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‘We were our parents’ ears and mouths’: Reflecting on the language brokering experiences of hearing children born to deaf parents

N Moroe, V de Andrade

Abstract


Background. Hearing children born to deaf parents, or children of deaf adults (CODAs), are often bicultural and bilingual members of the deaf and hearing communities. They are often expected to fulfil very adult roles, especially as the communication link between their deaf parents and the hearing society. Assuming adult roles may place CODAs in difficult situations, potentially affecting their wellbeing and development. In SA, little is known about CODAs and the dynamics of growing up hearing in deaf-parented homes. 

Objective. To reflect on the childhood experiences of language brokering in deaf-parented families. 

Methods. Two male and eight female participants (21 - 40 years), identified through purposive and snowball sampling, participated in this study. A phenomenological, qualitative approach was employed using semi-structured, open-ended interviews. Thematic analysis revealed inductive themes. 

Results. The findings indicate that the interviewed CODAs acted as language brokers and interpreters between their families and the hearing community from a very young age. As children, they were placed in demanding situations, for which they were not developmentally ready. CODAs found balancing the demands from both communities emotionally draining, especially at a young age. 

Conclusion. A multidisciplinary approach is suggested to address the mental health, wellbeing and development of young CODAs.


Authors' affiliations

N Moroe, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

V de Andrade, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Cite this article

South African Journal of Child Health 2018;12(2b):75-78. DOI:10.7196/SAJCH.2018.v12i2b.1499

Article History

Date submitted: 2018-09-04
Date published: 2018-09-04

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