CODA is a deeply touching film that won 3 Academy Awards: best picture, best-supporting actor, and best-adapted screenplay. It is about a CODA (Child of Deaf Adult)—a hearing person who has grown up in a deaf family—who is caught between two worlds: She has to choose between being the interpreter for her family as they’re growing their fledgling fishing business or pursuing her dreams of becoming a successful singer.
CODA has sparked lots of conversations in the deaf community – both positive and negative. But one thing is for certain, the film is sure to give viewers a new perspective on a topic that is not often in the spotlight. Here are 3 things that CODA taught us about deaf culture and community.
1. CODA SHOWED US THAT THE DEAF COMMUNITY AND THE HEARING COMMUNITY CAN COLLABORATE
This film was compelling because it showed in living color that the deaf and hearing communities could work together, as long as they are respectful and enlist an interpreter when necessary.
2. THE DEAF COMMUNITY NEEDS MORE HEARING INTERPRETERS
This is a very prevalent issue in the deaf community: Hearing interpreters who sign American Sign Language (ASL) fluently are, unfortunately, far and few between. This has divided the deaf and the hearing for a long time. Hopefully, more people will learn ASL in the future in response to this incredible film.
CODA showed everyone—hearing or deaf—how heavy the burden is for CODAs to bear and how challenging it is to leave home, especially if their family does not have the resources to hire a hearing interpreter, assuming one is even available, which is quite rare.
3. THE DEAF COMMUNITY WANTS TO BE REPRESENTED AUTHENTICALLY
People tend to distance themselves from communities they don’t understand.
The deaf population and the hearing often struggle to empathize and understand each other. The label of “disability” for the deaf has not helped because it may have caused a great deal of shame and anger for many people who struggle with hearing loss, and resentment could have built up.
The deaf community simply wants to be seen, honored, and respected.
Many deaf individuals stated that they would have been deeply offended if the actors who played those who could not hear were simply imitating them. That would be inauthentic because they could never truly understand the depth of their struggle and the nuances of their culture.
Thankfully, CODA has bridged the gap between these two communities and helped us relate to one another more empathetic and respectful.
Multiple deaf creatives of all bents had stated that they were brought to tears when they watched the film because they had never felt so seen before in a profoundly respectful manner.
Over the years, there’s been a chasm between the deaf and the hearing, perhaps due to a profound misunderstanding.
This has sometimes resulted from oppression from the hearing and anger and resentment from the deaf.
Thankfully, many people in this world are finally seeking to build unity and embrace diversity. Sian Heder’s incredible screenplay has touched the heartstrings of many across the globe, building a bridge of empathy between the hearing and the deaf that was nearly nonexistent before.
The next step is to simply keep going in this direction, creating original films that respectfully portray members of the deaf community so that each one can relate to a story in a profoundly personal way, feeling represented authentically for the first time when characters like them are brought to life on the silver screen.
Language Bird offers students personalized, one-on-one experiences so that they can master any tongue you’d like. You can learn more about deaf culture and our ASL courses at https://www.languagebird.com/.