KODA FAMILY CONFERENCE USA
In this week’s edition, we will give you an update from the Kids of Deaf
Adults (KODA) Family Conference. The event was held in Camp Mark 7, Old
Forge, New York from the 24th to the 27th of June.
The conference was an opportunity to offer services and support to KODA
families as well as to professionals and community leaders. In addition, it
hoped to continuously reaffirm the viability, strength and healthy future of
In total, 20 people from Ireland attended the conference. The Irish
delegation was made up of ten KODA’s, six Deaf parents and four
interpreters. This was the 1st time a delegation from Ireland attended a
conference in the States focusing solely on hearing kids of Deaf parents.
The parents group worked very hard to fundraise to travel to Old Forge. With
the current economic difficulties in Ireland, this was a huge challenge. In
addition, the parents had to fundraise to cover the travel costs of the
interpreting team when no Government funding was provided to them. This was
a major achievement for the parents and they deserve a huge thank you for
all their hard work.
The aim of the conference according to Krista Walker, “was to provide a
much-needed forum for the exchange of research, ideas, and best practices
for improving the quality of life for Deaf parents and their hearing
Krista was a keynote speaker at the conference and is well known in the
Irish Deaf community particularly in Cork and Kerry. Krista is currently
studying for a Ph.D. in educational administration at Gallaudet University
and works as the Director of the Center for Professional & Organizational
Development at Montgomery College in Maryland. As part of her Ph.D research,
Krista and her husband Steve spent six months in Ireland. Krista was based
in our service and travelled throughout Ireland to meet with Deaf parents
and their hearing kids.
Krista is from a multigenerational Deaf family, and as a result, has a
strong, personal interest in promoting Deaf parents’ rights and involvement
in their hearing children’s education. Her research study on the subject in
Ireland was part of a Fulbright scholarship.
The National Kids of Deaf Adults (KODA) Family Conference premise was that
“as Deaf parents with hearing children of our own, we are always searching
for ways to learn and support one another in bridging the cultural
differences between the deaf and hearing worlds. We believe that nothing is
more special than the connection we all proudly share as “koda families”.
“The idea of having a national conference geared for families with deaf
parents and hearing children (commonly referred to as “koda families”) was
born from the desire to have a medium that would connect people from all
over the country. By examining and celebrating the special relationship and
cultural identities of hearing children and their deaf parents, as well as
the family dynamic as a whole, we believe that a greater understanding and
awareness of ourselves and our families will be achieved. And as a result,
we will also have a deeper, stronger family bond”.
The main focus of the conference was advocacy and development programs for
“koda children”, particularly in the critical areas of education and
psychosocial development. The conference was also an opportunity to learn
about the highly successful KODA camps and regional KODA organisations in
the States. The conference organisers hoped the conference would provide a
way to share and build on those best practices.
There was a range of speakers, workshops, activities and events for Deaf
parents and professionals along with a camp solely for the kids! Workshops
included talks on:
~ Language, Culture & Identity
~ Family Communication & Dynamics
~ Education & Home-School Partnership
~ Community Relationships
~ Child, Youth & Adolescent Development
~ Public Policy, Access & Advocacy
~ Family Financial Planning
~ Program/Organizational Models & Best Practices
We’d like to extend our thanks to the conference committee for ensuring the
Irish delegation was fully included in all aspects of the event. The
committee was made up of a group of experts and professionals in various
disciplines including members who served on the Metro Maryland KODA
committee and in the DC/CODA organisation. The committee was also fortunate
to have representatives from local and regional KODA organisations through
out the country and support from the Communication Studies and Family and
Child Studies at Gallaudet University.
A particular word of thanks to Kris, Stephanie and Steve Walker, Helen Young
and Julie Perry and to the Camp Counselors for all their support. A huge
thank you to Krista Walker- without her support and friendship; it would not
have been possible.
If you would like more information on the speakers/presentations, go to the
following weblink http://www.nkodafc.org/31801.html
Further information on Camp Mark Seven and the KODA camps is available at
OUR CONTACT DETAILS:
Kerry Deaf Resource Centre
4 Gas Tce, Tralee
Mobile (text): 087 633 4687
Fax: 066 712 0386
Tel: 066 712 0399