ASL University

 American Sign Language: "SODA" 


Hannah writes: "I have to ask: are SODAS spouses of Deaf adults or siblings of Deaf adults? I'm going to volunteer with an organization in Nashville, and I saw the SODA acronym on it. So I'm curious."

"For many years in the Deaf Community the term "SODA" has typically been used to mean "sibling of Deaf." For example, on this page: Pam Mingua advertises as having a "SODA-owned" business and that her sister "Pat Lush" is Deaf.

On this page: there is a post from someone wishing there were more Deaf/CODA/SODA troops. The context makes it obvious that they are  hoping for more scout troops comprised of the siblings of Deaf youth (not of "spouses"). 

Even though the "A" in "SODA" is a carry over from the "A" in CODA (Child of Deaf Adult), it doesn't mean that a SODA is an adult -- nor does it mean that the sibling is actually an adult. In typical usage a SODA can be either a child or an adult who has a Deaf brother or sister of any age.

I'm not saying that you won't see SODA used to mean "spouse of Deaf adult," I'm just saying that for many years the term generally and prevailingly referred to "siblings."

It seems over time the term SODA has started to take on the meaning of "Sibling or Spouse of a Deaf person."

If needed, a more specific acronym for "spouse of Deaf adult" is "SpODA" (or SPODA) but that term is not as "common" and requires expansion upon first usage in a conversation or an article.  I would only use it if the discussion involved both "siblings" and "spouses" and it were important to distinguish between the two in that particular discussion or article.

- Dr. Bill

Also see: Deaf Community Labels


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