Deaf Employees are ‘The Right Talent, Right Now’
National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a month-long celebration in October, but support for deaf employees and inclusive employers is a year-round endeavor.
“Accessible and inclusive hiring practices is something CSD Works strives to support every day,” explains Kristy Ramos, Director of CSD Works. “CSD Works is proactive when it comes to improving the recruitment and placement process for deaf job seekers by providing resources and services for both employees and employers.”
NDEAM has grown from its beginnings in 1945. This year’s theme of “The Right Talent, Right Now” puts the spotlight on inclusive policies and practices, and the ever-increasing services and supports available for both disabled employees and employers who hire workers with disabilities.
CSD and CSD Works have celebrated NDEAM all month long by providing free resources to job seekers and employers, addressing common misconceptions, and more. Throughout the month we asked our community what advice they’d like to share with employees and employers this #NDEAM. Here are some of the highlights:
Advice for DHH Employees
- Be proactive. Create answers and solutions, rather than problems.
- Focus on your strengths and abilities.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Seek advocates and cheerleaders in the workplace.
- It’s never too late start networking.
Advice for Deaf-Friendly Employers
- If your job listing includes “speaking/hearing ability required,” implicit or explicit, rethink how the job is done.
- The best way to accommodate a person with any form of deafness is to ask them what method of communication works best for them.
- Consider learning ASL; the language is not easy, so be patient and don’t give up. Practice makes perfect.
- Do not focus on the differences of an employee with a disability. Instead, create and adjust access to fit their needs. You’ll notice their potential and contribution!
Do you want to learn more about how you can celebrate NDEAM all year long? Check out the article Five Ways to Support National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Visit our website for information on our services we have for employees and employers. We are looking forward to working together to better serve the D/HH population.
CSD To Present at SXSW 2020
In 2020, attendees of South By South West (SXSW) 2020 events will have the opportunity to learn from two, that’s right two, groups of CSD presenters. This March, members of our CSD Learns and CSD National teams will head to Austin, TX to present to those attending the conference, which is known for its creativity and innovation.
Deaf Entrepreneurs: Stories that Change Perception
CEO of CSD, Chris Soukup will give the presentation “Deaf Entrepreneurs: Stories that Change Perception.” In which he will give attendees an inside look at the nation’s first venture fund for deaf owned and operated businesses. With this presentation, CSD hopes to broaden how society thinks about and defines entrepreneurship, diversity, leadership and what investment means.
Just Like Me: The Importance of Role Models
Brian Milburn and Mei Kennedy of CSD Learnrs will also travel to Austin to present “Just Like Me: The Importance of Role Models” at SXSW EDU, which is held March 8th-12th. The pair will share how important representation is in education, and how oftentimes deaf and hard of hearing students aren’t exposed to deaf and hard of hearing role models. Throughout this presentation attendees will learn how they, too, can improve educational success and empower students nationwide.
We are thankful for everyone who took the time to vote for our presentations to be included in such an impactful conference. Thanks to your continued support, CSD has the opportunity to reach even more people and continue to work to change perceptions.
Employers Benefit from Hiring DHH Workers.
The benefits of a more diverse workforce, are becoming clearer every day.
New research from Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities shows that companies who embrace best practices for hiring disabled people tend to outperform their competitors. For example, companies who had shown oustanding leadership in disability employment and inclusion had about 28 percent higher revenue, double the net income, and 30 percent higher profit margins.
Despite our knowledge that a diverse workforce has a positive impact on organizations, the employment rate among disabled people is still in need of improvement. To address this disparity within the deaf community, CSD Works is partnering with employers to change the perception of deaf and hard of hearing job seekers and ultimately create more deaf jobs.85%
Disabled employees show an 85% job-retention rate after one year.
“Deaf and hard of hearing people have unique capabilities and perspectives: better peripheral vision, spatial intelligence, and because they’re not distracted by other conversations and background noises, are more diligent, focused workers,” Davin Searls, Community and Corporate Partnership Manager explained. “All in all, disabled employees demonstrate and 85 percent job-retention rate afer one year. Make your employees feel welcome, and they’ll stick with you.”
CSD Works: Creating a More Diverse Workforce.
“Job accommodations shouldn’t be viewed as a hassle,” says Megan Klusza, Career Services Coordinator. “They are ways to empower someone to be the best employee they can be.”
There are many misconceptions that providing accommodations is difficult and costly, which may add to an employer’s reluctance to hire DHH employees. For example, some employers are under the impression that a DHH employee will need an interpreter all day, every day. In reality, interpreters are primarily needed for things like meetings, trainings, group discussions, and interviews.
In fact, there are several simple and inexpensive accommodations workplaces can take to be in compliance with the ADA, and truly inclusive to people who are deaf and hard of hearing: having notebooks/pens available, clear directional signs, and rearranging furniture to have clear sight-lines.
Addressing these misconceptions is key to creating more deaf jobs.
By educating employers on how to make their organizations inclusive and accessible throughout the entire job cycle process – recruiting, interviewing, hiring, training, retention – CSD Works does just that.
CSD Works collaborates with businesses, nonprofits, and policy makers to provide deaf awareness training, organize onsite ASL classes, develop onboarding in ASL, complete workplace assessments, and workplace integration trainings so that organizations can become truly accessible to deaf job seekers and employees. They also provide free resources, like eGuides and webinars, for employers who want to make their place of work more inclusive.
And it’s working! Employers who have partnered with CSD Works to hire D/HH employees are impressed with how seamless the inclusion process is.
Discovering additional accommodations for deaf associates that can be both relatively easy and inexpensive was very exciting. We look forward to continuing to hire deaf and hard of hearing associates.Lisa SimentalHuman Resource Manager
CSD Works’ ultimate goal is to increase the economic power of the DDBDHH community. To do that, we need to create more deaf-friendly employers who, in turn, will create more deaf-friendly jobs.
“We already know that [deaf people] are talented and skilled; we contribute our language, our culture, our knowledge, our perspective, to the workplace. Now, we need to make sure employers know that as well.”Kristy RamosCSD Works Director
Make Your Workplace More Accessible.
Take a deep dive into the ADA and your legal responsibility.
Learn when, where, and how to use ASL interpreters.
Learn about accommodations for D/HH workers.
We are proud to announce CSD’s new Chief Marketing Officer, Rosa Lee Timm. Rosa Lee began working with Communication Service for the Deaf in July, 2019 and oversees our efforts to share stories from within the deaf community, shift perspective, and ultimately, take CSD to the next level.
“I am both excited and honored to be joining CSD and its incredible team of leaders,” said Timm. “I have witnessed the positive changes CSD has a hand in and know the commitment CSD has to continue its work on behalf of the deaf community. In so many ways, this is my dream job and I look forward to realizing CSD’s vision to accelerate social change.”
Rosa Lee joins CSD with an extensive background in marketing, storytelling and community development. She is known for her ASL music videos, modeling experience, and performance art which is featured on the Rosa Lee Show.
We look forward to the impact Rosa Lee’s energy and experience will have with CSD and our deaf community. To join this momentum, follow CSD on social media and subscribe to our contact list today.
Read more about Rosa Lee’s background here.
Representation is crucial, especially in education.
If students see it... They can dream it.
Adam* gave up on his dream of becoming an astronaut after being told many times that a deaf person couldn’t go to space. Indeed, he had not seen a single example of a deaf person working in aeronautics.
However, earlier this year, his teacher registered his class for a CSD Learns STEM webinar, which featured a deaf NASA employee, and he realized that he did not need to abandon his dreams of going to space.90%
90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents.
“We know that students benefit from exposure to role models who have had similar life experiences,” said Brian Milburn, CSD Learns Program Manager. 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents and may not have access to people who can relate to their experience, which can lead to feelings of isolation. As such, it is important that they are exposed to deaf role models and educators throughout their lives. The CSD Learns team is working hard to make sure this happens by providing a role model-based, representative curriculum.
Educators and family members don’t have adequate support.
“We also understand that educators and family members aren’t necessarily actively depriving students of these experiences. In fact, it is far more likely that they don’t have the adequate support,” says Milburn.
CSD Learns strives to provide this support by spotlighting diverse role models in various careers, creating opportunities for interaction and providing free online courses in American Sign Language (ASL), English, and Spanish. Currently, the CSD Learns course registry features topics like job search skills, finances, writing, and more. These classes are all built by subject matter experts in such a way that educators can use them to supplement their curriculum. Also, individuals can take them at their own pace.”
Deaf educators have had positive experiences with CSD Learns courses.
“CSD Learns has truly helped me save time within my classroom. The videos are not long, and they are to the point in such a way my students get it,” explains Carol Christensen teacher at Illinois School for the Deaf. “We can pause the video discuss a section, get back into it or discuss the whole video upon completion.”
CSD Learns has helped me save time within my classroom.Carol ChristensenTeacher, Illinois School for the Deaf
Deaf learners find our curriculum engaging.
Not only does CSD Learns provide support to educators, but the courses help provide an engaging environment for students as well. “CSD Learns is a good program for deaf people to understand what you’re supposed to do in the working world. I’ve watched several videos and they were awesome,” says one of the students who has participated in our job skills courses. “We need more of these ASL videos.”
We can’t achieve our goals without the involvement of our community.Brian MilburnCSD Learns Program Manager
In addition to providing resources and education, this program helps to connect people with more deaf role models. “By partnering with deaf educators, we are able to develop effective pedagogical approaches that will help to empower the deaf community, and at the same time, increase the pool of deaf educators,” says Milburn. “We can’t achieve our goals without the involvement of our community.”
Learn more about how you can get involved below.
Take our Survey
Want to learn more about how CSD Learns can support you? Take this survey and we will reach out to provide you with more information.
Teach with Us
Interested in teaching a class or developing curriculum for CSD Learns? We’re always looking to partner with subject matter experts!
We have courses primed and ready! Review what we have available for immediate implementation and see how it can fit your curriculum.
*Not the student’s real name.
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.
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 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.
“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 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.”
“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.”
Erika Linstaedt solves problems for a living. As a customer service representative, she’s there to help. And she’s offering something new; an innovative and much-needed type of customer service. Erika and her co-workers are providing customer support exclusively in American Sign Language.
Erika works with CSD’s Connect Direct, which was started in 2017 to provide a way for companies to better serve the deaf community. Connect Direct eliminates the need for third-party translation, and creates a business environment where all spoken and signed languages are equal. “I’m thrilled that our customers have the opportunity to communicate with us directly in their native language, ASL,” said Erika.
It has become standard for American customers to have the option to choose whether to speak to a representative in English or Spanish. However, there is not an equivalent option for the 2-3 million Americans whose primary language is American Sign Language (ASL), despite it being the nation’s third-most popular language.
That’s where Connect Direct comes in.
Robert Giuntoli is a Center Manager for Connect Direct, and last month he oversaw the opening of the United States’ first-ever call center that provides customer support directly in ASL over video, all without the need for an interpreter. He calls it “a revolution in the making.” That’s because existing options for ASL speakers rely heavily on third-party interpreters. When an ASL user wants to communicate with a company, they will often use a video relay service (VRS) where an interpreter fluent in both ASL and English attempts to negotiate a conversation between the ASL-speaking customer and the English-speaking representative.
The existing method, while helpful, still comes with its own problems. For one, the interpreter may not be an expert in the industry language, and therefore unable to accurately relay the information about the problem at hand.
Connect Direct solves these problems by partnering directly with companies to hire and train customer support representatives who are fluent in ASL. Deaf and hard of hearing customers can use video to call a customer service representative, who will help address general customer inquiries, billing questions, tech support, appointment reservations and more, all in their primary language. By using Connect Direct, companies can show they are becoming more sensitive the diversity of their customers.
“I have seen how appreciative the customers are when using Connect Direct to communicate directly with various service providers,” said Robert. “They feel more valued and respected as they were able to communicate directly with a bona fide representative of a service provider that can communicate with them directly in their first language, ASL.”
Connect Direct is helping companies decrease call times, save money, and reduce customer frustration.
Connect Direct is also making an impact on deaf employment. “Connect Direct and CSD are at the forefront of a new industry that will create many new job opportunities for deaf people,” said Robert Giuntoli. “In fact, we’re hiring right now!”Robert Giuntoli describes Connect Direct and the ASL Customer Support Representative position.
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