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UW Unit to Distribute Deaf-Blind Equipment in Wyoming


July 26, 2012 — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has selected the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities at the University of Wyoming to be the sole authorized entity certified to participate in the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) for Wyoming.

NDBEDP provides funding of up to $10 million annually to distribute communications equipment to low-income individuals who are deaf-blind. Part of the UW College of Health Sciences, the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities (WIND) was awarded $62,336 toward reimbursements for equipment, assessments, consumer training and expenses.

The Wyoming DBEDP will offer information, assessments and equipment. WIND Associate Director Sandy Root-Elledge says 190 adults and children in Wyoming have been identified as deaf-blind. 

“The program also will allow others who have vision and hearing impairments to seek information and learn whether or not they may qualify for equipment,” Root-Elledge says.  “The program will allow us to provide individuals who are deaf-blind with the equipment they need to meet their goals for independence.”

WIND faculty and staff members -- who will work with individuals referred to or identified by the program -- include a speech language pathologist, assistive technology professionals and a visually impaired services educator. Many of these faculty and staff recently received specialized training from the Helen Keller National Center on deaf-blind characteristics, equipment and technology, and communication strategies.

WIND will work with Wyoming Relay Equipment Distribution Center, Wyoming Services for the Hearing Impaired, Wyoming Services for the Visually Impaired, Wyoming First Step Diagnostic Clinic, Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youth and Adults, and the Perkins School for the Blind for specific expertise for assessments, training and consultations.

The FCC stated, “The NDBEDP will begin to fill existing equipment and technology gaps to meet the communications access needs of this underserved population which, until now, largely has been denied the opportunity to enjoy the full benefits that these systems can provide.”

For more information, call WIND at (307) 766-2561, email sdirienz@uwyo.edu.

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