The FCC's National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program provides equipment needed to make telecommunications, advanced communications and the Internet accessible to Americans who have significant vision and hearing loss. Through the NDBEDP program, also known as iCanConnect, deaf-blind consumers who meet income requirements can receive free communications equipment designed for people with combined vision and hearing loss. Installation, training and other technical support, including individual assessments of each consumer's specific accessibility needs, are also available.
Watch video to learn more about deaf-blind equipment
Who is eligible to receive equipment?
Under the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, only low-income individuals who are deaf-blind are eligible to receive equipment. Applicants must provide verification of their status as low-income and deaf-blind.
The CVAA requires that the term "deaf-blind" has the same meaning given in the Helen Keller National Center Act. In general, the individual must have a certain vision loss and a hearing loss that, combined, cause extreme difficulty in attaining independence in daily life activities, achieving psychosocial adjustment, or obtaining a vocation (working).
The FCC defines "low income" to mean not more than 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, as indicated in the following chart:
|2015 Federal Poverty Guidelines|
|Number of persons in family/household||400%
except Alaska and Hawaii
|For each additional person, add||$16,640||$20,800||$19,120|
|Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services|
What kind of equipment can be distributed?
The equipment distributed must be designed to make telecommunications (such as wireline and wireless telephone communication), advanced communications (such as Internet-based voice communication, e-mail, instant messaging and interoperable video conferencing services) and access to the Internet (including information services) accessible. The equipment distributed may be hardware, software or applications, separate or in combination, mainstream or specialized. The equipment must meet the needs of the deaf-blind individual to achieve access. Certified programs may also provide equipment warranties, maintenance, and repairs for such equipment depending on available funding.
How do I find the certified program that serves my state?
Information about how to find the NDBEDP certified program in your state is available at www.icanconnect.org/partners.php, by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY, or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Besides distributing equipment, what will the NDBEDP certified programs do?
Certified programs will inform their communities about this new program to distribute equipment to low-income residents in their states who are deaf-blind. They will verify that applicants are eligible to receive equipment. They will assess each applicant's communications equipment needs to select appropriate equipment to meet those needs. They may also help install and provide training for the equipment distributed.
How can I help the NDBEDP be successful?
- Tell people about the program.
- Tell the FCC how the NDBEDP helped you or someone you know.
- Tell the FCC how the program can be improved.
- Tell the FCC about new types of technologies that should be included for distribution.
For More Information
For information about disability-related issues, visit the FCC's Disability Rights Office website at www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/disability-rights-office. For information about other communications issues, visit the FCC's Consumer website at www.fcc.gov/consumers, or contact the FCC's Consumer Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Disability Rights Office
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554