BOZEMAN - Pam Bennett and Tane Schulte, sisters that grew up in Great Falls, share their experience as CODAs - a Child Of a Deaf Adult.
“Not only were our parents deaf, but our aunt and our uncle and two of our cousins are also deaf,” Schulte said.
As hearing people growing up in the deaf community, the sisters recalled movie nights and gatherings they would attend with their parents.
“I’ve known sign language my whole life. I signed first, before saying my first word,” Bennett said.
The parents would attend concerts their daughters performed in and encouraged the pair to pursue their own dreams and path in life. Some CODAs do become interpreters, but the role of interpreting does not fall on the shoulders of deaf children, Bennett said.
For doctor's appointments or legal matters, a certified interpreter is needed to communicate the gravity of a situation. However, in day-to-day life, deaf people may try to vocalize or communicate without assistance.
“My dad had plaid shirts and pockets, and would have these little note pads and pen, that was his deal,” Schulte said.
“Most times, deaf people will always try to speak for themselves,” Bennett said.
With the movie "CODA" receiving attention from the Oscars and other award shows, the deaf community is becoming more visible in the hearing space, thus CODAs are as well.
“We knew what it was, we always knew what CODA meant, but not everyone did so it was nice to see that come forward,” Bennett said.
The movie is a work of fiction but has brought more awareness to the deaf and CODA community at large.