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Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies and Communication Equity


ASL & Interpreting

First Advisor

Erica Alley

Second Advisor

Annette Miner

Third Advisor

Joseph Murray


ASL and Interpreting


In the Deaf community, hearing children of deaf adults (Codas) often find themselves in a dichotomy of difference and belonging. It is estimated that nearly 90% of children born to deaf parents are hearing (CACDP, 2006); furthermore, it is often assumed these children do not inherit the cultural identity of their parents based on their biosociality due to physical differences (Rabinow, 1996) and a binary framework of being either Deaf or hearing (Brueggemann, 2008). As adults, Codas may find professional opportunities related to the Deaf community such as interpreting, education, business, and advocacy. A recent flashpoint involving Coda leaders has revealed a growing divide between the American Deaf community and Coda leaders surrounding ethics, identity politics, and allyship. This study explores the perceptions of Codas in leadership positions within the Deaf community. Through a critical ethnographic study, I collected quantitative data through a questionnaire and qualitative data through semi-structured interviews to explore the perceptions of two groups: Deaf individuals and Coda individuals. The data revealed highly varied perceptions from the participants, including negative, positive, and divided perceptions of Coda leaders. Moreover, underlying factors such as ableism, capitalism, education, and other social factors may be contributing to these perceptions. Ultimately, this research provides data and recommendations for leaders in the Deaf community to achieve a praxis of common humanity, where Deaf people and their children unite and collaborate and find a way, as Humphries (2008) proposes, “...to move on from ‘How are we different?’ to ‘How are we being? (p. 41)”’

2019_MAISCE_VossR_Paper.pdf (1574 kB)