Aloha Independent Living Hawaii (AILH) arranged for four Maui Economic Opportunity Maui Independent Living Center (MILC) deaf clients to obtain cellular-enabled iPads, accessories and one-year of data connectivity to help them live independently.
The individuals, who are part of the Maui Deaf Friends, received the tablets, services, accessories and training through the AILH TeleConnect program, which provides telecommunication devices and training to persons with disabilities throughout Hawaii. The goal of the program is to promote digital equity to unserved or underserved members of the disabled community, who lack access to telehealth, social interaction, social services and civic engagement.
With the MILC group, the devices were provided to help members maintain connection with each other, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Brian Hauser, advocacy coordinator and TeleConnect project lead.
The devices are tailored to each individual. MILC clients’ iPads included the Ava live transcription application and the video relay app of their choice, such as Sorenson. The value of the iPad, accessories and cellular connectivity plan is about $800 per participant, Hauser said.
AILH also provided an ASL interpreter for pre-training administration, in-person training at the J. Walter Cameron Center and follow-up sessions to help with applications for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (now called the Affordable Connectivity Program).
“We greatly appreciated the referrals made for the Maui Deaf Friends by MEO MILC,” said Hauser. “We would like to recognize Nani Watanabe’s (MILC coordinator) assistance in our communications with these four participants.”
Watanabe felt that the iPads would benefit the four deaf clients who were active and participated in many workshops and training sessions. They did not have the money to purchase the tablets. The clients were Bernard Koko, Leslie Stefurak, William Everett and Mikey Tomita.
MEO CEO Debbie Cabebe thanked Hauser and AILH for supporting the deaf clients of MILC.
“MEO and MILC are always looking out for partners in helping the individuals we serve reach their potential and enrich their lives,” she said. “Thanks to Brian and AILH, four of our MILC clients can better communicate with the community at large, beyond just their phones, and go about their lives independently.”
For more information about MILC, go to www.meoinc.org or contact Watanabe at (808) 243-4362.
Leslie Stefurak uses an iPad she received from Aloha Independent Living Center Hawaii’s TeleConnect Project late last fall. Maui Economic Opportunity’s Maui Independent Living Center helped Stefurak and three other deaf clients connect with the Aloha Independent Living Center program.