Commission on Technology and Accessibility (Commission 4)
International Access to National Relay Services
Date: Friday, 26 July 2019
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Andrea Jean Saks grew up in the USA in the midst of the emerging TTY (Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing) with her deaf parents, Andrew and Jean Saks who were long time members of TDI and her father,
Andrew being one of three founders of the first text telephone system for the deaf and hard of hearing. In 1973 she introduced this text telecommunications to Great Britain. In 1975, she lobbied extensively and successfully to establish text transatlantic calls via the direct telephone network.
The first such call between two deaf people, one in the USA and the other one the in UK, took place on May 12, 1975 as a part of the first telecommunications equipment exhibit at the US Trade Centre in London, England.
She has served as the TDI delegate on behalf of deaf and hard of hearing people, in activities of the ITU, (International Telecommunications Union), as well as well as serving on US delegations to the ITU since 1991.
She was made the chairperson of the JCA-AHF, (Joint Coordination Activity on Accessbility and Human Factors), at ITU. A number of accessibility initiatives and events at ITU were established, thanks to her leadership and dogged persistence and with the help from her colleagues with all types of disabilities.