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‘CODA’ and Its Representation of the Deaf Community

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIU chapter.

At the 2022 Academy Awards, or more commonly known as the Oscars, a lot of memorable memories were made and some big awards were won. Perhaps the most memorable ones to me were when Sian Heder’s notable film CODA won prestigious awards and made history.

The heartwarming film won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) while Troy Kotsur won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for CODA. Kotsur plays the headstrong patriarch and deaf father in the film. CODA made history at the Oscars with its Best Picture nomination and win as it is the first film to feature a mainly deaf cast. On top of that, Troy Kotsur also celebrated a well-deserved Best Supporting Actor win as he became the first deaf male to win an Academy Award for acting.

CODA is the name of the film, but it also serves as an acronym for ‘Child Of Deaf Adults’. The movie follows teenager Ruby, who is the only hearing member of her family since her parents and brother are deaf, as she realizes her true passion of singing, but is torn between going to Berklee College of Music to pursue her dreams or staying by her family’s side and helping them connect with the hearing world. You can watch the Apple TV+ trailer for the film below.

I was born hard of hearing and have since grown up wearing hearing aids (although I just recently got a cochlear implant) and CODA, to me, was an example of an authentic representation of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community. While I’m not completely deaf like the characters in the film, it resonated with me on a deep personal level.

In one particular scene, Ruby is performing at a school choir show while her family is sat in the audience and watches everyone swaying and clapping along to the song while they clearly don’t hear any of the music. All of a sudden, the sound is cut off and a few seconds of complete silence is incorporated into the scene, so those watching the movie can get a sense of what it’s like for the family to not hear anything. Those few seconds of silence during the scene are an example of what it’s like for me every day when I take off my hearing devices.

While I can explain to those around me what it’s like to be hearing impaired in a hearing world, watching this movie helps to show the struggles that the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community experiences in their everyday life that so many take for granted. Most of the main characters have no hearing, they communicate with each other through sign language. Although captions were needed to understand what they were ‘saying’, you could still feel the love and connection that these family members shared with each other.

All in all, CODA is an amazing and eye-opening movie, not just for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community, but for everyone in general. It shows that disabilities don’t define us, but rather push us to become better versions of ourselves. CODA reminded the world that no matter what, we all just want to be accepted, appreciated and recognized for our talents and contributions.

Nicolle Hernandez is the Treasurer and Social Media Assistant at the Her Campus at Florida International University (FIU) chapter. As Treasurer, she oversees the chapter's finances and funding. In her role as the Social Media Assistant, Nicolle works with the social media team to publish a variety of content, including graphic design posts, video content, member-specific content, and more. Nicolle was also a writer for Her Campus FIU during the Spring 2022 term, in which she focused mainly on entertainment topics. At Florida International University, Nicolle is a Digital Communication and Media major with a concentration in Digital Journalism. She is also pursuing a minor in Social Media and E-Marketing Analytics. As a result of her dedication to her studies, Nicolle has been awarded several Dean’s List recognitions. Being a part of Her Campus has given Nicolle a great sense of pride and individuality. She considers herself grateful to have gotten the opportunity to explore her passion for writing. In her free time, Nicolle enjoys listening to music, watching rom-com movies, and traveling the world.