‘So Exciting!' CODA's Oscar Wins Draw Positive Reaction From Mass. Deaf Community

CODA is an acronym for "child of deaf adult" and the title of the Massachusetts-set film that won Best Picture at the Academy Awards

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When "CODA" scored three Oscars, including Best Picture, at Sunday night's Academy Awards, real-life CODA Rosanna Jones watched in awe, seeing a bit of herself on stage.

"It was amazing — that movie," she said through an ASL interpreter. "Just seeing my story on the big screen, or a story similar to mine, it was very moving."

CODA stands for child of deaf adult.

Jones, who can hear, grew up with two deaf parents. She now teaches deaf students at the Horace Mann School in Boston's Allston neighborhood.

She noted that much of the film, which was shot in Gloucester and other locations across the North Shore, mirrored her own life experiences.

"I think it helps the greater community recognize the deaf experience. What is the deaf experience? What do people experience? Deaf people can do anything," she said.

Principal Dr. Michelle Eisan-Smith, who is the school's first deaf principal in its 153-year history, also saw the film and watched the awards ceremony.

"So exciting!" she said. "Honestly, part of me thought, 'Oh, they're not going to win.'"

She said she remembers "CODA" actress Marlee Matlin's historic Oscar win 35 years ago. She said seeing the second deaf actor — Troy Kotsur, who picked up the Best Supporting Actor trophy — shows that there has been important progress in Hollywood.

"I felt like, ASL was finally — really celebrated as a language, not focusing on what somebody can hear or not hear in our community and culture. It was very exciting," she said.

The film also won for Best Adapted Screenplay, an award that went to the film's writer-director, Cambridge native Sian Heder.

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