The collaboration of two dynamic state agencies in Virginia is helping to bring communications equipment to people who have significant hearing and vision loss through iCanConnect.
The Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI) administers the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP), which is promoted as iCanConnect. DBVI has teamed up with the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) to help provide communications technology – such as smartphones, laptops, braille devices and much more – along with one-on-one training to deaf-blind consumers who could not otherwise afford these devices. Now, people with significant combined hearing and vision loss in Virginia are making and receiving calls, emails, and texts so they can remain in contact with the world around them.
Meet the Managers for iCanConnect Virginia
Jane Ward Solomon
Jane Ward Solomon has over 35 years of experience in rehabilitation, beginning with the Department of Rehab Services as a Job Placement Counselor in the late 70s and at present is the Director of Instructional Programs and Services for the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI). She has been leading the statewide DBVI Rehab Teaching and Independent Living (RT/IL) program for the last 27 years. She also directs the federal OBG program, a formula grant from the Department of Education that provides IL services to visually eligible seniors 55 and older; the iCanConnect program that provides distance communication equipment to low income individuals who are deafblind and the Orientation and Mobility services program that teaches safe cane travel. She has run the gauntlet from providing direct services to consumers with various disabilities to managing field offices to administering a statewide program with more than a 3.5 million dollar budget. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Hollins University, a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling from VCU and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC).
Elizabeth, who is hard of hearing and has low vision, is the program director for DeafBlind Services at the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI). She works with deaf-blind in the Eastern part of the state—providing training, assessment and support for the iCanConnect program, while a colleague, Christine Day, provides the same support for deaf-blind people living in the western part of Virginia.
“We have been working to ensure that deaf-blind Virginians have the tools and technology they need to talk with other people, receive news and other information, and above all, have access to their communities.”
Previously, Elizabeth worked as director of Information Services at the American Association of the Deaf-Blind and also as a vocational evaluator for deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind people with the Maryland Department of Rehabilitation Services.