The Deaf-Blind Living Well Services (DBLWS) is a new PA statewide initiative designed to help individuals who are deaf-blind to access information, achieve independence and touch the future. This will be accomplished by DBLWS training independent contractors, known as SSPs (Support Service Providers), to support Pennsylvanians who have a dual sensory loss in both vision and hearing, and; are 18 and have completed high school. For the purpose of this project, Deaf-Blindness is defined according to the Helen Keller Act.
SSPs link individuals who are deaf-blind to their environment by providing relevant information and acting as a guide and communication facilitator (but not as an interpreter or decision-maker).
With SSP services, people who are deaf-blind can lead an empowered, independent life in their work, family, and social activities.
DBLWS will also provide ongoing support coordination and training to participants who are deaf-blind. This will include, but not limited to ensuring access to durable medical equipment, other community resources and training on how to manage their SSPs on a day to day basis.
For more information on SSP programs visit American Association of Deaf-Blind at the American Association of Deaf-Blind or the Helen Keller Center.
An SSP can make up to $20 per hour. SSPs do not work in the capacity of a personal care attendant or a care giver. SSPs do not make decisions for the person who is deaf-blind. SSPs provide visual environmental information, sighted guide services and information that the person who is deaf-blind can use to make their own informed decisions. SSPs provide services that allow persons who are deaf-blind to run errands, make purchases, read mail, and perform everyday tasks.
SSP’s are not employees of DBLWS. They are paid, independent contractors who commit to provide SSP services to an individual who is deaf-blind on a regular monthly schedule. Individuals who are deaf-blind, who qualify for SSP services, are allocatted a set amount of hours each month for SSP services.
An SSP must be able to travel and pass a background check. Anyone interested in being trained to become an SSP, please email DBLWS@cilcp.org or apply online by completing an Online Training Request Application.
The DBLWS's Program Manager will conduct face-to-face meetings with participants who are deaf-blind to determine the most effective means to communicate and determine needs of each participant in order to develop plan of action for service coordination.
DBLWS will provide ongoing training to persons who are deaf-blind on how to manage their SSPs on a day to day basis.
DBLWS will create a SSP Registry Log of all qualified SSPs trained and available to persons who are deaf-blind and served by DBLWS.
The PA Department of Labor and Industry’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR)/Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS), PA Statewide Independent Living Council (PASILC), and PA Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) joined to support the goal to “Increase outreach and services to unserved and underserved persons who have a dual sensory loss of both vision and hearing, also known as deaf-blind.” This pilot grant is a State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) initiative funded with Federal and State monies.
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