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October 12, 2005

"The CSD Journey" series - Equipment Distribution Programs

From: CSD - Oct 12, 2005

The CSD Journey
This series of articles highlights Communication Service for the Deaf's expansion from a one-person operation to the largest deaf-run organization in the world, employing over 3,200 employees in 42 offices.

Equipment Distribution Programs
CSD's role in equipment distribution programs started during the 1970s, through involvement in a deaf community trend to convert and distribute teletype machines (TTYs) being discarded by news wire services and agencies. These machines — first used by the U.S. military in World War II — suddenly had new purpose when a deaf man, Robert Weitbrecht, developed a modem to connect the TTY to the telephone to communicate with other TTYs. For the first time, deaf people could communicate with each other through the telephone.

In September 1976, CSD hired Jerry Berke, a registered TTY agent in South Dakota, to train CSD employee Bill Christiansen to install and repair TTYs in Sioux Falls homes and businesses, including McKennan Hospital, the Sioux Falls police station, the City Information Center, and the South Dakota Association of the Deaf building. Subsequently, the TTY repair program led to the CSD Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program (TEDP). The TEDP was established in 1989 through a surcharge on all telephone customers' phone bills, in order to distribute new state-of-the-art TTYs, which were smaller, quieter and contained built-in modems.

With passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requiring telecommunications relay service in each state, more people needed to purchase TTY equipment to get access to the telephone. To minimize this economical burden, states started implementing programs to distribute TTYs, phone amplifying and alerting systems to qualified users at minimal or no cost.

CSD currently administers or manages Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Programs (TEDP) in South Dakota, Texas, Alaska and California. CSD's role varies with each program, depending on contractual requirements. Each state determines which equipment to distribute and develops its own procedures on how applicants qualify to receive it. Qualified applicants can choose from equipment including TTYs, amplified telephones and signaling devices. CSD employees provide personalized training in use of the equipment.

Long-time partners and community leaders will join C.E.O. Benjamin J. Soukup — along with CSD officers, employees and friends of CSD — at the Sioux Falls Convention Center in South Dakota on Friday, Oct. 28 to commemorate CSD's 30th anniversary. A new book, "Seeing A Need," will be launched during the banquet. Event information is available at

Watch For Upcoming Articles: "Camp Lakodia – A Year-Round Deaf-Friendly Retreat" and "Who Has The Fastest Connection?".