Hearing sons and daughters of deaf fathers and mothers, recognized as CODA (for its acronym in English Child of Deaf Adults), called “empirical interpreters”, feel “like a fish in water” in both communities, they said when telling how it is built that identity that fluctuates between the hearing and deaf world.
“CODAs are neither deaf nor hearing, in sociological terms. It is a third look, beyond the bridge that we naturally build between the two cultures due to the conditions in which we were born”, explained Gabriela Bianco (53), daughter of deaf parents.
Thus, the definition of hearing and deaf for CODA is “scant”, and there is no dichotomy, but rather a different configuration.
“I feel part of both communities. Although it has been a difficult issue among deaf people because on the one hand we fulfill many functions since we were children, but on the other hand we are privileged members for being able to hear. The CODA identity arises from there, ”said she, who is an actress and theater teacher.
Bianco announced that last week CODA Argentina, an NGO that brings together an intergenerational group of CODAS that ranges from 18 years to the oldest of 70, chaired by Gabriela Kowal, was institutionalized in the general inspectorate of justice.
“When we were boys and girls of my generation, the experience has been to care, to bring the big world to the boy, to filter cultural questions, that is why we are called empirical interpreters. We have had to be interpreters in situations that generate discomfort, ”she detailed.
For this reason, he emphasized that “we must work in the field of health and education to be able to include deaf people in their condition of speaking another language”.
Bianco grew up with parents who spoke in LSA, bells with lights to enter rooms, and sound stimuli from the radio, television, and contact with her neighbors and grandparents.
Daughter of Susana Bianco (73) and Ovidio Martinez (80), who presided over the Association of the Deaf for Mutual Aid (ASAM), in the period 1986-1992, recalled that her parents’ generation maintained a community life, where the LSA was a stigmatized language and deaf people did not speak in public. “I like to tell what gave name to one of my works. When I was little I got into a taxi with my mom. She did not want the driver to realize that she was deaf. The man asked me where we were going. I mispronounced the address because it was misspelled. The man corrected me, and I told my mom to pronounce it right,” Bianco recalled. Thus, the taxi driver asked the young woman if she was a foreigner, to which her mother replied “tell him I’m French.”
For this reason, the actress considered that we must bet on paradigm changes and recognize the existence of the LSA, “because there are many people who speak it and because it will facilitate and expand the lives of deaf people, their families and their community. extended”.
According to the Ministry of Health of the Nation, hearing disability constitutes approximately 18% of the disabilities that exist in Argentina, of which 86.6% represents hearing difficulties and 13.4% corresponds to deafness.
THE EXPERIENCES OF SABRINA
Jorge González (65) and Cristina Becerra (62), live in Palermo, Federal Capital. They are two deaf people who have been married for 41 years and have a CODA daughter, Sabrina González (39).
“When Sabri was a baby she had a light in her crib that came on when she cried. Then when she was around 3 years old she started picking up sign language just from seeing us. My wife’s sister was telling her that her parents were deaf, ”González said through Sabrina as an interpreter.
Likewise, Becerra commented that when her daughter was a baby “she was attentive to the closest time she could cry to eat” and when she started school her sister was the one who helped her with homework and school meetings.
Meanwhile, González admitted that “coexistence between the hearing and deaf worlds is not easy. There are accessibility limitations”, although he recognized that today with technologies it is “easier” and “comfortable”.
“We live alone so we always have our cell phones on, if you have an emergency situation you write to someone,” he said.
Sabrina is an LSA interpreter, and is a member of the Asociación Creando Nexos, which today produces the CNSordos channel.
“In my house there was never silence. The myth is that the house of deaf people is silent but it is quite the opposite, because by not listening there are knocks and noises. When I was a girl, my mother would put the radio on loud for me because she could not know what volume it had and in her imagination it was that I had to listen to voices, ”she specified.
Contrary to hearing childhoods, CODAs acquire tools to call their parents.
“It happened to me in the bathroom of the family home that if you forgot the towel or something there was no such thing as ‘mom catch me’. He was lucky that there was like a little window where he flipped a brush so that they would detect that he was calling them”, he narrated.
It was her aunt who learned sign language since at the time of her grandparents the idea was conceived that children had to be oralized.
“There is some interest in continuing to use the implant or hearing aids as the only possible means or lack of knowledge and ignorance of professionals who do not offer the full range of possibilities. I am of the idea that parents can educate their children with what they believe best, but I consider 100% that sign language is the most natural and happy path for a deaf person”, she expressed.
Thus, he mentioned that the LSA is “transversal to everything”, it is a language. “My mother, before she was 14 years old, did not know the LSA and knowing her she has another power of expression and understanding of the world”, she affirmed.
Regarding what it means to be immersed in the deaf and hearing culture, she said that “it is something that all people who are bilingual must experience, to be able to live and see the world in different ways.”
“I am of the idea that parents can educate their children with what they believe best, but I consider 100% that sign language is the most natural and happy path for a deaf person”
Sabrina Gonzalez (39)
He is an LSA interpreter and a member of the Asociación Creando Nexos
“Many tell me you are hearing, but I grew up where there were deaf parents, and if you ask me how they see the world, I understand it the same way. I feel like a fish in water in either of the two communities. That you have to build as CODA so as not to stay in the middle but to realize that you are in both, ”she said.