Although the LightHouse has been providing training and support to persons who are deaf-blind for over twenty years, we’ve recently taken on our biggest initiative yet. The new program helps deaf-blind individuals receive equipment which will give individual’s accessible means to connecting with friends and family via texting, email and telephone.
Response for this program has been overwhelming, in a good way. We have received to date 98 approved applications from persons who are deaf-blind throughout California, and we are now working on ensuring all applicants receive an assessment to match equipment with their specific needs and skills. For some this equipment might be a computer with enhanced monitor and magnification software to access email; for others it may be a note taker with braille display, an iPhone with portable braille display or an IPad for texting.
For most, the solution is easy and straightforward, for others creative solutions are engaged, and in some cases, we find that there still is not the right technology for the individual. What we do know is that individuals with good braille reading and writing skills have more options, and can get their equipment sooner – how’s that for incentive to learning braille! Once the technology is determined, funding also pays for limited training on using the communication aspects of the new the new device.
This successful start to the program could not be accomplished without Sook Hee Choi, the LightHouse Deaf-blind Specialist, and our partnership with the Southwest office of Helen Keller National Center, specifically Cathy Kirscher and Ilona Mulvey.
If you are a deaf-blind Californian (age 15 and over), and low income, you may qualify for this pilot program (eligibility is established by the FCC). Please email email@example.com to receive an application. If you are a new applicant (applications received after December 21st), it is important to note that due to the demand, there is about a 1-2 month wait to fully process new applications, complete equipment assessments and finally receive equipment. This wait for free equipment however, does not stop you from applying and we look forward to hearing from you!