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CSD Launches New Web Site

      CSD launched a revamped corporate website in February with more use of videos in American Sign Language (ASL) in an effort to make the new site fully accessible to deaf and hard of hearing consumers with all language skills. News stories, press releases and announcements are now accompanied with videos in sign language to present additional viewing options for all website visitors. Taking into consideration the needs of its deaf-blind consumers, the CSD website was also made accessible by minimizing the use of moving pictures and flash objects with embedded text. The overall goal of making the new site friendly, easy to navigate and product-focused was reached after several months of collaborative work with all CSD divisions.

 

      Among the enhancements to the CSD website is staff pages on webpages for CSD interpreter services in Minnesota, South Dakota and Texas that allows businesses or consumers, while scheduling an interpreter, to see the names of the interpreters listed along with their interpreting level of expertise and professional background.


      "Our consumers have asked many times in the past for more ASL videos on our Web site, and we honored their feedback by giving them exactly what they asked for," said Ben Soukup, CSD chief executive officer. "We invite everyone to visit the new Web site, watch the videos, learn more about our talented employees and most importantly, see how CSD’s products, services and staff can assist you."


      Other services include Interpreting Online; cabin reservations at Camp Lakodia or subscribing to SIGNews. The website address is www.c-s-d.org.


CSD of Oklahoma Battles Legislation over Interpreting

      Our division director of CSD Oklahoma, Glenna Cooper is the chairwoman of the Oklahoma Coalition for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The coalition was faced with a big battle – a bill that would endanger deaf kids’ educational needs.


      The Educational Interpreter Act was passed few years ago to ensure that deaf students have qualified interpreters in the classroom. The interpreters are required to be certified by EITP, QAST or RID at specific levels. Senator Myers is now proposing, however, that the Act to be amended to extend the certification requirement to allow use of uncertified interpreters in the classroom to resolve the shortage of interpreters. Senator Reynolds also amended that the certification requirement be removed to help the school system find uncertified individuals to interpret in the classroom.

 

      This caused uproar in the deaf and interpreter communities as well as from the parents of deaf students in the school system. The Oklahoma Coalition for the Deaf and Hard of hearing, which Cooper chairs, announced emergency meetings in Tulsa and Oklahoma City to develop a strategy to ensure the bill fails. Coalition members are arranging transportation for the Tulsa deaf community and interpreters to get to the State Capitol on Feb 19 to meet with the senators to educate them about the concerns of using uncertified interpreters.

 

      A large number of community members from Sulphur, Oklahoma City and Tulsa also met at the Capitol to make sure the senators are aware of our concerns. Large groups of deaf members with interpreters split in several groups to meet with each senator in their offices between committee meetings and lunch and explained why the community opposed Senate Bill 500 (SB500) amendment, and left a fact sheet explaining their opposition.

 

      Most of the senators have expressed that they are familiar with the SB500 because of heavy traffic of phone calls and emails from the community expressing their opposition to the amendment of uncertified interpreters. Oklahoma City television station Channel 9 representative also interviewed Cooper, OKRID president Brenda Carpenter and the parent of two deaf children, Jan and Ray Hollis.

 

      Larry White, deaf pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Del City, also hosted a public meeting at his church and invited Senator Reynolds and Senator Myers to share their views on the SB500. Senators Myers has a hearing-impaired granddaughter attending the public school who had a difficult time finding a certified interpreter as required by the current law. Meyers felt that once they remove the requirement, they would be able to fill in all the interpreters’ positions in several rural school districts. Senator Reynolds thought he was doing the community a favor but it was hurting deaf students with poor quality of uncertified interpreters.

 

      To the community’s surprise, during the television evening news, Senator Reynolds had announced that he would withdraw his amendment on the uncertified interpreters. As of right now, the bill remains the same as the current law except that the deadline for certification has been extended to 2011. It also asked that all educational interpreters be required to register with the Department of Education to ensure their qualification is monitored. If the interpreter does not meet, the requirement, they will have to submit plans on how they will work towards certification. Educational interpreters would be required to take at least 10 hours of interpreting training to maintain their job skills. 

 

      One positive change is that the educational interpreter will be awarded a $5,000 bonus incentive when they secure national certification. Cooper says “We are still monitoring the bill to ensure it is meeting our expectation when the senators vote on this in the next several weeks before the legislation session ends in May.”


CSD National Programs

      Giving back to the community is the heart and soul of CSD. Serving, meeting and accommodating the needs of deaf South Dakotans is the backbone of CSD’s existence. In 1975, CSD founded a nonprofit interpreter service agency to subsidize its community-based human service programs for deaf and hard of hearing South Dakota citizens. Since then, propelled by CSD’s growth, it has expanded its human service programs to serve more deaf and hard of hearing consumers in Iowa, Minnesota, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio Oklahoma and Texas.

      Hundreds of consumers seek services through CSD human service offices daily: independent living services, advocacy, information and referral, telecommunications equipment distribution program, alcohol and drug prevention, housing, transportation, recreation, ASL, employment, community education, etc. A number of model initiatives and national partnerships have been developed over the years: senior citizen programming, health literacy video materials, adult education curriculum, domestic violence service provider training and consumer-empowered mental health advocacy services. CSD’s telecommunications, media and sign language interpreter service also supports quality consumer service access commitments.

 

      Consumers are at the core of CSD’s mission and CSD wishes to take this time to profusely thank CSD branch office and headquarter staff, service consumers, community and service organization partners, funding entities (state, county, federal and private entities) and the deaf, hard of hearing, and late-deafened community for their support of CSD services.


Artist Chuck Baird Is Doing Project At CSD

      Noted deaf artist Chuck Baird visited CSD headquarters in Sioux Falls, S.D. in February to start work on an ongoing art project. Three years ago, Baird agreed to paint portraits of seven deaf individuals that contributed to the deaf community in the areas of advocacy, service, administration, equal rights, education and the preservation of sign language. During his visit last month, Baird, whose work has been featured at many deaf organizations and schools, met with Dr. Benjamin Soukup, CEO of CSD to gather memorabilia and take photographs for his portraits. Baird also met with Frank R. Turk, who will be portrayed for his work in deaf education and deaf youth programs. The other five deaf individuals that will be recognized are: Robert R. Davila, Fred C. Schreiber, Laurent Clerc, George W. Veditz and Roslyn “Roz” Rosen. The portraits are expected to be completed and unveiled at CSD headquarters sometime in the fall of 2007.