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  • Writer's pictureMickey Carolan

Coffee with a CODA - Jon Urquhart




Welcome to Coffee with a CODA, a series where guest contributors will answer questions to provide insights and lessons to readers. 


This week’s interview is with Jon Urquhart a CODA heritage signer, content creator, and the founder of ASL Spring 


Jon, welcome to Coffee with a CODA.

Q: Who is Jon Urquhart?

A: I am a CODBA (child of Deafblind adult) born and raised in Massachusetts who built a platform of over 1 million followers on social media educating and making people laugh through short-form video. 




Q: What is the most common first question you get when people find out you grew up with Deaf Parents? And how do you reply?


A: As someone with a Deafblind parent, the most common question I get is: 


“how do y’all communicate?”


The average hearing person’s reference to anyone Deafblind is Helen Keller, and even then, most of the time they can’t recall if they were ever taught how she communicated.


It can get exhausting to go into the whole spiel of explaining the spectrums of deafness and blindness. So, more often than not, I find myself directing them to "Tactile American Sign Language" and suggesting they look it up.

Q: What mental health advice would you give younger KODA/CODA’s? Conversely, what advice should they ignore?

A: Don’t be afraid of your own voice. One thing I struggled with growing up was losing myself in both the hearing and Deaf parts of my life and I neglected my own thoughts and feelings. As CODAs, we are often told what our role is and are walking on eggshells if we dare to step outside that expectation. Your identity, thoughts, feelings, and humanity is valid. 


If you would like a piece of advice to ignore, I say avoid the idea that you don’t need to set goals for yourself. Goals are something we work on outside of our typical routine that give us purpose. Don’t let your life run on auto-pilot, continue making progress in your life and enabling yourself to feel proud. 




Q: You produce a ton of video content, what are some of your most memorable videos?


A: My most memorable videos are oftentimes not the ones that are the most viral but hold the most meaning for me. One of my favorite videos is one that I made called “A Day in the Life as an American Sign Language Interpreter” and I’ve been told by a lot of ITP students that their professor uses it in their lessons. 


As a CODA who went through an ITP, they aren’t the most receptive environments for our lived experience, and oftentimes, we are graded more harshly than our hearing peers. Having this video used in ITPs is almost like a full-circle moment for me, proving I did something right. 




Q: What is one leadership, life, or love lesson that you learned from your parents?

A: My parents always say “Squeaky wheel gets the oil.” meaning that if you don’t speak up for what you want, you aren’t going to get it. Don’t let others make decisions for you. 

Q: What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

A: 1. Saints of Augustine by P.E. Ryan. This book was the book that got me into reading and made me realize that there are books with relatable characters for queer kids like me. As an alternative middle-schooler, this book gave me the confidence, and validity to come out to my best friends so it holds a special place in my heart. 


 2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. This is one of those books you either love or has given you PTSD dating back to high school. Miss Havisham remains one of my favorite characters to this day; there is something extremely poetic about her story. A woman scorned by tragedy, and in the end she realizes all the pain she caused from the limits she imposed on herself wasn’t worth it, then accidentally going up in flames after apologizing? Iconic. 


 

The Mom Dad Not Hear Lightning Round


Q: Funniest Parent?

A: Both, they can make me laugh for entirely different reasons


Q: Most flavorful cook?

A: Dad 100%


Q: Most likely to join you in a video?

A: Mom


Q: Deaf School?

A: Dad


Q: Mainstream Public School?

A: Both! 


Q: Lastly, please tell the readers where they can connect with or follow you.

A: Find me at conferences and Deaf events across the country and stay updated + informed by following me on social media 🤟


 

Author's Note:


Like many, I found Jon online. He was kind enough to read and chose to give a glowing review of my book Mom Dad Not Hear. For that I'm forever grateful! It's been great carrying conversations with him in this short period of time, I look forward to the day our paths cross in person!



 

Find Jon's Book Recommendations Here:



Great Expectations by Charles Dickens


 

Visit www.MickeyCarolan.com to read Mickey's books or book him to speak!



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