By Muriel Aparo, CT Tech Act Project
In CT, the FCC’s National Deaf Blind Equipment Distribution Program is known as Access Through Technology. We provide equipment needed to make telecommunications, advanced communications, and the Internet accessible to individuals who have a combination of significant vision and hearing loss.
In June of 2019, we received applications for two young ladies, sisters, who live with Usher’s Syndrome Type 1, which causes profound hearing loss and progressive vision loss. One of the sisters was in middle school and the other in high school. Both had cochlear implants and wore glasses but still struggled with blurred vision, leaving them with eye fatigue and headaches from the eye strain by the end of their school days. This caused them to have difficulty utilizing computers and the internet to complete homework or to socialize online with family and friends.
Upon approval for services through the Access Through Technology program, the CT Tech Act Project connected them to our AT partner agency United Cerebral Palsy of Eastern CT who evaluated the girls and made recommendations for Microsoft Surface computers and mice to be purchased. The equipment was delivered and installed, and they each received training on how to use the equipment. The girls were excited to work with the technology and it helped improve their ability to do well in school, get online for research for school projects, video chat with friends and family and much more.
In 2022, the girls’ mother reached out again as their vision had declined and they had updates to their cochlear implants and now had Bluetooth capabilities. The CT Tech Act Project, with the help of United Cerebral Palsy of Eastern CT’s AT evaluator, was able to again give assistance by providing additional equipment including MacBook Pros and iPhone 13 Pro Maxs to help with the changes in both their eyesight and new implants. The larger screens and the built-in accessibility features of the devices help to reduce eye strain and headaches. To say that both girls are grateful for the technology is an understatement. One of the sisters stated, “It has changed our lives in a way I couldn’t imagine.”
Testimonial from Corinne
“I am so grateful for the Access Through Technology program, which got me an iPad, iMac, and Microsoft Office. These pieces of technology have enabled me to take virtual classes through the Helen Keller National Center and do a remote Social Media Marketing internship through Helen Keller Services. Having Microsoft Office has made it much easier for me to take notes during class, write to-do lists, write letters, make lists, and more. This is extremely helpful and keeps me organized, especially since I am able to use it wherever I am and have the ease of portability using the iPad. As a Deaf Blind individual who isn’t able to work full-time, and being on a fixed budget, having the ability to apply and be accepted for the Access Through Technology program has been wonderful. A technologist came out to assist me with learning the layout of the iMac and how to set up accessibility features on it. I’m truly thankful for everything that the Access Through Technology program has provided me with and all the support their staff have given me. I can’t say enough good things about my experience with their program and their awesome staff.”