In 1963, Robert Weitbrecht developed a large acoustic coupler. This device has helped with breaking down the communication barrier between the Hearing and Deaf communities. This device today is called the TTY, which is short for Teletypewriter. Today, most people who use these machines call them TDD, which is short for Telecommunications Device for the Deaf. TTY and TDD are names that are interchangeably used. This is a picture of what the typical TDD machine looks like today.
The TDD machine operates much like an Internet chat program and has aided the Deaf and Hearing communities by helping them break down communication obstacles. TDD machines are elemental and easy to use. When a deaf person wishes to call another deaf person, and when they both have TDD machines, the simply dial the telephone and put the receiver on their TDD’s cradle. A bright flashing light, at their residence alerts the person receiving the call. This light serves as a signal that they have a telephone call. The receiving person puts his telephone receiver on the cradle of his TDD machine and both parties begin communicating. While one party types the other party reads. Unfortunately, TDD machines only have half-duplex capabilities. This means that only one person at a time can type. On that account, people who use TDD machines use letters that represent word-signals, which aid in the process of keeping the conversation flowing. For instance, when one person says, “Hello, this is Mike,” he uses the letter GA, which stands for, go ahead, to signal to the receiving party that he is finished typing. When either party wants to end the conversation, the letters SK are used to let the receiver know to stop keying and to end the conversation.
The most important thing the TDD machine has done for the Deaf and Hearing communities is to bring them closer together. Future advancements such as TDD machines and cellular telephones have been combined to make a portable communications device. A little further down the road it will not be uncommon for someone to have a TDD machine built into his or her wristwatch.