WATERTOWN, Mass.--()--People love their smart phones and tablets but, for the more than one million Americans with combined vision and hearing loss, these devices can truly be transformational. This Valentine’s Day, a new federal program is providing specialized computers, smart phones and other adaptive technology to people who are deaf-blind.
“Especially at Valentine’s Day, it’s important to remind people that they may have a friend or relative who could benefit from this program. Anyone can refer someone to the program using the tools on the iCanConnect website”
The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) is helping people across the U.S. stay connected with loved ones and enjoy an active, involved life. The program has an outreach component called iCanConnect with a website (www.iCanConnect.org) containing information about eligibility, state contacts, equipment options and ways to connect with specialists who can help with the process.
“I love the concept of reducing the isolation. People with hearing and vision loss can feel so isolated and that can lead to a decline in their quality of life,” said Jennifer Smith-Dudash with Columbus Speech and Hearing Center—which is administering the program in Ohio.
Specialized equipment ranging from speaker phones to laptops to iPads can be tailored to meet the needs of any person – from a young deaf man with Usher Syndrome who is gradually losing his eyesight and wants to resume his college education, to a grandmother who can’t navigate her computer yet yearns to keep up with her grandchildren through email.
“Especially at Valentine’s Day, it’s important to remind people that they may have a friend or relative who could benefit from this program. Anyone can refer someone to the program using the tools on the iCanConnect website,” said Betsy McGinnity director of Perkins Training and Educational Resources Program.
Perkins and the Helen Keller National Center are partnering with the Federal Communications Commission to operate the program. Together they developed the iCanConnect campaign to raise awareness about NDBEDP.
Additional information is available by phone at 1-800-825-4595, or through the FCC at http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/national-deaf-blind-equipment-distribution-program.