National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program

NDBEDP Overview

Braille notetakerMaking a phone call. Sending an email. Accessing the Internet. These are the basics of staying connected in today’s world. Technology has revolutionized the way we communicate in every arena—from getting help in emergency situations to interacting with family and friends to functioning effectively in the workplace. But it’s not always easy for DeafBlind individuals who may not be able to take full advantage of communication tools without special adaptive equipment.

The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) can help. Established by the Federal Communications Commission in 2012, the NDBEDP, more commonly known by the name of its website, iCanConnect, provides accessible distance communication tools at no cost to low-income individuals who have a significant combined hearing and vision loss. Serving people from a wide range of backgrounds and age groups – from senior citizens to young adults—the NDBEDP also offers funding for in-home training on the equipment and software it provides.

Woman using refreshable braille display; her back is to the camera.HKNC is a national partner in the NDBEDP. Your regional representative can determine whether you are eligible for the program, assess your needs and assist you with the application process. If your application is approved, he or she will make sure you get all the support you require to make the most of your new communication tools.

Equipment Available

The NDBEDP facilitates access to telecommunications, advanced communications (such as Internet-based voice communication, email, instant messaging and video conferencing services) and the Internet by providing DeafBlind individuals with hardware, software and/or applications to meet their specific needs.

Equipment may be furnished separately or in combination, and it may have mainstream or specialized functions. Internet service and phone lines are not included – only the equipment used to connect to them.

Communication tools that are covered include:

  • Cell phones
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Computers
  • Specialized keyboards
  • Large monitors
  • Refreshable braille displays
  • Amplified and/or captioned telephones
  • Vibrating signalers
  • Screen readers
  • Magnification software

For a complete list, visit http://www.icanconnect.org/equipment

How HKNC Can Help

Your HKNC regional representative collaborates with the NDBEDP program coordinator for your state on a regular basis, ensuring that you have the most up-to-date information about what’s available in your area.

Your regional representative can:

  • Certify that you qualify for the program based on your level of vision and hearing loss.
  • Assist you with the application process.
  • Assess your telecommunication needs.
  • Identify skilled trainers to help you set up your new equipment and learn how to use it.
  • Advocate for your region as a member of your state’s DeafBlind equipment distribution advisory board.

Getting Started

For more information on the NDBEDP, contact your regional representative.

Success Story

Man in formal wear stands in front of a sign that says Helen's Ball

Sherrod’s Story: Reconnecting with iCanConnect

Sherrod couldn’t read print on his computer anymore. Now, thanks to iCanConnect, he’s using his braille display for everything from real-time communication with his doctor to Facebook.

Go to Sherrod’s Story Go to All HKNC Success Stories