What is an Intervenor?
Many outside of the deafblind community ask, “What is an intervenor?” At Canadian Helen Keller Centre, intervenors are the lifeblood of our organization. Without them, we would be incapable of providing our programs and services.
Acting as the eyes and ears, an intervenor provides complete information about the environment to a person who is deafblind and who is unable to attain this information for him or herself because of dual sensory loss. Through various modes of communication, intervenors provide opportunities for people who are deafblind to gain independence, pursue goals, have control over their lives and interact with the environment.
Many intervenors at CHKC are graduates of the George Brown College Intervenor for Persons who are Deafblind Program.
Each semester, up to four students from the program complete their field placement at CHKC, usually two at the Rotary Cheshire Apartments and two at the Training Centre.
This semester, the Training Centre is fortunate to have Susan and Deza as our dedicated second year placement students.
Deza is a natural fit within the deafblind community. As she says, “I grew up with deaf parents. My whole life’s been spent advocating for them. When I was deciding on a career, I knew that I could use my ASL skills. After some reasearch I found the George Brown intervenor program, and then everything fell into place.”
Even though she does not have deaf or blind family members, Susan began taking ASL classes. When she learned about George Brown College’s intervenor program she says, “It opened my eyes to how many people there are who are deafblind and the kinds of services that are available.”
Both Susan and Deza agree that being an intervenor is a lot of work. “It’s a big time commitment,” says Susan. “You have your work cut out for you. Before I became a student, I didn’t know about CHKC. What I learned is that staff are all striving for the same goal: to help individuals who are deafblind be as independent as possible.”
At George Brown College, Deza explains that the best part about the program is the “hands on experience. Each course is relevant to the field and by second semester you get a better idea about where it is going and why the course has been laid out the way it has been.”
When asked what they would like potential intervenors to know about the profession, Susan and Deza agree: “The barrier to communicate with people who are deafblind is not as big as you would think. In fact, people who are deafblind are your greatest teachers, they are always patient and want you to learn.”