What is CODA?


JUN, 9, 2021

What is a CODA?

CODA is an abbreviation for “Child of Deaf Adult(s).” It is a person who was raised by one or both parents that are Deaf. CODAs have a unique perspective of life as they often find themselves paralleling with both hearing and Deaf worlds. CODAs can overhear things that their Deaf parents cannot hear such as comments from passerby or background noise. In addition, CODAs are usually in the middle of controversies where in certain circumstances, they become a “spokesperson” or “translator” for their parents – a method that is unethical and endangering to both the child and parents.
CODAs are among the Deaf community’s most staunch allies as they often get a real glimpse of the Deaf world’s lifestyle, culture, and hardship. We applaud and support our CODAS, and recognize their unique position in life.

Here are some well-known people you may not have realized are CODAs.

1. Andrea Hall

You might have seen her at the 2021 inauguration. Invited to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, on behalf of the South Fulton Fire Department, Andrea Hall surprised the audience by signing the pledge. Later when asked why she signed it, she replied, “I really just wanted to pay homage to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. The words of the pledge are significant not just for us, but for them as well.” She recollects the fond memories of her late father who is Deaf.

2. Louise Fletcher

You probably would recognize this actress for her horrifying role as Nurse Ratched in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” It came as no surprise that she would win an Oscar for her fantastic portrayal. When she got up on stage to receive her Oscar, she signed a tribute to honor both of her Deaf parents. “I want to say thank you for teaching me to have a dream. You are seeing my dream come true,” she tearfully signed.

3. Paul Raci

Paul Raci rose to fame recently for his appearance on Sound of Metal where he plays the Rehab Counselor. In 2021 Oscars, he signed his acceptance speeches and interviews on the red carpet, enthusiastically raising awareness of what is a CODA. Both of his parents are Deaf and on his spare time, he is a front man for his American Sign Language metal band, Hands of Doom.

4. Lon Chaney

Dubbed as “A Man of a Thousand Faces” during the Silent Films era, Lon Chaney credited his theatrical acting skills to his Deaf parents. Raised in a signing family, Chaney learned facial expressions and body language that would later land him starring roles in dozens of silent films, including his most notable film, The Phantom of the Opera (pictured). Lon Chaney also had a Deaf brother and sister. His grandfather, Jonathan Kennedy founded the Colorado Deaf School in 1874.

5. Grace Byers

Any Empire fans out there? You’ll recognize her as “Boo Boo Kitty” in the series. Grace Byers grew up with Deaf parents in the Cayman Island. She told press that she learned to sign before she could speak. When asked about being a CODA, she replied, “It wasn’t until I was out in public that I realized that people were treating my mother differently.” She expressed frustration of the treatment her parents faced. “My mum can understand you; she just can’t hear you,” she added.

Other terms:
KODA - Kid of Deaf Adult(s)
SODA – Sibling of Deaf Adult (s)
GODA – Grandchild of Deaf Adult(s)
SpODA – Spouse of Deaf Adult(s)

CODA International <a www.coda-international.org