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September 28, 2005

"THE CSD JOURNEY" series - The Road to Relay - TRS

From: CSD - Sep 28, 2005

This series of articles highlights Communication Service for the Deaf’s expansion from a one-person operation to the largest deaf-run organization in the world, employing over 3,200 employees in 42 offices.

The Road to Relay - TRS
Fourteen years before the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became a federal law, CSD was providing volunteer “TTY interpreting services” in South Dakota. It was the first TTY relay service of its kind anywhere, and it operated regularly on weekdays during office hours. It started in 1975 in Ben Soukup’s office (which, at the time, was a closet at the South Dakota School for the Deaf).

Statewide toll-free TTY relay service was established in 1987, when the state legislature passed HB 1234, mandating telecommunications relay service. This resulted in “South Dakota Relay Service” operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week — with no limit on length or number of calls placed.

The ADA mandated relay service in each state, which prompted the beginning of the Sprint-CSD partnership. CSD — with its mission of providing access for deaf and hard of hearing people — was a perfect fit for Sprint, the industry leader in relay technology. CSD handled call center operations, which included coordinated staffing, cultural and TTY etiquette training, and facilities management. Sprint provided the network and cutting edge technology. The partnership was so successful that they partnered again to win the Wyoming state contract. Before long, they added North Dakota, Iowa, Oklahoma and Indiana. Later, California, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Texas and Colorado were among the states supported by CSD/Sprint. CSD is also the exclusive contractor for Alaska, Minnesota and South Dakota. Combined, Sprint and CSD are the world’s largest telecommunications relay service providers, processing approximately 21.5 million calls a year.

All Sprint-CSD relay centers keep up with the latest in technology. Features include voice carry over (VCO) to accommodate those users who wish to speak for themselves, TurboCode to improve transmission speed between TTY and relay, and Fastran voice recognition technology from Ultratec, which resulted in production of the new Captel phone. When the Internet started to become commonplace, Sprint Relay Online was launched on July 1, 2002, allowing users to make relay calls from their computers with high-speed Internet access. Now, consumers have more options for communication access than they ever did before.

Friends, long-time partners and community leaders will join CEO Benjamin J. Soukup and CSD officers and employees at the Sioux Falls Convention Center in South Dakota on Friday, Oct. 28 to commemorate CSD’s 30th anniversary. A brand new book, “Seeing A Need,” will be launched during the banquet. Event information is available at

Watch For Upcoming Articles: “Who Has The Fastest Connection?” “Camp Lakodia – A Year-Round Deaf-Friendly Retreat,” “CSD National Programs” and “Equipment Distribution Programs.”