Deaf-Blind Specialists

The Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) expanded its field services to create eight (8) deaf-blind specialist positions across the country -  Arizona, Florida, Hawaii/CNMI Islands/Guam, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, Texas and Washington.  It is our goal to continue expansion and deployment of deaf-blind specialists in additional states.  

In compliance with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and partnering with state Vocational Rehabilitation and the consumer, the Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) deaf-blind specialist’s primary goal is to provide individualized services which lead to consumers’ successful achievement of employment outcomes. Job development, including soft skills training, resume development, completing applications and practice interviewing, prepares the individual for the work force. The DBS connects consumers who are eager to begin work with employers. The deaf-blind specialist also provides communication strategies for the workplace, use of adaptive technology, and community resources for independent living and travel to and from the workplace. Creative and innovative job accommodations and accessibility strategies are key components in this process.

NOTE: During this COVID-19 period, deaf-blind specialists are providing remote services to consumers, through the use of technology.

Services for Adults   

The deaf-blind specialist collaborates with VR and the consumer, to address vocational and attitudinal barriers, and recognize strengths to become successfully employed in a career or vocation commensurate with skills, preferences, and experiences.

The deaf-blind specialist, in keeping with our mission of supporting a person’s desire to live and work in their community of choice, also offers training and technical assistance to service providers and families for existing services, assuring full access.

HKNC is an approved community rehabilitation program (CRP) in the states of Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Other states are in progress.  This fee-for-service is a specialized, concentrated, one-to-one direct service that is outcome based. Services provided vary from state to state, may include, but not limited to:

  • Career exploration
  • Community based assessment (CBA)
  • Job development
  • Job seeking skills training
  • On-the-job supports coordination
  • Summer youth career exploration
  • Summer youth work experience
  • Vocational consultation
  • Work adjustment
  • Activities of daily living
  • Low vision services
  • Supplemental braille instruction and tutoring
  • Tactile American Sign Language

Services for Youth  Deaf-Blind Specialist is communicating with a young boy through a window.

HKNC partners with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and other community rehabilitation programs (CRPs) in offering services for youth with Pre-ETS (Pre-Employment Transition Services) funding. The deaf-blind specialist works collaboratively with VR, CRPs, state deaf-blind projects, and educational teams, to support transition age youth to fulfill their employment or college goals.                                                                  

By collaborating with new and existing state and local agencies, together as a team, HKNC focuses on increasing employment outcomes. We are also an invaluable resource for training other community rehabilitation programs to build their capacity to work with individuals who are deaf-blind or have a combined vision and hearing loss.

Questions or want to make a referral?

Referrals to HKNC deaf-blind specialists should be made to the HKNC regional representative who serves the state.

Meet HKNC's Deaf-Blind Specialists

Jonathan Pringle

Region 9 Deaf-Blind Specialist, Arizona 
PO Box 1266 
Marana, AZ 85653
516-417-1165 Direct
520-829-9103 VP
516-580-4517 Fax

Jonathan Pringle joined the HKNC team in 2019.  He is the Deaf-Blind Specialist for the state of Arizona.  

As a statewide service provider, Jonathan provides employment support, advocacy as well as information and referral.  He is a problem solver with more than 15 years experience in working with individuals with combined vision and hearing loss, or are Deaf-Blind.  

As a long time Arizona resident, Jonathan enjoys the outdoors, and family related activities.  He is a resource for you, your family members, and your employer to solve challenges related to communication, transportation and independent living skills.

David Volper

Region 4A Deaf-Blind Specialist, Florida 
P. O. Box 161773
Altamonte Springs, FL. 32714
321-282-6216 VP
516-580-4519 Fax
347-899-0575 Cell (text only)

Helen Keller National Center Deaf-Blind Specialist (HKNC DBS) – MA, Rehabilitation Counseling – University of Kentucky

Helen Keller National Center created the Deaf-Blind Specialist position to increase employment for individuals with combined hearing and vision loss in Florida. As the Helen Keller National Center Deaf-Blind Specialist, let us work together to increase job opportunities for deaf-blind individuals.

HKNC Deaf-Blind Specialist Services provided in Florida: 

Employment Services, Vocational Consultation, Job Seeking Skills Training, On-The-Job Supports Coordination, Summer Youth Career Exploration and Work Experience, Work Adjustment, Activities of Daily Living, Low Vision Services, Tactile ASL Support, Job Retention, Accommodations Support, One-on-One Direct Services, Identification of Service Gaps, Coordination of Local, State, and Nationwide Resources, Employer Education, and Identification of Individuals for the National Registry of Persons who are Deaf-Blind.

Professional Accomplishments: 

  • Coordinated accommodations / support services / job coaching services with City Hall of Orlando on behalf of a Deaf-Blind employee
  • Developed connections with employers and resources including Hyatt, Target, Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Amazon, Lighthouses for the Blind, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Division of Blind Services, Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, Centers for Independent Living and others statewide through outreach efforts 
  • Currently providing HKNC employment services / consultation for deaf-blind consumers in Florida in collaboration with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Division of Blind Services in conjunction with multiple employment services agencies

Leah Neumann 

Region 9 Deaf-Blind Specialist, Hawaii
1953 S Beretania St #5A
Honolulu, HI 96826
516-460-1743 Direct
808-650-2594 VP
516-580-4515 Fax

Leah Neumann joined the HKNC family as a Deaf-Blind Specialist in Hawaii on January 6, 2018. She is very involved in the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program in this region. She serves the Hawaiian Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Her connection with the Deaf-Blind community began after receiving her B.A. in Communication Disorders and Deaf Studies at S.U.N.Y. New Paltz in 2012. Leah’s previous employment includes working as an educator for the Deaf in New York, California and American Samoa. She also has experience working as a Support Service Provider in San Diego, California and at the Seabeck Deaf-Blind Retreat.

As a Deaf-Blind Specialist, Leah can provide consumers with the following services: career exploration, job development, job seeking, skills training, on the job supports coordination, summer youth career exploration and work experience, vocational consultation, work adjustment, supplemental braille instruction and tutoring, tactile American Sign Language. She also provides assessments, installations and trainings for the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program in her region.

Laurie McBride

Region 7 Deaf-Blind Specialist, Iowa
P.O. Box 141
Mason City, Iowa 50401
516-418-0101 Direct
641-428-0015 VP
516-580-4513 e-Fax

Originally from Ontario, Canada, Laurie worked in Iowa as a Graphic Designer for almost 20 years. Since 2015, Laurie has worked as a contract trainer with the Helen Keller National Center for the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (or iCanConnect) providing consumers training in telecommunications equipment, while attending college and university to obtain her bachelor’s degree in Human Service.

Laurie has learned to adapt to different workplace environments with her hearing loss, and now with combined hearing and vision loss. Her experience is a helpful tool in her DBS position which allows her to share examples of successful strategies and tasks that she has accomplished. Her personal experience as a deaf-blind person shows consumers and potential employers that people with vision and hearing loss can live AND WORK in their community. Self-advocacy has been an important tool in finding her own jobs and adapting her career path. Using these personal assets to assist other Deaf-Blind consumers in finding and retaining employment will result in the right fit for both employee and employer.

IA-DBS Services Provided:

  • Job Development
  • Customized Employment
  • Supported Employment Job Coaching
  • Job Follow-up
  • Non-Supported Job Coaching

Corinne Miller

Region 4B Deaf-Blind Specialist, Kentucky
Charles McDowell Center
8412 Westport Road
Louisville, KY 40242
516-243-5083 Cell/Text

Corinne Miller is a born and raised Ohio native but now proudly claims the Bluegrass state to be home.  She attended Eastern Kentucky University where she obtained her B.S. in ASL & English interpretation and went on to acquire her National Interpreter Certification.  Corinne is the newly appointed Deaf-Blind Specialist with Helen Keller National Center serving the commonwealth of Kentucky. Prior to her work as a Deaf-Blind Specialist she worked as a Sign Language Interpreter in a variety of settings.  Among the variety of settings was her work done within the Deaf-Blind Community.  It was there that she found her passion for working with deaf-blind individuals. Corinne works with a variety of ages within the community and also developed strong relationships with the Deaf-Blind Projects in multiple states. She works to strengthen connections among youth peers and engage youth in a multitude of activities even prior to starting her work as a Deaf-Blind Specialist. In her current position, she will focus on bridging the gap in services for those with dual-sensory loss by providing specialized services for Youth and Adults who are deaf-blind to live and work in the community of their choice.

Ryan Odland

Region 5 Deaf-Blind Specialist, Ohio
Text Only: 516-566-7641
VP: 612-999-2612

Laura Benge

PO Box 271231
Salt Lake City, UT 84127
Voice: 801-518-9401
VP: 385-355-8392

James Poteet 

Region 10 Deaf-Blind Specialist, Washington
Helen Keller National Center [HKNC]
1200 12th Avenue South, Suite 175
Seattle, WA 98114
Direct: 206-518-9871 | Text Only: 206-476-0862

Before coming onboard as Washington State's Deaf-Blind Specialist, James worked with  Deaf and Deaf-Blind communities in various roles over the past eight years in California, including four years in case management, advocacy, comprehensive job development, placement, and retention services. He specializes in working with queer and trans individuals, individuals with lived behavioral health experiences, and individuals who are neurodivergent. James is currently finishing up his thesis for the Master of Social Work degree at California State University, Sacramento, which is also where he graduated with his bachelor's degree in Psychology.

Karlee Wascher​

Helen Keller National Center [HKNC]
Deaf-Blind Specialist, Field Services
Direct: 516.241.2772 | VP: 906.287.6945

Karlee Wascher joined the Helen Keller National Center’s North Central Region team in 2020 as a Deaf-Blind Specialist serving the Michigan and Ohio areas. Prior to HKNC, Karlee worked as a Blind Rehabilitation Specialist at the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center located at the Edward Hines Jr., VA Hospital in Illinois. Karlee holds a bachelor degree in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences from Northern Michigan University and a master's degree in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy from Western Michigan University. She holds a certification as a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT).