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 access to many inaccessible resources in the community, as well as practical support for deafblind people. SSPs are contracted to provide visual and environmental information on a regular basis so that deafblind people can retain their independence.
What is an SSP?
Support Service Providers, or SSPs, are trained, sighted guides, and providers of visual and environmental information. This information enables deafblind people make informed decisions and allows them to participate in the wider (mainstream) community. Typical activities include: grocery shopping, reading mail, simple banking, running errands, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle through activities such as exercising, going for walks, etc.
SSPs may be hearing, deaf, or hard of hearing. They must be familiar with a wide range of communication modes and techniques used by deafblind people, including American Sign Language.
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, a medical appointment, or the discussion prior to making a large-purchase; this would require a professional interpreter. The emphasis of SSP work is on visual and environmental (not verbal) information. DBSC recruits SSP’s for both paid and volunteer activities.
SSP’s are not employees of DBSC. They are paid, independent contractors who commit to provide SSP services to a deafblind individual on a regular monthly schedule. SSPs are paid an hourly rate by DBSC for these services. Gas/mileage, entrance fees, and parking fees are paid by the deafblind person. Deafblind individuals who qualify for SSP services receive a set amount of hours each month for SSP services.
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 a regularly scheduled event or a one-time agreement for special occassions.
DBSC offers various workshops for SSPs such as:
- DeafBlind Orientation
- DeafBlind Culture
- Communication Modes
- Guiding Techniques
- Being an Ally
We encourage people who are interested in becoming SSPs to begin as volunteers in order to become more familiar with the necessary skills before starting more complicated, paid work.
For more information on about this program, please contact SSP Program Coordinator, Elaine Sweeney, at: