Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Commission Document

New Program to Provide Blind, Deaf Individuals Access to 21st Century Communications Technologies

Download Options

Released: April 7, 2011

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th Street, S.W.


Washington, D. C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

For Immediate Release: News Media Contact

April 6, 2011 Rosemary Kimball at (202) 418-0511



Washington, D.C. Today, the Commission established a National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution
Program (NDBEDP) to enable low-income individuals who are deaf-blind to access 21st Century
communications services. The pilot program will help ensure that qualified individuals have access to the
Internet, and advanced communications, including interexchange services and advanced
telecommunications and information services.
This action implements a provision of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video
Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). The CVAA allocated $10 million annually from the Interstate
Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund for this nationwide equipment distribution effort. The
Commission concluded that the best approach would be to establish a two-year pilot program, with the
option of extending this for a third year, so that the Commission can assess the most efficient and
effective method of administering the NDBEDP on a permanent basis. Under the NDBEDP pilot
program, the Commission will certify and provide funding to one entity in each state to distribute
equipment to low-income individuals who are deaf-blind.
The Commission will make the full amount of the authorized funding, $10 million, available for each year
of the pilot program. Of this amount, the Commission will set aside up to $500,000 per year for national
outreach efforts. Each state will initially receive a minimum initial funding allocation of $50,000, with
the balance of the available funds allocated in proportion to each state's population. Certified programs
will have to submit documentation to support claims for reimbursement for NDBEDP equipment and
related services, up to each state's funding allocation. Certified programs must submit reports on their
activities and expenses every six months, disclose potential conflicts of interest, and conduct annual
independent audits
The Commission adopted the following rules and policies for the NDBEDP pilot program:

Certified Programs: Entities must apply for certification to receive funding support under the
NDBEDP pilot program within 60 days of the effective date of the rules. The Commission will
certify only one entity for each state.

Consumer Eligibility: "Individuals who are deaf-blind," as defined in the Helen Keller National
Center Act, are eligible to apply for equipment. Because of the unusually high medical and
disability-related costs incurred by these individuals, the Order sets a low-income eligibility
threshold of 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

Equipment: The Order permits distribution of specialized and off-the-shelf equipment, separately
or in combination, as long as it meets the needs of the deaf-blind individual and makes
communications services covered under the CVAA accessible. The reasonable costs of the
equipment distributed, warranties, maintenance, repairs, and refurbishing will be covered.

Related Services: The reasonable costs of state and local outreach efforts, individual assessments
of a deaf-blind person's communications equipment needs, equipment installation, and
individualized training of consumers on how to use the equipment will also be covered under the
Action by the Commission, April 4, 2011, by Report and Order (FCC 11-56). Chairman Genachowski,
and Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn and Baker. Separate Statement issued by Commissioner
- FCC -
CG Docket No. 10-210.
For further information, contact Karen Peltz Strauss at (202) 418-2388 or Rosaline Crawford at (202)
418-2075 of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.
For more news and information about the FCC please visit

Note: We are currently transitioning our documents into web compatible formats for easier reading. We have done our best to supply this content to you in a presentable form, but there may be some formatting issues while we improve the technology. The original version of the document is available as a PDF, Word Document, or as plain text.


You are leaving the FCC website

You are about to leave the FCC website and visit a third-party, non-governmental website that the FCC does not maintain or control. The FCC does not endorse any product or service, and is not responsible for, nor can it guarantee the validity or timeliness of the content on the page you are about to visit. Additionally, the privacy policies of this third-party page may differ from those of the FCC.