Our Story, Our Culture: An Inside Perspective

BY NIKKI DARLAND
The company formed because of a vision. After a meeting with a group of fellow deaf and hard of hearing individuals, the idea of CSD came to Ben Soukup, our founder and current CEO. The group shared their frustrations about inaccessibility; access to communication was an unmet need. Ben, along with the South Dakota Association of the Deaf (SDAD), decided that it was time to make a change.

Ben Soukup in his first office, 1975

CSD’s legacy began in November of 1975, by providing opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing people. These opportunities would enable deaf and hard of hearing people to enjoy a life of quality as well as increased access to the world around them. The word “disability” was to be removed from reality.

Our Vision

CSD grew into what it is today as a result of a collective vision. Our vision is to enhance our global presence as a premier organization for deaf and hard of hearing consumers by providing exceptional services and setting standards by which others are measured. We are always thinking of ways for deaf and hard of hearing individuals to be fully equivalent in modern society. Accordingly, we strive to be a model organization by continuously elevating standards for products and services for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Our People

Our company is known for our people. Throughout our locations across the country and abroad, we all work towards a common goal and contribute to the collective greater good and overall mission of CSD. Each location has its own subculture, as does each department, for they operate in the most effective way that suits their location or their positions. These subcultures are part of a larger organizational culture, unified by the same mission that we all believe in and value. Our mission is to provide greater opportunities for access, independence, and awareness for all individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. We provide tools conducive to a positive and fully integrated life.

By having a mixture of hearing and deaf employees, a unique hybrid workforce and work environment exists. Communication is not an issue. We work to ensure that all employees are given full accessibility to communication by their preferred means. If an employee doesn’t currently sign, he or she is encouraged to learn sign language.

Our Shared Ideals

For most employees, the passion for making a difference is already instilled when they come to CSD. For others, this passion develops after their arrival. We believe in teamwork, shared ideas, and creating solutions while respecting individuality and innovation. Our employees are actively engaged and empowered with responsibility for their work. Everyone contributes. Each person makes a difference.

Making a Difference

Our people are not only our employees but also the people that we serve. We work hard every day as a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating solutions towards functional equivalency. Our contact centers connect customers with the world by using the customer’s preferred method of communication. They may provide a captioned voice to text call for a person who recently lost their hearing or relay a call between a mother and a deaf child away at college. Our interpreting program provides customers with communication access either in person or through video. Our interpreters champion our cause by interpreting in emergency rooms at late night hours or interpreting long and intensive, yet important, business meetings. Our human services provide customers with a wide range of services that include advocacy, independent living, and sign language instruction. They may coach a survivor through a domestic abuse situation, advocate for increased access to communication, or provide tools to obtain satisfactory employment.

We give back because we believe in a better way of life.

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