Maryland Woman Stays Close with Friends and Family Using iCanConnect

February 18, 2016
Annette Rogers uses the iCanConnect program.

When one of Annette Rogers’ closest friends moved to Florida a few years ago, it immediately became clear she needed better tech communication skills.

"She was computer savvy, but I was not," said Annette, a retired nurse in Hyattsville, Maryland, who has both hearing and vision loss. Her friend, Mary, who is also deaf-blind, had helped her stay connected to the community.

"When she moved away, I started to have challenges," she said. "I wouldn’t get my email. I wouldn’t find out what was going on."

Together, the two women found a solution. During a visit, Mary told Annette about the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program – known as iCanConnect. Annette applied to the program and received a laptop in 2014.

Rogers has no hearing in her right ear, and has hearing loss in her left ear. She can only see glare, due to glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.

Her equipment, along with SARA, a text-to-speech device, allows her to check email and messages. "If it wasn’t for the iCanConnect instructor, I wouldn’t have been able to do that," she said.

Staying in touch with Mary, who has since moved to Chicago, is now easy. Annette also uses her laptop to email with her six children and grandchildren who are spread out around the country.

Thanks to iCanConnect, Annette Skypes with her five sisters in Trinidad, which she still finds amazing. “It’s a wonderful feeling. It’s like you can reach out and touch them without really touching them.”

“I want to reach as many people as possible. It keeps me happy and going all the time.”

She shares the iCanConnect program with everyone she can. “I pass it along, I tell everyone,” she said. Annette is inspired by what she’s already learned and eager to accomplish more.