Technology Connects Virginia Man to Family, Friends & the World

June 13, 2014
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Technology is making all the difference in Sherrod Crawley’s life.  The Hopewell, Virginia man relies on his email, Facebook and the internet to keep connected.  “Technology really does make things possible for me to continue daily living,” says a tech-savvy Crawley.

Crawley, who is 26-years-old, is deaf and has extremely low vision, a result of Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2)—a genetic disorder of the nervous system that causes tumors or masses to grow.  The condition first presented when Crawley’s was a teenager.  The condition keeps him close to home most of the time, but thanks to his new computer and Zoom Text magnification software, Crawley is able to communicate with friends and family.

Crawley received the equipment – and one-on-one training on how to operate it – through the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, which is promoted as iCanConnect and is administered in Virginia by the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) with help from the state’s Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI). The program provides a wide array of communications equipment, from braille readers to laptops to smartphones, at no cost to low-income people with significant hearing and vision loss. 

Elizabeth Spiers of DBVI says Crawley’s new equipment has really opened up his life to be able to “communicate so effectively with others.”

VHDHH Program Director Clayton says Crawley is not only tech-savvy; he’s also “an amazing young gentleman.” 

Crawley calls iCanConnect a “perfect start” for people who are deaf-blind.  “Having a computer and other equipment allows you to have access to the world and what it may provide.”  

Crawley has even been able to take correspondence courses from the Hadley School for the Blind. “Doing things from my computer makes it a lot easier for me, rather than going through the frustration of writing things down by hand,” he 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.