National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program

The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) authorizes the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide funding for local programs to distribute equipment to low-income individuals who are deaf-blind (who have hearing loss and vision loss). The FCC may use up to $10 million annually from the interstate Telecommunications Relay Service fund for this purpose.

Pilot Program

In 2011, the FCC established the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) as a pilot program. The pilot program will run for two years, beginning July 1, 2012. The FCC may extend the program for a third year. The pilot program will provide valuable information that the FCC will use to help develop and implement an effective and efficient permanent deaf-blind equipment distribution program.

How does the pilot program operate?

For the pilot program, the FCC selected and certified one entity in each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, to receive FCC support to distribute equipment to low-income individuals who are deaf-blind. The FCC allocated a minimum of $50,000 to each of the 53 certified programs, plus additional funding based on the size of each state’s population. As a result, states with large populations were allocated larger amounts of funding than states with small populations.

The FCC also set aside $500,000 each year for the Perkins School for the Blind to coordinate outreach to promote this new equipment distribution program nationwide.

Who is eligible to receive equipment?

Under the CVAA, 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.

For this program, 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).

For income guidelines and more information go to the link here.

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