iCanConnect - The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program
I seldom think of my limitations,
and they never make me sad.
Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times;
but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers.-
— Helen Keller
Communication is essential for staying healthy, holding a job, managing a household and participating in the community. Modern technology has vastly expanded the way most people communicate through voice, data and video services. But for people who have combined vision and hearing loss, special equipment may be necessary to make a phone call, send an email or access the Internet.
The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program will ensure that low-income individuals who have combined hearing and vision loss can access telephone, advanced communications and information services.
This program was mandated by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 and established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Frequently Asked Questions
How does this equipment distribution program work?
This program provides communications technology free of charge to low-income people of all ages who have combined vision and hearing loss. The FCC has set aside funding to support one program in each state, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These participating programs will distribute this communications equipment to qualified individuals and provide equipment installation, training and support to help recipients make the most of this technology.
What kind of equipment will be distributed?
This program provides a wide range of hardware, software and applications to suit the varying communications technology needs of people who have hearing and vision loss. Examples include products that are available to the general public and may be accessible to people with hearing and vision loss or products that are adaptable through the use of specialized equipment, such as screen enlargement software, screen readers or braille displays.
Is this program for me?
If you are a person who has combined vision and hearing loss, and you cannot afford communications technology that enable you to use a telephone, send an email, access the Internet, or use other communications technology, you may be eligible for this program.
How do I choose the best equipment to suit my needs?
A qualified program specialist can help you identify equipment that will meet your needs.
How do I learn how to use the equipment?
Program specialists are also available to train you to use the equipment.
To qualify for this program, you must:
- Have combined vision and hearing loss to be considered “deaf-blind” as that term is defined by the Helen Keller National Center Act. A practicing professional who has direct knowledge of your vision and hearing loss, such as vision- or hearing-related professionals, educators, medical professionals or community-based service providers, must verify that you are “deaf-blind.”
- Have an income that does not exceed 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG). Applicants who are enrolled in federal subsidy programs with income thresholds lower than 400 percent of the FPG are automatically deemed income eligible for this program. Applicants who are not enrolled in a qualifying federal low-income program must be deemed eligible by review of a recent income tax return or other means.
To learn more:
Visit iCanConnect.org or call 1-800-825-4595.
To apply in Illinois, contact:
Program Manager of Deaf-Blind Outreach
The Chicago Lighthouse
Tel: (312) 666-1331 ext. 3415
Fax: (312) 243-8539
TTY: (312) 666-8874
Videophone number: (312) 957-4865
For more information visit: