Freda boasts a long life full of many blessings including one of particular abundance – friends and family.

When Freda experienced difficulty understanding others on the phone due to a hearing loss, her daughter Sue contacted IPAT and Freda received an amplified telephone through the Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Service. The amplification of the telephone alone served Freda’s needs until her hearing loss increased and, regardless of amplification, most speech became difficult to understand over the phone. Along with her hearing loss, Freda developed Macular Degeneration and cataracts, leaving her with a combined vision and hearing loss.

Soon after speech became difficult for Freda to hear on the phone, Sue contacted IPAT again to find assistive technology solutions for talking on the phone. Taking into consideration Freda’s combined vision and hearing loss, difficulty hearing to understand on the phone with amplification alone, and willingness to try anything to stay connected with friends and family over the phone, the first step to solve Freda’s assistive technology puzzle became quickly evident – Freda needed to become part of the iCanConnect program.

iCanConnect is a nationwide initiative which ensures that people who meet the program’s income requirements who have combined vision and hearing loss can access the telecommunications technology necessary to connect with family, friends and the community.

After trying out several different solutions, Freda selected the best combination of assistive technology pieces that helped her stay connected.

Freda uses the Ampli550 to make and answer phone calls. With its loud amplification, big back-lit numbers, large caller ID, memory buttons, and loud and flashing ringer it allows Freda the ability to hear and understand some, but not all, phone conversations. More than anything, Freda receives peace of mind knowing when calls are coming in and that she has the ability to make calls out without asking for assistance.Ampli550


Freda also uses a touchscreen laptop with Skype and a large monitor to call friends and family. With a touchscreen, it is easy for Freda to simply touch the screen to answer or make Skype calls. She does not have to use a mouse to control the, often impossible to see, cursor. The large monitor makes it easy to see the person she is speaking with. The combination of loud volume and the ability to see the person she is calling helps her best understand what the person is saying. Freda can read lips, so the ability to see the mouth of the person who is speaking is often vital to a successful conversation.

In the picture below, you will see Freda speaking with her son. (You’ll notice he is wearing two hats!)

Freda using Skype to talk to her son.


This is one of many different and creative ways iCanConnect and IPAT has helped North Dakotans with combined vision and hearing loss stay connected. If you or someone you love have significant combined vision and hearing loss and meet federal income guidelines, iCanConnect can provide you with free communication technology and training to stay connected with family and friends. Feel free to contact IPAT with any questions!

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