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What's Wrong With Cochlear Implants? Part 2
Deaf Awareness at Weekly Hubmob!
is part two of a series on personal examination of cochlear implanted
culture. Previously, we visited what I went through to receive the
cochlear implant. What you’re about to read here is what happens after
the implant has been turned on. Here, I attempt to answer what
cultural and technological impact the cochlear implant really has.
Basically, what was wrong with cochlear implants?
I ask that because my continuing experience with cochlear implant never clashed me against the deaf culture. It clashed me briefly against the hearing world because of such high expectations to suddenly hear. I was seeking out communities for cochlear implant online that I found raging debate from the deaf culture AGAINST cochlear implantation. Here, suddenly, I felt a clash against the deaf culture for the first time. The main two premises that I discovered in the side against cochlear were: 1) Hearing parents are inconvenienced by deaf child, so they want to fix it immediately with cochlear implant, and 2) This has potential to tear apart the vital deaf culture that is so immersed in sign language and visual cues.
My immediate reaction was: “You don’t get to decide how the rest of the hearing impaired want to live. Some of us don’t identify as big D deaf!”
- What's Wrong With Cochlear Implants? Part 1
The cultural conflict that came with the introduction of cochlear implants for the hearing impaired was unforeseen. To this day, there is still a debate but with a sense of resignation.
Mainstream School : Kindergarten!
Being Hearing But Not Hearing
first argument I remember is: Socially, you are pitting the child
against two worlds. The deaf culture would never fully accept the
child because he/she is not deaf in the sense that is valid to the deaf
society. The hearing world will expect the child to simply hear just
like the rest of them and they would never fully accept the child
because he/she is not hearing in the sense that is valid to the
mainstream. Neither of them seemed to accept that there are variety of
degrees to hearing loss that both worlds are actually quite diverse in!
This came as no surprise to me. After all, I understood what it was to be stuck in both worlds without the cochlear implant. I am simply continuing to exist on that social plane with the cochlear implant. I never had to struggle with the deaf culture with the exception of going to deaf camps, I only had to struggle in the hearing world. That’s half the fight taken out! The reason for this is that my grandmother toured the deaf schools in nearby counties. What she found was that many never used their voice and only their ASL. She feared my loss of voice that I so often utilized to the annoyance of my family.
I never considered myself the big D deaf, nor did I ever consider myself hearing. I had no words for what I was. What surprised me, however, is that as time went on, I was simply accepted as me. So, that argument was rendered invalid in my eyes instantly.
The next best solution to this is simply accepting the child or person’s desire to see what it was to hear through the cochlear implant. Allow that culture of the cochlear implanted people to also grow and thrive in their own vitality. For the most part, I feel at home wherever I am, whoever I am. I am my own culture.
Fantastic Vlog On CI With Very Good Points
Hearing Just For the Convenience?
The next argument I faced was a question of ethics. Essentially; "Hearing parents are inconvenienced by the deaf child, so they want to fix it immediately with cochlear implant." I had to think long and hard on this one.
Surely, having hearing is a natural right. It's what most creatures are supposed to have, otherwise I do not see the point in having these appendages hanging off the sides of our head. But, also, being impaired and already part of a culture you identify with strongly is an absolute right to possess.
For me, it was not a question applicable to me. But it made me question my family's choice in allowing me to go for the cochlear. Were they inconvenienced by my lack of hearing? Then, I remember, the key word is allowed. They allowed me to make the choice at 15 years of age, especially after months of meeting with surgeons, audiologists, and social workers to make an informed choice.
For much younger children, the choice may have to be based on the culture they are a part of until they can make the choice on their own. Technologically, it may not ever be too late to get a cochlear implant because there are people over the age of 50 who are obtaining the technology for themselves.
Are We Destroying a Culture?
The medical technology has potential to tear apart the vital deaf culture that is so immersed in sign language and visual cues.
I can definitely see how this is the case. Technology has the potential to overwhelm culture. To me, though, this technology replaces what has been lost or never there. In this deaf culture and mainstream, it is an opportunity to diversify when there are so many diversity in degrees of hearing loss. The key here is that we still depend on other languages (ASL) and visual cues, even with cochlear implant.
I am very dependent on visual cues like lip reading and body language. My cochlear implant has not entirely replaced my hearing. It has given a little back to me but not all. I still cannot talk on phones very well. I still request intrepreting. I won't go to the movies without open captioning or I will lose every single dialogue there is in it. I do take pride in knowing I am part of the unique in between that I can take so many learning experiences from.
Culture has not been destroyed, it has been changed. Changes are inevitable. From what I can see in the several decades that cochlear implant has been in our world, the deaf community is still vital and going strong. The rest of us move on.
- POV on Deaf Technology
Another hubber's POV on Deaf Technology. This is one of the many less invasive technology that is directly about communication, i.e. video relay service! Many deaf and hard of hearing rely on interpreters for phone calls.
What Is Wrong?
Ethically and morally, many things can go wrong in influencing people against or for cochlear implant. The support system set up with the cochlear implant industry is that you must have a good family environment that supports what you choose to do -- cochlear or not! There is counseling for this.
Otherwise, nothing is wrong. Today, seven years later, I am still hearing impaired. I just hear so much better than I did then. Upgrade is due for me, however. The downside to cochlear implantation is the costs, unless you have the insurance to cover it.