What is CODA culture and how does it relate to Deaf culture?

CODA Blog 3 Image thanks to taubenschlag.de

CODA stands for Children of Deaf Adults and typically that group of people would be made up of hearing children that grow up in a Deaf household. About 85%-over 90% of Deaf parents have hearing children, or ‘CODAs’. Some CODAs have parents that restrict how much sign language their child learns which really limits the child in how they can communicate their feelings to their parents. Most CODAs learn sign language, some learn enough to act as a communication bridge between the Deaf and the hearing world. This can be both a blessing and a burden but is definitely a responsibility that is given to the child at such a young age.

CODAs will often be translators for their parents which is not always a good thing. Children will often be the translator for “adult only” topics. Imagine trying to understand all the words of an adult’s busy life as a child and then needing to translate it. Bills, medical appointments, etc. are some of the things that CODAs translate, though they may be confusing and potentially inappropriate. CODAs taking on this responsibility isn’t all bad either though. To many CODAs this responsibility comes with it extreme rewards like being bilingual and learning how to communicate within two cultures, learning how to carry responsibility at an early age, and more. There are many stories that CODAs could tell, some positive, some negative. Some CODAs strive to be Deaf activists and fight for Deaf rights and are very protective of their family while others distance themselves from the Deaf culture.

Selma Lagerlof definition of culture has two elements: 1) “Culture is learned” and 2) “Culture is forgotten in the sense that we cease to be conscious of its existence as learned behavior.” I grew up in a semi Deaf household; my parents are both hearing but my grandparents on my mother’s side are Deaf and lived with us for most of my life. Being exposed to Deaf culture and learning the many little aspects of life through Deaf eyes became my norm. I remember the first time I saw a TV that didn’t have any closed captions; I was around 10 years old and was visiting a friend’s house. We sat down to watch TV and I felt something was missing but I couldn’t put my finger on it until later. My mom’s side of the family is from Romania so we would have many Romanian friends and family over. They all either Deaf or at least knew sign language. I met a Romanian when I was 17 years old who was not Deaf and did not sign and I was very confused as to why. I know it is silly to think that but I grew up in a world where all Romanians knew sign language. The point I am trying to make is that CODAs that grow up in these two worlds have a different learned culture and a different learned behavior than other hearing people.

Awesome essay that focuses on communication between Deaf parents and CODA children:

http://lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/coda.htm

Great source to find some in depth information on CODAs and Deaf parents

http://coda-international.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/CODA_InfoPacket.pdf

Scholarship essays written by CODAs about their life as a CODA.

http://coda-international.org/blog/category/scholarship_essay/

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9 responses to “What is CODA culture and how does it relate to Deaf culture?

  1. hmmm….. the last part is familiar to me…… I have a good memory of students’ works in my courses which drives home my point that we will forget data points but we as humans are wired to remember stories 🙂

    Keeping in line with this blog entry requirements, what is the position of the CODA within the hearing impaired community’s general culture? if CODA children take on adult roles as translators, are they given adult powers such as independent decision making or even providing their opinions as adult equals? weave in some brief descriptions of the stories in your references and encourage readers to read the rest by providing the links.

    i would like to see improvements based on my comments in the earlier posts down the line.

    good luck!

  2. With every blog you post I get more and more interested because there is so much that is unfamiliar to me with the subject. I think that everyone should learn more about this, and you are covering your subject matter very well. I enjoyed the personal touch at the end.

  3. Pingback: A Silent Heart·

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  5. Hello I am a Deaf studies minor at Xavier University and i’m doing a research project on CODAs. If anyone would be interested in answering just a few questions for my paper please contact me at Brownd24@xavier.edu as soon as possible, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  6. Wow, I was amazed when I read this article. I, too, am a child of deaf parents. What strikes me as odd is that my husband is Romanian and so I am very familiar with their culture as well. The sentiment you expressed in this article parallels to how I felt growing up. Your words were point on when you said that acting as the translator could be a blessing or a burden but at the very least, a responsibility given to a child of such a young age. I can remember plenty of times where I found myself translating for them about things that were definitely above frame of thinking for that age. Anyways, thanks for sharing the article and I found it very interesting that you and I had such similar backgrounds.

  7. Pingback: Multicultural CODA | CODA: Children of Deaf Adults·

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