssp s assist with pre employment
Ssps assist with pre-Employment

Transportation and human guide to various appointments:

  • VR counselor
  • Medical evaluations
  • Vocational assessments
  • Classes/training on vocational and job search skills

Read letter and print materials, fill out forms associated with these appointments

ssp s assist with job search activities
Ssps assist with job search activities
  • Read job announcements on the web and newspaper
  • Visual information on resumes, applications, cover letters, and thank you letters
  • Interview preparation: clothes shopping, dry cleaners, haircut, nice paper for resume
  • Informational and job interviews
ssp s assist with maintaining jobs
Sspsassist with maintaining jobs
  • Connect with co-workers
  • Read memos, files, reports
  • Provide transportation tomeetings and other locations
  • Human guide to meetings
  • Assist through a lunch line (or assist with food shopping to bring lunch to work)
meet bapin
Meet Bapin
  • SSPs give deaf-blind individuals an empowered feeling
  • SSPs assist with transportation (hotels, training facilities, etc.), networking, and accessing communities
  • SSPs provide technological assistance
  • Without an SSP, it would be difficult to investigate and research new technologies
meet ashley
Meet Ashley
  • Mental health and substance abuse therapist with Usher Syndrome Type I
  • Interpreters used for meetings, training
  • SSPs provide transportation for my community and outreach work
  • Rely on coworkers, interpreters or SSPs to provide communication assistance with clients
additional success stories
Additional success stories

Entrepreneur, Usher

  • SSP for communicating with clients, transportation and assistance with telephone conversations

Teacher, Braille, computer, ILS and tactile sign

  • SSP for training support and transportation

Teacher, Language, Usher

  • SSP for monitoring student behavior

ASL instructor, Usher 1

  • SSP to provide visual/environmental information regarding student communication and relaying visual communication tactually
recent efforts
Recent efforts


  • Nationwide SSP program
  • Formal training at AADB symposium
  • SSP Task Force with HKNC
  • New Jersey
  • California
  • Collaboration with Seattle’s DBSC
  • SSP Task Force with AADB

American Association for the Deaf-Blind

  • Email:
  • Website:

Helen Keller National Center - Regional Office

  • Email:
  • Website:

National SSP Pilot Project Deaf-Blind Service Center

  • Email:
  • Website:
  • SSP Curriculum: