Like many grandparents who have lost their sight and hearing, Rosetta Brown of Conyers, Georgia found herself increasingly more isolated. Phone conversation or email exchanges with out of state grandkids were extremely challenging.
Brown, who is 59 years-old, was born blind and slowly lost her hearing as she aged. Only recently did she admit she needed help hearing. That was around the time she also found out about the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, which is promoted as iCanConnect. The program offers communications technology to help people like Brown engage in distance communications—like skyping with a grandson or corresponding with friends overseas via email.
“I just don’t have the words to explain how exciting this is for me and how very significant this is to me,” she says.
After she met with a representative of iCanConnect Georgia who conducted an assessment of her communications needs, her hearing and her vision loss, Brown received tools that not only magnify her computer screen, but also read the text out loud so she can follow along.
“Just to have these things, helps me to communicate with others,” Brown stresses. “It just opens doors to me that have not been open to me before! It is just like a life-changing event!”
iCanConnect provides modern communications technology like smartphones, braille devices, computers, software and much more – plus one-on-one training – to people with combined hearing and vision loss. There is no cost as long as the consumer meets the disability and income guidelines.
The Georgia Council for the Hearing Impaired (GACHI) administers iCanConnect Georgia. Brown credits the meticulously hard work of program manager, Stephanie Jackson, for helping determine what tools she needed to help her communicate. “We were able to provide her with useful technology that matched her skills,” says Jackson. “Being able to get life changing equipment to continue with her independence and correspond via email and Internet is a feeling only the recipient can describe.”
A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, Brown is an avid volunteer who also writes poetry and articles in publications for the blind. She hopes to have her first book of poems, entitled “Rosebud in Full Bloom,” published soon.
“I’d like to see every deaf-blind person in America be able to receive the communication devices to empower their lives as it has helped significantly to empower my life,” she says.
iCanConnect is available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.iCanConnect.org. Click on “State Partners” to find each state’s contacts. 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.