Our panel discussions, at the 2017 TDI Biennial Conference on July 28-29, are appropriately titled “The Future Is Right in Front of Us!” While many technologies may have become obsolete, and we may have become comfortable with the technology we enjoy nowadays, the truth is many of the technologies we will use in a decade has not been invented. As quickly as technology is created and developed, it has become immensely more important to technology access advocates to stay on the frontline of emerging technology.

These panel discussions provides you with this opportunity. You will be hearing from, and interacting with, pioneers and leaders who have strong influence on the accessibility of new and evolving technology our lives will depend upon. These influencers are from Facebook, IBM, AT&T, Verizon, Hz Innovations, CSD, Local Motors and Securing America’s Future of Energy (SAFE). We could not be more excited about the panel discussions listed below and welcome you to join us.

Friday, July 28 from 2:45 to 4:00 PM

Panel Discussion: “The Internet of Things”                (Glen Echo, Lower Level)

According to Wikipedia, the Internet of things (IoT) is the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”), buildings, and other things and items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.  In 2013, the Global Standards Initiative on Internetof Things (IoT-GSI) defined the IoT as “the infrastructure of the information society.”  Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020.

TDI invites the following companies to give answers regarding their respective companies’ current activities and future plans for this exciting, technological phenomenon.  TDI is interested to hear how these companies are making this evolving experience as fully accessible to Americans who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Panelists:  Andrew LaHart, Head of Accessibility Competency, Accessibility Research, IBM

Linda Vandeloop, Assistant Vice President, Federal Regulatory, AT&T,

Zachary Bastian, Manager, Strategic Alliances, Verizon

David Bahar, Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs, CSD

Greyson Watkins, Chief Executive Officer, Hz Innovations and

Tom Wlodkowski, Vice President of Accessibility, Comcast Corporation (invited)

Saturday, July 29 from 9:00 to 10:00 AM

Plenary Session: “Facebook’s Impact on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community” (Salon D/Main Level)

We will have Mr. Chris Langston from Facebook, give a short presentation, outlining a number of ways that Facebook supports the national disability community with its social media tool offerings.  Then we have the the members of the panel, responding to questions regarding their experience using FB for personal and/or professional purposes.  Neil McDevitt will likely make comments on how well Facebook is helping him with his campaign for Mayor of North Wales, PA.  Tayler Mayer will talk about the impact Facebook has created for news of TDI’s ongoing work for the general public.  Tyrone Giordano will give his part on Facebook’s impact on CSD as a deaf-centric business.  Jack and Ann Cassell will give some short stories on funny, cool, and/or not so good situations with the deaf and hard of hearing using Facebook.  Last but not least, Melissa Locklear will testify as to how well Facebook has assisted in communication among those in the Native American Indian community, as well as her work to produce a highly successful Deaf Women of Color Conference.

Presenter:           Chris Langston, User Experience Researcher for Accessibility, Facebook

Panelists:            Neil McDevitt, Executive Director, Deaf and Hearing Communication Centre, Swarthmore, PA

Tyrone Giordano, Community Engagement Strategist, CSD

Tayler Mayer, Director of Public Relations, TDI,

Jack and Ann Cassell, consumers from State of North Carolina, and

Melissa Locklear, consumer from District of Columbia

Saturday, July 29 from 2:00 to 3:00 PM

Plenary Session: (Salon D, Main Level)

Panel Discussion: “The Future with Autonomous Driving & Its Benefits to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community”

In the last few years, TDI has seen some news on TV and/or the Internet about progress being made for the future with autonomous driving.  We were elated to read that the white paper, commissioned by the Ruderman Family Foundation and Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), has revealed that an astonishing two million employment opportunities could be opened and $19 billion in annual healthcare expenditures could be saved if people with disabilities had access to the basic transportation needs that could be provided by autonomous vehicles.  The members of the panel, as listed below, will each give a brief statement regarding their organization/company’s role in designing and developing autonomous driving in the near future for TDI members and the rest of the deaf and hard of hearing community.  TDI is interested to know whether these companies have engaged a number of people who are deaf or hard of hearing in their needs assessment and field testing activities to ensure that self-driving cars are sufficiently accessible to them.  If such efforts haven’t taken place, TDI is interested to know what immediate plans these companies have to address our needs.

Panelists:  Jeffrey Gerlach, Senior Policy Analyst, Securing America’s Future Energy

Gina O’Connell, Director of Labs & General Mgr. – Las Vegas, Local Motors

Linda Vandeloop, Assistant Vice President, Federal Regulatory, AT&T, and

Zachary Bastian, Manager, Strategic Alliances, Verizon


While we strongly encourage you to attend the full conference, if you prefer to only attend the keynote address by Mr. Soukup, you absolutely can!  Saturday, July 29 is Consumers’ Day, so all are welcome to attend, and do not need to register to experience what the TDI has to offer for the day.

In order for us to know how many that will join us for this event, while not required, we would appreciate a RSVP from you on whether you can join us or not.  Thank you, and hope to see you there.

RSVP: Send Claude an e-mail at [email protected] about coming to see Ms. Herrlinger give her address on Thursday afternoon, July 27 at 1:00 p.m.

This Conference offers you and others a wonderful three-day’s experience and opportunities for personal/professional development.  You learn about the latest in public policy for disability access, to network with others from with business and government, and to visit the exhibits that give you the latest information and hands-on experience with accessible products and services.  You meet the industry leaders that have worked with TDI and its sister consumer groups in the last two years on access topics such as relay services, emergency communications, wireless communications and information, and captioning of video programming.

Conference Program (schedule of events): https://tdiforaccess.org/2017-conf-agenda/

We invite you to join us at the Conference.  Check our website tdiforaccess.org or the links below to register for the Conference, to stay at the host hotel – the Bethesda North Marriott, and to buy tickets for the baseball game.  You can register for full combo tickets, or single events like the President’s Reception, the two Luncheons, and the Dinner/Entertainment Finale. 

Conference Registration: https://tdiforaccess.org/2017-conference/

Nationals vs Rockies Baseball Game, Friday, July 28: https://tdiforaccess.org/2017/06/washington-nationals/

If you still need information or support to make Conference plans, feel free to contact me anytime at [email protected].  We will then contact you, and help you until you are completely satisfied.  We thank you very much for considering our invitation to participate in the Conference.