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The SSP Program

The Service Support Program (SSP) Program began in 1986 as one of our key programs. Through the years it has become our signature service because it provides for cultural exchange and friendships as well as practical help for deaf-blind people. SSPs, who are not interpreters, are contracted to provide visual and environmental information on a regular basis so that deaf-blind people can retain their independence.

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What is an SSP?

Support Service Providers, or SSPs, are trained, sighted guides, and providers of visual and environmental information. This information helps deaf-blind people make informed choices and decisions and allows them to participate in the wider (mainstream) community. Typical activities include: grocery shopping, mail reading, simple banking, and errands.

SSPs are typically sighted people who may be hearing, deaf, or hard-of hearing. They must know communication modes and techniques used by deaf-blind people, usually including American Sign Language.

While interpreters or interpreting students may work as SSPs, SSPs are not interpreters. Communication assistance often occurs for short exchanges, but this assistance is limited. SSPs do not facilitate communication for important transactions such as the translation of a lease, or the discussion prior to making large-purchase; this would require a professional interpreter. The emphasis of SSP work is on visual and environmental (not verbal) information.

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Deaf SSPs

Deaf-blind people often consider deaf people their natural allies, having had many of the same experiences and feelings while growing up. Deaf SSPs are always a part of our pool.

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Sign-Language Students

Sign language students often become SSPs as a way to learn about the Deaf-Blind Community, being both paid and rewarded with learning. Many students enjoy the work so much that they remain connected with deaf-blind individuals and the community after graduation, continuing to work as SSPs or volunteer for Community events.

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Paid Contractors

SSPs are not employees of DBSC. They are paid, independent contractors who commit to a regular monthly schedule to assist the same deaf-blind person. The schedule may be weekly or bi-weekly. Currently, deaf-blind people who qualify for SSP services receive the same amount of hours each month. SSPs are paid an hourly rate depending on skill, experience and the tasks they are assigned to do. Gas/mileage and parking fees are paid by the deaf-blind person.

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Volunteer SSPs are used for all kinds of DBSC-sponsored recreational activities, including the annual DBSC picnic and fundraising events. SSPs sometimes volunteer for social purposes, such as chatting, playing games, or trying out a new restaurant. This may be regularly scheduled or a one-time agreement for special events.

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DBSC offers various workshops for SSPs such as:

  • Deaf-Blind Orientation
  • Deaf-Blind Culture
  • Communication Modes
  • Guiding Techniques
  • Empowerment/Boundaries
  • Being an Ally
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For More Information

SSP Program Contact

For more information on the roles and duties, expenses, and policies, of this program, contact JennyLynn Dietrich, Acting SSP Coordinator.

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SSP Application

We encourage people who are interested in becoming SSPs to begin as volunteers to become more familiar with the necessary skills before starting more complicated, paid work.

Word fileSSP Application (.doc)

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