Monday, June 7, 2010

Formspring Q & A #5

This is just too funny...a blogger friend asked me this on the last Friday of May and I got this last Tuesday...

Q: What is your opinion on cochlear implants and the impact it has on the deaf community?

A: Some of you are not aware of the firestorm the cochlear implant (CI) has on the deaf community. I'll educate you briefly (you can find more on Google) on why that is controversial. The deaf community is strongly opposed to CI for two reasons - "genocide" of the deaf culture and the age of the CI recipients.

Many deaf people feel that by allowing CIs in the kids, these kids would grow up and not embrace the deaf culture anymore. That does happen and their fears are justified, I'll grant you that...but on the flip side, I have seen children of deaf adults (who have not received CI) either embrace or disdain the deaf culture, regardless of their hearing ability.

As for the age of the CI recipients, that is even a bigger controversy. How so? Imagine that you are 21 years old...some government agent or doctor tells you that you must give up your love for sports and allow the doctors to scoop out some bone from your skull, compromising the skull integrity. You must wear some bionic modification and you must maintain it at all times. You do not have a say in this. You would not like that, right?

Now, imagine that you are a baby and you lost your hearing. Having CI will restore that, but at a price - you lose your skull integrity and some residual hearing when the doctors cut through the nerves to implant the CI. What grow up and you want to play baseball? No, you can't because there's a risk of a line drive to your head. Football? Nope. Lacrosse? Nope. Any sport? Bowling, sure...darts, sure...anything NOT remotely possible of injury to the head and that's not much else you can do. Sorry.

I am NOT going to debate whether or not the parents have the right to do this to their kids or even the moral/ethical obligations. That would be a LONG and protracted post. I'll leave that to professionals, educators, doctors, and deaf advocates to slug it out.

My opinion on CI is this...if you want one, go for it. What about those who cannot make informed decisions? I always hesitate to answer, but I would allow them to receive CI if I feel that this would not be a problem for them later on. I suspect that my older daughter would want to remain active in sports and I think my younger may like to play sports. If that is the case, then I would not allow them to receive CI. My girls are old enough to understand, but not enough to decide on their own. I would listen to them first though.

The other downside of being a person with CI is being shunned for having CI. I won't ostracize those people like some other deaf people do. I have known a few deaf people who got CI and some of them do benefit from having CI. They are VERY happy with having CI. However, few others have stopped using the CI completely because they didn't like it anymore. They cannot undo what was done to them in order to have CI. See what I mean?

There will ALWAYS be controversy when it comes to "helping" the deaf people. If a scientist discovers a way to permanently fix the hearing loss without any surgical modification (think "Star Trek") you think the deaf people would embrace that? Nope.


Lisa said...

We have a 6 yr old at church that has a CI. She's had it since she was like a toddler. I remember the first time it fell off when she was in my class and I didn't have a clue how to "attach" it. When I got close to it the magnet sucked it from my fingers scaring the crap out of me. I do notice that she pulls it off when the kids are getting real loud.
I can't say I have an opinion on the subject since this is my only experience with it.

DCHY said...

Lisa - I can see how that would scare you. That's funny. CI people often look forward to doing that to others just for giggles. Pulling it off is a benefit when the noise level is just too much to handle. Now you know why we laugh at hearing people. ;)

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

I wonder now if my neighbors regret doing CI for their daughter. She was 2 when we met her and I know she got them earlier than that.

THey are both hearing so maybe it was a bit selfish on their parts?

I didn't know it did anything to their physical.

DCHY said...

Shelle - why don't you ask them that? You may be surprised. ;) I recommend that you check out a documentary, "Sound and Fury".