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SCDD VRS teacher’s assistant earns national intervener certification
Scioto County Developmental Disabilities Tracy Smith, teacher’s assistant at Vern Riffe School was among those recognized during a special banquet held in Columbus on Sept. 22, 2023, for those who have completed national intervener certification. Smith is the first person from Ohio ever to earn this certification.

An intervener is a support role in which certified interveners work directly one-on-one with students with sensory impairment, such as deaf or blind, to help them achieve their goals. The certificate program is a two-year online program offered by Shawnee State University, in Portsmouth, Ohio. Smith has been a teacher’s assistant with SCDD since 2012, first working at the Carousel Center before moving to the Vern Riffe School in 2016.

“I’ve always had a fascination with sign language because I had several kids at the Carousel Center who spoke primarily in sign language, and so many non-verbal kids with autism that sign language kind of became a second nature to me after a while. But I’ve never had a good background in braille, which is another thing that has fascinated me. So when this program became available I jumped at the chance,” she said.

She completed the intervener program this year, and submitted her portfolio and work to be reviewed by the national certification board in Utah. Having been approved by the board, she was invited to receive her certificate during a special honors banquet hosted by the Ohio Dean’s Compact Conference in Columbus.

“It was all about our children with special needs in all different parts of the country coming together to talk about their programs and procedures. My area is called low-incidence because there’s not a lot of deaf-blind people out there. At the conference, they all come together to talk about what they are doing and brainstorm different things that can be done for our community,” she said.

She confessed it was overwhelming being in front of so many people, but felt comfortable because everyone was nice and welcoming.

“I got a lot of congratulations when they found out I was the first from Ohio to get this certification,” she said. “I enjoyed it and I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort-zone and I did it. I think I found my niche because I really like doing this kind of work.”

For more information about the programs and services at Scioto County Developmental Disabilities, call 740-353-0636 or visit online at, and like and follow them on Facebook and TikTok.