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Confidence & Independence Start at AIDB

By Chelsea Miner, Consumer

Everything changed for me at the age of 14. At what was to be a simple eye appointment, the course of my life would be altered forever. “She has Usher Syndrome,” the doctor told my mother. Usher Syndrome is characterized by hearing loss and progressive vision loss. The vision loss is due to retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative condition of the retina. In other words, I was going blind.

The next year, my family moved and I was the only deaf person in my new school. I began to feel isolated and depressed. I heard of Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD) at Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind (AIDB) and begged my mother to allow me to attend. The moment I stepped into Johnson Hall at ASD, I felt an intensity unlike anything I had ever experienced. I was surrounded by other people who were just like me; I was finally where I belonged. Attending ASD gave me the confidence and competence to chart my own course and be successful in a world that was changing faster and more drastically than ever before.

After high school I transitioned to E. H. Gentry Facility at AIDB and enrolled in their Deafblind Program where I learned independent living skills, computer skills, money management and more. I also discovered that technology will play a very important role in my life and that there were programs, like iCanConnect, that could help me function independently. Now, my iPhone and my iPad are my new best friends! I use them in my everyday life to communicate. 

I have embraced my situation and feel stronger because of it. No longer am I afraid or embarrassed; instead, I am confident and independent thanks to AIDB and programs like iCanConnect.

AIDB holds the iCanConnect telecommunications distribution program for the state of Alabama. iCanConnect serves individuals throughout the state, eight and older, who have vision and hearing loss. Devices are provided through AIDB’s E. H. Gentry Facility and statewide network of Regional Centers. Device recommendations are based on individual needs in collaboration with the expertise of E. H. Gentry’s Assistive Technology department.