Spotlight on Heritage Signers: Sharon Neumann Solow and Sheila Bragger-Hall, Coda sisters.

Part 1:

Part 2:

English summary, Part 1:

Sharon Neumann Solow and Sheila Bragger-Hall are sisters, discussing growing up as Codas. 

Their biggest tip: don’t make assumptions about anyone. Codas are not defined as one thing.

The range of language used within each family, from ASL to English, leads to a variety of signers and styles as Codas mature. 

Even as sisters, their stories and perspectives about growing up are quite different.  

Often an identity, or several, develop in regards to a Codas’ culture: a strong bond to the hearing world, connection to the Deaf Community, both or neither. 

No Coda childhood is exactly the same. 

There are many similarities among Codas that are crucial to understanding who a Coda is and what they can bring to the interpreting profession.   

As Codas, we must first learn our identity.  There is no right or wrong path; it is individualized and a raw, human experience.  It is not always clear and can be confusing.  

English Summary, Part 2:

Codas and sign language interpreting often go together. 

Throughout their life, Sheila and Sharon have gained a lot of knowledge and experience. 

Interpreting requires teamwork.  Both Coda and non-codas mutually benefit from working with each other, be it through personal experiences or fluency in ASL.  Learning from each other’s strengths and valuing the variety of individual interpreters will ultimately produce better interpretations and relationships.  Keep an open mind when working with all interpreters, as there are different approaches to teaming.

Many Codas interpreted for their parents or family members while growing up.  Sharon and Sheila recognize the advantage of proper interpreting training.  However, often interpreting programs are not designed for Codas, but for those who do not have ASL as a first language, that is, non-Codas.  Codas need interpreting programs created specifically for their unique skills. 

Unintentionally or not, assumptions are made in the interpreting profession: based on ASL fluency, English skills, processing time, etc.  These assumptions lead to frustration, uncomfortable situations, misperceptions, or an unbalanced relationship between Codas and non-codas. 

As mentioned in Part 1, Codas have diverse skill in ASL and English, depending on their upbringing.  Being open minded and avoiding assumptions will eliminate many underlying issues: API (Assume Positive Intent).

We are in the interpreting profession together because we want everyone to be included.  To continue growing the interpreting profession requires these kinds of honest conversations about self-awareness.

The world needs more compassion, camaraderie, understanding of all and the willingness to learn from another.  Our body language, facial expression, attitude and actions can relay a lot of information. 

We acknowledge that each Coda is rich and fascinating, with several identities encompassed into one person.