Deaf-Blind Paraprofessional Pilot

By: Lilah Katcher

Last spring, members of the Deaf-Blind community met to discuss the provision of services for campus activities so that Deaf-Blind students could have access to student life. Gallaudet Interpreting Services agreed to pilot a program to train and employ student paraprofessionals to provide Deaf-Blind students with environmental and communication access in non-academic settings.

Regan Thibodeau, the pilot program developer, explained that the pilot aims to “measure the service scope of this program to see if it has an impact on the Deaf-Blind campus community and is successful as a resource for Gallaudet to make it a permanent program.”

Beginning last fall, the Deaf-Blind Paraprofessionals (DBPP) underwent training in working and communicating with Deaf-Blind individuals. Brady Painter, a second year student in Gallaudet’s Master of Arts in Interpretation program, said that he became a DBPP because his “goal is to become a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) and [I] thought this would be one good way to start training.” Painter added that topics covered in the DBPP training, such as “tactile mapping, access to visual information, guiding, and Pro-Tactile, provide skills for me to bring to my work.”

DBPP work on campus began this spring.  “At the moment, we have seven Deaf-Blind people using the program directly with several student organizations and departments also making requests for the events they host,” said Thibodeau. “The challenges are getting people familiar with the program and then getting people to put in requests with enough time for us to fill them.”

Thibodeau hopes that the campus will continue to become more of a tactile campus. “Through this program, people are becoming familiar with making the campus a tactile experience by including them in their events. During the Student Paraprofessional Fair, we had a tactile table demonstration where people can experience things tactilely using things such as masks, clay, and marshmallows. We will have this table set up at our Open House event on May 2nd.”  Thibodeau urges readers to check out the open house to learn more about the program.

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2 Responses to “Deaf-Blind Paraprofessional Pilot”

  1. Donna M.
    May 3, 2014 at 10:59 AM #

    This is an awesome idea to include Deafblind students in the campus activities with plenty of Deaf students available to learn a unique skill and expand their horizons before they graduate and take these skills with them after graduation. Kudos to Regan T.!!

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