What's life like to be Deaf of Deaf family?

Life of a Deaf family is very much the same as any all-hearing family. Just as a life of Spanish-speaking family, French-speaking family, Hindu-speaking family, and so on. Only the difference is language and culture.

Deaf family portrait
"Deaf Family" photo courtesy of Jolanta Lapiak

Deaf families or "Deaf child of Deaf parent(s)" called "doda" are a minority. About 5-10% of deaf children are born to deaf parents, whereas the remaining 90-95% of all deaf children are born to hearing parents. This means that about 90% of Deaf parents give birth to hearing children (called "coda"), while about 90% of all deaf children are born to hearing parents. That is, Deaf community consists mostly of the deaf children of hearing families.

Deaf children of Deaf parents are also considered "codas". But, since about 90 percent of hearing children are born to Deaf parents, it's a large percent that the term 'coda' is commonly referred to hearing children of Deaf parents. So, deaf children of Deaf parents are then called doda.

What is it like to grow up Deaf of Deaf family?

Is there anything unique about a hearing family? Nothing (other than every family is unique). So should be nothing unusual for a Deaf family. Growing up in a Deaf family is pretty much normal. But, Deaf family is not common to hearing outsiders. Thus, it's fascinating.

So, we'll tell stories. Through stories, you will learn about the world of sound, vibration, visual culture, and our precious language in a visual-spatial modality.

Language and communication

There isn't much a difference between a hearing family and Deaf family in terms of growing up in a family with full access to the same language and culture, having a normal language acquisition from birth, all having the same access to communication, and so on. We experience all little things in everyday life.

However, a deaf child of hearing family often would be awed by the ease of full-fledged access to conversations at dinner at a Deaf family's home for a sleepover. It's full of life, lively chats, laughs, and jokes. Talking about anything from politics to school. No infamous lines "will tell you later" and "never mind."

family dinner

Yes, deaf children consider being deaf of Deaf family a blessing. Because the majority of hearing parents of deaf children don't bother to learn or don't know sign language. But, a small percent of hearing parents who learn ASL is even truly a blessing to their deaf children.

Amy Cohen Efron shared her experience being around Deaf friends of Deaf family and she values the existence of DODA.

And, we believe, Deaf children of hearing family are equally valued by Deaf of deaf family within Deaf community.

Random anecdotes

When my Deaf parents bought a lot in the 1990s, they requested the builder to modify an electrical system when building the house. Each room in the house has two electrical outlets next to each other, one white and one beige. One is a regular outlet like you have at your place. The other one is for doorbell and phone-ring. Just plug any lamp in the "Deaf outlet" and it flashes every time a doorbell or phone rings. Yes, that means light in every room flashes throughout the whole house! If you see one, you know it's a Deaf house.

More to come. Got a story? Email me.