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The Deaf Way II
Reader: Perspectives from the Second International Conference on Deaf Culture|
Today CSD has well more than two thousand employees. There is a mixture of deaf and hearing people alike working together. Our hearing employees believe very strongly in what we are trying to accomplish. In the same light, our deaf employees have opportunities that they may not otherwise have had in other companies. We strongly believe that working together, we will find solutions and will address many of the issues that face deaf and hard of hearing people. It is up to us to take the responsibility of establishing our own destiny rather than depending on someone else to create that destiny for us, and I think that is a great value.
CSD has been involved with many partnerships and national organizations. One in particular is the USAFSF—the USA Deaf Sports Federation—led by Dr. Bobbie Beth Scoggins, who is the president of this organization. We met some time ago and had the chance to sit down and look at the possibilities of a partnership between CSD and USAFSF, and we felt that both organizations could contribute and complement each other. We recently announced our partnership and will be working very closely together, sharing resources, and supporting each other. One of the exciting new developments is the establishment of a museum for USAFSF. There is a rich history of many, many activities, national sporting events, and tournaments. Some of these athletes have participated in the World Games for the Deaf. This is a wonderful thing for the future of our children, who are able to come in and see the museum and their role models. If you have the opportunity to come and visit us, feel free to stop by our campus and see our new center. We feel that this will be ready for the public in the fall of 2002.
I also want to share our involvement with the WFD—the World Federation of the Deaf. When I was the president of the NAD, Nancy Bloch and I represented the NAD at the WFD conference in Vienna, Austria. It was a very long flight, and I suppose many of you experienced the same thing flying here to Washington, D.C. My travel there was one of the highlights of my life. It really opened my eyes about how much we share worldwide. We had the chance to meet many different leaders throughout the world who used different languages and signs—we tried to learn as many international signs as we could. It was a wonderful opportunity to share common experiences, some funny, some very sad, and it was a rich learning experience for all of us. Yerker Andersson, who was president of the WFD at that time, shared many of his experiences in his travels, including some very difficult experiences in very dangerous areas. That is something Yerker was always willing to do—help individuals try to establish schools and programs, deal with governments and politicians, and educate them about how they can improve the lives of deaf people. There are not very many people in the world who are able to dedicate as much time and commitment as Yerker. He is definitely one of my role models, and I look forward to the new president, Liisa Kauppinen. I also admire her, an outstanding woman who has worked very diligently. She was the secretary for the WFD under Yerker before she became president. I had an opportunity to visit with her when she came to South Dakota. We recently had a symposium on deaf education, and Liisa was able to join us. I had a chance to really get to know her, her work, what she is trying to achieve, and the funding support she is hoping to acquire for her organization. CSD is committed to supporting the WFD. We believe in their work and encourage more people to be more involved and to be more supportive of the WFD. Some of us are very fortunate to live in America or in European countries. We have many conveniences, but there are many other deaf and hard of hearing brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who are experiencing needs, and it is our obligation to assist them. When we talk about change, we need to work together with them for everyone’s benefit. I think we can do it, but it requires our collaboration worldwide.
There is value in supporting the community and also the value of our employees. I really admire the employees at CSD, their energy, their dedication, and their passion. They come to work every day in hopes of making improvements in the lives of deaf and hard of hearing people. What drives them? I have found that all of them have passion. Not long ago, we had an executive from a large corporation who came to visit us and said, “One of the things that impresses me the most about CSD is that you allow every individual in your organization to dream. Don’t ever lose that. This is a place where everyone feels they are part and parcel of the organization. They have ownership. They have ownership of the future.” I am very proud of that.