#ThisIsCSD: CSD South Dakota

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Although Communication Service for the Deaf’s headquarters moved from their original location in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Austin, Texas, in 2012, its roots remain strong in South Dakota. With locations in Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, and Rapid City, CSD of SD’s comprehensive services are focused on empowering the state’s D/HH residents and educating the communities they live in.

“CSD of South Dakota has been providing support services in various forms since 1975,” South Dakota State Program Director Katie Peterson said. “Currently we focus on communication and access for youth and adults through ASL/deaf culture instruction, Equipment Distribution, Peer Support, and Information/Referral.”

Amanda Whyrick, IT Operations Manager for CSD, spent a week installing new computers and network equipment at the Sioux Falls and Aberdeen offices. She came away impressed with the impact CSD of SD has on the community.

“It was an inspiring week and a great reminder of why we do what we do at CSD. The staff in South Dakota are at the front lines constantly giving back to the deaf community in various forms,” Amanda said. “I wish we had more programs like this in every state in this country because I recognized that the community impact was tremendous!”

One way CSD of SD serves the community is via Bridging South Dakota (BSD), a joint effort focused on empowering deaf and disabled survivors of sexual violence. Made up of several like-minded organizations, BSD recently received funding from the federal Office of Violence against Women and the local Bush Foundation.

“Our participation in the Bridging South Dakota collaboration over the past five years has added new insight and impact in the work we do here in South Dakota,” Katie said. “With this additional funding, we are recognizing the prevalence of violence against individuals with disabilities or who are deaf, and working together to raise awareness and improve services. This also includes a partnership with CSD Learns to create a training course for self-advocates and professionals to increase awareness and reduce incidents of violence.”

Financial support from outside sources is the foundation for CSD of SD, and funding for unexpected services is always welcome and directly benefits the community.

“While we are extremely grateful to our various funding sources for supporting our work, we realize not everything fits within the parameters of our contracts,” Katie said. “For example, when we were asked to expand our summer day-camp for D/HH youth into a longer event, we realized we would need to seek additional funding sources to provide transportation, food, and lodging for students to attend — even from the more rural areas of our state. Being the only deaf kid in your school or even your community can be very isolating. This camp brings students together to realize they are not alone, and introduce them to successful deaf adult mentors who can inspire them to dream big.”

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