720 457 3679
1575 Sherman Street
Denver, CO 80203

DeafBlind Services

DeafBlind Services

The Support Service Provider (SSP) Program is intended to support the self-determination of deafblind people by contracting with qualified vendors to provide sighted guidance and environmental information as well as to facilitate communication between deafblind people and their communities.

Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Support Service Provider (SSP)

PROGRAM GUIDELINES

The Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH) Support Service Provider (SSP) Program is intended to support the self-determination of deafblind people by contracting with qualified vendors to provide sighted guidance and environmental information as well as to facilitate communication between deafblind people and their communities.

The term of “Deafblind” or “deafblind community” includes people whose varying degrees of hearing and visual acuity limit their total aural and visual comprehension. Deafblind individuals utilize different ways to communicate effectively that differ from both deaf and blind people.

For example, people who are blind may give and receive information audibly rather than in writing and people who are deaf may give and receive information through writing or sign language rather than through speech. Whereas, deafblind people cannot readily access the accommodations that are traditionally available for deaf people and blind people. Many deafblind individuals use support service providers (SSPs) to assist them in accessing the world around them. SSPs are the eyes and ears for deafblind people. They act as sighted guides, relay visual and environmental information, and facilitate communication using the deafblind person’s preferred language and/or communication mode. SSPs enable deafblind people to access their communities and connect with other people and reduce the visual, environmental and communication barriers.

Role and responsibilities of SSPs

Responsibilities are the specific tasks or duties that SSPs are expected to complete as a function

of their role on the SSP and Consumer team. They are the specific activities or obligations for

which they are held accountable when they assume the SSP assignment.

SSPs are independent contractors who provide the following services:

  •  Sighted guide (which may include driving to and from the assignment with the deafblind consumer)
  •  Providing the environmental information that is useful for orientation to a place and for accomplishing the task at hand (e.g., “This area of the store has fruits and vegetables. There is a large bin of fresh asparagus. There are four people in line ahead of us with very full baskets.”). It might also include a sense of the people, their mood, style, and so on.
  •  Facilitate communication between people —Greetings, relaying questions, and comments.

Regular SSP service includes the following essential tasks:

  •  Commerce, (grocery, furniture shopping, legal services, etc.)
  •  Basic banking (reading statements, writing deposit/withdrawal slips, using the ATM). Note: Sometimes, the deafblind person will need an interpreter, e.g., to help open an account, apply for loan or credit card, or solve problems with their account). The bank is to provide an interpreter—this is not the SSP’s responsibility.
  • Errands (i.e., getting a haircut, buying gifts, going to different offices, utilizing public services, getting medicine, etc.)
  •  Mail processing
  •  Social events (community events, reunions, gatherings, etc.)

The deafblind consumer decides where to go and what to do. The consumer may decide to access stores, banks, medical appointments, as well as community or social events. The deafblind consumer decides how to divide up the time and which stores to go to. However, the deafblind consumer and the SSP may talk about the easiest or most efficient way to accomplish errands..

SSPs are not:

  •  Employees of the Agency; they are independent contractors.
  •  Generic “helpers” for deafblind people. The SSP does not run errands for, clean house for, or in any other way “take care of” the deafblind person.
  •  Generic “professionals” working with deafblind people; they do not counsel, advocate, find a job for, or act as recreation specialists.
  •  Educators or Instructors, they do not teach or train deafblind people for life skills.
  •  Companion, friend, and personal care assistant
  •  Interpreters. While SSPs do facilitate communication while shopping or running errands, they do not analyze the content and intent of the message.
  •  Witnesses for any legal related activities, including notarizing documents, etc.

While SSPs and deafblind consumers often enjoy one another’s company and may look forward to working together, the role of SSP is distinct from that of friend. SSPs and deafblind consumers who are also friends may arrange to see one another outside of this contracted time. This is not, however, part of the SSP role.

SSP Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct is a common reference document for individuals who have work in a profession where an ethical commitment is required. Below are the values SSPs are expected to practice at all times.

1. Confidentiality: The SSP must sign and abide by a confidentiality agreement. They must respect the privacy of the deafblind consumer. For example, the SSP must agree not to talk to other people about the deafblind consumer’s activity, what he or she buys, how much money they have in the bank, or any other business related to the deafblind consumer. The SSP can talk generally about being an SSP, but any identifying information related to the deafblind consumer (such as their names) as well as any private information must be kept strictly confidential. If there are any concerns or a need for follow-up on a particular situation, direct them to the DeafBlind Services Coordinator—not with other SSPs or deafblind people.

2. Boundaries: SSPs are expected to maintain a professional working relationship with the deafblind individuals while they are providing services in their role as a SSP. If an SSP has a different type of relationship or serves the deafblind individual in some other capacity at other times, such as a reading volunteer, the SSP must ensure they adhere to the scope of their professional role as an SSP while working as a paid SSP through CCDHH. Any concerns in this area should be discussed with the DeafBlind Services Coordinator. While the SSP is working, he or she should not be making personal phone calls, doing his or her own grocery shopping, or otherwise combining personal needs or errands with the job.

3. Professional Development: SSPs are strongly encouraged to seek continuing education to help them develop and maintain their SSP skills, their understanding of the deafblind experience, guiding techniques and communication/language modalities.

4. Health/Hygiene: The SSP and the deafblind person should take the precautions of practicing good hygiene and health. For example, if the SSP is feeling sick and possibly contagious, he/she should arrange for a substitute. In any case, both the SSP and the deafblind consumer should be aware of the implications of tactile or close-vision communication. Both should follow universal precautions such as washing hands.

5. Law Abiding: The SSP should follow relevant laws and regulations. SSPs should further be alert and ready to work during an assignment and not be under the influence of any drugs, alcohol, or mood-altering substances. If SSPs are on any medication that possibly impact work performance, they should immediately request a substitute and notify the Coordinator. Harassment and abuse (physical, verbal, financial, or emotional) are strictly forbidden and should immediately be reported to the DeafBlind Services Coordinator. If abuse occurs, the victim may file a complaint with the appropriate authorities.

6. Attire: The SSP will be required to be flexible with apparel. Each assignment may have specific clothing requirements as it relates to the client’s individual accommodation needs, as well as the specific activity occurring during the assignment. The SSP should expect that situations could require apparel flexibility during the same working day.

Qualifications of SSPs

Individuals who wish to become SSPs must:

  •  Be adults (over the age of 18);
  •  Have the ability to accommodate a consumer’s communication preference;
  •  Demonstrate no criminal records as verified by a background check;
  •  Have a valid driver’s license;
  •  Have current car insurance that includes liability insurance (this only applies to those
  • who will drive consumers as part of their SSP role);
  •  Have professional liability insurance;
  •  Be a contractor in good standing; and
  •  Complete SSP training and have 18 hours of supervised SSP experience.

In many instances, the SSP will be expected to drive as a part of the assignment (e.g., to and from the grocery store). Exceptions can be negotiated (e.g., an SSP who only does mail reading and does not drive). CCDHH is not liable for any car accidents and/or injuries caused by such accidents. The SSP will bear the liability for such situations. SSPs must show proof of their current license and insurance.

Before assignments can be given to new SSPs, they are required to complete SSP training and 18 hours of supervised work experience without pay.

Continuing education of SSPs: Each contracted SSP is required to take two or more deafblind-related workshops per each calendar year and show proof of participation to the DeafBlind Services Coordinator. Workshops and trainings must be approved by the DeafBlind Services Coordinator.

Scheduling/Matching

The number of hours per month each deafblind consumer is allotted for SSP services is constrained by financial and personnel resources. CCDHH budgets annually for these services and makes adjustments as needed to provide the maximum amount of support possible. Currently, each deafblind consumer will receive a maximum of 24 hours of SSP service per month. All paid SSP work must therefore be first arranged for and/or approved by DeafBlind Services.

DeafBlind consumers may make a request with the DeafBlind Services Coordinator through phone, email, or an online request form. The request will include the following information:

  •  Date
  •  Start time
  •  Approximate end time
  •  Place to meet
  •  Notes that include the details of the event

If at all possible, communication, geography, age, and personality as well as availability will determine the matching of an SSP and the consumer.

The consumers may also make arrangements with their preferred SSP before making their request with the DeafBlind Services Coordinator; however, payment to SSP for their time cannot be made if the assignment is already completed. Confirmation of the assignment must be verified by all parties (deafblind consumer, SSP, and DeafBlind Coordinator) through email.

DeafBlind consumers may not commit the DeafBlind Services to pay the SSP for more than the allotted hours. Other arrangements may be made between the deafblind consumer and the SSP for hours outside of the allotted time if the consumer has agreed to cover the cost him/herself. CCDHH will not pay for private arrangements.

Long distance service requests will be considered on a case-by- case basis. The consumers are encouraged to make their own travel arrangements if transportation by vehicle is the sole reason. SSP hours can be used to provide transportation to a bus terminal, train station, or the airport for such trips in order to navigate the check in process, assistance in getting to the right gate, and establish a communication system with the appropriate people.

Orientation for DeafBlind Consumers

The DeafBlind Services Coordinator will provide an orientation to first time deafblind consumers individually to:

  •  Explain the SSP program as a whole;
  •  Review the SSP guidelines;
  •  Review the SSP cancellation and no-show policies;
  •  Discuss the SSP’s role and responsibilities;
  •  Assess their SSP preference(s); and
  •  Provide guidance on how to make requests.

ADDENDUM 1 – Fee Schedules

A. PURPOSE

In order to achieve fairness for the payment of deafblind services across the state, a statewide Fee Schedule has been implemented for the Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing DeafBlind Services.

The following goals of the Fee Schedule are:

1. Uniform statewide guidelines regarding deafblind services in the provision of equal access and high quality of deafblind services throughout the state.

2. Compensation set in order for CCDHH to provide required qualified SSP/OM services within the constraints of legislative appropriations.

B. APPLICABILITY

The CCDHH DeafBlind Services Fee Schedule applies in the processing of vendor invoices for agencies as well as other CCDHH and Department of Human Services’ need. All vendors are considered “in good standing” if they have been approved by CCDHH through the completion of annual required independent contractor paperwork. CCDHH will only pay for the services of authorized vendors who have been confirmed for assignments via the Gridcheck Scheduling System by the CCDHH, DeafBlind Services coordinator.

C. COMPENSATION

In accepting assignments through CCDHH, Vendor agrees to abide by all applicable rules of decorum, to report on time, to remain for the duration of the scheduled assignment, unless released by the agency designee, or other Administrative Authority, and to dress in appropriate professional attire. Full or partial payment may be forfeited if Vendor is found to be in violation of any of the above.

D. INDIVIDUAL BASE RATES

For SSP: $25/hour

For OM specialist: $ N/A

E. ASSIGNMENTS

All assignments will be paid a two-hour minimum. If the assignment is less than two (2) hours and Vendor is asked to go with the consumer for another service (i.e.: another appointment, etc), Vendor will go with the consumer and provide service if it still falls within the 2-hour time frame. The $30 Last Minute Fee does not apply. Additional time over and above the 2-hour time frame will be paid in 15-minute increments.

All-day Assignments: Any service provided after eight (8) hours, is paid at Vendor’s individual base rate plus overtime differential in 15-minute increments. Lunch breaks will not be paid unless there is extenuating circumstances and CCDHH, deafblind services provides prior written approval. All full-day assignments will be limited to 8 hours. Vendor shall contact CCDHH, deafblind services immediately for any additional time worked over and above 8 hours in one day.

An assignment that goes beyond the scheduled end time will be rounded to the nearest 15 minutes.

F. RATE ADJUSTMENTS FOR SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

*Overtime differential: more than 8 hours in a single day

 Extra time x Individual base rate x 1.5

*Weekday evening differential: 7:00 pm to 7:00 am

 Individual base rate + $5 per hour

*Weekend differential: 7:00 pm on Friday to 7:00 am

 Individual base rate + $5 per hour

* Holiday differential: Assignments on official state holidays

 Individual base rate + $10 per hour

G. INDIVIDUAL BASE RATE FOR SSPS AND OM SPECIALISTS

Base Rate:$25

Overtime Rate: $37.50

Weekend/Eve Rate: $30

Holiday rate: $35

H. PARKING

CCDHH, DeafBlind Services will pay for parking, with no receipt, up to $25. Parking charges over $25 requires a receipt.

I. OTHER

1. “Last Minute Fee”-For assignments with less than twenty-four (24) hours notice from assignment start time, an additional $30.00 one-time flat fee will apply. If the assignment is cancelled within the cancellation period, the $30.00 fee still applies and can be invoiced.

2. Invoices will be sent to CCDHH within thirty (30) days of services rendered.

3. Vendor should try submitting invoices within the fiscal year in which the assignment was completed. CCDHH, DeafBlind Services fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.

Delay in submitting invoices may result in forfeiture of payments.

4. CCDHH, DeafBlind Services Coordinator will confirm the accuracy of information reported and release back any invoices that need to be adjusted for re-submittal.

5. An assignment that goes past the scheduled end-time, will be paid in 15-minute increments, rounded to the nearest 15 minutes, upon notification of CCDHH. Vendor shall add the additional amount as a ‘Line Item’ on the invoice.

6. If Vendor wishes to request removal from an assignment (without pay) that has been confirmed in Gridcheck, CCDHH, DeafBlind Services must be notified immediately. If Vendor repeatedly returns assignments it may lose preference in consideration for future assignments, at CCDHH ‘s sole discretion.

7. Vendor is responsible for checking their Gridcheck calendars regularly to avoid any scheduling confusion or errors.

J. CANCELLATION

Assignments are often on evenings, weekends and holidays, therefore, this cancellation policy takes those hours into consideration.

1. If an assignment is cancelled by consumer with less than forty-eight (48) hours from the assignment start time (EX 1 below), Vendor will be paid for the entire cancelled assignment time period and be available for possible re-assignment. Re-assignments, in other locations, may be negotiated with CCDHH, deafblind services based on preparation, parties involved, new location, etc. Re-assignments that fall within the same time frame are not eligible for the $30 Last Minute Fee.

2. If the assignment is cancelled, with 48-hour notice from assignment start time or more (EX 2 below), CCDHH is under no obligation to pay any fee to Vendor.

3. If an assignment booked for two (2) or more days is cancelled, with less than 48-hour notice, from assignment start time, Vendor will be paid for the first two (2) days of the assignment (up to 16 hours) and not for any subsequent days and are released from holding the subsequent days.

4. Facility or agency CLOSURES due to inclement weather, etc. are considered the same as a cancellation and will be paid as such. If conditions are unsafe, Vendor shall attempt to contact the local contact provided in the confirmation email for cancellation or closure information.

Example 1: An assignment starting on Wednesday at 8:30 am, is cancelled on the Monday before at 10:00am. Vendor is paid for the entire assignment (48 hour notice from assignment start time).

Example 2: An assignment starting on Monday at 9:00am, is cancelled on the Friday before at 4:30pm. Vendor is not paid for the assignment (48 hour notice from assignment start time).

K. EARLY DISMISSAL

1. If an assignment finishes more than 1 hour before scheduled end time, and Vendor is released by the agency designee, Vendor shall notify CCDHH immediately and be available for the entire time period for possible re-assignment in the same location.

Re-assignments in other locations may be negotiated with CCDHH based on preparation, parties involved, new location, etc. Re-assignments within the same time frame are not eligible for the $30 Last Minute Fee.

2. If the consumer is a “no-show”, Vendor shall wait to be released by the agency designee. Vendor shall notify CCDHH immediately and be available for the entire time period for possible re-assignment. Re-assignments in other locations may be negotiated with CCDHH based on preparation, parties involved, new location, etc. Re-assignments within the same time frame are not eligible for the $30 Last Minute Fee.

L. TRAVEL

1. All mileage and travel time calculations must use direct routes provided by GOOGLE MAPS (using Gridcheck link under ‘Travel Charges’ tab) from Vendor’s residence to assignment location. Time can be rounded up in 15-minute increments rounded to the nearest 15 minutes. If the direct route requires a toll, the 2 nd best route must be used unless approved by CCDHH in advance. Additional time for inclement weather, traffic, etc. will not be paid. Any exceptions must be approved on a case-by- case basis by CCDHH. The state mandated mileage rate will be changed in Gridcheck and shared with DeafBlind Services as soon as possible after it has been released.

2. If the miles traveled are more than 50 miles one-way (>100 miles round trip), Vendor will be paid the state mandated MILEAGE rate plus the amount of TRAVEL TIME at half of base rate. Calculation MUST be shown as a ‘Line Item’ on the invoice.

3. When an out of town assignment exceeds one-day duration, Vendor will be reimbursed per diem at Department of Human Services’ rates. Lodging will be provided and paid for by the CCDHH. Other considerations can be negotiated and must be pre-approved.

*Contact CCDHH for per diem rates before submitting invoice.

M. VENDOR ‘NO SHOW’

1. If Vendor is a no-show and does not have a valid excuse as determined solely by CCDHH, Vendor will be given a verbal warning by the Commission and a notation of the incident will be made and kept on file.

2. If Vendor is a no-show for a second time within two (2) years without a valid excuse, Vendor will be given a written reprimand and placed at or near the bottom of the referral list for three (3) months. The written reprimand will be kept on file for a period of five (5) years.

3. If Vendor is a no-show for a third time within two (2) years, Vendor will receive a written reprimand by the Commission and will not be given assignments for six (6) months.

Ryan Hawkins
DeafBlind Coordinator

P 720 399 4227

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