California Deafblind Services

Spring 2011 (Vol. 16, No. 2)


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The Intervener’s Motto: Do With, Not For

By Gloria Rodriguez-Gil, Educational Specialist

There is a phrase that describes the way interveners should strive to work with individuals who are deaf-blind. This phrase has come to be called the intervener’s motto—“do with, not for.” The basic idea behind “do with, not for” is that when supporting an individual who is deaf-blind, the intervener should allow and encourage the individual to be in charge of their activities, interactions, explorations, etc. In other words, the individual should be in control of the things they do, even if they need great amounts of support from their intervener.

“Do with, not for” does not mean that the intervener needs to do everything with the individual who is deaf-blind. There are things the individual who is deaf-blind does (or will do) independently as his skills increase, and these new skills are often smaller steps within larger activities.

This fact sheet describes how “do with, not for” might look in actual practice. These strategies might need to be adapted to fit specific individuals and/or situations.

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Self-Determination Is For Babies, Too!

By David Brown, Educational Specialist

In the field of deaf-blind education there are many classic strategies that must be adapted and individualized to fit the needs and preferences of each student. Overriding all of these are a small number of philosophical concepts that are so important and universal that they are best stated as imperatives – among the most important are “Know the child!”, “Follow the child!”, “Individualize!”, and “Do with, not for!”. All of these ideas, if respected and used properly, should ultimately help the child to acquire a strong sense of self-determination and independence.

But there seems to be widespread misunderstanding about what the particular phrase “self-determination” means, especially when it is applied to the population of children with deaf-blindness. In my experience, most people tend to think that it means transition to adult services and the kinds of things that we need to do with the student when they’re in their mid to late teens, but that view is actually very narrow and exclusive and really misses the point. Self-determination is something that we should begin thinking about and facilitating the day that the child is born. It’s something you do with young babies, and with toddlers, and with children all through school-age, and with adults in just the same kind of way. Of course you adapt to make things age-appropriate, you adapt for individualized needs, but self-determination should always be right at the front of the agenda, in everyone’s mind, all the way through. This is not about teenagers and leaving the school system, this is about human beings growing and adapting and learning, and feeling confident that they have some predictable control over their lives.

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This article is the first installment in a series of articles about nurturing social skills and facilitating friendships. Part 2 will appear in the next issue of reSources.

Making the Case for Social Skills

By Maurice Belote, CDBS Project Coordinator

“Every intention, every achievement has come out of dissatisfaction, not serenity.
No one ever said, ‘Things are perfect. Let’s invent fire.’” –Fran Lebowitz

The field of visual impairment and blindness has for decades recognized the importance of social skills and the need to include social skills instruction in the expanded core curriculum. We know that good social skills are a major contributor to educational and post-school success. Therefore, in addition to stressing other important areas of the curriculum (e.g., concept development, problem solving skills, communication and language development, daily living skills, orientation and mobility, recreation and leisure, etc.), we need to ensure that the teaching of social skills is integrated into all of these curricular areas.

It now seems that the mainstream culture has focused more attention on the importance of social skills. Private sector employers are starting to stress the importance of so-called “soft skills”, which refer to attributes such as personal qualities, habits, attitudes and manners. These employers are now suggesting that these soft skills are as important, if not more important, than what they call hard skills. Those of us who work in special education have been saying this for a long time, particularly as it relates to transition-age students who are nearing the end of their educational careers. Think about your own experiences in a current or former workplace. People will tolerate a remarkable level of incompetence if the individual is pleasant to be around. That is to say the person exchanges polite greetings, brings delicious home baked goodies to the office, forwards (or doesn’t forward) amusing online videos, helps organize parties, etc.

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Fact Sheet #43:  Choosing and Using Tactile Name Cues

By Maurice Belote, CDBS Project Coordinator

A name cue is a physical touch cue that someone who is deaf-blind uses to identify the important people in his or her life. Name cues are used with these individuals as they cannot use vision and hearing to make sense of all the people who touch them and interact with them throughout the day.

Name cues are different from name signs. Name signs are signs for specific individuals and typically include one or more letters from the manual signed alphabet so they are more abstract than name cues. Name cues are purely tactile representations of people. Some examples of commonly used name cues include a distinctive ring, bracelet, wristwatch, or keys worn around the wrist.

Name cues are very important for children and young adults who are deaf-blind for two reasons. First, they teach the person that touch has meaning, and this serves to reinforce other tactile communication systems such as touch cues and object cues. Second, we want to make sure that people are not constantly coming in and out of a individual’s world throughout the day without identification. For children and youth with limited vision and hearing, people come and go so quickly that, over time, these individuals with deaf-blindness may cease to show interest in those around them because they’re not sure who these people are or what they want.

.... (Please open the link above for the complete article.)