The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it will make permanent the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program. This successful pilot program for low-income Americans with combined vision and hearing loss was made permanent on August 4, 2016.
The Commission launched the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP), also known as “iCanConnect,” as a pilot program in 2012. Since then, the program has provided up to $10 million annually to support programs that distribute communications equipment, helping Americans with hearing and vision loss to connect with family and friends and become more independent.
Through iCanConnect, consumers who are deafblind and who meet income guidelines can receive free equipment designed to make telecommunications, Internet access, and advanced communications services accessible. Installation, training, and other technical support are also available. To date, thousands of Americans with hearing and vision loss have benefitted from the pilot program. Breaking down accessibility barriers for this population has afforded Americans with combined hearing and vision loss a means to enhance social interaction, acquire information, and obtain skills and training to become gainfully employed.