The Evolution of Accessible Telecommunication: A Timeline of TDI’s Impact

Kaika, Barbara Kelly, Howard Rosenblum, and President Bobbi sitting on the half circle facing each other. The background is white.

What are the TDI Agents?

They are the ones responsible for installing the TTYs and training individuals and businesses how to use them. They also sell TDI memberships.

Most of them were men who liked to tinker with the intricate mechanical parts inside the TTY. If they have wives, they will help them by testing the new TTY and to see if they keys are working properly. TDI credited them as “the nuts and bolts of TDI” since they helped TDI hold together at the outset.
In 1968, the Hoosier State Telephone Pioneers trained an army of TDI agents to repair and restore donated TTYs so they can be distributed to customers across the US.
In 1974, TDI published Teletypewriters Made Easy, a pictorial TTY repair manual for TDI Agents. It shows photos and instructions for troubleshooting a broken TTY and making the appropriate repairs. The agents believed this manual was a very useful tool.
Actually, if not for them, then the deaf telephone network would not have grown that much in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.

  Today, there are still a number of TDI Agents in the US and Canada.

Board Presidents

1. Dr. H. Latham Breunig


2. Albert Pimente

3. Clifford Rowley

4. Robert McClintock

5. Joseph Slotnick
(serve four non-consecutive terms during the 1970’s, through 1990’s, and 1982)

 6. Gordon Allen


7. Robert Lankenau

8. William Spalton

9. Seymour Bernstein

10. Pamela Ransom
First and only hearing Board President

11. Dr. Frank Turk

12. Lori Breslow

13. Dr. Roy Miller

14. Sheila Conlon-Mentkowski

15. Jan Withers

Board Presidents

Actually, this conference started with the gathering of TDI agents to come together and discuss their expertise and experiences as well as answer consumer questions regarding the modification and distribution of teletypewriters. 

Eventually, its TDI conferences evolved into biennial conferences that featured exhibits, presentations, and workshops from various industry vendors, government policy makers, and industry representatives. It also allows people to raise concerns concerning accessibility and hosts an awards luncheon recognizing note-worthy individuals or organizations for their contributions to make technologies and telecommunication accessible to deaf and hard of hearing communities. 

Until 2015, the biennial conferences were held in various places around the country and now, it is mostly hosted in Washington, D.C.