iCanConnect Helps Virginia Man Gain Independence Through His Smartphone

August 14, 2019
Glen sits at a table with his smartphone on the table in front of him.

Glen Braxton picks up his smartphone and uses it to call his sister Monica. While that might not seem like a big deal to some, for Glen, it’s a big accomplishment. Before last year, the 53-year- old, Newport News, Virginia, man had never used a phone. Now, thanks to the equipment and training he received through iCanConnect, also known as The National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, Glen can make and receive calls with those closest to him.

“Before iCanConnect, Glen wasn’t able to make phone calls, which was isolating for him,” said Glen’s sister Monica. “Now, he uses his phone to call me and I can call him back...and he answers!”

Monica learned about iCanConnect through the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI) and helped facilitate Glen’s application to the Virginia iCanConnect program. Once he was deemed eligible, an iCanConnect representative met with Glen at his house and evaluated his distance communications needs.

Based on his assessment, Glen received an iPhone 8 through the program. An iCanConnect trainer visits with him in his home to practice making and answering calls, and talking on the phone.

“Next, we are going to start practicing simple texting,” said Kimberly O’Connell, Glen’s iCanConnect trainer. “It’s going to be a big challenge, but I know Glen is up for it!”

According to Glen’s mom, Sandra, having the ability to make and receive phone calls on his own has made him more independent and sociable. “iCanConnect has given Glen the confidence to be more self-sufficient and understand there are a lot of things he can do,” said Sandra. “He’s much more independent now that he has his phone. He’s able to call people when he wants, which is incredible. Because before iCanConnect, he didn’t have the ability to make phone calls.”

When asked what he likes most about his equipment, Glen said, “I like to call my sister Monica. And I especially like when people call me, because now I can answer the phone!”