Helen Keller Student Keeps in Touch with Family through iCanConnect

May 20, 2016
iCanConnect participant Andrew Grimes using his smartphone.

For Andrew Grimes, better technology means easier, more frequent access to the people he loves.

Andrew, 21, joined the residential program at the Helen Keller National Center in New York last fall after attending a two-week summer program. It was there he learned about iCanConnect, also known as the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program.

Andrew has Usher syndrome, which has caused him to lose significant hearing in both ears. Through iCanConnect, he received an iPad and iPhone with built-in screen readers, which helped him stay in touch with his family while at school.

Prior to receiving his new equipment, communicating was often a challenge, he said. "When I called my parents on the phone, sometimes I don’t hear very well because there’s background noise and static."

Now, Andrew enjoys video chatting with his parents on Facetime. "It’s perfect," he said.

He also stays in touch with family and friends via email, and uses his iPhone to send text messages and to video chat on Facetime with friends from school.

Having new and better ways to communicate with loved ones has put Andrew’s mind at ease as he transitions into his new life as a residential student at The Helen Keller National Institute.

"Before (I received) the equipment through iCanConnect, I was a little nervous because I couldn’t find ways to connect with people," he said. "But once I got my iPhone and iPad, I felt great. I’m happy to be a participant in this program."