By Allison Howe

The movie “CODA” (children of deaf parents) took home three Oscars at the recent Academy Award ceremony, including the top prize of Best Movie.

Troy Kotsur, who plays Marlee Matlin’s husband won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Both Kotsur and Matlin are actors who are deaf. Kotsur is only the second actor who is deaf to win an Oscar. Matlin was the first, winning years ago for Best Actress in the film “Children of a Lesser God.”

The third Oscar for “CODA” went to Sian Heder for best adapted screenplay.

“This is dedicated to the deaf community, the CODA community and the disabled community,” Kotsur said in his acceptance speech. “This is our moment.”

The movie is notable for having three leads with a disability, which is rare. Hollywood has often been criticized for its long history of having able-bodied actors play characters who are disabled.  Daniel Durant, who is deaf, plays the couple’s son.

The film sheds a light on deaf culture and American Sign Language (ASL). There is extensive use of subtitles in many scenes where ASL is used.

“CODA,” available on Apple TV, garnered countless wins in other notable contests including the British Academy Film Awards, the Screen Actors Guild, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Hollywood Critics Association, the Sundance Film Festival and the American Film Institute.

Adapted from a 2014 French film, it centers on high-school senior Ruby, the only member of her immediate family who is not deaf. She serves as a translator for her parents, as well as her older brother.

Her role as the bridge between her family and the hearing world is especially important when it comes to helping run the family’s fishing boat business.

However, her true passion is becoming a singer, a vocation which her family cannot appreciate and therefore does not support. Her time away from the family business to pursue singing at school puts a strain on the family that depends on her to translate when they are conducting business. She is their advocate, especially when dealing with those who discriminate or try to take advantage of her parents because they are deaf. She is torn between the family that needs her and her desire to pursue independence.

“For decades, disabled filmmakers have been working to ensure disability is included in diversity conversations, and “CODA’s” win will help ensure this,” said Lauren Appelbaum, vice president of Entertainment at RespectAbility. “We have to be included in an authentic way, ensuring disabled individuals are leading the way. And we can achieve this by truly hiring people with disabilities behind the camera in an inclusive way to tell diverse, complex stories of the disability experience.”