Our Team

Eric Kaika
Director of Public Relations

Terry Berrigan
Business Manager

Tamar Finn
Lead Attorney
Morgan Lewis

Blake Reid
Lead Attorney
Colorado Law

Laura Moy
Lead Attorney
Georgetown Law

Matt Clark
Lead Attorney

Hogan Lovells

Board of Directors

Jan Withers
President
Board of Directors
Southeast Region

John Kinstler
Vice President
Board of Directors
Central Region

Mark Seeger
Secretary
Board of Directors
Midwest Region

CM Boryslawskyj
Treasurer

Board of Directors
Northeast Region

Jim House
Board of Directors
West Region

Tina Childress
Board of Directors
Member At Large

Mei Kennedy
Board of Directors
Member At Large

Matt Myrick
Board of Directors
Member At Large

Opeoluwa Sotonwa
Board of Directors
Member At Large

  • Develop and advocate for uniformity in standards and national policies supporting accessible telecommunications, media, and technologies.
  • Educate and empower consumers to advocate for full access in telecommunications, media, and technologies.
  • Provides technical assistance and consultation to industry, organizations and individuals.
  • Publish a National Directory (The Blue Book) and the TDI World, a quarterly magazine.
  • Host a national biennial conference in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

A Brief History of TDI

TDI was originally formed to promote and distribute teletypewriters (TTYs) to the deaf community, for which it published an annual national directory of TTY numbers.

 

Today, TDI is a national advocacy organization dedicated to shaping America’s public policy, specifically in telecommunications, media, and technology, to ensure all people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, late-deafened, deaf-blind, and deaf-plus (with other disabilities) have full access.

The Beginning (1968 - 1977)

In 1968, the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AGBAD) and the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) formed a joint committee called the Teletypewriters for the Deaf Distribution Committee (TDDC) to handle acquisition and distribution of TTY machines from AT&T.  H. Latham Breunig and his wife Nancy represented AGBAD, and Jess Smith for NAD. Several months later, TDDC restructured itself as a nonprofit organization called Teletypewriters for the Deaf, Inc (TDI), with Breunig as its president.

Teletype Model 28, affectionately known as the "Green Mosnster", made by the Teletype Corporation.

It created a publication called GA-SK, and had 250 agents across the U.S. In 1971 it hosted its first national conference at Gallaudet College. With a grant from the Lily Foundation, TDI continued to expand its operations and appointed Breunig as its first Executive Director, with Al Pimentel becoming President of the Board.

In 1975, TDI relocated its headquarters to Washington D.C.. Two years later it hosted its second conference in Port Chester, NY.

A New Era (1978-1987)
TeleCaption II decoder

Breunig retired in 1978, with Barry Strassler taking over and held its 3rd conference the following year in Atlanta, GA.  After the conference, TDI and its agents started installing TeleCaption decoders from the National Captioning Institute (NCI).

By 1983, during its 5th Biennial Conference, TDI had over 31 chapters and worked with a number of industry companies to distribute TTYs, captioning decoders, and HEX computer bulletin board systems furthering telecommunication and media access for deaf and hard of hearing Americans.

In 1985, Thomas Mentkowski took over as Executive Director and later replaced by Al Sonnenstrahl in 1987. After its 7th Biennial Conference in Secaucus, NJ, TDI oriented itself to advocate for accessible telecommunications, increased captioning, and ensuring TTY compatibility (Baudot to ASCII).

TDI Emerges as a Powerful Force (1988 - 1997)
Universal icon for TTY

TDI unveiled the new international TTY logo to designation locations of TTYs in public places. Rather than hosting its 8th Conference, it led the Technology Forum at the 1989 Deaf Way hosted by Gallaudet University. TDI's forums focused on captioning, 9-1-1-, Telecommunication Relay Services, and computers.

After the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, TDI helped the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) develop federal relay standards as defined by Title IV of the ADA. Shortly thereafter, TDI released a new mission statement and moved its offices to Silver Spring, MD.

With grants from the NEC Foundation and the DOJ, TDI developed TTY equipment standards and training kits for emergency dispatchers to handle TTY calls.  Its 11th Biennial Conference was in Boston, MA., with Reed Hundt, Chairman of the FCC as the keynote speaker. Al Sonnenstrahl retired in 1996, while the TDI Board searched for a permanent replacement, Pam Holbrook, and then Robert Weinstock served as interim Executive Directors until Claude Stout was appointed in 1997.

TDI Goes Digital (1998 - 2007)

TDI unveiled it first website. Followed by the 13th Biennial TDI Conference, where keynote speaker FCC Chairman William E. Kennard urged telecommunication engineers and designers to work side-by-side with consumers with disabilities in the design phase. Spurring TDI to redefine its mission statement to Promote Equal Access in Telecommunications and Media for People who are Deaf, Late Deafened, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf-Blind.

TDI ramped up filings to the FCC in areas of digital television captioning standards, instant messaging, internet telephony, handset volume control, obligations of television broadcasters, and the needs of deaf-blind consumers in video description captioning content. TDI also filed comments to the US Access Board regarding telecommunication and media access issues in Section 508 rulings and upcoming revisions to the ADA Accessibility Guidelines.

Some of TDI's many filings included: opposition  of closed captioning waivers of local niche television broadcasts like the Home Shopping Network, religious ministries and antique shows; functional equivalency in Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS), and having Video Relay Service (VRS) a mandatory feature of TRS;  having newer technologies compatible with older devices like TTYs with Braille output and 2-Line VCO users; removal of exemptions to the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act of 1988; not to classify broadband as "information services"; accessible cable modems; emergency relay calls to be routed to appropriate 911 centers, and much, much more.

TDI was awarded a $1.5 million dollar grant to implement the Community Emergency Preparedness and Information Network (CEPIN) to develop a model community education course for emergency responders, managers, and planners in working with deaf and hard of hearing consumers.

TDI and CEPIN logos

The decade was wrapped up with TDI's magazine GA-SK being renamed "TDI World"

TDI Grows in Stature (2008 - 2017)

TDI continued increasing its visibility by sponsoring local delegates at both Democratic and Republican conventions. After the election of Barack Obama, TDI lead a coalition of consumer organizations into drafting a list of more than 60 recommendations for President-elect Obama's agenda. And later celebrating the enactment of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) with the President when he signed the bill into law.

TDI supported its fellow consumer groups by making captioned telephone relay service mandatory in all 50 states, as well as setting up a National Deaf Blind Equipment program as required by the CVAA. On the heels of the CVAA, TDI pushed the FCC to eliminate long-standing closed captioning exemptions on commercials and  2am - 6am TV shows. TDI also filed a petition with the FCC to reconsider its captioning exemption of online video clips and complaints against Amazon for noncompliance with captioning rules.

Texting & Driving: It Can Wait (AT&T logo)

TDI partnered with AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign 2012 by promoting and distributing resources for deaf and hard of hearing driver safety.

Google awarded TDI a grant to develop a speech-to-text and captioning correcting application, called uCaption.

Positioned for the 21st Century (2018 - present)

TDI celebrated its 50th anniversary by hosting a gala with nearly half a thousand people in attendance. It also published a commemorative edition of the TDI World, a 150-page book covering TDI's contributions, achievements, and community members.

TDI's 23rd Biennial Conference was held at Gallaudet in 2019. The following year, (TBA) was announced as the new CEO of TDI, replacing Claude Stout as he retired after twenty-three years of extraordinary service as TDI's Executive Director. 

For more information on TDI's history, its contributions and community -- read more at:

A Path Towards An Accessible World (1968 -2018)
TDI's 50 Years of Service and Contributions to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community.

A Path Towards An Accessible World_1968-2018_TDI's 50 Years of Service and Contributions to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community_A TDI World Anniversary Commemorative Edition_Volume 49, Issue 2
50th Anniversary Commemorative book
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