Chad Metcalf is on a cross-country mission: to help people with hearing and vision loss tap into the power of communications technology.
“It makes the world a bigger place,” says Metcalf, who is 31 years-old and is deaf with extremely limited vision.
Last year, he qualified to receive an iPad and MacBook Pro laptop computer at no cost through the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, which is promoted as iCanConnect.
“The equipment is very expensive. I would never be able to afford it on my own,” says Metcalf. “It really helps me as a deaf-blind individual; it has changed how I interact.” He loves his new devices because of the easy access to email and the ability to use an app to make interpreter-assisted phone calls.
Now, Metcalf has joined iCanConnect as a trainer to help others benefit from the program. He recognizes that every iCanConnect consumer has unique communication needs. As a trainer, his job is to help individuals with significant hearing and vision loss understand how to use technology to communicate with others and remain connected to the world around them.
“Once I teach consumers how to use the equipment they have a sense of independence and they don’t have to rely on me or anyone else to communicate,” explains Metcalf. “I hope it makes a difference in peoples’ lives. That’s really my goal.”
Metcalf’s work with iCanConnect dovetails with his advocacy on behalf of the deaf-blind community. He was recognized with the Hamilton Relay 2013 Deaf Community Leader Award in California, where he has worked for the past year as an iCanConnect trainer. More recently, he also began working as trainer in Ohio and Nevada.
“Chad is extremely energetic and motivated,” explains Cathy Kirscher of the Helen Keller National Center, which administers iCanConnect in Nevada. “He is an excellent trainer and we find our consumers are excited to learn from someone who is also deaf-blind.”
Metcalf has a Business Administration degree from Gallaudet University and a background in telecommunications equipment. He works with people of all ages and backgrounds. One of his most memorable clients: a Nevada woman who is approaching her 90th birthday.
“For her, at that age, she was so excited to get the equipment,” recalls Metcalf. “She is using email and also making phone calls to connect with family and friends.”
Connecting people to a wider world is all in a day’s work for Chad Metcalf. It’s his job and also a labor of love: “I really enjoy my work.”
iCanConnect is changing lives across the country. The program is available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. You can learn more at http://www.iCanConnect.org: click on “State Partners” to find each state’s contacts. The website accommodates users with low vision, people who use screen readers and features video that is both audio-described and closed captioned. Information about iCanConnect is also available by calling 1-800.825-4595 | TTY: 1-888-320-2656.