Kristi Probst, Deafblindness - Illinois State University

Kristi Probst completed her doctorate at Illinois State University focusing on educating learners with deafblindness.  She holds certifications in Special Education for Deaf & Hard of Hearing, Low Vision & Blindness, Learning Behavior Specialist 1, Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education.  Kristi has worked as a teacher for the Deaf, an itinerant teacher for the Visually Impaired, Developmental Therapist, University Supervisor for teacher candidates, Sign Language Interpreter, and teacher for students with Learning Disabilities.  Kristi has served as a peer reviewer for the Journal for Visual Impairment and Blindness, a reviewer for the AER International Conference, consultant for American Printing House for the Blind, and as a test item reviewer for Dynamic Learning Maps.  She has also served as the Director of Special Needs Ministry at Eastview Christian Church, has volunteered for various community organizations serving children with disabilities, helped create a program to meet the worship needs of individuals with disabilities in Central Illinois, and helped develop a Vacation Bible School program for children with developmental disabilities and their siblings.  Kristi is active in the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, CEC (DHH, LVB, TED, LD), Illinois chapter of AER and the Illinois Teachers of the Hearing Impaired.  Currently, she is the Chair-Elect for the Multiple Disabilities/Deafblind Division of AER, serves on the Board of Directors for AER as student representative, and is a student representative for the Council for Teacher Education at ISU.  Her current research interests are: education of learners with deafblindness, deaf/hard of hearing, or have visual impairments; comorbid conditions of individuals who have sensory impairments; educational needs specific to underserved populations of children with sensory impairments; inclusive classroom participation of children with both moderate to intense educational needs and deafblindness, hearing impairment, or visual impairments; and teacher training programs in special education and deafblindness, deaf education, and low vision and blindness.  Kristi resides in Central Illinois with her husband and three boys.

Dissertation Abstract:


Kristi M. Probst

The primary concern when planning educational programming for individuals who are deafblind (DB) is their unique communication needs. Additionally, the ability to adequately track student growth is key when education teams are making program and service provision decisions.  Therefore, it is important to investigate the longitudinal growth of learners who are DB and the possible effects of service provision (number, type, and intensity) on communication growth. The purpose of this study was to explore the differences in the number, type, and intensity of educational service provision and to track the longitudinal communication growth of students who are DB using the Communication Matrix.    

Using the data provided by the CM in addition to other variables obtained from a child’s IEP (i.e., educational services received), GCM seemed to be a sensible choice of methodology for this study.   However, the limited number of participants and longitudinal data collected prevented the use of GCM.  Instead, descriptive statistics were employed to illustrate the communication growth of two participants, examine two groups of learners (6-year-olds and 15-to-18-year-olds), and investigate the number, type, and intensity of the services received.  Great variability of service provision was observed in all areas investigated both inter- and intra-individually.  Furthermore, though not a research goal, the issue of primary and secondary disability labels for education emerged and is discussed in the findings.

Current Employment:  Initiative Lead, Interveners & Qualified Personnel at The National Center on Deaf-Blindness

The NCDB Initiative Lead conducts an array of NCDB’s national technical assistance (TA) activities as directed and collaborates with other NCDB staff in the design and delivery of formal and informal TA activities to state and multi-state deaf-blind projects and families, in support of priorities that NCDB is funded to address. 

The Initiative Lead serves as the lead specialist of NCDB’s delivery of universal, targeted, and intensive TA related to the Interveners and Qualified Personnel Initiative  (and other initiatives if deemed appropriate). 

  • Work collaboratively with and within NCDB’s internal teams and processes for TA and implementation, product development, and content management and dissemination. 
  • Work collaboratively with NCDB coordinators in the development of products, TA and implementation, evaluation, and network engagement within the initiative(s). 
  • Serve as the primary contact for the State and Multi-State Deaf-Blind Projects in support of their implementation activities within the assigned initiative(s). 
  • Provide universal, targeted, and intensive TA related to Initiative(s) activities. 
  • Assess need for, build, and facilitate online and traditional communities of network partners around common needs, goals, and work in the initiative(s) with the goal of increasing intensity and frequency of collaboration. 
  • Display an understanding of implementation science and TA strategies and be able to apply them within the delivery of technical assistance and initiative work 
  • For all NCDB focused initiatives, the Initiative Lead will be responsible for:
    • Supporting integration of all NCDB’s national TA activities, helping to align contributions made by all National Deaf-Blind TA Network participants, and helping to insure that state and multi-state deaf-blind project efforts are complementary and supportive of each other. 
    • Supporting alignment of a national system of TA in collaboration with state and multi-state deaf-blind projects.