Original Research

Hearing children of Deaf parents: Gender and birth order in the delegation of the interpreter role in culturally Deaf families

Nomfundo F. Moroe, Victor de Andrade
African Journal of Disability | Vol 7 | a365 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v7i0.365 | © 2018 Nomfundo F. Moroe, Victor de Andrade | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 February 2017 | Published: 30 April 2018

About the author(s)

Nomfundo F. Moroe, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Victor de Andrade, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

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Background: Culturally, hearing children born to Deaf parents may have to mediate two different positions within the hearing and Deaf cultures. However, there appears to be little written about the experiences of hearing children born to Deaf parents in the South African context.

Objective: This study sought to investigate the roles of children of Deaf adults (CODAs) as interpreters in Deaf-parented families, more specifically, the influence of gender and birth order in language brokering.

Method: Two male and eight female participants between the ages of 21 and 40 years were recruited through purposive and snowball sampling strategies. A qualitative design was employed and data were collected using a semi-structured, open-ended interview format. Themes which emerged were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: The findings indicated that there was no formal assignment of the interpreter role; however, female children tended to assume the role of interpreter more often than the male children. Also, it appeared as though the older children shifted the responsibility for interpreting to younger siblings. The participants in this study indicated that they interpreted in situations where they felt they were not developmentally or emotionally ready, or in situations which they felt were better suited for older siblings or for siblings of another gender.

Conclusion: This study highlights a need for the formalisation of interpreting services for Deaf people in South Africa in the form of professional interpreters rather than the reliance on hearing children as interpreters in order to mediate between Deaf and hearing cultures.


hearing children of Deaf adults, CODA, interpreting, birth order, gender, language brokering


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Crossref Citations

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