FCC program with local contacts enables independence for those with significant hearing and vision loss: “iCanConnect really changed my life”
WATERTOWN, MA / ACCESSWIRE / April 28, 2020 / Staying connected in these trying times is more important than ever, and even more so for those with significant hearing and vision loss. Like most granddads, Ernest Gallman couldn’t wait to meet his youngest grandson, Carson, when he was born last month. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing guidelines, Gallman was not able to meet him in person. The 69-year-old Columbia, South Carolina man began losing his eyesight at age 10 and has experienced progressive hearing loss over the years. But with equipment and training provided by iCanConnect, also known as The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, Gallman was able to meet his grandson virtually.
“Of course I was sad I couldn’t meet my grandson in person,” said Gallman, “but with everything that’s going on in the world, it was safest to meet him virtually. I did a video call with my daughter while she was feeding him and I could listen to him coo, cry, and burp using my Bluetooth headset. It was nice!”
“It’s always meaningful to learn about the difference iCanConnect makes in the lives of participants in the program. They’re using their equipment to stay updated with important information, and to keep in touch, especially during this period of social distancing,” said Marcia Brooks, Director, Perkins National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program. “Sending an email or chatting on the phone can be challenging for people with both significant vision and hearing loss. Our mission is to help them stay connected with friends, family, community, and the world, especially during these challenging times.”
Now, not only does Gallman use the equipment he received through iCanConnect to keep in touch with his family, it’s also a lifeline to the essential goods and services he needs to remain independent. “My laptop is invaluable,” he said. “I use it to order groceries online and have them delivered to my house. And if I can’t get a delivery, I email the list to my daughter and she shops for me and leaves the necessities on my porch.”
Before Gallman became an iCanConnect participant, he used an older flip phone and laptop to stay in touch with his family and friends. “I was pretty good with the flip phone,” he said, “but when I received my new smartphone, Bluetooth headset, and computer through iCanConnect, it was so much easier and faster to get in touch with my family. The equipment and training I received through iCanConnect really changed my life,” Gallman continued. “It made me more independent. I still can’t wait to meet my grandson in person! Hopefully it’ll happen someday soon,” he finished.
iCanConnect is a national program with local contacts in all 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. Established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2012, iCanConnect provides qualified individuals who have both significant vision and hearing loss with free distance communication equipment and training. The program helps reduce isolation, increase independence, and maintain access to important information for these individuals. To learn more about iCanConnect, visit www.iCanConnect.org.
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Paula Slotkin, Slotkin Communications
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