Using a Technology Support Service Provider (SSP)



Slide: Working with a Technology Support Service Provider (SSP)

Hello! My name is Bryen Yunashko. Today we will be focusing on the benefits of using an SSP, if you require such services, during an assessment.  Before I go on, I’d like to break down the acronym SSP.  It stands for Support Service Provider.  Their role can be boiled down to empowerment. It is their responsibility to empower the deaf-blind consumer to receive information.  They do this by relaying visual, environmental, incidental, and auditory information. The SSP also functions as a human guide.

The SSP can also facilitate communication for light, non-substantive interactions.  For example, asking the front desk the location of a particular room.  However, the SSP is not an interpreter.  The SSP’s goal is to provide us with information so that we can make our own decisions.

Slide: Technology SSP: Role and Responsibilities

Now that you have a grasp on the general concept and role of a Support Service Provider, we’ll be shifting gears into discussing how to use an SSP during a technology evaluation.  In addition to the responsibilities I just mentioned, there are a few added roles they perform in an evaluation; as a quick example they might be responsible for setting up equipment or telling you what is displayed on a screen. Many trainers will find that their particular program or agency provides them with SSPs. If you are unsure, I suggest asking your program director if SSP services are available.

Again, I must emphasize that a SSP is not a substitute for an interpreter. They serve in completely different functions. If in the past you relied on interpreting services, you will most likely still need an interpreter for future assessments. If for example your primary mode of communication is American Sign Language (ASL) and your client doesn’t know ASL, you will require the services of an interpreter.  The interpreter is there to provide communication access, while the SSP is there to provide visual and environmental access.

Now you’ve got an idea of what it looks like to have an SSP during a technical evaluation. Next I’d like to focus on three topics, “preparing for the assessment,” “the technical evaluation,” and “training.” Let’s start with preparing for the assessment. 

Slide: Arrival and Preparation

There are many ways you could arrive at the assessment. You and your SSP might meet before hand and drive to the client’s home together. Once there, your SSP can guide you to the front door. Once here, make sure YOU ring the door bell or knock. It is not the SSPs responsibility to do this. They will simply guide your hand to the door bell or door and it is up to you to do the rest. There are several reasons for this. One is that the SSP is there to empower you to be more independent. Two, if you go back to that house for a second appointment you will already know where the door bell is. Let me show you an example of how hand guiding works.

Slide: Demonstration of Hand Under Hand Technique to Locate a Door Bell

Video of one hand placed under the hand of another guiding to a door bell.  The hand on top releases and rings the doorbell.

Upon entering the house, things might be a little chaotic. After all, many new faces just entered the client’s home. Make sure that you take the lead in making introductions. First, introduce yourself. Then introduce your SSP and interpreter.  As you are introducing the team make sure to include what their roles are. This ensures that everyone is informed and on the same page.

Once introductions have been made ask the consumer where they’d like everyone to sit. At this point the consumer might take it upon themselves to guide you. This is perfectly acceptable, as it is their home. The SSP should follow behind to monitor and make sure there is nothing dangerous in the environment.

After you’ve made yourself comfortable, have the SSP describe the room to you. They should include things such as window location, room layout, furniture, including chairs, sofas and TVs, and anything else in the environment. Be sure to tell the consumer what the SSP is doing and don’t forget to include why they are doing it. Explain that environmental information is only used to assist with the evaluation process, this will help them feel at ease.

Slide: SSP’s Role During the Assessment

It’s now time for the assessment. During the assessment the SSP will relay key pieces of information about the consumer. The information provided will influence your equipment recommendations.  In particular, the SSP should provide you with information that falls into three categories: the environment, how the consumer is interacting with the equipment, and lastly, how the environment, technology, and the consumer come together.

Let’s take a look at how to provide environmental information at the onset of an assessment.

Slide: Providing Environmental Information

The SSP should begin with describing the physical environment.  He or she should include the room layout, making sure to include if there are any sunlit windows that might make it hard to see, as well as auditory information. There could be ambient noise that would interfere with the consumer’s hearing aid. Some pieces of technology have audio output, and the presence of noise might make it inaudible to the consumer. In addition to layout and noise, it’s important to ask the consumer if anyone else lives with them; perhaps another adult or other children. All of this information will affect your recommendation.

Now let’s move on to providing observations about the consumer’s behavior and how they interact with the equipment.

Slide: Providing Observations about Consumer’s Behaviors

As the assessor, it’s important for you to know how the consumer is behaving, or interacting, with the technology.  Let me give you some examples of consumer behavior you would want to be aware of. You would want to know if the consumer is sitting too close to the screen. This information can help you give suggestions for improving their ergonomics. You might also notice that the consumer isn’t a skilled typist, but instead, they are hunting and pecking for each key. If they are a braille user, you want to know the speed at which they can read braille. They might be struggling to read.  All of this information can be given by the SSP and will affect your recommendation.

It’s also important for the SSP to inform you of how the consumer is reacting and responding to you. With this information you are able to alter and tailor your approach to that consumer. For example, if they are getting bored and seem like they already know the info you are presenting, you could move on to another topic they might not be familiar with.

Later in this video we’ll give you several tips on how the SSP can relay this information in an effective and appropriate way.

Slide: Video Demonstration: A trainer using an SSP to receive visual and environmental information while conducting a technology assessment.  The assessor is introducing the consumer to a Braille Notetaker.

Slide: The SSP is located behind the trainer and has her hands on his back mimicking the movements of the consumer.  She draws the outline of the Braille Notetaker on the trainer’s back and places her fingers on the device just as the consumer has.  She follows his movements. 

Trainer: So on your right hand you have, as you know there are 6 dots in the braille cell, so we have those, dots 4, 5 and 6.  And then there is dot 8, and dot 8 is actually the 4th button and that is the enter key.  Then there is a gap there in the middle.  And then your left hand you have dots 3,2 and 1.  And then over to the left you have dot 7, which is also the backspace key.  And then under that, you go move your hands down a little bit.  Let’s see where you are at.

SSP: SSP has drawn the notetaker on the trainer’s back and is moving her hands to the locations that the consumer’s hands are going to on the actual notetaker.  She has moved her hands off the trainer’s back to the back of the chair to indicate that the consumer’s hands are no longer on the notetaker.  This let’s the trainer know he has to re-direct the consumer back to the location on the notetaker he is describing next. 

Trainer: You’re back up on the keys?  Go ahead and move a bit under the key and you will feel there are a bunch of little buttons. 

SSP: She is moving her hands all around the top part of the notetaker and feeling around, indicating the consumer does not have his hands on the little buttons that the trainer is referring to. 

Trainer: Just down a little bit from the keyboard itself.

Consumer: Oh, I see now.

Slide: Please go to the Helen Keller National Center webiste for additional information on Touch Signals.

Slide: Touch Signals: A Personal Perspective by Ashley Benton

Touch Signals: An Overview

These resources can be found in our resource section

Slide: Providing Environmental Information Related to the Technology Recommendations

Now it’s time to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Let me give you a quick example of how environmental information can affect your tech recommendation. Let’s say you think it would be best to recommend a CCTV for your consumer. You can ask the SSP to scan the room and see if there is any space for it.  If it appears there isn’t room it, you can begin a dialogue with the consumer. Let them know that you’d like to supply them with a CCTV, however there appears to not be any place to put it. You can ask the consumer if they’d be willing to make space for it before the next appointment. All of that came from one piece of information from the SSP that there wasn’t any space for it.  Those are the three key areas I wanted to go over with you.

Slide: Confidentiality and Privacy Protocols

Before we go any further, I’d like to take a minute to discuss confidentiality and the consumer’s right to privacy. It is your responsibility to inform the SSP that all information shared during an assessment is confidential and is not to be shared with anyone.

During an assessment numerous topics and personal matters are brought up. Some of the topics require the utmost sensitivity and might be even be a tad awkward to engage in.  You might need to ask for a private conversation with the SSP to ask about the state of the home.  For example, you might notice that the house is a mess and that there is quite a bit of damage.  But it’s best to ask these questions to the SSP in private as not to offend the consumer.

From your conversation you might learn that there are children that live in the house who are typically rough with equipment. With that in mind you can make a recommendation for a piece of equipment that is durable.  Above all, be respectful of their home and their privacy. After all, we are guests in their home.

Slide: Using an SSP when Providing Training on Technology

Note: If you are both an assessor and trainer, you’ve had the opportunity to watch this entire video. If you are only a trainer, I suggest you start this video from the beginning as the topics covered also pertain to training.

During training you will depend a lot on your SSP to provide you with information. Before beginning the training it’s important that you prioritize and tell the SSP what information you’d like to receive. Your SSP is responsible for taking in and storing as much as information as possible, so that when you want to receive the information they are ready.

Let’s talk about some of the ways you can use an SSP during a training session. First, we’ll go over setting up the equipment.

Slide: Setting up the Equipment

Setting up the equipment is your responsibility. That being said, your SSP is there to provide support.  Once you take a piece of equipment out of the box, the SSP can guide you to where to set it down. They can also make sure that the equipment isn’t on the edge of a table and likely to fall off.  The SSP might also tell you that there is a glass of water nearby, so you can then move it to a safe distance. We wouldn’t want to damage any of the equipment.  SSPs can also be helpful when you’re dealing with multiple parts. If you lose track of a particular part, just ask the SSP to help you locate it. And just as a reminder, make sure to use “hand guiding” so that you can be the one to pick up the lost part. As a refresher your hand will be on top of the SSPs, and they will guide your hand to the appropriate place. Also, using hand guiding, your SSP can locate a power socket for you to plug in the equipment.

Once you are done setting up, ask the SSP to visually scan the area and make sure there are no loose or dangling cords that someone could trip over. We wouldn’t want to create a safety hazard in the consumer’s home.

Those are just a few things to keep in mind when setting up the equipment.

Slide: Documentation

Let’s talk about documentation. After you’ve completed setting up the equipment, jot down the model and serial numbers of the equipment you have out. Later, you’ll be required to give these number to your program office, so they can be put into the database. If you are unable to see or access that information, you can ask the SSP for support.

This information is import not only for record keeping but for the equipment’s warranty as well.  If the equipment is damaged and it is still under warranty, you’ll need to provide them with the serial number to the device.

Next, we’ll discuss how to configure your equipment.

Slide: Configuration of Equipment

Certain equipment requires the assistance of a sighted individual for its initial configuration. If, for example, you are installing a specific piece of software and a dialogue box appears on the screen and you can’t access it, you can ask the SSP for their support in navigating the prompts.  Also, some computers and tablets have a “Set Up Wizard” that typically asks for user information, including name and email. In that moment you can let your SSP provide support for the consumer. The consumer can provide assistance in using the set up wizard.  If the consumer can’t type the answer, then they can give their answers to the SSP who will enter them on the device.

Slide: Role of SSP During Training

Now that the equipment is set up you’re finally ready to begin the training.  During the training you will want your SSP to provide you with a lot of information. You’ll want to know things like how are they sitting, holding the device, reading braille, etc. 

This might be a good moment to teach the consumer about the importance of ergonomics. Good ergonomics will allow the consumer to use the equipment appropriately and comfortably.

Let me give you another example of how to use an SSP during training. Let’s say you are trying to teach the consumer how to press two keys at the same time. You would first demonstrate and then ask the consumer to perform the task. Now, you could either put your hands on top of the consumer’s and track their movements, but that might interrupt their process and throw them off. An alternative is for the SSP to let you know if they are on the right keys or not. If not, you can intervene and guide them to the right keys. 

During the training you will be receiving a constant flow of information from the SSP. If the SSP is using Tactual ASL with you, this might interfere with your training. To avoid interference, you can use Tough Signals. This system allows for back channeling between you and your SSP. You might be familiar with either Pro-Tactile or Haptics. Both systems allow you to communicate without using words and thus not interfering with the training session.

By utilizing touch signals you can get a lot of information about your consumer and the environment. You can also set up your own preferred signals to be used during the training. If the SSP is unfamiliar with touch signals you can give them a quick overview before beginning the training. After several sessions together, you and your SSP will develop your own code and set of preferred signals. Remember, you control the amount of information coming to you. Make sure your preferences are given to the SSP so they can meet your needs.

Slide: Conclusion

Now I’m sure you can understand how an SSP can support you in making the assessment and training successful. Here’s just a quick review of how to effectively work with your SSP. Prior to the appointment, make sure establish a good working relationship with SSP. Let them know your priorities and preferences of how to receive information. Also, ensure they understand their role in the appointment. Work closely with the SSP to develop touch signals to be used during the appointment.

Similar to how technology is always changing, your priorities when working with different consumers will change too. Make sure to keep your SSP abreast of what your current priorities and preferences are.  If possible, hire the same SSP for all evaluations and trainings. This will cut down on confusion and help you make better use of your time. It will also help your consumer have a better experience.

That’s it for now. We hope you enjoyed this video.