Who are Codas?
Codas are the Children of Deaf Adults. This means that biology makes them de facto members of the hearing world because they can hear. But they are also native ‘speakers’ of sign language because they grow up with one or more deaf parents.
Let me repeat that. Codas can hear but they are native users of sign language. They grow up signing with their parents who, ironically, are deaf but are often non-native users of sign language.
What do Codas have to do with Third Culture Kids?
According to Erin Mellett, a medical anthropologist, Codas grow up straddling the Hearing culture and the Deaf culture, feeling like they belong to both and neither. They often identify strongly with Third Culture Kids because of the shared experience of inbetweeness.
“Growing up I wanted to be deaf.”
It’s a warm day in early June and I’m sitting across from Tyra, a Deaf Education researcher and professor. Afternoon sunlight streams through the office windows, silhouetting Tyra as she talks about what it was like to grow up with a deaf father.
“I tried to jam pencils into my ears so that I’d make myself deaf.”
“Did you want to be deaf because your dad was deaf?”
“I think he wanted. I knew he wanted. He would have preferred to have deaf kids. And within my social world and my…yeah, within my world the people who are at the core, who are, you know, the top of the social hierarchy are the deaf people. And everybody else is on the periphery. And so that’s my frame of reference is being on the periphery where I’m not quite part of it. And never will understand what it means to be deaf.”
Erin Mellet, MS Thesis, Cochlear Implants and Codas: The Impact of a Technology on a Community
Want to know more?
Join us on July 24 at the FIGT Research Network webinar to hear Erin Mellett and Alexander Laferrière talk about the Children of Deaf Adults (Codas) as Third Culture Kids.
Erin is a medical anthropologist and will be speaking about her research on Codas. She will show us how she uses the Third Culture Kid literature as a analytical concept to better understand the Coda experience
Alex is a third generation American Sign Language user within a large Deaf family and will be sharing his own experiences of growing up as Coda.
UPDATE (Aug 25): The seminar was held on July 24. The write up & recording is now available on the FIGT website. READ MORE & WATCH THE RECORDING, which includes American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting.