1968 – 1977


1968         H. Latham Breunig of the Oral Deaf Adult Section (ODAS) of the Alexander Graham Bell Association and Jess M. Smith of National Association of the Deaf form Teletypewriters for the Deaf Distribution Committee (TDDC) to handle acquisition and distribution of Teletype machines from AT&T. Later TDDC became incorporated in Indianapolis as a non-profit organization called Teletypewriters for the Deaf, Inc. (TDI). Breunig was selected as the first Executive Director. The first national directory had 145 listings.


1969         TDI receives tax-exempt status from the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization. The second directory after two supplements had 475 listings.


1970         The GA-SK publishes its first issue. TDI's third directory now nationwide grows to 810 listings.


1971         TDI agents gather at their first national conference at Gallaudet College in November.


1973      TDI becomes a member of the Council of Organizations Serving the Deaf while the Board of Directors increased from three members to nine. TDI receives $35,000 grant from Lily Foundation for cash advances to TDI agents for purchase of surplus TTYs and reproductions of technical manuals.


1974      358 registrants attend the first International TDI Convention in Chicago, IL hosted by the Chicago Telecommunications Club for the Deaf at the Pick-Congress Hotel. TDI publishes Teletypewriters Made Easy TTY repair manual and the How to Use your TTY consumer guide from office space and with volunteers provided by Indiana Bell.


1975      TDI is represented at International Congress on Education of the Deaf in Tokyo. TDI also presents paper on telecommunications at the World Federation of the Deaf Congress, which was one of five to be presented to the World Congress Commission on Communications the following year. TDI relocates to the Washington, DC offices of Telephone Pioneers of America. Executive Director Breunig was elected as an Honorary Member of Telephone Pioneers of America.


1977      500 registrants attend the second TDI Convention hosted by the NY/NJ Phone-TTY, Inc. at the Ryetown Hilton Inn in Port Chester, NY. The issue of the day back then was modem compatibility standards.


1978 – 1987


1978      In its 10th year, TDI moves to Halex House in Silver Spring, MD. A new logo for TDI was approved. Breunig retires.


1979      The third TDI convention was hosted by Georgia Telecommunications for the Deaf at the Century Center Hotel in Atlanta. TDI Board approves the name change to become Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc. Barry Strassler replaces Breunig as Executive Director. TDD or Telecommunication Device for the Deaf gains wide usage as the appellation for TTY.


1980      TDI administers DEAFNET contract in Washington, DC area as agents receive training to install TeleCaption decoders. Eight more chapters join TDI.


1981      TDI chapters mushroom when 17 join. Missouri-Kansas Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc. hosted the fourth TDI Convention at the Glenwood Manor in Overland Park, Kansas.


1982      New TDI logo copyrighted. Two more chapters join as TDI begins to sell NCI TeleCaption decoders and TV sets at reduced rates. TDI works with United States Independent Telephone Association to serve TTY users in non-Bell areas.


1983      Four more chapters join as TDI receives recognition from the National Captioning Institute as the top organizational seller of TeleCaption decoders. Additionally, TDI develops the HEX computer bulletin board in collaboration with Amateur Radio Research & Development Corp. TDI unites with Electronic Industries Association to develop TTY technical and compatibility standards. TDI holds its fifth Convention hosted by the Delaware Valley Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc. at the Centre Hotel in Philadelphia.


1984      Thomas Mentkowski becomes Executive Director. TDI conducts joint study with Gallaudet Research Institute and counts approximately 100,000 Baudot TTYs in use compared with five million ASCII based computers that are incompatible with TTYs according to the US Architectural and Transportation Barrier Compliance Board (a.k.a. The US Access Board).


1985      Nevada Association of the Deaf hosts the sixth TDI Convention at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.


1987      Al Sonnenstrahl becomes the next Executive Director as TDI's goals were reassessed to include: advocacy for accessible telecommunications and increased captioning; updating TTY standards from Baudot to ASCII; evaluation standards for TTYs and other assistive devices; ensure compatibility between programs, consumers and manufacturers. NY/NJ Phone-TTY, Inc. once again hosts the seventh TDI Convention at the Meadowlands Hilton Hotel in Secaucus, NJ. One highlight of this convention was the exhibit of old & "orphan" TTY's on display.


1988 – 1997



1988      TDI reaches the 20-year milestone.


1989      TDI and Sign Media, Inc. produces a TTY training tape Using Your TTY/TDD. TDI unveils the new international TTY logo to designate TTY locations in public places. TDI holds its eighth convention and leads Technology Forums in the areas of captioning, 9-1-1, TRS and computers at Deaf Way, an international conference hosted by Gallaudet University at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC.


1990      TDI & American Athletic Association of the Deaf present their Certificate of Appreciation to Senator McCain for his role in passing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


1991      TDI helps the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) develop federal relay standards as defined by Title IV of the ADA. A new mission statement and bylaws were passed by the TDI Board at its ninth convention hosted by Deaf Community Services at the Omni Broadway Hotel in San Diego. TDI office moves to another location in Silver Spring.


1992      TDI conducts a national poll that confirms TTY as the preferred acronym for text telephones over "TDD" or "TT". TDI joins the Consumer Action Network, a national advisory council for consumer organizations.


1993      TDI receives NEC Foundation grant to begin developing TTY equipment standards. The tenth TDI Convention was hosted by the Alaska Association of the Deaf at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage.


1994      Under a grant from DOJ, TDI develops TTY training kits, Emergency Access Self Evaluation or EASE, for emergency personnel at 9-1-1 centers. TDI gives supports to Dr. Harry Lang to write a book on the history of the TTY. TDI attends international conference on text telephones in Rotterdam, Holland.


1995      Reed Hundt, Chairman of the FCC was the keynote speaker at TDI's 11th Convention, hosted by D.E.A.F., Inc. at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Boston, MA.


1996      "Sonny" retires as Executive Director after nine years at TDI. Pam Holbrook, then Robert Weinstock take over as interim executive directors while the board searches for a permanent replacement.


1997      Claude Stout becomes the current Executive Director. TDI participates in two forums to study analog TTY access to wireless 9-1-1 systems. The Missouri-Kansas Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc. hosts the 12th Convention at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City convention which drew 307 participants; some of whom also participated in the TDI Golf Classic, a fundraising activity. TDI office settles in its present location in Silver Spring.


1998 – PRESENT



1998      TDI celebrates 30 years!!! <http:/www.tdi-online.org> is TDI's address on the information highway. TDI inaugurates a free Expo at Gallaudet University for consumers to visit TTY manufacturers 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 new public listserv TDI-L eNotes e-mail news service providing timely updates in areas of telecommunications and media access.


2000      TDI Office computer system upgraded with state-of-the-art system made possible by Verizon. TDI was recognized by the FCC in its denial of 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 the 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 Regions. 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 such as a second line for 2-Line VCO users. In addition to the Conference preview and review, The GA-SK issues cover paging, disaster preparedness, and a visit to the Technology Access Program at Gallaudet University. TDI signs on with National Organization of Disabilities' Statements of Principles and Responsibilities in Emergency Preparedness by and for People with Disabilities, which was then presented to Mr. Tom Ridge, Director of Homeland Security. TDI Board Member Pam Holmes selected to chair the US Access Board. TDI upgrades its membership and Blue Book database and completes its inaugural Quality Assurance Program. A brochure was developed to recruit new members and subscribers.


2002      TDI files comments with the FCC requesting that the FCC revoke current exemptions to the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act of 1988; requesting 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 wireline broadband services as "information services; the FCC's proposals to streamline and simplify its informal complaint procedures; requesting that cable modem Internet service be accessible and usable to people with disabilities; opposing captioning waivers from producers of nine programs - mostly hunting and fishing shows and one show devoted to antique collecting; asking and reinforcing the contention made by others that emergency TRS calls be routed to the most appropriate PSAP, rather than automatically routed to the geographically "nearest" PSAP; supporting the petition of National Exchange Carrier Association to recover costs for wireless calls made through TRS from the Interstate TRS Fund. TDI filed joint comments to the FCC with NAD opposing the petition of several digital wireless service providers to extend the time or waive their responsibilities to make their network digital-TTY 911 compatible; comments with sign-ons from NAD and ALDA on cost jurisdiction and other mechanism issues regarding reimbursement for Internet Protocol Relay, especially people with hearing or speech disabilities. TDI, NAD, SHHH, and CAN (Consumer Action Network) filed a petition for reconsideration of the FCC's Order on the handling of relay calls made through payphones, claiming that the Order violated the requirement to not charge relay users any more than conventional callers for payphone calls, and require outreach measures that would alert relay consumers about making payphone calls through relay services. TDI also filed comments to the Federal Trade Commission from TDI urging that it makes its "Do-Not-Call' registry accessible to all consumers. TDI filed joint comments with CAN, NAD and Deaf Seniors of America (DSA) 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 - prepared for the Deaf Way II event in Washington, DC during the summer. 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. 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. The GA-SK issues cover Classroom Access, Local Advocacy, IP-Relay and Video Relay Services. Two coalitions change names; CAN becomes the Deaf & Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network. COR becomes Deaf & Hard of Hearing Alliance – A Coalition of Professional and Consumer Organizations.