An open letter to the Austin Deaf Community:
It has been nearly twenty years since CSD first began to operate services in Austin, Texas. We are proud of our legacy of providing premier community- based interpreting services and consumer-facing programs in Austin over
the last two decades. One of the first video relay service (VRS) trials was conducted here in Austin at the turn of the millennium. CSD was the first company to launch nationwide video relay services in 2001, in part, because of the successes of the Austin-based trial program. Subsequently, CSD operated a video relay service call center here in Austin for many years until that part of CSD was spun-off and became a stand-alone company (now known as ZVRS) in 2007. ZVRS continues to operate both a VRS call center and a customer service call center in Austin today.
More recently, CSD’s business presence in Austin underwent a significant transformation. In 2012, Austin was designated as a basecamp for CSD to begin working on new, important innovation and a platform for CSD to define a compelling new vision for our company’s future. Today, we have a large team of engineers based in Austin that are hard at work in developing technologies for the deaf and hard of hearing community. We also have a growing team of creative media professionals (designers, writers, filmmakers) based in this location. Lastly, we have a significant leadership presence here in Austin supporting the development of national and global programs (CSD Works, CSD Learns, #WhoWillAnswer) as well as key administrative functions of CSD (Finance, Legal, Talent & Culture, etc.) In total, CSD has more than 60 full time employees that are based in Austin today with many more partnering with CSD on a regular contract basis.
Over the past year, we have begun an important initiative that we refer to as “virtualization” internally within CSD. We have employees across the country (and around the world) that are essential to achieving our company’s mission and they are all passionate contributors to our global deaf community. All of our employees are equally important to the achievement of our goals. Virtualizationis a way of operating that allows employees of #Team CSD to do their jobs effectively from any location—whether they are traveling, working in one ofour office locations, or connecting from home. We believe that this new way of thinking about work and work spaces is aligned with the future and the direction that our world is moving.
As CSD broadens its virtualization efforts, we will be looking at opportunities to optimize our office space in all of our locations worldwide. We will be adding new offices in some locations while we reduce our footprint in others. This is a positive change for CSD and is reflective of the growth and diversity of our company. As a not for profit organization, we remain committed to pushing out our resources into the community—in the form of tangible action and new products, programs, and services that make our world a better place for everyone. Careful and responsible management of our resources is an absolute reflection of our integrity and our commitment to you.
In the coming months, CSD will be making some changes to our office space(s) in Austin—but these changes are reflective of our virtualization initiative, our expanding global presence, and our zealous commitment to “more is possible.” We are proud to be in Austin and to be a part of the Austin community. We look forward to a continued presence here in the years to come. Thank you all for your enthusiastic support of CSD and for all that we aspire to do and be as an organization.
CSD Announces Initiative to Reduce 72.5% Deaf Unemployment Rate
Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) is committed to creating 100 deaf-owned businesses and 1,000 deaf jobs by 2018. Their new initiative, CSD Works, is aimed at lowering the 72.5 percent unemployment rate in the deaf and hard of hearing community. The program will kick off early January 2016 in Austin, Texas. Austin has the second-highest population of deaf and hard of hearing people in the country.
Chris Soukup, CEO of CSD, released this holiday message for the community (video in ASL above):
The holidays are both a time to celebrate and to reflect upon the things that are most important to us.
Our deaf community has achieved a lot through the years. However, we’ve made limited progress regarding employment. Today, here in the U.S., the unemployment rate is 5 percent, but within the deaf and hard of hearing community, 72.5 percent are either without jobs or have jobs that do not generate enough income to support their families.
The issue is not with our community — or our ability to work. Our main barrier is getting employers to recognize value in our workforce. CSD is committed to addressing this issue of unemployment.
In January, CSD will introduce new programs focused on achieving economic empowerment through creating and sustaining employment opportunity within our community. Our goal is to see our community play a greater role in the U.S. economy. Deaf people deserve the same opportunity to buy houses, support family, give to charity and pursue our dreams.
We value your support as we begin this journey. Everyone should have the opportunity to share and contribute their talent.
On behalf of all of us at CSD, we wish you and your loved ones happy holidays.
For more information, visit csd.org/works.
Since its inception in 1975, Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) has provided sign language interpreting services. This has been a fundamental part of who we are as an organization throughout the span of our company’s history. CSD’s market presence for ASL interpreting has expanded dramatically over the years from a service that was locally focused in southeastern South Dakota to one that has a nationwide scale and reach today.
It has been and continues to be a wonderful privilege to serve the community in the great state of Minnesota. For nearly 20 years, Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) has had a significant presence in the state as an employer, a provider of programs and services, and as a participating and contributing member of your community. We are proud to be in Minnesota, and we look forward to being an active supporter of the Minnesota deaf community in the years to come.
The world has changed significantly since CSD first began providing services in the state in the 1990s. Technology has transformed (and is continuing to transform) the way we communicate and interact with the world around us. CSD has always sought to use new technology in ways that can directly enhance the life experience of our community. CSD’s role in introducing the first nationwide video relay service (VRS) is a noteworthy example. For many deaf people, VRS completely replaced older text or TTY-based relay services. VRS dramatically improved the quality of communication between a signing deaf caller and the voice user on the receiving end by allowing a deaf person to communicate more naturally and effectively in their native language.
CSD has always sought to use new technology in ways
that can directly enhance the life experience of our community.
Today, CSD is still hard at work innovating ways to further improve communication and access to vital programs and services. In recent years, we have gone through a significant transformation as a company to strengthen our ability to develop technology-centered solutions for the deaf and hard of hearing community. We want to create more employment opportunities for deaf people. We believe there should be universal access to communication, regardless of where and when access is needed. We want to support and strengthen all organizations that provide essential community-facing programs and services. We also want to impact deaf people beyond the borders of this country, and our aspiration is to affect positive change for the entire community worldwide.
These are big and ambitious goals that we have set for ourselves. All of us at CSD are fiercely committed to this vision for our community’s future. However, this cannot and will not be successful if we pursue it alone. As an organization, our service model must evolve, and we must invest in community and organizational partnerships. We must engage the support and participation of our community in order to achieve the kind of future we believe is possible. Together, we can accomplish so much more.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Jimmy Beldon, Christopher Soukup, Pat Myers, Patty McCutcheon, Brandi Rarus.
We are pleased to announce that CSD has formed a major, long-term partnership with Keystone Interpreting Solutions (KIS) to expand statewide access to quality sign language interpreting services throughout the state of Minnesota. We believe that KIS shares our core values and that they exist for the purpose of supporting and serving the deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing community. KIS co-founders Jimmy Beldon and Patty McCutcheon have deep roots in the state and have been leaders in the interpreting profession for decades. They have both been recognized locally, as well as nationally, for their contributions to the field of interpreting and for their contributions to the community.
CSD has formed a long-term partnership with Keystone Interpreting Solutions (KIS) to expand access to quality sign language interpreting services in Minnesota.
KIS will be focusing on local relationship management and will be leading the local delivery of services. CSD will be transitioning responsibility for the customers that we support today in Minnesota to KIS. They will be expanding their operation in Minnesota to ensure the total needs of interpreters, customers and the deaf community are being fully supported. KIS will be relocating to the current CSD office in St. Paul and will be co-located with CSD’s local community-facing programs: adult basic education; ASL training; and domestic violence advocacy, awareness and prevention.
CSD is thoroughly committed to supporting our partner, KIS, as well as the entire Minnesota community during this period of change and transition. We are working closely with KIS to introduce next-generation solutions for improving delivery of on-site interpreting services and, when appropriate, quality access to video interpreting as a resource. CSD has been developing web and mobile software designed to improve the service experience for everyone involved in the delivery of interpreting services from the customer to the interpreter to the deaf community end users. We will be making this technology available statewide in Minnesota through our new partnership with KIS.
CSD remains devoted to the community in Minnesota, and we are thrilled to be able to deepen our roots in the state by expanding our operational presence through our new partnership with KIS. Members of our national leadership team will be spending time in Minnesota in the weeks ahead to provide additional information—both about our local presence, as well as our global vision for our community.
CSD remains devoted to the community in Minnesota,
and we are thrilled to be able to deepen our roots in the state.
Thank you all for being a part of our journey. We deeply appreciate your support and your contributions to our wonderful community.
Chief Executive Officer
Author archive for Christopher Soukup
Articles by: Christopher Soukup