SSP Services

SSP Overview

Whether you’re dining in a restaurant, using public transit or attending a meeting, it can be tough to get a complete picture of a situation without access to visual and aural cues. What specials are listed on the menu? Was there an announcement about a delay on the train? How many people are at the conference table?

SSPs are specially trained independent contractors who provide information and access to DeafBlind individuals. This access allows the individual to make informed decisions, participate in preferred activities and enjoy full access to their environment and community. The main roles of the SSP include:

  • Providing access to visual & environmental information
  • providing human guide and orientation to the environment
  • facilitating communication with others.

The term DeafBlind refers to a diverse population of people with varying degrees of combined hearing and vision loss. Some are fully DeafBlind while many others have some residual hearing and/or vision. Therefore, the methods of communication and the accommodations needed also vary greatly. Some use visual or tactile sign language while others rely on assistive listening technology to access speech and still others rely on text via a braille display or magnification device. 

Examples of activities a DeafBlind individual may request SSP services for

  • Shopping
  • Basic banking
  • Performing errands
  • Reading mail
  • Social events
  • Personal Care (hair or nail salon)

Learn more about the role of SSP's here: https://www.helenkeller.org/hks/what-ssp

HKNC SSP Program

The Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) Support Service Provider program is intended to support the access and inclusion of DeafBlind individuals who are either participating in HKNC’s rehabilitation program or are employed by HKNC.  

A deaf blind female is walking in a forest path with a male ssp A couple of women smiling at each other doing tactile sign while one is holding a cane

The term DeafBlind refers to a diverse population of people with varying degrees of combined hearing and vision loss. Some are fully DeafBlind while many others have some residual hearing and/or vision. Therefore, the methods of communication and the accommodations needed also vary greatly. Some use visual or tactile sign language while others rely on assistive listening technology to access speech and still others rely on text via a braille display or magnification device.  

The SSP Office recruits and trains providers, and arranges for them to assist students with activities in the communities surrounding HKNC headquarters and throughout the greater Long Island/New York City area.

An SSP can be a real asset during all kinds of community outings —from going food shopping to getting a haircut to sightseeing—providing you with important environmental information and communication support to help you accomplish what you set out to do.

Apply To Become an HKNC SSP

The next training is occurring soon!! 

Application deadline: October 20th 

  • The online pre-seminar October 22nd to November 4th (approximately 7 hours of content to be completed within the two-week time period.  
  • Onsite portion of this training is on November 5th and 6th from 9AM to 4PM at the Helen Keller National Center 141 Middle Neck Road, Sands Point, NY 11050 

Eligibility Requirements:  

  • An adult over the age of 18 
  • Valid driver’s license 
  • Complete SSP Training (7-hour online pre-seminar & 2-day in-person training 
  • Experience with ASL preferred but not required (individuals receiving SSP services use a variety of communication methods including speech and ASL) 
  • Complete (10) hours of paid supervised SSP experience  
  • Demonstrate no criminal records as verified by a background check 
  • Have the ability to accommodate a program participant’s communication preferences (knowledge of ASL is preferred but not required – many of the program participants use speech as their main method of communication.  
  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination required. 

HKNC will hire and train qualified applicants to provide SSP services for HKNC program participants and DeafBlind staff. The rate of pay for SSP’s is $25.00 per hour.  

SSPs in Your Community

During your training at HKNC, you will compile a book of community resources ─ including information about SSPs, volunteers and special transportation services for people with disabilities─ for use when you return home.

Recognizing the important role that SSPs can play in the lives of people who are deaf-blind, HKNC’s regional offices advocate for SSP programs in their areas. Your regional rep can help you search for SSP programs in your community.

Find your Regional Rep

Admissions

Programs are open to individuals who are deaf-blind as defined in the Helen Keller Act. Government funding often is available. Your regional representative can answer questions about admission requirements, transportation, funding sources and more. 

Find Your Regional Rep