Founder & CEO Emeritus
Benjamin J. Soukup is the founder and CEO Emeritus of CSD.
Ben is widely acclaimed for having spent nearly 40 years as a human rights advocate for deaf and hard of hearing people. He has built a sterling reputation as an entrepreneur, humanitarian, lobbyist/political activist, educator, inspirational role model and leader in the area of disabilities. He was one of the original authors of the first Deaf Child Bill of Rights legislation. He was one of the first to lobby for enforcement provisions regarding interpreter certification. In 1976, he was one of the first in the nation to establish the provision of telephone interpreting—the predecessor to modern telecommunications relay services. In 2000, he led CSD as one of the very first to offer video relay services commercially—what would eventually become a billion-dollar industry. His direct influence on human and social services, telecommunications and educational programs can be evidenced not only in the U.S. but in other parts of the world, affecting millions of people with hearing loss worldwide.
As former president of the National Association of the Deaf and as a former delegate to the World Federation of the Deaf, Ben has met with world leaders, presidents and members of Congress in an effort to improve public accessibility and increase public awareness of issues affecting deaf and hard of hearing individuals worldwide. In recognition of his lifetime achievements, he was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame and was also awarded an honorary juris doctorate degree by Gallaudet University. In addition to numerous other awards and accolades over the years, Ben and CSD garnered three prestigious awards from the Sioux Falls Business Journal and the Argus Leader in 2005: “Best of Sioux Falls Businesses,” “Best Executive of the Year” and “Best Business” in the general category.
Ben has served on numerous local and national boards over the years and currently serves as the chairman of the board of trustees at Gallaudet University.