The FCC’s National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program provides equipment needed to make telecommunications, advanced communications and the Internet accessible for people who have significant combined vision and hearing loss. Through the program, also known as iCanConnect, qualified low-income deaf-blind residents of all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam can receive free accessible communications equipment. Installation, training and other technical support, including individual assessments of each consumer’s specific accessibility needs, are also available.
Who Is Eligible To Receive Equipment?
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.
Under the Helen Keller National Center Act, a “deaf-blind” individual must have a vision loss and a hearing loss that, combined, cause extreme difficulty in attaining independence in daily life activities, achieving psychosocial adjustment or getting a job.
Income eligibility requirements – not more than 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines – are outlined in the following chart:
2016 Federal Poverty Guidelines
|Number of persons in family/household||400% for everywhere,
except Alaska and Hawaii
|400% for Alaska||400% for Hawaii|
|For each additional person, add||$16,640||$20,800||$19,120|
What Type of Equipment Is Available?
The equipment distributed through the program is designed to make communication accessible using: wireline and wireless telephones; internet-based voice communication; e-mail; instant messaging; interoperable video conferencing services; and internet information services. 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 if funding is available.
How Else Does a Certified Program Help?
In addition to distributing equipment, certified programs:
- Inform their communities about the program.
- Verify that applicants are eligible to receive equipment.
- Assess each applicant's communications equipment needs.
Certified programs may also help install and provide training for distributed equipment.
How Do I Find the Certified Program That Serves My State?
To find the NDBEDP certified program in your state, go to the I can Connect website, or call the FCC:
Give Us Your Feedback
We want to hear from you. Tell us how the NDBEDP helped you or someone you know. Also, let us know how you think the program can be improved or what new types of technologies should be included for distribution. Email the FCC.
To request this article in an accessible format - braille, large print, Word or text document or audio - write or call us at the address or phone number at the bottom of the page, or email the FCC.
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
445 12th Street Southwest, Washington, DC 20554
Last Reviewed 8/4/16