Sending an email or chatting on the phone can be challenging for people who have significant combined vision and hearing loss and don't have access to the right equipment. iCanConnect is a national program that can help. Along with free communication equipment and software, we provide training in your home, allowing you to take full advantage of the powerful features and functionality that today's communication technologies provide. To learn more about the program, types of equipment available, get news, and watch videos, visit the national iCanConnect site.
What is iCanConnect?
iCanConnect is another name for the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP), a federal program designed to help the many thousands of Americans with combined hearing and vision loss to connect with family, friends and community.
It was established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in an effort to comply with the 21st Century Video and Communications Accessibility Act, a federal law that requires people with disabilities to have access to modern communications technology that enables distance communication.
What does iCanConnect provide?
If you meet income requirements, you can receive free communications technology designed for people with combined vision and hearing loss. Installation, training, and technical support are also available.
What is the goal?
The goal of iCanConnect is to provide distance communications technology and training for people with combined hearing and vision disabilities, and to increase opportunities for independence for this underserved population to stay connected with family, friends, service providers, and their communities.
Who is eligible?
To be eligible, the individual must:
- Have combined vision and hearing loss attested to in writing by a professional. Examples of professionals include:
- medical or health professional
- vocational rehabilitation counselor
- vision or hearing professional
- healthcare provider
- a community service provider
- Be able to be trained to use the equipment the program provides, including telephones, computers and other communication equipment
- Meet the program's household income guidelines
How is deaf-blind defined?
For this program, "deaf-blind" is defined as any individual with a combination of the disabilities described below for whom it is extremely difficult to attain independence in daily life activities, achieve psychosocial adjustment or obtain a vocation.
Must meet at least one of these sight guidelines:
- Visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with corrective lenses
- A field defect such that the peripheral diameter of visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees
- Progressive visual loss with a prognosis leading to one or both of above conditions
Must meet at least one of these hearing guidelines:
- Chronic hearing disabilities so severe that most speech cannot be understood with optimum amplification
- Progressive hearing loss having a prognosis leading to above condition
What are the program's income guidelines?
- Your household income is within 400 percent of the federal poverty level (see household income chart)
- You are automatically income eligible if you can provide documentation that you are currently enrolled in a federal program with an income eligibility requirement that does not exceed 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, such as: Medicaid; Supplemental Security Income (SSI); federal public housing assistance or Section 8; food stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit. Otherwise, you must provide proof of all household income that does not exceed 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
What kind of equipment is available?
There is a wide range of equipment available depending on your needs. Some examples include:
- Braille devices
- Mobile devices
To learn more about the equipment available through iCanConnect, visit the equipment page on the national website.
How do I find out which equipment is the right fit?
The iCanConnect program provides a qualified specialist in your area to help identify and install equipment that will meet your/your family member's needs.
I am/my family member is not tech savvy. Who will I contact for training?
For Washington State residents, email icanWA@uw.edu or call WATAP at 1-800-214-8731 to discuss your options.
If you do not live in WA, a list of state contacts is available on the How to Participate page of the national site. You can also call the national iCanConnect project at 1-800-825-4595 for additional information.
How do I apply?
For Washington State residents, download (from links provided above or at http://www.icanconnect.org/how-to-participate/washington) and submit a completed application by mail, e-mail, or fax to:
UW Box 357920
Seattle, WA 98195-7920
If scanned documents are submitted, please use PDF format.
You must include:
- a disability verification form signed by a professional who attests that your combined hearing and vision loss meets iCanConnect’s disability guidelines.
- proof that you meet iCanConnect’s income guidelines.
For questions, contact WATAP at 1-800-214-8731 or email icanWA@uw.edu.
If you do not live in WA, find the iCanConnect contact for your state.