Washington, D.C. – Today, the Commission established a National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) to enable low-income individuals who are deaf-blind to access 21st Century communications services. The pilot program will help ensure that qualified individuals have access to the Internet, and advanced communications, including interexchange services and advanced telecommunications and information services.
This action implements a provision of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). The CVAA allocated $10 million annually from the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund for this nationwide equipment distribution effort.
The Commission concluded that the best approach would be to establish a two-year pilot program, with the option of extending this for a third year, so that the Commission can assess the most efficient and effective method of administering the NDBEDP on a permanent basis. Under the NDBEDP pilot program, the Commission will certify and provide funding to one entity in each state to distribute equipment to low-income individuals who are deaf-blind.
The Commission will make the full amount of the authorized funding, $10 million, available for each year of the pilot program. Of this amount, the Commission will set aside up to $500,000 per year for national outreach efforts. Each state will initially receive a minimum initial funding allocation of $50,000, with the balance of the available funds allocated in proportion to each state’s population. Certified programs will have to submit documentation to support claims for reimbursement for NDBEDP equipment and related services, up to each state’s funding allocation. Certified programs must submit reports on their activities and expenses every six months, disclose potential conflicts of interest, and conduct annual independent audits.