Socialization Effects Of Deaf Parents On Hearing Children

By: Luis Torres

Much of the debate about what is "normal" and what is not "normal" is based on social rules that take little into account the views of minorities and sub-altern perspectives. The American Sign Language University published an article regarding the interaction dynamics of Deaf parents and their hearing children, referred to as CODAs. This article serves as a great point of discussion when discussing the topic of hearing disability and the social implication differences between those who cannot hear and those who can hear but choose to function with different sets of social rules.

Statistics show that 90% of all Deaf parents have hearing children, or CODAs, individuals who can hear and have the capability to speak but choose to function in sign language and in the norms of the Deaf community.

Hearing in a Deaf Community
The article spoke about a case that involved a hearing child born to two Deaf parents. The child could hear and had the ability to speak but responded only to those cues that her Deaf parents had taught her. For example, their house was equipped with special telephones, door bells, and fire alarm systems that worked on a system of lights. When someone called, rang the bell, or when the alarm systems went on, a corresponding set of lights would indicate this to the Deaf parents. At one point, the light system failed. When someone called, rang the bell, or the fire alarms went on, the light system would default back to the traditional sound and bell alert system. While the Deaf parents could not hear this, their child, a Coda, could and was very much aware that there were noises at different places in their household. The Coda did not however, respond to the ringing bell, phone, or blaring alarms. The Coda child had not been socialized to respond to those indicators. The child instead only responded to a boiling tea pot and it's spouting steam. The Coda child could not hear the steam whistle but was very much trained to respond to steam. This then prompted the child to check the alarm, phone, and bell light system.

Socialization has a lot to do with the way we perceive that people are "supposed" to function. Sometimes these are based on narrow views of how society works and often people are held responsible to perform up to standards that might have little relevance to their condition.

American Sign Language University

Article References

Filer, D., & Filer, C. (2000). Practical Considerations For Counselors Working With Hearing Children of Deaf Parents. Journal of Counseling & Development, Winter 2000, Vol. 78, Issue 1.

Rienzi, B. (1990). Influences and Adaptability in Families with Deaf Parents and Hearing Children. American Annals of the Deaf, 135, 402-408.

Sell, Jill. (2001). Deaf Parents, Hearing Children Face Communication Challenges.