Dual Sensory Project and iCanConnect: Resources for North Dakotans Who are Deaf-Blind

This week’s blog is going to cover two programs in North Dakota which affect those with vision and hearing loss.  It seems to me that people with this dual sensory impairment or those working with this group often don’t realize that there is assistance to help.

The ND Dual Sensory Project (for ages birth to 21)

North Dakota's Dual Sensory Project Logo in print and Braille

For over 40 years, North Dakota has had grant funds to support children and youth with deaf-blindness. These funds have been used to provide technical assistance, informational resources, and supports for educators and families. The funding for the North Dakota Dual Sensory project has continued, and starting this year the ND Center for Persons with Disabilities will operate the project. There are some changes to the project and extra services and supports they can offer educators and families. 

The project goals focus on six critical areas:

  • early identification and referral; 
  • secondary transition; 
  • family engagement; 
  • use of high quality instructional strategies for inclusive education; 
  • instruction on numeracy and literacy in general education;
  • census and needs assessments.

With funding from the Office of Special Education Programs, US Department of Education, and from the North Dakota Department of Instruction, Office of Special Education, they have a host of training and technical assistance resources available. They can provide team-based, on-site technical assistance; ongoing, credit-based distance education on instruction for deaf-blindness; and stipends and supports for families to attend in and out of state workshops and conferences on deaf-blindness.   They can also link staff to online and hard copy resources on deaf-blindness;  work with families and staff on IFSP or IEP goals for children with deaf-blindness; or provide direct instruction on screening and diagnostics for early identification and referral of deaf-blindness. And they can address child-specific questions as they come up.

For more information about the ND Dual Sensory Project go to www.ndcpd.org/dualsensory.html or call Brent Askvig, Director, at 1-800-233-1737.


The iCanConnect Program (all ages)

I Can Connect Logo

Often those with hearing and vision loss have a difficult time being able to connect with family, friends, and the community.  iCanConnect, also known as the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, funded by the Federal Communications Commission can aid in this difficulty.

What can the program provide?  This program can provide free specialized equipment and training to allow access to the telephone, advanced communications, and information services for eligible ND residents who are deaf-blind.  Items may include products such as amplified phones, refreshable Braille displays, screen readers, screen enlargement software, and even computers.

Who is eligible?  People who are eligible must have

  1. A central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with corrective lenses, or a field defect such that the peripheral diameter of visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees, or a progressive visual loss with a prognosis leading to one or both of these conditions.
  2. A chronic hearing impairment so severe that most speech cannot be understood without optimum amplification, or a progressive loss with a prognosis leading to that condition.
  3. A family/household income not exceeding 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
  4. The functional abilities to allow for the use of telecommunications, Internet access and advanced communication services.

How can you apply?

If you reside in North Dakota, please go to the ND Assistive website at https://ndassistive.org/icanconnect/ , email cness@ndassistive.org or call 800-895-4728 and ask for Courtney.

If you reside outside of North Dakota, you can find contact information at http://www.icanconnect.org/

Here is a video describing the program: