Last fall, Virginia Relay and the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing introduced iCanConnect, a new program established by the Federal Communications Commission to provide a wide range of communications tools – including screen enlargement software, screen readers and Braille displays – at no cost to qualified applicants who have combined hearing and vision loss.
A new website, www.iCanConnectVirginia.org, is now live for anyone who would like more information about this program. The site features eligibility information, a list of the available equipment, frequently asked questions, and contact information for interested applicants.
To qualify for iCanConnect, applicants must be verified as deaf-blind by a practicing vision- or hearing-related professional and be enrolled in a federal low-income program or have an income that does not exceed 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
This month, Virginia Relay will be saying a bittersweet goodbye to AT&T Channel Manager Matt Myrick. After almost nine years with Virginia Relay, Matt has accepted a well-deserved promotion to become an Accessibility Solutions Engineer for AT&T. In his new position, he will be inspecting all of AT&T’s new products and services to help ensure they are compliant with FCC standards before they are released to the public.
Matt will continue to live in the area in his new job, and he is excited for the new perspective and opportunities his new position will offer. But he will miss getting to travel and meet Relay users across Virginia. During his time with Virginia Relay, Matt has seen the program grow stronger, thanks to the dedication of its outreach team.
“The programs we’ve launched over the years would not have been successful without the support of our contract outreach managers,” he said. “Virginia Relay is considered a model for a lot of other states, because it has some of the best staff and CAs in the country.”
Matt says his favorite part of working with Virginia Relay has been the people he’s met along the way.
“I’m so grateful to have worked with great people like Clayton Bowen, Ron Lanier, and everyone at VDDHH,” he said. “Working with them has been a real pleasure and has made me grow in a professional way. I’ve really enjoyed working with them over the years, and I want to say thank you for all of the support they’ve given me over the years, and thank you especially to Clayton Bowen.”
Join us in thanking Matt for the great service he has provided to the Virginia Relay program, and wishing him all the best in his next endeavor. Congratulations, Matt!
Thanks to FREE apps like these, a smartphone can be an incredibly powerful communications tool for deaf and hard-of-hearing users. Download them now from your device’s apps store.
IP-Relay from Purple Communications enables deaf or hard-of-hearing users to make and receive text relay calls. Calls are free and do not count against your monthly phone minutes. For Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices.
Get video relay service on the go with ntouch, the app from Sorenson Communications that turns your smartphone into an instant videophone. For Apple and Android devices.
Hamilton Mobile CapTel
See exactly what is being said to you on every call with Hamilton Mobile CapTel, the app that translates your caller’s words into easy-to-read text captions. Ideal for hard-of-hearing or deaf people who want to make voice calls. For Apple, Android and Blackberry devices.
Enjoy video chat wherever you’re comfortable! ConvoMobile lets you call any videophone and features one-click Video Relay calling. It’s also the first mobile VRS app to have a 911 hot button. For Apple and Android devices.
Virtual Voice uses text to speech (TTS) and speech recognition features to enable deaf and speech-disabled users to communicate with others without the need for sign language or lip reading. For Android devices.
iSpeech converts text to speech and will even translate your text into 18 foreign languages, making it great for travel. Choose from a selection of voices. For Apple and Blackberry devices.
Perfect for ASL users and late-deafened adults, Dragon Dictate changes voice to text captions, making it easy for deaf and hard-of-hearing users to communicate face-to-face with others. For Apple devices.
Video call and instant message anyone on Skype for free. For Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices.
Feel who’s calling and texting you with Vibe, the app that uses vibration patterns to help you ID callers. Pick a contact and set or create a unique vibration pattern for them—it’s that easy! For Android devices.
Deaf Note replaces the need for pen and paper to write notes back and forth. Save or export your notes, change font sizes, and more. For Android devices.
Buzz Cards by Sorenson Communications works like a deck of flash cards to help deaf users communicate more easily with those who don’t know sign language. Make and edit cards as needed, or create cards ahead of time for messages you use more often (e.g., “Where is the restroom?” or “Where is the nearest bus stop?”). Your cards are organized by category (e.g., “Dining” or “Travel”) to make them easy to find later. For Apple devices.
The Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) and Virginia Relay recently announced that military veterans living with a hearing or speech loss are now automatically eligible for telecommunications equipment through Virginia’s Technology Assistance Program (TAP).
Adaptive telecommunications equipment, including text telephones (TTY), captioned telephones (CapTel) and other devices are available to individuals who meet the following qualifications:
A veteran with a hearing or speech loss and proof of an Honorable Discharge
“I am pleased to announce today that veterans living in Virginia with a hearing or speech loss are now automatically eligible for telecommunications equipment through Virginia’s Technology Assistance Program. I urge all eligible Virginia veterans to learn more about this new program to help reduce communications barriers,” said Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.
“Our veterans have dedicated their lives to protecting our way of life, and now through our Technology Assistance Program, we are honoring their service by offering veterans with a hearing or speech loss adaptive telecommunications equipment,” said Ron Lanier, director of VDDHH. “Our goal is to make daily life easier for Virginia’s veterans living with a hearing or speech loss by helping them to stay connected with their family, friends, and employers as well as their grateful community.”
Paul Galanti, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, noted, “the US Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence estimates 60 percent of veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq have hearing loss as a result of their military service. This new benefit will help provide these men and women with the tools necessary to adapt to this loss.”
TAP provides telecommunications equipment to all qualified applicants whose disabilities prevent them from using a standard telephone. To qualify for the program, individuals must be deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or speech disabled. Applicants must also be Virginia residents and meet income eligibility requirements that are based on household income and family size. There are no age restrictions; however applications from minors must be co-signed by a parent or legal guardian.
To learn more about VDDHH, Virginia Relay and TAP for veterans, call 1-800-552-7917 v/tty or visit www.vddhh.org.
The newest innovation in CapTel® technology is now available from Virginia Relay: the CapTel 840i. Like its predecessor, the CapTel 800i, CapTel 840i allows individuals to call a CapTel user directly, without having to dial a toll-free access number first, making the entire process more similar to a regular phone call.
The CapTel 840i hooks up to your phone line like any other phone, but it also connects to your high-speed Internet access to automatically display captions of everything your caller says on all incoming and outgoing telephone calls.
Other new features and benefits of the CapTel 840i include:
To use the CapTel 840i, you need telephone service (digital, DSL, VoIP or analog) and high-speed Internet access (WiFi or Ethernet cable).
CapTel 840i phones are available to Virginia residents through Virginia Relay for the exclusive discounted price of just $99. To find out more about CapTel, call 1-800-552-7917 (voice/TTY) or visit www.varelay.org.
Later this year, phones will be available at no cost to qualifying individuals through the VDDHH Technology Assistance Program. To find out if you qualify, contact the VDDHH outreach office nearest you. For a list of office locations visit http://www.vddhh.org/orproviders.aspx or call 1-800-552-7917 (voice/text).
CapTel is a registered trademark of Ultratec, Inc.
Best Entries to be Read at 40th Anniversary Open House July 27-28
In honor of VDDHH’s 40th year of service excellence to Virginia’s deaf, hard-of-hearing, late-deafened and deaf-blind communities, Virginia Relay invites you to share your favorite VDDHH memories. Whether you are a member or employee of a partner organization, or a member of one of the communities VDDHH serves, please post your best stories, experiences or congratulations in the comments section below. Select entries will be shared at a celebratory open house to be hosted at VDDHH headquarters on July 27-28. We want to hear from you!
VDDHH 40th Anniversary Open House
VDDHH and its partners invite you to help us celebrate 40 successful years of breaking down communication barriers in the deaf, hard-of-hearing, late-deafened and deaf-blind communities.
For additional details, call 1-800-552-7917 (V/TTY) or visit www.vddhh.org.
Don’t forget to share your VDDHH memories below!
Virginia Relay recently selected Dina Ayad, a student from Douglas S. Freeman High School in Richmond, as Virginia’s recipient of the 2012 Hamilton Relay High School Scholarship. As this year’s winner, Dina receives $500 to use towards her college education.
The scholarship opportunity is available to high school seniors who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or have difficulty speaking. A recipient is selected within each of the states where Hamilton Relay is the contracted service provider and is one of several ways the company gives back to the communities they serve.
“Hamilton takes pride in promoting education and outstanding leadership across the country,” said Virginia Outreach Coordinator, Marta Cagle, “We are excited to have the opportunity to contribute to furthering Dina’s education and wish her success in reaching her personal and professional goals.”
Dina Ayad was awarded the $500 Hamilton Relay High School Scholarship after completing an application and writing an essay on the topic of communication technology. Dina plans to attend Liberty University in Lynchburg this fall.
Virginia Relay and Hamilton Relay recently announced that Linda Wallace of Richmond is the 2012 recipient of the Hamilton Relay Better Hearing and Speech Month Recognition Award. Each year, the award recognizes an individual for their involvement in their local deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
As president of the Hearing Loss Association of American (HLAA) Greater Richmond Chapter for more than 10 years, Linda is an outstanding advocate for the hearing loss community. Her position as an advisory board member for the NewWell Sensory Fund, as well as a General Assembly advocate allow her to campaign for affordable equipment for all those hearing-impaired, regardless of age or income.
Linda also serves the hard-of-hearing community through education and mentoring. She has taught coping strategies for hearing loss and has served as a presenter and speaker with the Chesterfield County Adult Education program. Through education and peer building, Linda advocates the importance of hearing screenings and other preventative measures to protect hearing.
“In honor of the national celebration of Better Hearing and Speech Month, this award recognizes those individuals who are hard of hearing, late-deafened or have difficulty speaking who have been a strong influence in their state,” said Marta Cagle, Virginia CapTel Outreach Coordinator. “This year, we are happy to celebrate Linda Wallace for her efforts to improve life for those in Virginia’s hard-of-hearing community.”
Celebrate Communication, the premier event for Virginia’s deaf and hard-of-hearing community, is coming to George Mason University on Saturday, May 12. This event is free to the public.
Now in its 10th year, Celebrate Communication promotes excellence in communication for people of all ages who are deaf and hard of hearing. Exhibitors will be present to demonstrate the newest communications technologies, provide information about available assistive services, represent community and government associations, and provide vision and hearing screenings. Guests will also be able to network with others in the community, meet local artists and crafters, and enjoy children’s games and activities.
Celebrate Communication 2012 is brought to you by: the Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), the Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities (KIHD), Lions International and George Mason University.
Celebrate Communication 2012
Saturday, May 12, 2012
10am – 3pm
George Mason University Center for the Arts
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
Creating opportunities for higher education is a priority for Virginia Relay and our CapTel service provider, Hamilton Relay. The Hamilton Relay Scholarship was established to support students who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or have difficulty speaking, in their post-secondary education. One $500 scholarship will be awarded to a graduating high school student in each state where Hamilton is a contracted service provider.
If you know a deserving Virginia high school senior who is deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or has difficulty speaking, applications for this year’s scholarship are now being accepted. All candidates are required to submit an application, write an essay on the topic of communication technology and provide a letter of recommendation in order to qualify. Applications are available online here.
The deadline to apply is Friday, March 30, and all applications must be postmarked by that date. The scholarship winner will be announced on or before April 30. Any questions about the Hamilton Relay Scholarship Program can be directed to Marta Cagle, the Virginia Relay CapTel Outreach Coordinator.