Organization Spotlight: TDI
Imagine a world where there is a television show that became so popular in pop culture. Everyone is talking about the show through articles, social media memes, and the news.
You find yourself curious what the hype is all about. When you turn on the first episode, it’s not captioned. You check the second episode; it’s not captioned either. Third episode, still no captions.
Have you had that happen before?
Luckily, we’re in a world that provides us equal access, thanks to organizations like Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc., also known as TDI, who continue to be the voice of communities of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind when decision makers discuss accessible technology.
What inspired the founding of your organization, and what is its mission?
TDI was started in 1968 to provide a list of people who used TTYs and teach others to use them. Our organization was able to change with modern technology over time. Now, the goal for TDI is to work with partners, be involved in policy advocacy, education, and innovation to make sure that there continues to be full accessibility, equity, and inclusion in Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
These technologies include things like using computers, phones, social media, search engines, and other tools to communicate with others, store and share information, and solve problems. ICT is really important in today’s world because it helps people work together and get things done more easily and efficiently.
What are some of the programs or services that your organization offers to the community, and how do they make a difference?
We help make technology accessible for everyone by working with the government to make sure laws support accessibility in ICT. We also teach people about accessibility issues through our social media accounts and TDI World magazine.
Did you know we have the TDI Blue Book? It is an online directory that lists businesses and organizations that help the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind find what they’re looking for. It’s like the once so popular Yellow Pages book but specifically for our community.
We also recently started the TDI Training Institute to teach people to develop skills and knowledge related to digital inclusion and equity. Our work helps connect people to make communication tools equally accessible, especially for people with disabilities.
How does your organization involve volunteers and community members in its work, and what impact do they have?
We work with volunteers and community members who help with planning conferences, participating in surveys and focus groups and contributing articles and expertise. We have a network of pro bono legal advisors who also provide guidance in different areas and file comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Volunteers and community members help TDI’s policy advocacy and operations, which benefit TDI’s target population: Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind.
Can you share a specific success story or achievement that your organization has had, and what impact did it have on the community?
We helped the FCC make sure that prisons are accessible to people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. This means that Deaf, hard of hearing, and DeafBlind inmates across the country can stay connected to their loved ones and contact their lawyers and other legal help.
We also give scholarships to Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind students to help them pay for college. If you know a high school senior, share this page with them for more information on applying.
What is in your organization’s future plans?
Our goal is to pass the Communications, Video, and Technology Accessibility Bill. It was formerly known as the 21st Century Communication and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 bill. TDI will continue to work and advocate for full accessibility in emergency communication and captions. TDI also wants to expand its current programs and work with people nationwide.
Do you have any plans for the future that you’d like to share?
Every two years, we host a conference where people who work in the industry, government, education, and consumer advocacy come together to meet, network, and work on projects. If you know someone who is interested in leadership and/or accessibility, encourage them to come!
It is also our goal to continue growing the TDI Training Institute program and what it offers.
To find out when the next biennial conference will be or what we offer in our TDI Training Institute program, visit our website at www.tdiforaccess.org!
What’s the funniest or most memorable moment your team has had while working together?
When TDI’s Board of Directors and community members gathered at the home of a Board member for an evening of relaxation after a long day of meetings, a flock of chickens from a next-door neighbor’s chicken coop came to mingle with everyone.
Fun Fact: Chickens can see in color and recognize up to 100 different faces when meeting humans. This must mean that the chickens noticed the new visitors next door and went over to meet TDI board of directors that day out of curiosity!