Iowa Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program
The goal of the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) is to ensure that every person with combined hearing and vision loss has access to modern telecommunication tools and the training necessary to use them, granting every individual the opportunity to interact with the world as an involved, contributing member of society. The program — promoted by iCanConnect — provides outreach, assessments, telecommunications technology and training free of charge to those who meet federal eligibility guidelines.
In 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established the NDBEDP, called iCanConnect, as a pilot program. The program became permanent in 2016. Each state is responsible for implementing and administering its own statewide NDBEDP. The administrator of Iowa’s NDBEDP is the Helen Keller National Center, Great Plains Regional Office in Shawnee Mission, Kansas.
Under this new program, only individuals who are Deaf-Blind and meet the NDBEDP low income eligibility rule are eligible to receive equipment. For this program, the term “Deaf-Blind” has the same meaning given in the Helen Keller National Center Act. In general, the individual must have a certain vision and hearing loss that, combined, cause extreme difficulty in attaining independence in daily life activities, achieving psychosocial adjustment, or obtaining a vocation (working). Applicants must provide verification of their disability and low income. The FCC defines “low income” to mean not more than 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Verification of disability: Individuals claiming eligibility under the NDBEDP must provide verification of disability from a professional with direct knowledge of the individual’s disability. Existing documentation that a person is Deaf-Blind, such as an individualized education program (IEP), or a statement from a public or private agency, such as a Social Security determination letter, may serve as verification of disability. The verification of disability must include the attesting professional’s name, title, and contact information, including address, phone number, and e-mail address.
Verification of income status: An individual claiming eligibility under the NDBEDP must provide verification that he or she has a total household income that does not exceed 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or that he or she is enrolled in a federal program with a lesser income eligibility requirement.
This program provides a wide range of hardware, software, and applications to suit the varying communication technology needs of people who have hearing and vision loss. Examples include products that are available on the general market and products that are adaptable through the use of specialized equipment, such as screen enlargements, software, screen readers or braille displays.
If you have questions, please contact Beth Jordan at the Helen Keller National Center. Ms. Jordan may be reached by email at Beth.Jordan@hknc.org, by phone at 913.677.4562, or by video phone at 913.227.4282.
National iCanConnect webpage (now leaving the IUB website)
National iCanConnect brochures (PDF) (now leaving the IUB website) Spanish (PDF) (now leaving the IUB website)
FCC National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program webpage (now leaving the IUB website)