History of IDEAL Group, Inc. and its Subsidiary Companies
Updated on August 1, 2013


Individuals with Disabilities Enabling Advocacy Group (IDEAL) Group was incorporated, as a not-for-profit organization, in 1991. IDEAL’s business objective was to facilitate and support the hiring of core-competent individuals with disabilities by AT&T. 

Today, there are chapters of IDEAL at AT&T http://www.att.com/, Lucent Technologies (now Alcatel-Lucent) http://www.alcatel-lucent.com/wps/portal, NCR Corporation http://ncr.com, Avaya http://avaya.com and Teradata http://www.teradata.com/t/.


In 1989, Darren Kall, distinguished member of the technical staff at AT&T Bell Labs (currently senior director global experience design at LexisNexis) formed what came to be known as AT&T’s Employee Technical Advisory Panel (ETAP). When Darren joined AT&T in 1988, he discovered that designing accessible products and services was not a unified effort across the company. While AT&T had advisory groups, they were primarily focused on accessibility policy, not technology.

In 1990, Darren organized a small group of AT&T employees, many of whom were engineers with disabilities, interested in promoting the hiring of core-competent individuals with disabilities. Founding members of the group included Betsy Dixon, Manager, Workforce Diversity and Inclusion at AT&T (still holds that position), Jim Kutsch, VP, Computing & Network Services at AT&T Universal Card Services, (currently President and CEO at The Seeing Eye and Chairman at National Industries for the Blind) and Steve Jacobs, Chairman, AT&T Project Freedom (Past President of IDEAL at NCR Corporation and Currently President of IDEAL Group, Inc.). 

Individuals with Disabilities Enabling Advocacy Group (IDEAL) at AT&T was established and incorporated in New Jersey, as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. IDEAL operated as an all volunteer, employee led, organization focused on hiring, mentoring, supporting and paving the way to promoting AT&T employees with disabilities.

IDEAL's Objectives Were To:

  1. Synthesize diverse thinking into innovative actions that yield customer benefits and competitive advantage in the area of designing accessible telecommunications products and services;

  2. Develop the professional and business skills of AT&T employees;

  3. Act as involved community citizens around the world; and,

  4. Provide educational leadership in support of better understanding the diverse ethnic and cultural aspects of conducting business globally.

In September of 1995 AT&T announced that it was tri-vesting and restructuring into three separate companies: a services company retaining the AT&T name; a products and systems company (later named Lucent Technologies) and a computer company (which reassumed the NCR name). Lucent was spun off from AT&T in October 1996 and NCR in December of 1996 and Jacobs was named President of IDEAL. In 1999, a new not-for-profit corporation was formed under the name "IDEAL at NCR." IDEAL at NCR focused on working with NCR engineers to design and develop accessible financial/retail products and services including point-of-sale devices, automated teller machines, and public-facing kiosks and many other types of interactive transaction machines.

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At the end of December, 2002, after 23 years of service, Jacobs retired from NCR and was granted permission to spin-off IDEAL at NCR Corporation (not-for-profit) into IDEAL Group, Inc. (for profit).  Currently, IDEAL Group serves as the parent to four information and communications technology companies. They are as follows: 

Today, IDEAL Group, along with its subsidiary companies, continue to enhance the independence, quality-of-life, employability, and quality-of-education for millions of individuals with disabilities from around the world.