When Andrew Delaney video chats with his family, a huge grin overcomes the 15-year old’s face. The teen, from Andrews, South Carolina, uses the equipment he received through iCanConnect, the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, to stay in touch with his family while he attends Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts.
Andrew’s family is very active in the CHARGE Syndrome community. It was through this community that Andrew’s mother learned about iCanConnect. Jeanie Farmer, executive director of the Vision Institute of South Carolina, guided Andrew and his family through the iCanConnect application and approval process. Once he was accepted into the program, Andrew received an assessment of his distance communication goals and equipment needs.
Early in the pilot program, Andrew became one of the youngest people in South Carolina to receive equipment and training through iCanConnect. He received an iPad, which he used mainly to communicate with family and friends through FaceTime and text messaging. After four years, Andrew’s ever-evolving distance communication needs were re-evaluated and he received an iPhone and an updated iPad.
According to Andrew’s mom, Minnie Lambert, the iPad is his lifeline. “He’s over 900 miles from home,” she says. “He stays in touch with us by using FaceTime. He’s been able to connect with his cousins, aunts, and his church family back home in South Carolina. He’s been away at school since September, and if it wasn’t for his iPad we’d both be crying from missing each other. It’s a great communication tool.” The connection Andrew has with his family is strong and he enjoys speaking with them while he is away. They’ve FaceTimed for 27 minutes – a new family record!
The equipment Andrew received through iCanConnect has had a major impact on his life and the lives of his family and friends. “It’s given him independence,” says his mom. “He texts me to say when he’s going to call. We FaceTime on the same days every week while he’s away, but he can call us and talk at his discretion. It’s fulfilling to receive a text message from him, and I love seeing the ‘Read Receipts’ from my messages. iCanConnect is our lifeline.”