The Cost of Invisibility: Codas and the Sign Language Interpreting Profession

November 27, 2012

Author Amy Williamson sheds light on the coda experience and how crucial differences in their worldview from an “in-between space” are indispensable, yet often undervalued, assets to the sign language interpreting field.

I recently attended an interpreter retreat where the purpose was to examine privilege, how it manifests in our individual work lives,  our relationships with each other, and within the sign language interpreting profession as a whole. Privilege is a topic that makes for a hard discussion for any group of people. Those of us in attendance included new interpreters, been-around-the-block interpreters, urban, rural, hearing families, deaf families, deaf, hearing, coda, partners of deaf people, and siblings of deaf people. We committed to a weekend of taking the time and space to look at what each of us has to offer. We talked about being marginalized, feeling marginalized, and how we marginalize each other.

We were honest.

We were vulnerable.

Our conversations were raw and invigorating.

[View post in ASL.]

It was in this setting that I was, again, pushed to face a reality that I have encountered periodically over my 20-year career…our field does not understand, appreciate, or value what it means to be hearing and raised in a deaf parented home.

The Invisibility of Between

Codas live in an in-between space within the sign language interpreting profession. We are not hearing. We are not deaf. As such, we are often not seen nor valued. We are; however, both vilified and worshiped in good measure.

From our hearing colleagues we are told that we are lucky to have deaf parents and that it must have been easy to become an interpreter.  We are told that our skills are not up to par because we didn’t attend an Interpreter Preparation Program and hearing interpreters tell us that we make them nervous.

From the deaf people we work with we are told that they are relieved we are present because they can relax and understand what is being communicated. We are also told that we can’t be trusted because we may tell our deaf family members their business.

Our experience affords us the opportunity to apply authentic, connective experience and insight to our work.  Is this threatening or is this assuring?

An example of the invisibility of between is the lack of coda involvement at the formal and informal decision-making tables within the field. How many non deaf codas have there been over the past few years on the RID National Board? How about within the RID committee structure? How many codas are there on state chapter committees and executive boards? How many codas are there in the wise circle of professionals that you call on when you need to talk out an issue? Whatever you answer, I will argue, as does Dennis Cokely in his post, Vanquished Native Voices—A Sign Language Interpreting Crisis?, that it is not enough.

What does the absence of this insightful perspective cost the field in the form of forward progress?

The Footings of Invisibility

The Difference That Divides

I grew up the child of intelligent, savvy, funny, competent, employed, educated, honest, bilingual, loving parents who were each part of large extended deaf families. Being deaf in my family is normal. I also grew up being told by every hearing person I encountered (including my own hearing family members) that my parents weren’t good enough. That it was my job to take care of them. It was my job to look out for them. Communicate for them. Be their ears. I was constantly pitied.

I was marveled over…the fact that I could hear and they could not was viewed as a miracle. “Bless your heart, honey” was a constant refrain in my southern existence.

Even today, when I tell people my parents are deaf I am always asked (without fail) “both of them?” as if that would be the end of the world. The second question (without fail) is “what is it like having deaf parents?” as if I have anything to compare it to. I was made fun of by other kids. I was always different…but not in the way that all kids at some point think they are different. I was coda different.

Every coda has this experience. Our experiences vary by degree and extent. Our coda experiences vary as the temperament and personalities of our parents vary, but there is an experience that is common to all codas. The experience that unifies us is that we all get the same reactions about our parents from people who simply don’t know any better.

We are told and whispered all of this, yet; the people being talked about are actually the parents who took care of us. Shielded us from danger. Fed us. Loved us. Yes, parented us.

Conflicting Realities

Never do these well-meaning family members, teachers, friends, strangers say to our deaf parents what they say to us. They wouldn’t dare. As young children we are left holding onto it all…most of us choosing (consciously or unconsciously) not to share what we were told with our parents. We held these conflicting realities and were too young to know what to do with them or about them.

Many of us grew up in a home where our deaf parents hated hearing people (with good reason given discrimination and oppression) and were free in talking about their distrust and hate for the hearing community. Many of us developed our own hate for hearing people after witnessing and being victim ourselves to injustice after injustice. We had the hearing community pitying us and telling us we weren’t deaf, because by miracle we could hear. We had our deaf parents telling us we were hearing, yet also saying that they hated hearing people. Confusing is an understatement.

The Aftershock

As a result, from a very young age we decide what we are going to believe. Some of us drink the Kool-Aid and agree with the hearing community’s assessment of our parents. We believe them when they tell us that we need to take care of our parents, look out for them, communicate for them, even pity them. That we are miracles and that it is so very sad that our parents are deaf. Poor us. We believe that ASL is a bastardized form of English and is substandard. We are ashamed of our families.

Others of us come out fighting and defend our parents and the deafness within us with a vengeance. We shoot verbal (or physical) daggers at anyone that dares attack the reality and validity of our existence. In 5th grade at least one of us is sent to the Principal’s office for giving what-for to the biggest kid in the class for calling her parents ‘dumb.’ We hate hearing people for putting us in the position to question our parents’ abilities, intent, and love.

Then there are the rest of us who vacillate between the 2 extremes yet usually settle somewhere in the middle. We find a way to navigate between our deafness and our hearingness, yet never really feel a part of either.

We are all coda. Not deaf. Not hearing.

We are somewhere between.

Depth of Perspective

Our uniqueness doesn’t have to do with language fluency. Defining a coda by language fluency or native/near-native/native-like signing fluency misses the point completely. Some of us grew up not knowing how to sign fluently ourselves. Many of us fingerspelled everything we said to our parents.  Some of us spent the first few years of our lives assuming we were as deaf as our parents and were perplexed when we were not taken to the school for the deaf on our first day of Kindergarten.

We are not all interpreters and those of us who are don’t have it come ‘naturally’ to us. We work very, very hard at a very, very difficult task, interpreting. Some of us do it well. Others of us struggle.

Our insight comes from spending our developmental and formative years in this between space.  

We have brokered between the deaf and hearing worlds our whole life. Disdain. Joy. The mundane. We have done it or seen it communicated directly. We learned fast and early what it took for the local mechanic and our dad to understand each other. This unique experience leads to a skill that cannot be taught in an IPP. It can’t be learned by having a deaf sibling or deaf partner even. It’s not about ‘knowing’ sign language your whole life. Our uniqueness is about being parented by a deaf person. A person that you can’t just walk away from, avoid, or never see again.  A person who is oppressed on all sides…by their families, by their education, by the media, by the judicial system, by their employer, and, yes, sometimes by their own children.

The word ‘parented’ is the operative one here. It implies a bonding, a relationship of dependence, of value sharing, of boundary teaching. We were parented by competent people who were viewed and treated as incompetent by the majority of society. A majority that takes it upon themselves to tell you how incompetent your parents are under the guise of kindness or good deeds. This experience is unique and solely a coda’s.

Deaf children of deaf parents do not get this reaction directly from the hearing people they interact with. They are pitied and vilified and objects of fetishism (this is how I describe the folks who think sign language is beautiful hand waving and don’t really get the linguistic and cultural aspects of the community) the same way their parents are. Their experience having deaf parents is unique to that relationship. They do often function as brokers within the deaf community but their experience is very different from that of hearing children with deaf parents.

Leveraging Insight

Codas have lived life in a deaf parented home after the interpreters and well meaning hearing people have all gone home. It is then that our deaf parents whisper to us what they dare not say in front of them.  We continue to hold the secrets of our deaf parents and the secrets of the hearing community (including hearing interpreters who quietly share their sentiments).

As described by Alex Jackson Nelson in, Sign Language Interpreters: Recognizing & Analyzing our Power and Privilege, this experience is rich and results in a deep understanding of hearing privilege:

“Many Codas have experienced unique and complex roles, having hearing privilege in a Deaf family, straddling two cultures and dutifully providing communication access without pay. Perhaps, a deeper understanding of privilege contributes to their intrinsic connection to the fight for humanity.”

Alex goes on to state, “In my observation, many Codas possess an unequivocal understanding of privilege and power that is not easily recognized by non-Coda interpreters (including myself.)”

Perhaps, with this unique and unequivocal understanding of hearing privilege, codas still have a contribution to make to the field. After all, and as Dennis Cokely pointed out in Vanquished Native Voices—A Sign Language Interpreting Crisis?, codas have been the bedrock of our field.

What contribution do you think someone with this unique insight and perspective can play? 

A Standing Invitation

I shouldn’t have to say that our perspective brings value to our profession. Retreats like the one I attended shouldn’t be the only place and time we talk about who we are and what we have to offer. Codas shouldn’t have to beg for a place at the decision-making tables of our field.

Yet, here I am. Saying it. Begging for it.

We, codas, are here. We have a lot to share. Invite us to the table. Pull out a chair for us. Welcome us.

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153 Comments on "The Cost of Invisibility: Codas and the Sign Language Interpreting Profession"

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Member
Sandra Phillips

Thank you for putting words to the way I have felt my entire life. Well done, Amy.

Member
Jessica Moseley

AMEN, Amy. AMEN. I read this article, and re-read this article twice more. You said everything I (we, as CODAs) feel, and it was done beautifully. There is a lot of debate behind this and I hope that those reading this that share an opposite opinion can come to the table with an open mind and are willing to accept the reality of our need to be at the table.

awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson

Hi Jessica,
Thank you. I would be very interested and open to hearing what that debate is about and what the “opposite” opinion is. The more we can honestly talk about and debate(a perception of)opposing views the more we can find the middle ground.
Here’s to hoping everyone can get engaged in this discussion.
~Amy

Member

Amen thank you

Member
john hendricks

Amy, thanks for a fantastic article and expressed exactly my thoughts and feelings about this subject and believe every other coda agrees, as well! Its time to have open, honest discussions throughout our profession.

Member
Windy Kellems
This is important insight for all non-CODA interpreters to read. I plan to share this with as many of us as I can, especially (most especially) with the local IPP.  I was alarmed recently to learn that people are entering my local IPP having never socialized with a Deaf person outside of the program. With that shift in demographic from the early days when the community was the only gateway to entry, it is more important than ever to not only make a concerted effort to include the Deaf community in interpreter training, but the CODA interpreter perspective. As a… Read more »
awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson
Windy, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. The sentiment you express is exactly my point. Interpreters’ lack of authentic relationships with the deaf community is a huge issue that needs to be addressed by educators in IPPs. I don’t know what the solution is but the first step is a more clear speaking up that it is an issue. From there, I trust that a solution will emerge. And…YES! We all bring unique experiences and perspectives that add value to what we do and more importantly to each other. Each of us should be recognized and valued for… Read more »
Member

This is so on the nose that I nearly cried.

Member
Karen Scarboro Magoon

Amy, Thank you for speaking with honesty, wisdom and eloquence on behalf of us. I hope the invitation to the table is fast coming and permanent. Proud to be part of your big deaf family cousin!

awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson

Thanks, Karen. Coda cousins, us. We were lucky.
Many codas grow up without being mirrored within their own extended families. Most deaf people are born to hearing parents which means that their children (codas) do not have other children in the family with a shared experience. Another unique experience…

Member
Marella Lutes

I agree with this statement. I not only have deaf parents who have hearing parents, I am also an only child. After Struggling to appreciate myself and finally finding my self esteem at 38. (feeling misplaced over the years between the worlds) Non-Coda interpreters talking down codas as interpreters has really affected me over the years. Thank you for this article!

Member

Nice work, Amy! Glad to see your heartfelt, insightful, shared-story narrative. By now, I expect your chair is pulled out from the tables of plenty. May all the welcomes be warm.

Member
Millie Hursin

Totally agree with Rubin. You should have an abundance of invites.

Member
Karla Degaetano Cuthill

Great article Amy!

Member
Laurie Meyer

This is an enormous gift to non-CODAs. Thank you for your sharing your wisdom.

Member

Yes!

Member
connie jo lewis

Thanks for sharing Amy. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article. Much love!

Member
Becky Stuckless

Amy!

So eloquent! Thank you for writing this. I’ve been struggling lately feeling like I have a perspective to offer but at the same time feeling like people will think “here she goes again” but in my region, I’m alone. The only coda. Thanks for reinforcing that I do have something to bring to the table. Now, to figure out where my seat is!

awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson
Hi Becky! Great to hear from you. So, right…I can imagine there are some interpreters who read the title of this article and thought, ‘Oh here they go again. Another coda getting up on their soapbox’. My article is bringing out the other side of that sentiment. How about ‘Oh boy, another coda getting up on their soapbox I better pay attention to what they have to say’. In order for this shift to happen, we have to feel welcome and comfortable AND we have to step into our role with reverence. You, my friend, are valuable and have a… Read more »
Member
Becky Stuckless
You are so right. I’ve been called “frequent, verbose and redundant” but if people would listen, I wouldn’t repeat myself! That label was given to me by a coordinator, when I frequently expressed what we needed at the table. He chose to turn a deaf ear (pun intended) and as a result, cost our government a lot of money. Thankfully he is not a colleague. Hmmm, how different our hot experience may have been for the two of us if people had listened? Not to mention the rest of the team and the participants. I wonder if we were welcome… Read more »
Member

Amy!! 1000 thank you’s!!

Rarely has the entire CODA conversation been laid out so clearly that even a hearing person could understand it.

Member
Sharon Nicarry

This article was written beautifully. I am thankful for your gifted ability to write how I have felt for many years.

awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson

Thank you. This article is truly the result of years and years of conversations with codas like you and everyone else that has replied and is reading this. My words but our thoughts, experiences, feelings.

Member
Debbie North

Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights in your article. The few adult CODA’s I’ve met either embrace the deaf community or separate from it because of bad past experiences. I think we should definitely welcome CODA’s to the table and learn/grow together from their knowledge and experience. I will repost/share your article on my page.
Thanks again Amy 😉

Member
Christa Buss

Wow. I echo all the above praise. This definitely brought tears to my eyes and helped put voice to my experiences.

I was the only coda in my ITP and often struggled with being the voice for all codas. My experience is just as unique as my personality and my parents. This should definitely be required reading in all ITPs as a start.

Thanks Amy.

awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson
Oh, Christa, I am glad to hear that this article resonated with you. It seems to resonate for many, many people. I commend you for attending an ITP and making it work for you. IPPs are another place where many codas face the extremes of being worshiped and vilified. I have heard time and again of frustrating experiences in IPPs. I assume that members of the Conference of Interpreter Trainers are reading this article as well and are already getting creative in finding ways to accommodate codas in their programs. In particular, making them feel welcome. I can see a… Read more »
Member
Christa Buss
Thank you, it was not easy. There was a lot of “sucking it up” just to make it through to the other side. I did however, have some great, supportive instructors through this time. One of whom read my comment recently and emailed to ask for my feedback on the program. With 5 years of reflecting under my belt, I think I’m ready to start sharing what I think could be different. Thanks for your encouragement. This quote in particular stood out to me; “Many Codas have experienced unique and complex roles, having hearing privilege in a Deaf family, straddling… Read more »
Member
Marjorie Stout
This is beautifully written. I’m a Deaf coda yet we never knew sign growing up- just my dad and I learned it later in life. I was born hearing and my becoming deaf was merely a coincidence. My kids are codas to both parents though we are divorced. And my youngest automatically fingerspells everything before I get a chance to lipread a second time. I do worry that this is a burden to her yet she seems to be very at ease with her facilitating communication as if its automatic, because I never ask. Your essay gives me a lot… Read more »
awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson

Marjorie,
Thank you for replying. I can see how this article could resonate for you on many levels.

Thank you also for being aware that brokering for our parents can be a burden. I suggest you talk to your kids about communication. Let them know that you don’t expect them to help you with communication and that you appreciate it when they do. The burden comes when children are expected to interpret for family members when they don’t want to or when the situation is inappropriate for any child to be a part of.

Member

Wow!!! I have been a professional interpreter for well over 20 years and it has always been a struggle in so many ways you have mentioned. I am a visual learner and my hang up was that I needed my exams done visually. I made it through but it was tuff. Thanks for putting this out there.

Member
You have many years of experience being a CODA. Being a Deaf person and a mother to two children – one is hearing and the other is Deaf – anyone who’s a part of the Deaf community especially CODAs hold such a value. I am shocked to learn of this – that you as a group find it difficult to have a voice. I have friends who are CODAs. But again, there are a lot of groups within the deaf community such as deaf of deaf, mainstreamed, and CODAs. At the end of the day, the chairs should be for… Read more »
Member

Thank you for sharing our story. Ahhh, to be home. Home among people who understand.

Member

Could not be more proud of you, your writing ability and perspective. Thank you. And… I did cry.

Member
Carla Dupras
Amy, I can’t even begin to tell you how much your article has impacted me. As a coda who has been wrangling with everything you shared, I am no longer at a loss for words. Thank you for this! As a professional interpreter, I know I am in that ‘somewhere inbetween’ place that you describe and it has been a challenge. I fit, and then I don’t fit. Or, I’m welcome and then I’m indirectly not welcome. I’ve seen the eye rolls and overheard the side comments all too often. It’s disheartning and demoralizing all at the same time. And… Read more »
Member
Becky Stuckless

Carla… I thought I was alone in my corner of the world. Surely it was different out west?! Really, dare I say it? I often feel that our national board perpetuates this as well. Should we be considering what Hearing Interpreters with Deaf Parents are considering within RID?

Member
Carla Dupras

Oh Becky, you read my mind! I not only feel this tension at the national level but in my own little corner of the world. Do Canadian Codas need to present? Or REPRESENT!?! I’d love to catch up with you!
Amy, you’ve ignited my spark!

awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson

Carla,
I am so glad that I was able to provide you with some language to articulate what you have been feeling. The examples you give are exactly what other codas are also experiencing.
Let that spark burn and it can turn into a raging fire.

Member
Colleen Mason

Oh Carla – I was thinking perhaps we are long over due for a little gathering in this small town and have a discussion surrounding this – Interpreter Codas and Non Interpreter Codas.

Member
Becky Stuckless

Let’s make it happen! Could someone coordinate a conference that needs some great interpreters, and we could just happen to form a team that would allow some of this discussion in the down time?
THIS is the one disadvantage to living in a country that is so spread out. Could we do a skype videochat? Multiple people?

Member
Christa Buss

Oh gosh, I’m so late to the game, but can I get in on this? I’m out West and Canadian and so eager to be a part of this.

Member
Natalie Turner

Carla, thank you for your comments I can totally relate. I’m a fellow Canadian CODA interpreter. Wasn’t at the recent conference, but know there was a group of CODA interpreters that got together socially and sorry to have missed it. I probably could have really used it. We will have to get that spark going.
Natalie

Member
Angela Bjornstad
Amy: What a wonderful article. I have always said that I am only 1/2 CODA because my parents divorced when I was young and I don’t even remember living with my father who is deaf. My mother is hearing and we spent most of our time with my mother or with my dad’s parents. While my dad would visit for holidays and some other weekends we were at my grandparents, and the rare visit to his house for a weekend, we did not see him often enough to pickup “the language”, although I learned to fingerspell and a word here… Read more »
awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson
Angela, I appreciate hearing your perspective and it brings up the question of ‘who is a coda’? Which I am sure you have been wrestling with since you have called yourself 1/2 coda before. So, how do we define a coda? I do not in my article and leave it up to individuals to determine for themselves; however, I ask the question now. Are you a coda if you had one hearing parent and one deaf parent? Are you a coda if you had deaf parents one one deaf parent but they didn’t know sign language? How about if you… Read more »
Member

May I interject my non-coda/recent graduate/new interpreter opinion here? From the way that I understand, CODA means Child of Deaf Adult, right? So, I would say that all of the above and more (including Deaf Children of Deaf Adults, though, as you discussed in your article above, that is a bit of a different perspective).

Member
Somehow I posted before I completed my thought. My apologies. I wanted to add that I appreciated your comments about how non-coda interpreters often have a reverence for coda interpreter colleagues. It is true. As a non-coda, I look to my coda colleagues as the experts of experts. And it is only with the utmost respect; entirely complimentary, with no intention of making anyone feel uncomfortable. I also recognize that not all codas come by their skills as interpreters naturally, and work very hard at a very difficult career. Conversely, not all codas are, want to be, will become, or… Read more »
Member
Darius Robertson
I thank you for writing such a beautifully written article My father, who is deaf, showed me this article as I’ve recently told him my interests in going to Gallaudet, his Alma Mater, to study to become an ASL interpreter. I am fortunate to be in the unique position that I was born into, and lucky enough to realize my strengths in ASL. The notion of Coda is something I have never heard before, however I understood immediately where you are coming from. And with that understanding comes pride in who I am and where I am wanting to go… Read more »
awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson

Darius,
Welcome to the coda world. Google us. Search for us on FaceBook. We are around.
I, too, went to Gallaudet, my parents’ Alma Mater.
Good luck on your path and I hope to meet you at some point.

Member
Linda Hatrak Cundy

Hey Amy, our future RID president!
Thanks for the poignant article on the subject that is not yet open for discussion in the interpreting programs or at the organizational level. It has been sporadically brought up, usually at adverse situations. More openness such as your attitude and resilience will diminish the hostility among all parties.

Missed you at AVLIC 2012!
CODA to another CODA

awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson

Hi Linda,
Great to see you here!
So, why is this a discussion that is not yet happening in interpreting programs? What do you think the barriers are?

Member
Linda Cundy
I am not sure if this is what you signed up for…replying and encouraging every CODAs around the globe. I want to respond your question directly (and open for others to ponder) as to what the barriers are in terms of including the topic of CODAs as third cultural group within the Deaf community as a part of curricular contents in the interpreting programs. Would you believe CODAs are the barrier themselves – inadvertently, mind you? It takes one to teach others, you know. My quick perspective is that CODAs become interpreters at tender age and enter into the interpreting… Read more »
awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson

Linda,
I don’t know if I signed up for this or not but it’s happening. 🙂

You are right. Many of us are not involved in educating interpreters in IPPs. You are also right that credentials have been the barrier. It’s an endless cycle…IPPs aren’t designed to meet the needs of coda interpreters so we don’t get the training that prepares us to educate others.

My hope is that more of pursue advanced degrees and get more involved.

jkaika
Member
Jennifer Kaika
Hi linda- I appreciate your comments and I understand where you’re coming from about coda interpreters being our own inadvertent barrier to teaching in IPPs. I do have such credentials- I didn’t graduate from an IPP, but I do have a Master’s degree in a field that draws on education, linguistics, second language teaching & learning, and cross-cultural interactions. I have taken mentoring trainings and have mentored off and on since 2005. I taught in an interpreting program at the baccalaureate and graduate levels. The irony of having such qualifications is that they served as one more reason to minimize… Read more »
Member
Very astute comment…I have known a highly qualified, degreed Coda who taught in an IPP for many years, and generally did not bring up the fact that she was a Coda. Why was that? I felt (MY perspective) that she was uncomfortable in sharing that due to the backlash that could be received from non-Coda colleagues. My siblings and I were expected by our parents to go to college, but I know that many Codas were not encouraged in the same vein and some who were actually DISCOURAGED from attending college, their parents (who had not had the opportunity to… Read more »
Member

One issue that comes to mind is that CODAs do not teach because we do not feel we are entitled to. It is not our language, though it is our language. In respect to protecting the Deaf, we feel BN it is their native language to share, not ours. That we are taking from the Deaf community by doing a job they could do. Not trying to start an argument by any means, just an opinion.

Member
Suzanne Ladner Boesen
Hi, Linda! That was an interesting article and also the responses. One thing that impressed me was that we CODAS are not all the same. I am sure not all of your girls are the same, nor did all become interpreters, eh? Dunno how your girls feel, but I am soooo proud of my parents. They were wonderful educators and really had better English than I. I, too, decided to attend Gallaudet, where my parents met and became a teacher like my parents. However, the last thing I wanted to do was interpret since I was the oldest of 4… Read more »
Member
Belinda Wohlford Montgomery

Amy, thank you for this beautiful, heartfelt, explaination of what our (CODA) minds hadn’t put so eloquently to writing as you have done!

And I’m wondering, from some of the replies and your mention in the article, if some of you didn’t know our current RID President, Melvin Walker, is a CODA? His door (communications line) is always open! I, fellow CODA, rest assured knowing someone who understands is there at the table.

Member
Colleen Mason
Wow Amy! At the risk of repeating other Codas – this was so eloquently written and basically addressed some of the observations I have made, but never had the courage to speak them to anyone except to a fellow CODA interpreter – whom I admired on so many levels – who passed away this past June. Even then I felt our discussion was unfinished. I have been too shy or felt too reserved to approach any other CODA interpreter in my community about the same things you addressed. I feel like I need to read this article a couple of… Read more »
awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson

Well, Colleen,
I hope you can use this article as a door opener to more conversations with interpreters in your community. We all can benefit from your thoughts and experiences.

Member
Colleen Mason

It has indeed Amy – I am a reflector at best. This is such a raw article and it addresses so much. It will take me some time to really mull over some points that have been made. (as I mentioned earlier). Definitely a great conversational piece.

Member
Becky Stuckless

Colleen, not sure if you remember Amy, but you both met at WFD! Amy was with me when you introduced yourself! Amy, Colleen’s Daddy is David Mason. Remember him?

Amy? Could we shoot for next AVLIC? Will you come?

Member
Suzanne Ladner Boesen

You must be David’s daughter, eh? Wish I knew you better in Canada but you were oh so young and I am oh so old!! Good luck working as an interpreter. Hope to see you in New Orleans at the CODA conference in 2013.

Member
Colleen Mason

Yes, you have that right, I am Dave’s youngest daughter 🙂 My aim is to get to New Orleans for the Coda Conference in 2013, to join in on the “Candian Invasion” hahahaha How do you know my Dad or shall I say do you know both parents?

Where are you at?

Colleen 🙂

Member
Suzanne Ladner Boesen

took me a while to get back to you-sorry. we had xmas last sat. as family from calif. to san antonio to waco tx, and austin, TX, where we are, all came together! knew your dad in canada where we were for 10 years. all 4 of my kids are canadians. My husband was your dad’s boss in edmonton! I knew you when you were a little one! I may see you in New Orleans!!

Member
Christa Buss

Hi Sue!

Sounds like I may need to get myself to New Orleans as well, if only to catch up with you! You were such a fantastic practicum mentor!

Member

I am curious to ask you, if you have heard of KODAWest?? It is a camp for all KODAs to meet each other, with only CODAS being counselor for them. It is in its 6th year and growing bigger every year. A really great opportunity that happens only once every year in the summer, that gather all kinds of CODAs. In this camp there is no such thing is “on-guard” or not being able to express feelings, bonds happen even in day 1.

awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson

Yes! Thanks for the plug for KODAWest. KODA camps have been happening in different parts of the country and are growing and growing. I worked at KODA Camp at Camp Mark 7 for 2 summers and have a life time of memories and friends.

Member

Yes Camp Mark 7 was very helpful to start up KODAWest, with the help of three deaf mothers of CODAs and many supporters

Member
Amy, I too thank you for taking the time to write the article and for doing so with such a positive and truthful perspective. I too grew up with Deaf parents that were both teachers at a school for the Deaf. We actually lived on campus for 5 years. This community was the experience that made the significant impact on my life and provided me the knowledge and experience linguistically and culturally. I became an RID certified interpreter (CSC) when I was 16, 30+ years ago. Since then I have been NAD certified, QA certified, RID re-certified, management positions within… Read more »
awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson

Scott,
You pose a very important question. And I imagine we all can infer the answer from your post…we have lost out on the voice and perspectives of many codas. It is difficult to remain engaged and vested in the field when faced with roadblock after roadblock. My hope is that this dialogue will make some changes and can re-energize some and engage others.
thank you.

Member
Elaine Navratil

Amy.. your mom and I were Gally classmates.. Class of 1968.. so glad she and your dad had you so that other CODAS can learn from you. They did a great job as your parents !

awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson

HI Elaine.

My mom is following this article and the comments so I am sure she has read your comment. Thank you for saying hello. The Gally class of ’68 has some great people in it!

This is exactly the kind of DEAF-WORLD connection that happens for me on a regular basis on the job. The very connection that seems to make some hearing interpreters uncomfortable. Depending on the interpreter I am working with, I may not ‘out’ myself as a coda in order to avoid them feeling uncomfortable. Sad, isn’t it?

Member
Tim Kinsella
Hi Amy! What a great article–and thank you for the strength it took to speak about issues between coda and non-coda interpreters. I think the crazy dichotomy of worship and vilification often does not allow IDPs to actually speak to the experience of “between” and the experiences of being disenfranchised because of their families. Nor does it allow coda interpreters to talk of the great joys and celebrations they experienced, or the everyday specialness of their families, of growing up bilingual and bicultural, of being fully a part of the many great things that come with DEAF-WORLD. You’ve made this… Read more »
awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson

Tim,
Other people have said that this piece that I have written has made them cry. Your comments make me cry (granted, if you know me…and you do…you know that it doesn’t take much).

You are a gem and a great spokesperson for the hearing interpreters in our field who value codas and make it plain in your everyday work. There are many of you out there and it is not un-noticed.

Thank you for your eloquence in showing the perspective from another side. I feel seen and not invisible.

Member
Natalie Turner
Wow, thank you for this article! Couldn’t have come at a better time. Sorry this wil be long. It really hits home and helps describe how I have been feeling lately. Finally some words to explain it all. I am a CODA interpreter and have been struggling with straddling my belonging in both the Deaf community and interpreting community. I feel interpreting field has been changing, for the better I don’t know, but it seems to be more of a business and profession and further and further away from the roots and community. With this, I question, and wonder and… Read more »
Member
Missy Boothoryd

Thank you, I enjoyed reading this and it reminded me of my two coda children have go through all their childhood and still do today.
Missy

Member
Your article was informative as well as insightful. Growing up my one of my best friends was a Coda. I saw first hand what you describe growing up and how my friend handled many hard situations. Your article was interesting and timely just yesterday I read an another article about a women who was blind after giving birth to her first child social services took her daughter away from her for 57 days. I can only say the Public needs to be Educated. The ADA needs to be enforced and people need to recognize and respect individual regardless if they… Read more »
Member
Julie Joiner

You hit it on the nose! So appreciate you voicing for many of us CODAs. I believe You have expressed what many CODAs have been wanting to say.

Thank you!

amindess
Member

Thank you, Amy for the beautiful, eloquent, intelligent and honest article. We all benefit from your wisdom.

Member

Beautifully written. I have read it several times and have tears every time. These things needed to be said and the time was right! Those very issues are the reason I started “CODA INTERPRETER CORNER” on FB, a safe place for us . Thank you Amy for bringing our story to everyone!

Member
Thank you for writing this amazing article! I’m currently in an ITP and everything you wrote described not only how it is in the field but also how it is in school as well. I am the only CODA in my particular class and I wish there was another CODA just so I could have that connection and understanding in class. It helps to see that there are others, like me, who feel the same way. I grew up with other CODAs so when we grew apart I was devastated because I felt like I was closer with them than… Read more »
awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson

Jenni,
Good for you for going through interpreter training. I wonder if you have had conversations with the professors in your IPP about being a coda in the program. If you have, how did that go? If you have not, why not?
Curious, me.
~Amy

Member
Amy, I have had some discussions with one of my instructors about being a coda in the program. Side note, she is actually a soda (Sibling of a Deaf Adult) and she sent me this article. 🙂 I’ve discussed some of the struggles and together we have addressed it. However, some of my classmates sometimes struggle with comparing themselves to each other and when it comes to my language development compared to theirs it’s simply a different experience. I grew up signing whereas they are learning the language later in life. I’m not better and I’m not worse than anyone.… Read more »
Member
Barb Walker

Thanks Amy, I love that you often bring big questions to the table, furthering the field. Thanks for this and your heart. I am so glad we have you here in Vermont. I am so lucky to have a colleague like you. I love you. I say “there she goes again, good thing”

Member

Wonderful article. As a CODA , it speaks to my constant struggle to balance my two cultures. We do share a perspective that is wonderful. In the age of the new buzz word, ‘Civility” maybe some should be given to the CODA for what they have to share with us all. I enjoyed reading this. Thanks Amy.

Member
Molly Brown Bowen
Thank you Amy for your eloquent description of what I know most of us IDPs experience and our perspective. I feel fortunate most of the time working in our local community which has grown to be receptive to us IDPs yet we still have work to do to stay visible in a positive light. I believe we do have a place at the table which not often was filled but was temporarily vacant. I am hopeful that we all will find that middle ground. For now, I will share your article with our local IPP program as we have started… Read more »
terp60
Member

I cried having read this article. You wrote about my life as a CODA. I shared this article with my husband. He said this is you. Thank you for putting on paper what I experienced and I plan to share this with my coworkers

Irene Holl
Proud CODA

Member
Nancy Riley

Thank you for sharing some deep layers of your (collective) experience. Doing so takes my awareness deeper, and that helps me grow into me a more knowledgeable and sensitive colleague. Judging by the response, your words have rippled through many hearts. I applaud your colleagues who took the time to have attend a retreat and explore their layers and connections.

Information and insight such as this is an example of what I appreciate about this forum.

jkaika
Member
Jennifer Kaika
Amy, thank you for this article. Not only because of what you’ve said, but because you’ve bothered to write it at all. I echo what many other codas have said about your words hitting home. You say that “our field does not understand, appreciate, or value what it means to be hearing and raised in a deaf parented home.” I would go further and say that even WE don’t fully understand, appreciate or value what it means to be hearing and raised in a deaf parented home. We are so accustomed to not sharing our coda experience in professional settings… Read more »
awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson

Jennifer Kaika, I understand you have a seat at a decision making table in your local chapter so I look forward to hearing your voice loud and clear (no pressure). I believe it will take people like you to move this discussion forward. Thanks for stepping up to the table and taking a seat.

Stephanie Clark
Member
Stephanie Clark
Beautifully written, it brought tears to my eyes thinking of my CODA siblings when I read, “ Deaf children of deaf parents do not get this reaction directly from the hearing people they interact with.” Even though I’m a Deaf Interpreter by choice and proud Deaf of Deaf, my DODA experience is different than my CODA brothers and sister. The secrets they never told me and my parents while growing up to protect us is heart wrenching yet opened my eyes, mind, and heart. I appreciate them even more now. When Road to Deaf Interpreting training program was implemented, a… Read more »
awilliamson
Member
Amy Williamson

Stephanie,

Thank you for sharing your perspective. I have heard privately from other DODAs and they echo your sentiment. THANK YOU for being open to codas entering into the Road to Deaf Interpreting training program, it is unfortunate that your deaf colleagues were not.

What do you see as the barrier for deaf interpreters’ understanding a coda’s value to the profession and how do you think we can overcome it?

Stephanie, we have had honest and frank dialogues about our individual deaf parented and Deaf-World experiences. Our face-to-face conversations have helped me in writing this article. Thank you.

shafer
Member
Sarah Hafer
Stephanie, when i read your comment i almost broke in tears only because, believe it or not, i think you are the first person i ever met that is exactly like me with having this deep passion to include our Coda brothers and sisters. I did not realize until reading your comment that you and i actually have very similar family setting. Us being DODAs with having CODA siblings and other CODA relatives (for me). When it is difficult for Deaf people to support and embrace CODA folks it simply crushes both CODAs’ Deaf souls and mine. That said, it… Read more »
Member

Thank you for the “story” don’t even know what to call it, sorry. I am a CODA, and was treated horribly by many… Not even going to go there… I WAS a professional interpreter for over 20 years, but an interpreter all my life.

Member
Gwen Aguilar
I absolutely love that this was published and finally being discussed. I’m a CODA, and proud of it. What sets me apart from others is my parents had hearing parents. While their lives were difficult (to say the least), they both managed to function in the hearing world, actually succeed in the hearing world is a better description. The hearing world may have pitied them at first, but once they spoke to them and got know them, the pity went away and was replaced with respect. I grew up loving my deaf culture, hated being hearing, & was just fine… Read more »
Member
Hi Amy, Thank you for a beautifully written article. As a medical and mental health interpreter for 21 years I have often been an outspoken advocate for Deaf patients with my interpreting colleagues. My efforts have been to identify the oppression we witness as interpreters and encourage a discussion about it in order to develop strategies that empower the Deaf patient or define / redefine the boundaries of our profession. I call upon us to discuss the ethical responsibilities of our profession. Rarely does this produce any meaningful conversation. I have often been met with blank faces, a silence of… Read more »
Member
Sara Pierce

Amy,

Your article was one of the best explorations of the CODA heart. Thank you so much for pointing out how diverse we are as children with Deaf parents. Not all of us have become interpreters. Some of us have gone into completely different fields, yet we are all bonded together by that one unique gift we possess: the ability to broker between two worlds. That fact has been made even more poignant with the comments that people have been leaving for you. Thank you for one of the best reads I’ve had in years!!!

Member
Millie stansfield

i was justmgoing tomwrite w brief comment,” how beautifully expressed and written”! Just to appreciate you. And i am profoundly moved by the responses. I am grateful for this vehicle that provided this opportunity for all of us to connect on this This deeper level.
I will be forwarding this article to many people! God bless!

Member
Thank you Amy for taking time from your busy life to write this, many times I have thought these things but can’t express myself as well as you seem to be able to do. It is like you have been reading my mail and put it down on paper. After many years of therapy, I realized that I had rejected my mother and father to be able to fit into the hearing family. Such a conflict within of loving my deaf parents but wanting to be accepted by the hearies. What a diffrence in my life, from my very southern… Read more »
Member

Great read! My mentor (non-coda) sent this to me for increased learning. This is important for individuals, from all walks of life, to read and understand. There several times where I felt as though I was reading about myself. It is like a breath of fresh air to know there are others who share the same feelings as do I. Thanks for sharing from the heart.

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