My Hands Your Heart CEO Lanette Pinkard Shares Her Personal CODA Story

American Sign Language (ASL) Services Provider on Why the Oscar-Winning CODA Movie is Important to Generate Awareness for the Deaf Community

CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), a movie about children of Deaf adults with a predominantly Deaf cast, won Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Screenplay at the Oscars this year. It is a historic moment for Deaf people everywhere to be recognized and applauded. We sat down with Lanette Pinkard, Founder and CEO of My Hands Your Heart LLC and Cruise Interpreter Academy, to get her commentary on this achievement.

The movie stars Emilia Jones as the singular child of Deaf adults (CODA) and the only hearing member of her family. Jones’ character, Ruby, attempts to help her family’s struggling fishing business while pursuing her aspirations to become a famous singer — the poetic irony of which is not lost on the audience.

“I am thrilled to be part of the CODA community and that we are being recognized on a global scale!” said Lanette. “This offers such a tremendous opportunity to bring the conversation of CODAs and our Deaf community members to more people. The first step in what My Hands Your Heart is achieving is awareness. We aim to assist organizations to be inclusive of the Deaf Community.

On a Personal Level…

Pinkard used sign language to communicate from the astounding age of just seven to eight months old. The Academy Awards news strikes a chord with Pinkard, who was bullied in school for knowing and communicating in sign language with her Deaf grandparents, her caretakers for most of her childhood life.

“When I was in sixth grade, a company came to our house and told my grandparents, ‘We heard about your granddaughter, and we want to do a documentary about your life.'” said Pinkard. “They would come and film me at school, on the bus, and signing with my grandparents. A few months later, we got a check in the mail. I got bullied for it for the rest of my school year. Seeing this film so many years later, I feel proud of the parallel and the improvement the world is making since my story.”

Pinkard grew up in her grandparents’ home after her mother’s death, forcing her to grow up faster than anyone should.

“My grandparents didn’t hear me crying for my mother at night because they were Deaf,” Pinkard told us. “I didn’t understand that until later in life.”

From heart-wrenching beginnings to world-renowned American Sign Language (ASL) travel interpreter and interpreter mentor, Pinkard is the exemplary form of someone turning their past struggles into a meaningful life’s mission.

My Hands Your Heart

“Everything that happens to you in life, while not always good, is for a purpose,” Pinkard said.

Pinkard saw a slew of issues when she entered the cruise interpreting industry, which prompted her to start Cruise Interpreter Academy to teach fellow professionals to lead their job duties with the utmost consideration and customer service. My Hands Your Heart LLC and Cruise Interpreter Academy strive to bring awareness to the public and big companies and a higher level of customer service to the interpreter space.

“As an interpreter, it is our job to represent all stakeholders, facilitate communication in the most professional manner and excellent customer service,” said Pinkard. “As such, I have heard many horror stories: One client told me that the interpreter made the scheduled tour bus late because they were more interested in taking selfies and snapping pictures than getting back to the bus on time. This type of blatant neglect is utterly shameful and what I work to combat.”

People are paying upwards of five thousand dollars and more for cruises, and those who are Deaf should enjoy what they paid for just as much as anyone else. She doesn’t go on these cruises to enjoy the scenery and adventure, although that is a delicious perk — she enjoys serving and assisting all the different cruise staff to work together to ensure the Deaf Community enjoys their cruises. There is always a lot to learn, more areas to grow in and expand in how we are utilized during the cruise, the excursions and the tours.

Now, My Hands Your Heart is working towards getting places like Coca-Cola and big-box movies and television producers to use My Hands Your Heart video services as a new kind of closed captioning that caters to a larger audience.

“The Deaf community makes up billions of dollars in expendable cash all over the world,” Pinkard said. “By ignoring the methods that are easiest for the Deaf to consume content, corporations lose out on so much opportunity. It’s in their best interests to make the shift and the best interest of society on an inclusive level.”

We’re rooting for you, Ms. Pinkard. Congratulations on being part of this era where CODA movies win Oscars, and budding interpreters get to be taught by someone as gracious and eloquent as you.

About P. Lanette Pinkard

P. Lanette Pinkard is the Founder and CEO of My Hands Your Heart LLC and Cruise Interpreter Academy, an entrepreneurial organization that serves organizations and companies with certified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters for Deaf and Hard of Hearing customers and guests. She has written five lifestyle inspiration books and has interpreted on over 100 cruises. For more information, visit https://myhandsyourheart.com/

LA Weekly