iCanConnect helps hearing, vision impaired
December 11, 2013
By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
Oklahomans with combined vision and hearing loss can get the latest communications technology, including iPads and smart phones, free of charge through a program called iCanConnect.
Also known as the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, iCanConnect is managed in Oklahoma by Visual Services in the Department of Rehabilitation Services.
Products include both those available to the general public and those adaptable through specialized equipment, like screen enlargement software, screen readers or Braille displays.
“Modern technology has expanded the way most people communicate through voice, data and video services,” said Jeri Cooper, a deaf-blind specialist, “but many people with vision and hearing loss need special equipment to make a phone call, send an email or get on the Internet.”
Cooper, who is deaf-blind, manages the program and travels statewide to spread the word.
“iCanConnect makes that equipment available to those who otherwise might not be able to afford it and specialized training that enables them to use it effectively,” Cooper said.
To qualify, Oklahomans must be certified as deaf-blind by a medical, vision or hearing-related professional, educator or community-based service agency. Applicants’ incomes must not exceed 400 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
“iCanConnect enables deaf-blind people to use devices adapted for them to access emergency services, their doctors, banks, order food, or visit with friends and family without relying on others,” Cooper said. “This program has helped numerous people all over Oklahoma be more independent.”
The FCC established iCanConnect in response to the federal Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010.
The pilot program will run for two years. FCC has the option to extend the program for an additional year.
For information about iCanConnect in Oklahoma, contact Cooper at (918) 551-4921 or [email protected]