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.


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

Sherrod Crawley was first diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) around the age of 2. In early childhood, Sherrod experienced only minor issues with his vision and hearing but by age 13, he began to have more significant trouble and transferred from a public school to a residential school for deaf, blind and multi-disabled students.

After completing school, Sherrod knew there was more he needed to learn. He traveled to the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC) in New York to pursue training in communications, independent living, assistive technology, mobility and vocational skills.

In 2013, HKNC’s East Central regional representative, Cynthia Ingraham, introduced him to the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP), more commonly known as iCanConnect (iCC). Through NDBEDP, he received equipment that enabled him to access the Internet. “It allowed me to use email, Facebook and surf the Web,” he says.

A year later, brain tumors related to NF2 caused him to lose more vision and to have mild seizures. “I could no longer read print on my computer, so I contacted the iCC program again,” he says. This time, Sherrod received equipment to help him access the computer with a refreshable braille display. “Thanks to my braille refresher classes at HKNC and a lot of hard work on my part, I can use my braille display to communicate with my doctors, attend community meetings and conduct business,” he says.

Paige Berry, HKNC’s former senior adult specialist, met with Sherrod, his doctor and medical staff, and showed the medical team how they could communicate with Sherrod using the braille display. “I was very happy, because I was able to communicate directly with the doctor and know immediately what was going on,” he says. Sherrod’s next goal: to be able to make telephone calls through a relay service using his braille display.

“I hope other people who are deaf-blind will take advantage of the training at the Helen Keller National Center and especially investigate the iCanConnect program,” he says. “It can help you stay in touch with your community and the world.”