Brief History of IDEAL Group and its Subsidiary Companies
In September of 1991, NCR Corporation was acquired by AT&T. NCR was re-named to “AT&T Global Information Solutions.” Shortly after being acquired, a group of “NCR” employees (mostly engineers) formed a New Jersey-based not-for-profit corporation called IDEAL at AT&T. IDEAL stood for Individuals with Disabilities Enabling Advocacy Link. One of IDEAL’s objectives was to support the design of accessible information and communications technology interfaces.
In 1992, AT&T selected Steve Jacobs to chair AT&T Bell Lab’s Project Freedom telecommunications project. From 1992-1993 Steve’s team pioneered the use of interactive video technology for sign-language communications over telephone lines (dual ISDNs). This technology, now in the mainstream, is commonly referred to as Video Relay Services (VRS).
In early 1994, Project Freedom’s innovation was commemorated in a video. The video captured the first, telecommunications-based, two-way ASL conversations. In this instance, the conversations took place between students and teachers from Horace Mann Montessori School in Dayton, Ohio. The video also showcased historical footage of Alexander Graham Bell. Please see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRQKWIarEQM.
Although a competitor, Sprint used Project Freedom’s Vistium Video System innovation for their first VRS pilot test in Texas.
1995 flyer announcing the pilot test:
GA-SK Newsletter article about Sprint’s pilot test:
Photo of Reid Huntt, FCC Chairman and Steve Jacobs, Project Freedom Chairman, demonstrating VRS to FCC Commissioners:
A restructuring of AT&T took place in 1996, leading to the re-establishment of NCR as a separate company. From January, 1997 through July, 1999, Jacobs carried on IDEAL’s work at NCR Corporation. In August 1999, IDEAL was reincorporated as a not-for-profit corporation under the name “IDEAL at NCR,” with Jacobs as President. See: http://tinyurl.com/y87s4gx8. From 1999-2002, IDEAL supported the work of NCR engineers to design and develop accessible financial/retail products and services.
At the end of December, 2002, Jacobs retired from NCR and was granted permission to spin-off IDEAL at NCR into IDEAL Group, Inc., a privately held, for-profit, Ohio-based corporation. See: http://tinyurl.com/yc27vyn3.
In 2015, the Google Foundation funded IDEAL Group to develop the first of its kind speech-based, real-rime, global captioning infrastructure which is now being used by thousands of people around the world. See: http://idealcaptions.org and http://uCaption.me.
IDEAL Group currently serves as the parent of three information and communications technology companies. They are:
InftyReader Group, Inc.
Established in March, 2007, InftyReader Group offers a sophisticated optical character recognition application that is used by thousands of universities around the world to recognize, convert, and enable the editing of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) educational content (both print and digital) into accessible formats in support of students with print disabilities. Converted formats include LaTeX, MathML, Human Readable TeX, and Word XML. In 2012, IDEAL Group received a White House Champions of Change Award for enhancing the accessibility of STEM curriculum for students with disabilities. See: http://tinyurl.com/y9tofshd.
Established in January, 2009, Apps4Android is a social entrepreneurship company. Apps4Android’s primary objective is to facilitate widespread technological changes that enhance the independence, quality of life, and employability of individuals with disabilities. Apps4Android is now the world’s largest developer of Android applications designed in support of individuals with disabilities, with more than 21 million installations. Apps4Android apps are installed on the devices of 82 wireless manufacturers and distributed by 568 wireless service providers in 214 countries. See: http://tinyurl.com/ydcsy4h4. In 2017, Apps4Android developed Speech2RTT® Communicator. Speech2RTT® Communicator enables people who are deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, deaf-blind, and speech-impaired, to communicate with other people, using a standard Android smart phone. It accommodates users in 90+ countries in any of 60+ languages. See: http://speech2rtt.com/.
Knowledge Discovery Solutions, Inc.
Established in 2014, Knowledge Discovery Solutions http://kds.global, a joint venture company of IDEAL Group, Inc. and Shaping Tomorrow, UK,offers knowledge-mining solutions in support of gathering “anticipatory intelligence” to help industry and government agencies identify and act upon emerging opportunities as well as identify the risks associated with those opportunities.
Today, IDEAL Group, along with its subsidiary companies, continues to enhance the independence, quality-of-life, employability, and quality-of-education of hundreds of millions of individuals with disabilities around the world.
For more information about IDEAL Group, or any of its subsidiaries, please contact: