Friday, May 18, 2012

TTY Developer Honored

The founder of Ultratec gets an honorary doctorate today. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is honoring Robert Engelke for his work in helping develop an inexpensive TTY (Text Telephone) in 1978 from out of the basement of his Wisconsin home. His teletypewriter plugged into a regular phone line, allowing deaf people to communicate with other TTY owners. The young, hearing engineer sold it for less than $200 - way below the typical model which could run as much as $1000. No longer a luxury item that very few in the deaf community could afford, Engelke made it possible for the average person to own one. He was motivated by a deaf friend, Herb Pickell. He attended a National Association of the Deaf conference to get feedback. He continued to have people who are deaf involved in product development ever since.