History of IDEAL Group and its Subsidiary Companies

In September of 1991, NCR Corporation was acquired by AT&T. NCR was re-named “AT&T Global Information Solutions.” Around that time, a group of AT&T employees (mostly engineers) formed an AT&T New Jersey-based not-for-profit corporation called IDEAL at AT&T. IDEAL was an acronym that represented Individuals with Disabilities Enabling Advocacy Link. One of IDEAL’s objectives was to support the design of AT&T’s products and services.

In 1992, Steve Jacobs was selected to chair AT&T’s “Project Freedom” telecommunications project. From 1992-1993 Steve’s team pioneered the use of interactive video technology for sign-language communications over distances using dual ISDN networks. The resulting services are now referred to as Video Relay Services (VRS).  Video Relay Services are a form of Telecommunications Relay Service that enables persons with hearing disabilities who use American Sign Language to communicate with voice telephone users through video equipment, rather than through typed text.

In early 1994, Project Freedom’s work was commemorated in a video. The video captured the first two-way “voice telephone” ASL conversation. The conversation took place between students and teachers from the Horace Mann Montessori School in Dayton, Ohio. The video also showcased historical footage of Alexander Graham Bell. Although a competitor, Sprint used Project Freedom’s Vistium Video System hardware and infraastructure to conduct the first VRS pilot test in Texas. Here are a few marketing pieces from that time:

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 technology work at NCR under the name “IDEAL at NCR Corporation.” The organization continued to operate under IDEAL at AT&T’s charter. In August 1999, NCR reincorporated IDEAL as a NCR not-for-profit corporation under the name “IDEAL at NCR.” From 1999 -2002, IDEAL continued to support the work of NCR in designing and developing financial/retail products and services that were as accessible as reasonably possible.

During its rein at NCR, IDEAL’s technical accomplishments were many. Here are a few examples of IDEAL’s high-level projects:

>> Here are a few IDEAL at NCR photos <<

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. Through the years, While IDEAL Group continued to operate as a separate entity, they formed/acquired additional subsidiary companies… all focused on accommodating the access needs of individuals with disabilities through the use of advanced technology. Among its more recent accomplishments was the development of the first of its kind speech-based, real-time, captioning apps and infrastructures which is now being used by thousands of people around the world. See: IDEAL Captions, uCaption, and Speech2RTT Communicator.

Currently, IDEAL Group 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.
  • Apps4Android, Inc.
    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 23 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:

Steve Jacobs
President and CEO
IDEAL Group, Inc.
Cell: (614) 777-0660
Fax: (614) 522-1031
TTY: (800) 750-0750
Skype: stevenijacobs