User Login    
 + Register
News : High-Tech Items Giving Deaf-Blind Online Acess
Posted by Randy on 2014/4/8 4:18:40 (318 reads) News by the same author

SANDS POINT, N.Y. (AP) -- Tanisha Verdejo loves to surf the Internet for shopping deals. She chats on Facebook, learns about new recipes and enjoys sending emails to friends and family.

Click to see original Image in a new window

Verdejo, who can't see or hear, could do none of that a year ago.

The 40-year-old New Yorker lives in a group home in Port Washington and is among the thousands of people with combined hearing and vision loss to have benefited from a pilot program called iCanConnect. The initiative provides low-income deaf-blind individuals with the most up-to-date telecommunications devices for free and special training to use them.

"For me, it's opened up my whole world," Verdejo said through a sign language interpreter at the Helen Keller National Center in suburban Long Island. The center, along with the Boston-based Perkins School for the Blind, is working with state agencies and others around the country to distribute items like refreshable Braille displays, amplified telephones and computer programs that allow for large print displays for those who may be vision-impaired but not entirely blind.

Much of the equipment is compatible with Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPad and connect via Bluetooth.

"Modern technology has rapidly progressed, and we are available to provide individuals with combined vision and hearing loss the best technology and telecommunications tools for their individual needs," said Thomas J. Edwards, president of Helen Keller Services for the Blind, which has 11 regional offices around the country.

For Verdejo and others, the changes have been dramatic.

"I'm able now to access anything I want," Verdejo said. "I mean, I have all these apps here and can see anything now. I see it through my Braille device. I'm just so thrilled and happy that I'm able to communicate with the world."

Established by the Federal Communications Commission, the pilot program allocates $10 million annually for low-income deaf-blind people to get the equipment. The program, which is in the second year of a three-year study, is open to individuals earning less than $44,680 annually, with income limits slightly higher in Hawaii and Alaska.

An estimated 2,000 people have been served by the program in its first 18 months, said Betsy McGinnity, a Perkins spokeswoman. She said the program has received positive feedback and was confident it could be extended beyond the three-year study period.

Dr. Christian Vogler, director of the Technology Access Program at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., said because the deaf-blind population is relatively small - about 100,000 in the U.S., according to one estimate - the high-technology devices are very expensive to produce. Some refreshable Braille displays - hand-held electronic devices that employ a network of tiny pins that pop up and down through holes, scrolling letters that a blind person can read - can cost as much as $6,000.

Software that enlarges text on computer screens can sometimes cost $800 to $1,000.

"There's not a lot of profit for these companies; the equipment is very expensive and most can't afford it," Vogler said.

Other devices include amplifiers that assist those with limited hearing loss to know when a telephone is ringing or computer programs that accent certain colors that may assist the vision-impaired.

Applicants for the technology go through a rigorous screening process to determine what specific devices could benefit them best, said Ryan Odland, the New York coordinator of the distribution program for the Helen Keller National Center. Once accepted, they are trained in the proper ways to use the equipment; the training is tailored to each individual.

"We do not order equipment for anything other than to gain equal access to telecommunications," Odland said. "We tend to be very thorough with our assessment to be certain what equipment our consumer wants is ideal for them."

He said there is no financial cap on what any individual may receive. "It's based on their specific needs," Odland said.

Although many of those eligible for the devices are known to officials at the Keller and Perkins facilities, the organizations are reaching out to others who may not be clients of either.

"We want to get the word out to seniors who are experiencing age-related vision and hearing issues," said Sue Ruzenski, acting executive director at the Helen Keller center. "And there are other groups of people that we may not always interact with that may be eligible for services."

Ruzenski said a $10 million annual allocation may not seem like much, but insisted: "We looked at it as a huge breakthrough for the deaf-blind community."

Printer Friendly Page Send this Story to a Friend Create a PDF from the article


Other articles
2015/8/5 4:21:32 - Police: Plea For Help With Rent Payment Saves Woman From Captivity, Rape
2015/8/5 4:16:52 - Missouri Boy Found In Yard With Gunshot Wound To The Head
2015/8/5 4:13:23 - Large Explosion Rocks Southeast Missouri Aluminum Plant
2015/8/5 4:10:22 - How A Dating App Hookup Landed A Teen On The Sex Offender Registry
2015/8/5 4:05:56 - Kirksville Council Gives OK To Plan For "Mini-Houses"
2015/8/5 3:58:19 - Sex Offender Sentenced to 120 Years in Prison for 'Sex Tourism,' Victimized Five Filipino Children
2015/8/4 10:46:51 - Expectations High As Trenton Softball Aims To Regain District Championship
2015/8/4 10:30:00 - Trenton Aims To Improve Off 2-8 Season
2015/8/4 6:40:00 - Two Teens Injured In Sunday Accident
2015/8/4 6:40:00 - Miss Calamity Jane Crowned
2015/8/4 6:21:13 - Beef Show Winners At North Central Missouri Fair
2015/8/4 5:57:00 - Sheep Show Winners At The North Central Missouri Fair
2015/8/4 5:46:08 - Two Area Residents Receive Honorable Mention In Photo Contest
2015/8/4 5:32:42 - Weather Delays Road Work In Caldwell And Daviess Counties
2015/8/4 5:27:15 - Two Injured In Separate Accidents
2015/8/4 4:56:36 - Voters To Decide On Issues In Bethany And Mount Moriah
2015/8/4 4:28:51 - Mercer County Fair Mud Run And Tractor Pull Rescheduled
2015/8/4 4:20:00 - Two Arrested By Grundy County Sheriff
2015/8/4 4:19:34 - My Wife's Losing Her Obamacare Coverage Because The Insurer Lost $400 Million
2015/8/4 4:14:11 - Groom 'Sues New Wife For Fraud' After Seeing Her Without Makeup For First Time
2015/8/4 4:01:57 - Man Arrested In Sexual Assault Of 4-Year-Old Girl
2015/8/4 3:58:21 - Hatred Of Royals Goes International
2015/8/3 17:30:21 - Services Set For Eric Lorenz
2015/8/3 7:24:58 - Memphis Officer Killed During Traffic Stop, Person Of Interest In Custody
2015/8/3 6:53:42 - 9-Year-Old Bat Boy Dies After Being Struck By Bat At KS Game
2015/8/3 6:50:00 - Two Teens Injured in Accident Near Utica
2015/8/3 6:29:05 - Cameron Man Injured In Early Morning Accident
2015/8/3 5:44:57 - Man Attacks Neighbors With Ax
2015/8/3 4:25:25 - Company Asks Missouri To Rethink Grain Belt Express Power Line
2015/8/3 4:21:56 - Country Showdown Winner From Kansas City



Bookmark this article at these sites

                   

Listen to KTTN-FM