Deaf-Blind New Jersey Artist Teaches Others to Communicate Using New Technology

January 17, 2014
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Jon Gabry’s artwork is vibrant, radiant, and imaginative.  It’s been displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City—an amazing accomplishment in itself and even more so when you consider the 24-year-old Kearny man was born deaf and with low vision.

Artwork isn’t Gabry’s only passion.  A math, art and architectural student at Bergen Community College, Gabry also works as a trainer for iCanConnect New Jersey. The program provides the latest distance communication technology so people with combined hearing and vision loss can communicate with family and friends, get access to news and information, and improve their overall quality of life.

“We want to make life better and easier,” says Gabry.

Mandated by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established iCanConnect to ensure that every person with combined hearing and vision loss has access to modern distance communications tools and the training necessary to use them. The program offers a wide range of technology, devices such as smartphones and computers, as well as specialized adaptive software, phone amplifiers and braille displays, at no cost to people who meet income guidelines.

Gabry is the only deaf-blind trainer for iCanConnect New Jersey, which is administered by the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired in collaboration with The College of New Jersey. Dr. Jerry G. Petroff, with The College of New Jersey says Gabry is an amazing and patient person who works well with clients. 

Jonathan Ferguson is one of those clients. A 9-year-old who was born deaf-blind, Jonathan convinced Gabry to download the same video game so the two could play together.  It was a special moment Jonathan’s parents say he never before shared.

iCanConnect is available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Learn more at http://www.iCanConnect.org: click on “State Partners” to find each state’s contacts.  There, you will find out how the program works, what kind of distance equipment is available, how to find out if your income qualifies, and how to apply.  The website is accessible to users with low vision and those who use screen readers, and it features video that is both audio described and captioned.  Information about iCanConnect is also available by calling 1-800-825-4595 Voice or 1-888-320-2656 TTY.  In New Jersey, you can call (609) 771-2711.