Interview with Heather Anderson, iCanConnect representative
7/29/2020 11:52:36 AM
Heather Anderson was interviewed by Kaitlyn Mielke online. Heather has worked in the community as a job coach, SSP (Support Staff Provider), DeafBlind interpreter, Independent Living Skills coach, and volunteer. She started working part time in 2012 with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division, supporting the State’s DeafBlind Consumer Directed Services grant program and the new Federal pilot program iCanConnect. In late 2014, she began working with iCanConnect in a full time capacity to coordinate the Minnesota program and work in partnership with Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts.
Heather: The program serves people with combined significant hearing and vision loss, who meet the program’s disability and income guidelines. Check iCC's See if You Qualify page for more information.
While the program does not have age restrictions, every person who meets the income and disability eligibility requirements must be able to demonstrate they are able to engage in distance communication in order to be eligible for equipment and services.
Heather: Once consumers are accepted into the program, they receive an individualized assessment that addresses each person’s specific hearing and vision loss, goals for distance communication, prior experience with equipment, and existing equipment they have. Equipment is purchased, then it’s setup and installed and training begins. Each local program makes decisions about what each program participant receives within program guidelines.
Heather: The equipment distributed through the program is designed to make the following services accessible:
The equipment may be mainstream or specialized hardware, software or applications and must meet the needs of the deaf-blind individual to achieve access. Equipment warranties, maintenance and repairs may also be provided. Examples of the categories of equipment iCanConnect provides are listed.
Heather: The equipment provided varies depending on individuals and advancements in technology. However, in my experience the most requested equipment in Minnesota are:
Heather: As per the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, signed into federal law on October 8, 2010, the FCC established the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) to certify and provide funding to entities in each state so they can distribute specialized customer premises equipment to low-income individuals who are deaf-blind. The program is funded through the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) administers the program in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. The FCC certifies one organization in each state/U.S. Territory to administer the program locally, and provides funding for qualified consumer services and equipment, local outreach, and train-the-trainer expenses. National outreach for the entire program is also funded.
Within the program rules, each local program determines the equipment and services provided.
Heather: Find your local program at iCC's website or call 800-825-4595. Applications to the program can be downloaded at each state program’s page on the website, or can be provided upon request from each state program contact.