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Communications Technology Available to South Dakotans with Vision, Hearing Loss



Department of Human Services to Lead South Dakota’s iCanConnect Campaign

PIERRE, S.D. – Many thousands of Americans who have combined loss of hearing and vision may soon connect with family, friends and community thanks to the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program.

 This new federal program provides support for the local distribution of a wide array of accessible communications technology. It was mandated by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) and established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

  The FCC is also funding a national outreach campaign to educate the public about this new program. The iCanConnect campaign will be conducted jointly by Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Mass., and Helen Keller National Center in New York City, N.Y. 

The iCanConnect initiative seeks to educate people about the availability of communications technology – from screen enlargement software and video phones to off-the-shelf products that are accessible or adaptable. In South Dakota, the Department of Human Services (DHS) has been certified by the FCC to distribute equipment to citizens who are low-income and suffer from combined hearing and vision loss.

“We strive to help South Dakotans with disabilities live and work where they want and to contribute to their communities,” said DHS Secretary Gloria Pearson. “This important technology-access program furthers those goals, so we want to use iCanConnect to help spread the word throughout South Dakota.”

 Through iCanConnect.org/south-dakota, individuals, their family members or care givers will find information about the program including who qualifies, what equipment is available, how it is being distributed and installed, and how to receive training. This information is also available to people who call toll free at (800) 825-4595.

 The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program was created so people who are blind and deaf-blind can remain safe and healthy, hold a job, manage a household and contribute to the economy and the community. Additional information is available through the FCC at fcc.gov/NDBEDP.

 The CVAA acknowledges that advances in technology can revolutionize lives. Nearly 1 million people in the United States have some combination of vision and hearing loss. People with combined loss of vision and hearing as defined by the Helen Keller National Center Act whose income does not exceed 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines are eligible to participate in the new program.

 “With the right technology, people with disabilities can link to information and ideas, be productive and move ahead,” said Steven Rothstein, president of Perkins. “Perkins’ most famous student, Helen Keller, exemplified the potential of a person who is deaf-blind. We are proud to have a role in this transformational program.”

 About DHS

In partnership with its stakeholders, the South Dakota Department of Human Services’ mission is to optimize the quality of life of people with disabilities through the programs and services offered by its divisions. Learn more by visiting the department’s website, dhs.sd.gov, and viewing the 2013 DHS Strategic Plan.


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