In Tennessee, iCanConnect is administered by the Tennessee Public Utility Commission (TPUC).
TPUC has been meeting the needs and challenges of consumers in Tennessee since 1996. The agency is responsible for setting rates and service standards for privately-owned telephones, as well as natural gas, electricity and water. The TPUC also assists and protects consumers unfairly targeted by utility practices or in need of phone assistance.
In 1999, the TPUC created the Telecommunications Devices Access Program to provide assistance to people with vision and hearing loss statewide. An estimated 4 percent of Tennessee residents are deaf-blind.
With the assistance of the Helen Keller National Center and RLCB, Inc., the TPUC has assessed dozens of consumers and provided those who qualify new communications technology to keep them connected to their world.
Meet a client who became a trainer
49-year-old Lori Wyke received equipment through the iCanConnect program. Wyke has Usher Syndrome, which left her deaf with extremely low vision.
Last year, Wyke became an iCanConnect client and received an iPhone 5, a fourth generation iPad and a MacBook Pro. She taught herself to use the technology and now she is working for RLCB, training other iCanConnect clients.
“I just can’t wait for other deaf-blind people to learn more with the technology.” She says, “They realize they don’t have a limit. They can do anything. They can contact friends and relatives.”
Wyke is a mother of three and lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee.