IP Communications Featured Article

iCanConnect to Connect the Hearing and Vision Impaired to Loved Ones through Specialized Communication Equipment

 
February 14, 2013



A Federal Program, the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP), is being launched this Valentine’s day for the hearing and vision impaired.

For most of us, Valentine’s Day is the ultimate romantic day. The U.S. federal government gives you an opportunity to break free from this limited notion of Valentine’s Day celebration and grow beyond balloons, roses and chocolates-strewn merriment. As part of this new federal program, you can bring some of those one million unfortunate U.S. citizens suffering the double loss of hearing and vision, back to the mainstream of life.


It is utterly amazing to think of the extent to which we are attached to our smartphones and other communication devices today, but for these one million hearing and vision- impaired, these technologies make no sense at all. In an effort to address this gap, specialized computers, smartphones and other adaptive technology are being offered under NDBEDP to the people with combined vision and hearing loss.

The specialized equipment features a plethora of devices, including speaker phones, laptops and iPads. They are tailored to meet individual needs of persons – 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 e-mail.

The program’s outreach arm, iCanConnect, has a dedicated website offering information about eligibility, state contacts and equipment options. You can use this interface to connect to a team of specialists, eager to help you with the process. In a true gesture of love, the program strives to bring them back to a connected world and allow them to stay connected to their loved ones 

Perkins, the Helen Keller National Center and the Federal Communications Commission partnered to develop iCanConnect and will jointly operate the program.

“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,” Jennifer Smith-Dudash of Columbus Speech and Hearing Center said in a statement. The Columbus Speech and Hearing Center is the one to administer the program in Ohio.

“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,” director of Perkins Training and Educational Resources Program Betsy McGinnity said while explaining the reason for the program’s Valentine’ Day launch.




Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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