Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) announced today that women-owned National Deaf Therapy (NDT) is the next business partner of its CSD Social Venture Fund. NDT is a national web-based mental health platform fully dedicated to servicing the deaf, deaf and blind, deaf and disabled and hard-of-hearing communities with a nationwide network of deaf therapists.
The CSD Social Venture Fund (CSD SVF) is the first-ever social impact fund and incubator for deaf-owned businesses in the United States. CSD created this multi-million dollar fund in 2017 to help address the 70% unemployment and underemployment rate among deaf Americans. CSD is the world’s largest deaf-led social impact organization.
“Everything we do at CSD supports creating a world where all deaf people are valued,” said Christopher Soukup, CEO of CSD. “National Deaf Therapy’s efforts through both the career opportunities it provides deaf therapists and the services rendered to patients under their care will directly contribute to the overall economic, social and mental well-being of the deaf community. This aligns with the vision of the CSD SVF, which goes beyond ensuring the viability of deaf-owned businesses by amplifying their ability to create positive social change.”
Founded in 2018 by professional licensed therapists and longtime friends Amanda Sortwell Crane and Megan Erasmus, NDT launched in March of 2018. Sortwell Crane and Erasmus, both deaf, identified a significant gap in the market: mental health services rarely satisfy the needs of the deaf community. The two Gallaudet University alumnae launched NDT with one key goal: eliminate the unnecessary barriers deaf people continue to face and provide easy access to professional mental health services – help deaf people ‘find a therapist like me.’
“We are very excited to be working with CSD,” said Sortwell Crane and Erasmus. “CSD is a leader and innovator and we are very honored to be working with them to advance both economic opportunities and wellness for our community. We know there is a void in the market and we have a big vision for our company. CSD’s support is crucial to helping us grow quickly throughout the country.”
CSD Chief Innovation Officer and head of the CSD SVF Dominic Lacy said, “NDT addresses a huge gap in our community regarding the availability of culturally and linguistically competent mental health resources and support. Their platform, being virtual, will allow them to develop their licensed therapist pool through peer support and across multiple states in a scalable business model.”
NDT cites several key factors where the mental health services market has failed to adequately serve the deaf community:
- Eighty to 90 percent of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals with chronic mental illness do not gain access to mental health services;
- In 1990, there were only 20 deaf psychologists in the United States;
- An estimated five million deaf people are in need of mental health treatment annually;
- There is a significant lack of licensed deaf therapists and mental health employment opportunities are lacking for the deaf community. Most therapist jobs for deaf professionals have been community-based which are typically low paying. This creates a lack of incentive for deaf individuals to become licensed therapists which in turn creates a lack of ample licensed deaf therapists to serve the deaf community.
All NDT mental health professionals are licensed, deaf and fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). Currently, NDT has five licensed therapists in its network and offers services in Washington, D.C. and eight states: California, Colorado, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Washington. Iowa and Nebraska are expected to be added soon and several additional states to follow. NDT is fully compliant with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and accepts most major health insurance plans.
NDT offers a multitude of web-based mental health services through a secure eTherapy video platform. Clients can choose between therapist-led or group sessions for individual, couples and family. NDT also offers group support circles, community and school training and additional specialties, including: disaster relief; trauma sensitive group yoga; pregnancy and post partum issues; self-harm and suicidal thoughts; holistic and wellness counseling; sexual/gender identity; and severe mental illness and impact on family members.
NDT is CSD’s fourth SVF investment partner, joining the following business partners who were named previously in CSD SVF Round 1: DeafTax, a tax preparation service; Mozzeria, a Neapolitan pizzeria based in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood; and reFORT, a Washington, D.C. startup reducing durable goods waste from college student moves.
The CSD SVF fund and incubator program provides capital funding, mentorship and business resources. An eight-week incubator training program includes: digital marketing, business modeling, sales, financial and accounting support. Additional Round 2 SVF partners will be named by CSD at a later date.
All CSD SVF business partners must align with CSD values of enhancing deaf economic power, employing deaf people and creating social change. Key fund selection criteria include: creating an impact and aligning with CSD’s commitment to prosperity among deaf people everywhere; having the potential to grow and be scalable; demonstrating leadership through a clear and far-reaching vision; and offering innovative products and services that provide a unique spin on traditional approaches, or that are entirely new innovations.
The Durkin Agency