Cracking the CODA – children of deaf adults break the silence on their challenging world | Daily Maverick

Hearing people take things for granted – and this is never more obvious than to the children of deaf parents, who tell us what they’ve learnt along the way.

Andries van Niekerk, a specialist at the National Institute for the Deaf (NID) in Worcester, grew up in a home of limited spoken language.

“The spoken language was primarily between my brother and I, not from my parents,” he explains. “My mother could speak relatively well, but my father not. They mostly use South African Sign Language – SASL for short – to talk with us.”

Van Niekerk is forthright about the fact that being a CODA – the child of deaf adult/s – is not easy: “Being a CODA has a lot of challenges. My parents didn’t have access to a lot of information. There was much we did not know about the world that we only discovered at a later age.”

Despite these communication challenges, Van Niekerk values the unique brand of multilingualism he possesses as a result.

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