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Kentucky's Virginia Moore: 'CODA' portrayed deaf families 'very well'

Virginia Moore, who performed sign language during Gov. Beshear's COVID briefings, is a CODA herself - a child of deaf adults.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — At this year's Oscars, "CODA" made history in more ways than one. The film was the first movie hosted on a streaming service to win Best Picture and Troy Kotsur became the first deaf man to win an Academy Award for acting.

For people in the deaf community, the win also means a rare moment of visibility.

Those who watched Gov. Andy Beshear's weekly COVID-19 updates during the height of the coronavirus pandemic are likely to recognize Virginia Moore. Moore is a sign language interpreter who helped communicate life-saving information about COVID to those who were not able to hear it.

Moore is also a CODA - a child of deaf adults - herself. Both of her parents and several of her siblings are deaf. When the film came out, she said she was nervous about how the deaf family would be portrayed.

"When somebody else depicts their viewpoint into the deaf world, or the world of a CODA, you wonder - are they going to pull out the good things or the bad things," she said.

RELATED: Troy Kotsur makes history with supporting actor Oscar win

Because of this concern, Moore chose to watch the movie on her own first, before watching it with friends. As the closing credits rolled, she said she was pleasantly surprised.

"The movie itself did very well," she said.

Moore said the movie helped raise awareness about the deaf community and the daily challenges they face. She said it also helps open up conversations with other people who may not understand what it's like to be deaf or be in a deaf family.

"Everything is sort of coming together for a heightened awareness, a better understanding," she said.

For those who haven't seen the movie, Moore's first piece of advice is to not go into it with a sense of pity for the family - for families like hers. Instead, she hopes that people walk away with a better understanding of and appreciation for the complexity of humanity.

"I think the story resonates, not only with deafness, but with the fact that we have to accept individuals within our family about things that we may not understand," Moore said.

For those who want to learn more about the deaf community, Moore said the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is hosting its Deaf Festival this fall at Centre College. Click here for more information.


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