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TDI Goes Digital (1998 – 2007)

(1998) TDI celebrates 30 years with a new website. TDI hosts a free Expo at Gallaudet University for consumers to visit TTY manufacturers, relay providers, captioning vendors and see product demonstrations.

(1999) Right after the historic Section 255 rulemaking, FCC Chairman William E. Kennard sets the tone with his keynote speech, Defining Vision at the 13th biennial TDI International Conference in Seattle, Washington – encouraging telecommunications engineers and design­ers to work side-by-side with consumers with disabilities in the design phase. Judy Viera raises thought provoking points for Relay 2000 – Quality of Service. TDI Board adopts new mission statement: Promoting Equal Access in Telecommunications and Media for People who are Deaf, Late Deafened, Hard of Hearing and Deaf-Blind. TDI’s first Executive Director, H. Latham Breunig passes away. TDI implements TDI eNotes, a new e-mail newsletter providing timely updates in areas of telecommunications and media access.

(2000) TDI upgrades office computer system with grants from Verizon Foundation. The FCC cites TDI’s opposition in it’s denial of a closed captioning waiver based on undue burden to Home Shopping Network. TDI submitted filings to the FCC in areas of digital television captioning standards, instant messaging, Internet Telephony, handset volume control, obligations of television broadcasters, the needs of deaf-blind consumers in video description. TDI files comments to the US Access Board regarding telecom­munication and media access issues in Section 508 rulings and upcoming revisions to the ADA Acces­sibility Guidelines. TDI authors position paper on movie captioning for the Coalition on Movie Captioning. Claude Stout coordinates activities of the TRS Coalition in bring­ing the need for TRS functional equivalency to the FCC. The GA-SK revamped into smaller news magazine that focuses on a specific issue such as The Push for Movie Captioning and TRS: Reaching Functional Equivalency.

(2001) The Board of Directors reorganizes with five representatives from the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Central and West Regionsplus Members-at-Large. TDI hosts its 14th Biennial Conference and Expo for the first time in a rural setting under the theme Information, Technology, Access: The Gold Rush of the Future. Michael J. Copps gives the keynote speech, his first since his Senate confirmation as FCC Commissioner in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. TDI files comments with the FCC on Universal Service Fund support for orphan technologies such as TTYs with Braille output and for service fees above custom­ary fees required to make telephones accessible for 2-Line VCO users. In addition to the Conference news, The GA-SK covers paging, disaster preparedness, and the Technology Access Program at Gallaudet University. TDI Board Member Pam Holmes selected to chair the US Access Board. TDI completes its first Quality Assurance Program. A brochure was developed to recruit new members.

(2002) TDI files comments with the FCC requesting that the FCC revoke current exemptions to the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act of 1988; that the FCC uses its Universal Service Fund for training and outreach from schools and libraries on TRS and other telecommuni­cation services; urging the FCC not to classify broadband services as “information services; streamlining its informal com­plaint procedures; requesting that cable modem Internet services be accessible to people with dis­abilities; opposing captioning waivers from producers of mostly local hunting and fishing shows, an antique collecting show and religious TV ministries; asking that emergency relay calls be routed to the most appropriate PSAP; supporting the petition of National Exchange Car­rier Association to recover costs for wireless TRS calls from the Interstate TRS Fund. TDI and other consumer groups filed comments to the FCC opposing the petition of digital wireless service providers to waive their responsibilities to make their digital network compatible with 9-1-1 services by TTY; on cost jurisdiction regarding reimbursement for Internet Protocol Relay. TDI also filed comments to the Federal Trade Commission urging that it make its “Do-Not-Call’ registry acces­sible to all consumers. TDI and other consumer groups filed comments to the National Telecommunications and Information Adminis­tration at the U.S. Department of Commerce in support for full deployment of broadband services across Amer­ica. The GA-SK issues cover the Disability Rights Office at the FCC, Access by Land and by Sea, and Interna­tional Technology. TDI recognized by students in Gallaudet University’s Department of Busi­ness as the Organization of the Year 2002.

(2003) TDI returns to Las Vegas, Nevada for the 15th Biennial TDI International Conference at the Green Valley Ranch Resort. 204 registered attendees help TDI cel­ebrate its 35th Anniversary as it honors 12 companies and two educational institutions with a painting in appre­ciation for their support. The GA-SK issues cover Class­room Access, Local Advocacy, IP-Relay and Video Relay Services.

(2004) TDI’s Directory and Resource Guide goes online as the eBlue Book in an overhauled website with funding from AT&T Relay, AT&T Wire­less, Hamilton Relay, MCI Relay, SBC Foundation, Sprint Relay and Verizon. US Department of Homeland Security awards TDI $1.5M for a 2-year proposal to implement the Community Emergency Preparedness and Infor­mation Network or the CEPIN Project. GA-SK news magazine recognizes community service centers as our partners in advocacy, covers the new website and online eBlue Book, and TDI’s accomplishments in telecommu­nications and media access. TDI and other consumer groups file a petition for rulemaking in television captioning quality issues and another petition asking that the FCC make Video Relay Services (VRS) a mandatory TRS feature.

(2005) TDI had its sixteenth biennial international conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. The theme for the Conference was “Access Today! Big Easy Tomo­row…” TDI changes it’s name to Telecom­munications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. to reflect the increasing diversity among its constituents. Less than two months after the Conference, Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster ever to hit America, left New Orleans and the Gulf Coast crippled in need of reconstruction that will take years to complete.

(2006) TDI Executive Direc­tor, Claude Stout gave a presentation about technology access at the International Deaf Forum in Fez, Morocco. The Board and staff engage in strate­gic planning meetings to determine direction of TDI. Led by Sheri Farinha from California, TDI hosted an E-911 Stakeholder Coun­cil, which led to a summit at the FCC and publication of a white paper detailing access issues in developing the next generation of emer­gency communication systems. TDI hosted its annual winter holiday party at the Rayburn House Office Build­ing at the US Capitol where FCC Commissioner Debo­rah Taylor Tate made a special appearance. The GA-SK newsletters covered pagers, cruise accessibility and the growth of captioned telephone.

(2007) Nearly 500 people “left their hearts” in San Mateo during the 17th Biennial TDI Conference. Located just minutes away from one of the most popular cities in the world, the Conference brought together many leading professionals and government officials. For the first time, TDI hosted a Consumer and Family Day and waived the registration fee on that day. The “New TDI” with a tagline Shaping An Accessible World. a new logo and quarterly magazine TDI World were unveiled. TDI partici­pated in a two-day VRS demo on Capitol Hill. In a historic first for a TDI Executive Director, Claude Stout testified on behalf of the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) about digital television transition issues with captioning before the US House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. The old GA-SK covered Video Relay Services, Next-Generation-911, Digital TV captioning (with guest editor, Ron Bibler) and the Hearing Aid Compatible digital wireless devices.