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CSD of Maryland Celebrates 5 Years of Service

On March 1, 2002, CSD took over the role of financially-strapped Deaf Access Services (DAS), a former local agency that had served deaf and hard of hearing people for 25 years. Under leadership of division director Karen Sheffer-Tucker, CSD of Maryland has consistently provided programs and services to approximately 16,000 deaf and hard of hearing people living in Frederick as well as 600,000 in the state of Maryland. Hundreds of hearing individuals have also benefited from CSD’s initiatives, programs and services.

In aftermath of two community forums held in 2002 and 2003, CSD developed a road map and began its new path that is responsive to community priorities. Among the priorities was the addition of a Community Center in October, 2005 which provided space for training sessions, classes, workshops and community events.

CSD of Maryland provides community education programs, interpreter training, sign language classes and CPR/First Aid classes. Jackie Kanekuni, a certified CPR instructor, teaches the CPR/First Aid classes. CSD provided American with Disabilities Act (ADA) training to medical service providers and provided cultural sensitivity training to staff members at Frederick Memorial Hospital which resulted in hospital’s hiring of two part-time staff interpreters in 2004.

Other activities include a Childcare program with Baby ASL curriculum and providing cultural sensitivity training to businesses, federal agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Sheffer-Tucker says that Community Education and Professional Training will continue to be the backbone of CSD’s programs and services for both deaf and hearing people. Health education is one of the most important issues in many deaf and hard of hearing people’s lives. With recent advances in research, technology and medicine, it is vital that people keep up to date on heath care issues to ensure that they make informed choices and receive the best care that is available to them. In 2006, initiatives paid off with an initial funding to promote health literacy.

CSD of Minnesota Civics Program

An incident at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport captured the nation’s attention when several Somali taxi drivers refused passengers who used a service dog or were carrying liquor. When a blind woman and her service dog were refused by several taxis, she brought the issue to light with the media. The Somali taxi drivers explained that they were following their cultural and religious beliefs and felt they were doing the right thing.

The Civics program, as part of the CSD of Minnesota Adult Education Program, provides classes for Deaf and Hard of Hearing immigrants from Africa and Asian countries seeking a better life. The Civics program provides a critical transition as one prepares to assimilate into American Culture and Deaf Culture while honoring and retaining native culture, customs, and values: learn American Sign Language and English, about American culture and customs and increase community participation.

As part of the Civics program, the students, half who are Somali, were asked about this incident by Mary Dykstra, Civics Teacher. Some of Mary’s students agreed that these people should be refused service because of the animal and liquor. Although that is understandable because of their cultural and religious beliefs, one goal of the Civics program is to educate the learners about American culture, customs and the Americans with Disabilities Act. A balance between the two cultures is essential for them; we wanted to help them understand why it is so important for people with disabilities to have the option of using service dogs.

A Deaf person with a hearing dog visited the class and showed how things are different here in the United States where Deaf people have more rights and have many beneficial services available. Annie Kraft, deaf, brought her hearing dog, Cody, to class. Kraft explained to the class about how she adopted Cody and went through obedience training; she demonstrated some tricks that Cody learned and uses with her. She also explained the dog’s duties at the home and out in the community.

Kraft shared with the learners why it was important for her to have the hearing dog, how it is considered a working animal of immense help to its owner. The learners were amazed by this and were full of questions about how Kraft handles the dog, what exactly he is used for and how he is treated. Toward the end of class, Kraft allowed the learners to touch Cody. One Somali learner decided to pet the dog and looked thrilled by the experience.

Signed and Captioned Mental Health Videos

Ohio Department of Mental Health has worked with CSD of Ohio and CSD-TV to develop video clips in American Sign Language (ASL) with spoken English and captions for Deaf and hard of hearing users.

These video clips can be found on The Network of Care website, an online resource that provides critical information, communication and advocacy tools. The website also provides information in Spanish, Cantonese, Russian, Tagalog and Cambodian languages.

CSD of Ohio provides services that specifically address the mental health needs of deaf and hard of hearing consumers throughout the state as well as professionals in the mental health system. Their single most important and vital goal is to ensure that every deaf, hard of hearing and deaf blind consumer is able to access and receive a full continuum of quality, culturally competent mental health services in Ohio.

Ohio is one of the 13 states currently operating a local or statewide Network of Care for Mental/Behavioral Health. They contracted with Trilogy Integrated Resources LLC to develop and operate this first-of-its kind, online community resource in the health and human services arena.

Network of Care empowers people with mental illness, their families and service providers by providing online access to comprehensive services available in their community. They offer a user-friendly, comprehensive services directory; up-to-date library of information, instantaneous advocacy tools; links to other behavioral health sites; health coverage information; a confidential “My Folder” section for consumers and families to create and share with their own personal information, and daily news updates of pertinent issues among its features.

Network of Care was endorsed by the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. Geared towards consumers and families, the website is also used by community-based agencies and local government entities and can be reached at

CSD of SD -- Colleen Barber

Colleen Barber, ASL Instructor at CSD was featured last month on KDLT-TV’s ‘People You Should Know’ segment broadcast in South Dakota. Barber teaches sign language classes at Lincoln High School, Washington High School and Brandon Valley High School.

The video reported that Barber’s decision to teach sign language and her unique teaching style has made an impression of hundreds of students. One day in a classroom, Barber signs, "No speaking or voices. When they use voice, I feel they don't learn ASL as fast whereas without the voice, they learn it much faster."

Student Libby Nail says that it works. "It forces us to learn the language because we have to be able to communicate with our teacher. It really works well" she says. Barber’s goal is to teach students something beyond sign language… by letting her students experience what it is like to be deaf. "They get a little understanding and respect for that- that's my culture”, she explains, “The next time they meet someone like myself, they're gonna be more aware of my culture.

"I enjoy working with students and anywhere, whether it's adults or students, I just love the challenge. I enjoy it- it's my passion to teach."