Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Leah Omilion-Hodges

Second Advisor

Sherri Gagnon


This undergraduate honors thesis addresses how the hearing community views and treats the d/Deaf community. The contents of this thesis include a literature review, communication theory, and qualitative analysis of the film, CODA (2021). Findings leave the hearing community with three main suggestions to implement when interacting with the d/Deaf community. These suggestions include acknowledging the daily communication struggle amongst members of the d/Deaf community, maintenance in a conversation may lead to exploitation and finally, due to different speech codes we should enact cultural respect towards others.

The literature review consists of an overview of the d/Deaf community’s history including d/Deaf President Now, American Disabilities Act, interpreters being implemented in schools, a variety of campaigns empowering the d/Deaf community, and how the d/Deaf community identifies themselves as d/Deaf or D/Deaf. Furthermore, an analysis of the motion picture CODA was conducted to connect communication theories with the award-winning portrayal of a CODA and her family. The two communication theories used are: Communication Accommodation theory (Giles, 1971) and Speech Code theory (Philipsen, 2008). The theories were used with the goal of considering contemporary d/Deaf portrayal in contemporary media.

To collect data, a codebook and excel sheet were created to track data throughout the viewing of the movie. After the materials were created, the movie was watched twice. Initially the movie was reviewed to familiarize the researcher with the content and then a second time to collect data. To begin the data analysis, each interaction was labeled according to who was involved. For example, if both parties maintained their communication and the interaction was between a deaf individual and another deaf individual, it was labeled “deaf vs deaf”. For convergence it was noted which individual changed their communication method for the other individual. Once the data was labeled and grouped conclusions formulated.

The analysis resulted in three emergent themes: acknowledge the daily struggles the d/Deaf community face with communication, maintenance in a conversation can cause exploitation to people who are disabled, and finally due to different speech codes we should all treat each other with kindness. Being aware of these themes can help with lowering the occurrences of using someone's disability to another's advantage in terms of gaining money or other wants. All these themes remind members of society to be mindful of what to say to others; furthermore, being mindful can avoid oppression towards other members of society. Through the execution of these three suggestions, the frustration between these two parties could diminish. Utilizing communication as a tool to share ideas among others does not need to be a struggle between speech communities, but can be a process to grow, overcome and develop new communication practices.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Lindsay Casey Honors Thesis Presentation.pdf (3418 kB)
Defense Presentation