Archive for June, 2019

  • CSD

    Mozzeria to Open in Washington, D.C.

    - by CSD

    It’s true, H Street in Washington D.C. is getting a new Mozzeria!

    This will mark the second ASL-centric business on H Street in Washington, D.C., joining the Starbucks Signing Store that opened to great fanfare last fall. Mozzeria and other deaf-owned eateries have shown that putting deaf customers front and center can lead to success. Not only are these businesses thriving, but they are providing opportunities for deaf people to find employment.

    Photo of H street sign
    Creating these kinds of opportunities is part of why CSD established our Social Venture Fund (CSD SVF) in 2017. The CSD SVF is the first-ever social impact fund and incubator for deaf-owned businesses in the United States, and intends to help address the 70% unemployment and underemployment rate among deaf Americans. Mozzeria was the first partner in this initiative, with the goal of reproducing the successful business model in other American cities. Since then, the CSD SVF has brought in four more partners, most recently National Deaf Therapy and Bus Door Films.

    Construction of the Mozzeria location in D.C. is planned for the fall. Hiring will begin in early 2020, and then it will open in the spring of 2020. The location was selected with many favorable factors in mind, including the availability of many deaf people who are already experienced in the food service and hospitality industries.

    Meanwhile, the search for the perfect Mozzeria location in Austin continues! As soon as the Mozzeria team finds the right space and has reached an agreement with all appropriate parties on the space, they will announce the location and the timing of that opening.


    For general information and updates about Mozzeria, including information about employment opportunities, please sign up here.  

  • CSD
    Bradley and Ruan

    CSD SVF Announces New Partner: Bus Door Films

    - by CSD

    CSD SVF is growing! Bus Door Films (BDF) is the fifth business partner of our Social Venture Fund. Deaf-owned BDF is an early stage creative production and filmmaking business focused on providing quality video services for both deaf and hearing clients, and increasing the deaf artistic talent pool behind the camera.

    Bradley Gantt and Ruan du Plessis, BDF founders, started their collaboration when they were just fourteen years old. “I had just moved from South Africa when I met him,” says du Plessis, “And we experimented with cameras like the webcams on our computers. Then we began working together professionally after we graduated from high school.”



    BDF is a new startup providing comprehensive and high-quality creative production services for both deaf and hearing clients, including advocacy groups, nonprofits and corporations. The two former CSD employees have compiled an extensive list of video and film production credits, including work with ASL Films and CSD’s recent “Beyond Inclusion” film starring Nyle DiMarco. They are also joining a new feature-length film shoot this fall.

    Bradley and Ruan

    Bradley and Ruan


    “Bus Door Films is poised to become an exemplar of the values held by the CSD Social Venture Fund,” says Christopher Soukup, CEO of CSD. “We have known Bradley and Ruan for several years and continue to be impressed with the quality of their creative work. Bradley and Ruan have already proven themselves with their previous work at CSD, working on contracts with government agencies and other private and public organizations with a high degree of client satisfaction. More importantly, their vision to expand deaf talent behind the camera is beautifully aligned with ours in addressing critical gaps in employment, and their presence will help increase authentic representation and the numbers of deaf people working in the creative production industry.”

    Key BDF services include: film and video production both in-studio and on-location, editing, sound, visual effects, live event capture and streaming, and consultancy and advisory services.

    “We are very honored CSD has named us as one of its SVF partners,” Gantt and du Plessis say. “We recognize that while onscreen deaf talent is becoming increasingly visible today, it is equally important to have deaf talent behind the camera to help drive the creation of content that more closely includes real deaf perspectives, and not just for deaf audiences only. CSD’s support will allow us to accelerate our vision and we are very excited to be working with them.”

    The CSD Social Venture Fund (CSD SVF) is the first-ever social impact fund and incubator for deaf-owned businesses in the United States. CSD created this multi-million dollar fund in 2017 to help address the 70% unemployment and underemployment rate among deaf Americans.

    “We really enjoy seeing the people who come to work with us hone their own skills,” says Gantt. “That creates a larger pool of talent. I want us to push our quality level even higher, and show people that we can be as qualified as HBO or Netflix – the kind of quality you see in Hollywood films. It’s our goal to get there – not just us two, but everyone collectively. I want us all to make things happen.”

  • CSD
    Photo of Amanda and Megan outside of the building

    CSD SVF Announces New Partner: National Deaf Therapy

    - by CSD

    CSD SVF is growing! National Deaf Therapy is the fourth business partner of our Social Venture Fund. NDT is a national web-based mental health platform fully dedicated to serving the deaf, deaf and blind, deaf and disabled and hard-of-hearing communities with a nationwide network of deaf therapists.

    Co-founder Amanda Sortwell Crane says, “Our focus is group practice, a mental health service for the deaf and hard of hearing community members. The service is done virtually, using an online video platform. This is important because many members of the deaf community know each other, creating a situation where we have difficulty finding a licensed therapist who doesn’t already know us personally.”



    Founded by professional licensed therapists and longtime friends Amanda Sortwell Crane and Megan Erasmus, NDT launched in March of 2018. Sortwell Crane and Erasmus, both deaf, identified a significant gap in the market: mental health services rarely satisfy the needs of the deaf community. The two Gallaudet University alumnae launched NDT with one key goal: eliminate the unnecessary barriers deaf people continue to face and provide easy access to professional mental health services – help deaf people “find a therapist like me.”

    “We’re switching from a more medical setting to a more humanistic interaction from home,” explains Erasmus. “We work with Independent Contractor therapists from different states around the country. The goal is for clients to have options of therapists to choose from.”

    Woman sitting on a couch signing hi to a laptop

    Amanda Sortwell Crane in action


    “Everything we do at CSD supports creating a world where all deaf people are valued,” says Christopher Soukup, CEO of CSD. “National Deaf Therapy’s efforts through both the career opportunities it provides deaf therapists, and the services rendered to patients under their care, will directly contribute to the overall economic, social and mental well-being of the deaf community. This aligns with the vision of the CSD SVF, which goes beyond ensuring the viability of deaf-owned businesses by amplifying their ability to create positive social change.”

    CSD SVF is the first-ever social impact fund and incubator for deaf-owned businesses in the United States. CSD created this multi-million dollar fund in 2017 to help address the 70% unemployment and underemployment rate among deaf Americans.

    “We are very excited to be working with CSD,” said Sortwell Crane and Erasmus. “CSD is a leader and innovator and we are very honored to be working with them to advance both economic opportunities and wellness for our community. We know there is a void in the market and we have a big vision for our company. CSD’s support is crucial to helping us grow quickly throughout the country.”

    NDT offers a multitude of web-based mental health services through a secure eTherapy video platform. Clients can choose between therapist-led or group sessions for individual, couples and family. NDT also offers group support circles, community and school training and additional specialties, including: disaster relief; trauma sensitive group yoga; pregnancy and post-partum issues; self-harm and suicidal thoughts; holistic and wellness counseling; sexual/gender identity; and severe mental illness and impact on family members.

    “We want to be able to reach those living in rural areas who are looking for mental health services, as well as those who live in cities with a higher deaf population, which means less privacy, so that’s not fair to them,” says Sortwell Crane. “We want all deaf people to be able to choose a deaf therapist they are comfortable with. That’s the big goal.”