ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act
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A Publication for all TTY Users and Interested People

      Volume 24 Number 4 Fall 199 Cover and Page 10



TDI Celebrates the Official Launching of ADA

By Lola Montgomery


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Photo by Sally Taylor

Sharing the celebration of the official birth of telecommunications freedom for deaf and hard of hearing people were (I to r): Paul Taylor, Lee Brody, Andrea Saks, Jim Marsters, Latham Breunig, and AI Sonnenstrahl. Taylor crea ted and promoted relay services. Brody enhanced the nationwide network of TTY agents. Saks promoted transatiantic TTY communications. Marsters is the only living member of the trio who invented and promoted the TTY coupler. Breunig co-founded TDI and was its first Executive Director. Sonnenstrahl is the fourth and current Executive Director of TDI.

Passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act has the potential to change the lives of many of the 43 million Americans with disabilities. Since its enactment in July of 1990, this Act has significantly increased the accessibility of employment, transportation, public and commercial facilities and public services.

On July 26, 1993, Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act -Telecommunications Relay Services- became effective. Title IV requires all common carrier offering voice telephone services to provide intrastate and interstate telecommunications relay services to their customers. As this law takes effect, TTY users across the country will be able to call any telephone number at any time of day.

Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc. (TDI), celebrated this special occasion with supporters at a black tie dinner during a cruise on The Spirit of Washington.. Veteran disability rights advocates and representatives of manufacturers, telecommunications companies and government agencies joined forces to celebrate access to independent communication for all, together with representatives from the American Association of Retired Person , American Association of the Deaf-BIind, American Athletic Association of the Deaf, American Society for Deaf Children, Association of Late Deafened Adults, National Association of the Deaf, National

Black Deaf Advocates, Oral Hearing Impaired Section, and Self Help for Hard of Hearing People. The celebration was underwritten in part by Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, Bell South, Nynex, Pacific Telesis, Sprint, Southwestern Bell, US West, Ultratec, UST A, Cochlear Corporation, Issue Dynamics, Inc., and several individuals. Justin Dart, chairman of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities and one of the fathers of the ADA, was on hand to greet supporters as they boarded the ship. He also stated that even though Title IV was the least publicized, it was the most crucial part of the ADA in terms of communication accessibility.

Following a day of workshops at the ADA Expo' 93 Conference, which covered adaptive technologies, relay service and current ADA issues, Executive Director, Alfred Sonnenstrahl addressed guests at the celebration, recognizing some of the significant contributors among the revelers.

Among the honorees were Jim Marsters, the only surviving member of the trio which invented the coupler that makes telecommunications possible for deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired consumers, Andrea Saks, daughter of co-inventor Andrew Saks, Latham Breunig, founder and first Director of TDI, Lee Brody, founder of Phone-TTY and Paul Taylor, the "Father of Relay Services".

TDI is a non-profit consumer oriented organization serving as a clearinghouse for technology and information services in the field of visual telecommunications for deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired users. In partnership with an Advisory Council representing national organizations of advocates, TDI works directly with business and government to improve telecommunication relay systems, access to emergency and information services, and availability of captioning, visual alerting, and other assistive communication. TDI also publishes a comprehensive directory of Text Telephone CITY) numbers used by nearly half a million people, and a quarterly newsletter on communications access. TDI is recognized as the leader of a cooperative effort to assure compliance with critical ADA regulations.






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