Title

Deafblind People and Support Service Providers in the 21st Century

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2021

Abstract

People who are deafblind face unique and complex challenges every day in accessing information, communication, transportation, and their communities. Without readily available access to these foundations of everyday life, the ability to make informed decisions, remain independent, and perform daily living tasks may be compromised. Basic human needs may go unmet and essential human aspects of well-being—self-confidence, self-sufficiency, and self-worth—diminish.

A viable solution exists: the support service provider (SSP). The SSP provides a vital human connection to information that is missed when one has limited or no vision and limited or no hearing. This white paper examines the history of SSP services, the role of the SSP, why the SSP is necessary, and the process of establishing these services.

This SSP White Paper, Deafblind People and Support Service Providers in the 21st Century, is the second edition. The first, published by the American Association of the DeafBlind, was called Support Service Providers for People who are Deaf-Blind (Bourquin et al., 2006). Four of the original authors as well as two additional ones collaborated on this new version.

Since 2006, the number of SSP programs has increased from 19 to 35, and the scope of the SSP’s work has evolved. Across the United States, less than 1% of individuals who are deafblind have access to these services; yet for those who do, a significantly improved quality of life is reported. The intention of this paper is to serve as a resource for understanding the role of the SSP and the positive outcomes—increased self-confidence, self-sufficiency, and self-worth—that deafblind people can achieve when they have access to these vital services.

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