- Disabilities & the Disabled
If You Don't Want Cochlear Implant, That's Okay
Making The Decision
Recently, an article emerged about a deaf actress dealing with discrimination and force by audiologists regarding cochlear implant. You see, Emily Howlett decided she did not want nor need cochlear implant. The basis of her decision was this:
- She identified as deaf.
- Her brain will not process the sounds properly.
- She will not hear speech very well.
- There will not be a lot of improvement to her hearing, if any.
Every individual who is weighing the decision to be implanted or not has to recognize that cochlear implants are never cure-alls. They may never actually hear with it. There are a lot of risks involved with getting the implants, as well, which has been covered consistently.
Being Fixed vs Staying Deaf
Emily Howlett goes on to describe the discrimination and myths heaped upon her in the vain effort to force her into a surgery that may not benefit her. The logic is that cochlear implant will fix her, once and for all, even though the audiologist eventually admits that it will not do any such thing for her.
A personal experience from my stand in this argument is that cochlear implant did not cure me. It did not fix every single problem I had. My brain, at this point, will never fully interpret all the sounds. But I chose it. It did enhance my hearing, it became part of my listening tool, and it is a miracle for me. Just because I chose it does not mean it is the right choice for another.
First of all, cochlear implant is not a 'fix'. It is a tool. It is one of many tools that can be chosen or refused, depending on how it will benefit you or not. It is not something that will take away from the deaf culture. It is not something that will add to the hearing world. It simply is a tool. A brilliant, life-changing tool -- if it works for you. Useless if it does not.
Second of all, disability is not a broken thing to fix. Disability does not make or break a person. It will add more obstacles to an individual's life, yes, but no more than the different obstacles each person will face in their lives. Life is never easy.
Deaf people are incredibly resilient — they have spent decades adapting to a lack of hearing. A lack of hearing does not cause them to be unable to do anything. They still have the drive and passion for life. They still have a brain residing in their complex skulls. They still have emotions that all of us are learning to deal with on a daily basis, even as adults.
- Heart to Ear on "Being 'Fixed' vs Staying Deaf"
Tearing Down the Myths
Finally, before believing it's your call to judge any particular group in this argument, take a moment to read all the myths listed here. These came from the audiologist and her colleagues mentioned in the article, as well as the resulting discriminatory and judgmental comments after the article.
- If you do not get a cochlear implant, you will fall into the deaf society.
- Deaf people are broken and disillusioned. They are useless members of society.
- Learning sign language will cause all of your other skills to decline, such as lipreading, speech, and interaction with the world at large.
- Implants are easy fixes disregarding the fact that each person is different.
- Those who refuse cochlear implants should not receive any other assistance or benefits.
- Those who refuse cochlear implants are choosing to be disabled and useless.
- Deaf people are willfully ignorant for refusing cochlear implants.
- The choice of not having cochlear implant is equal to the choice to smoke, become obese, abusing alcohol, abusing pills, and other bad choices in life.
Each of those come with their own fallacies. Each of these are myths. It's like saying that each of them have no reason to live unless they hook themselves up with an implant. "Implant is the magic cure! You are stupid for not picking this!" I look at the lives of many who are successful, happy, and (gasp) deaf. And I dare you to tell each of them this very thing.
But not before you read Being 'Fixed' vs Being Deaf. This is a piece that tears down each myth mentioned above. It is meant to inform the ignorant and support the deaf as well as the implanted.
It is meant to convey this oh-so-important message:
If cochlear implant is not for you, that's okay! It does not make you any less human. It does not make you ignorant. It does not take away opportunities for you. It simply means that this particular tool will not work for you. It is by choice that it works for you. It is also by your circumstances with not only your nerves in your ears, but how your brain will take it that it works for you. Other than that, your life won't be in shambles without it! You will be fine. Do not let anyone tell you different.
Spouting the myths above makes both the implanted and the hearing people look very bad. It's oppressive to the deaf people and it is very ignorant. I know that as an implanted individual, I am literally ears-burning-red ashamed of what has been done to Emily Howlett, as well as the cruel people bashing the deaf culture as a whole. It's time to stop, now.