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Arriving in Austin

By Cheryl Heppner, 6/2/11

Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI) kicks into high gear today with “Communication Access Day”, a series of presentations and workshops focusing on the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA).

Golfers started things off earlier in the week with a pre-conference fundraiser on Tuesday, May 31 of 18 holes at Grey Rock Golf Club. I’m eager to know how that went, as temperatures are in the high 90s here just as they were in Virginia. I seriously doubt anything could top the pre-conference golfing temperatures some years ago at the TDI conference held at Green Valley Ranch in Nevada. The hardy band who survived that day earned serious bragging rights, and it has become a legend.

Galaxy and I flew in yesterday morning. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that TDI staff Jim House, Gloria Carter and Rob McConnell were on our flight. We shared a van on the way to the hotel. Our conference site, the Hyatt Regency, is beautiful and the hotel staff have all been exceedingly pleasant and helpful. The TDI Board was already well into its full-day meeting in a ground floor conference room when we arrived.

One of the greatest pleasures of attending conferences is the opportunity to spend time with so many wonderful people. At registration yesterday I talked with Jeff Dallos. It’s ironic that I rarely see him unless it’s at a conference, and he is a resident of my own Fairfax County! Then while walking Galaxy outdoors I ran into my West coast advocacy friends Linda Drattell and John Waldo. Online I reconnected with a cherished friend, Dr. David Coco, who lives here in Austin and will participate in a panel I am moderating this afternoon.

 My day ended on a high note thanks to the wonderful food and conversation at dinner with Texans Dick Caldwell and his wife Barbara. Dick has been an NVRC email news reader for a while and it was such a delight to meet him and Barbara in person. We talked about accessibility and advocacy and I learned about many of the wonderful things they have been doing.

Today will be packed. There’s a 9 am opening ceremony with FCC Commissioner Michael Copps as the keynote speaker that I am really looking forward to. Commissioner Copps is one of my favorite speakers; he is warm and passionate and caring. Following his presentation, he will be presented with TDI’s prestigious Karen Peltz Strauss Public Policy Award. This will be followed by an FCC town hall meeting. After lunch there will be a series of workshops and a plenary session. The day of learning ends at 6:15 following a second keynote speech by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate (by video) and Marcie Roth, Director of the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination at FEMA.

Tonight there’s a President’s Reception from 7-9 pm for those who purchased tickets, with a special recognition program for the four-member Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) Executive Committee and a number of key government and industry players who contributed to the successful passage of the Communications and Video Accessibility Act. NVRC was a proud member of COAT and it will be great to share war stories and give these individuals another round of applause.

Grey Rock Golf Course