View Full Version : Cochlear Implants
08-17-2005, 07:59 AM
I put this thread in the wrong area so I have created it in chit chat
08-17-2005, 08:08 AM
Wow, I didn't even know that there could be a debate about something like this?!?!?
I guess I always just figured, that if there was a way to help someone who couldn't hear, be able to, that it was a great thing. Esp if you start when they are children, so that it's not so overwhelming to adjust to the new senses.
How is it considered bad, to be able to hear? I just don't understand?
It wouldn't be that I was ashamed of my child, should he need one, it would be about making the quality of his life better. A standard of living that I would apply to any situation, as would most parents.
08-17-2005, 08:12 AM
adore, I agree with you. I was amazed to find out that this really was a big debate among the deaf community. Anybody?
08-17-2005, 08:12 AM
Hmm...now, I don't have a deaf child (knock on wood) and I'm not a member of the deaf community...so perhaps my opinions aren't as valid, but I don't think that having a cochlear implant means that you think your child isn't "good enough" and needs to be "fixed" or anything like that. I think it is a way of trying to enable your child to live a normal and trouble-free life as possible...and unfortunately, most people assume others can hear just fine.
To me, assigning shame to the procedure of a cochlear implant is the equivalent of the kidney failure community assigning shame to the procedure of kidney transplant. The only difference is that one is a matter of life or death and one is a matter of normalcy (though we all die anyway, so maybe kidney transplants aren't really a "life or death" situation, when you think about it).
08-17-2005, 08:24 AM
I think the debate rages among the deaf community because precisely they have become a community onto itself and deafness has become their bond. Deafness becomes a commonality too with members of the family, etc. It is usually in these situations that there is resistance to the implants ~ when the whole family is deaf. Within their community, deafness is "normal". So having these implant would make their children "different" from everyone else.
I think the implant is not much of an issue for a deaf child of hearing parents.
08-17-2005, 08:48 AM
I can see what you mean about "community" and the child being different because it can hear, but I still don't understand how this can even be a hot topic?
Wouldn't even a deaf parent, of a 5 year old, rather have that child hear a car coming down the street, then having to worry about how that 5 year old forgot to look before crossing? Wouldn't even a deaf parent, want their child to hear the birds sing, or a choir?
I really don't understand how improving your childs life style is a debate.
08-17-2005, 09:33 AM
I agree with you, adoredh
But for the deaf, there is no reality of a choir or birds singing. They have a concept of sound, but it's abstract. Deafness opens up a world of other sensory experience although it is mainly an adaptation to not being able to hear. Since they don't see there being a problem with their lifestyle, they see no need to improve it. The big bone of contention is that. Deafness to them is like skin color. You are born with it and there is nothing wrong about being black, brown, white or yellow. So why change it?
As a hearing person, I would definitely get the implants for my child if she needed it.
08-17-2005, 09:36 AM
Deaf culture is an identity. This identity is represented through their marriage records. Nine out of ten members of the deaf community marry members of their own cultural group (Cindy’s Homepage, 1998). The generations of the deaf persons before have passed on their pride, wisdom, and values of the deaf culture and this is one of the reasons their support of beliefs is so strong. Members of the deaf community do not feel that deafness is a disability and they advocate pride in who and what they are, not what they are missing out on. To be a part of deaf culture is to be deaf in behavior, values, and knowledge (Cindy’s Homepage, 1998).
If the deaf culture is opposed to cochlear implants who would be a good candidate to receive one because the recipient must be deaf? Well, anyone over the age of two can receive a cochlear implant if they meet the following requirements: candidates must be profoundly deaf in both ears, must have a sensorineural loss, must have an intact auditory nerve, and have high motivation to hear and operate within a hearing environment. A few instances have been noted where criteria was lowered to eighteen months for some children and the number of recipients is increasing each year. One in every 500 children by the age of five has a profound hearing loss, so the number of candidates is high. Also adults that cannot hear more than forty percent of key words and phrases in sentences may be candidates (Biderman, 1998).
Now that cochlear implants and deaf culture have been briefly defined we are going to take a closer look at the controversies that lie within hearing and deaf cultures about the medical technology of cochlear implants. The main controversies that will be examined by the deaf culture are cultural preservation, family controversy, and fitting and rehabilitation drawbacks. For the hearing culture the focus lies within quality of life and better acquisition of speech and language.
So how does the deaf community feel about all these people getting implanted and the new technological advances? It is not a pretty picture. According to Stewart – Muirhead (1994) the deaf claim that the cochlear implant is just another example of the values and language of the majority being imposed on the minority. Many members of the deaf community see cochlear implants as a threat to their culture, not to mention a huge insult. To some it represents a condemnation of deafness, and an attempt to fix something that they do not consider in need of fixing (Biderman, 1998).
Many people are well known for their extensive advocating for the deaf culture, such as Nancy Bloch, the executive director of the National Association of the Deaf. Bloch stated that she has little tolerance for those who equate the inability to hear sound with a lower quality of life (as cited in Tolson, 1999). Since deaf activists feel that deafness is not a disability they speak their beliefs loud and clear. A Canadian deaf culture association has even called cochlear implants emotional and mental abuse, and an attempt at genocide and ethnic purification (Biderman, 1998). Many people and organizations have spoken out against cochlear implants. There has been picketing and even law suits, but is there enough negative information to support these views?
Cochlear implants have been known to break up families. Deciding on whether to implant or not, especially in a child, can be a heart-wrenching experience for the whole family (Hewitt et al, 2000). The wrong decision can result in troubling effects for the rest of the recipient’s life. A person might experience marginality – not being able to claim membership in hearing or deaf community causing emotional disturbances (Stewart - Muirhead, 1994). There are also quite a few technological and surgical complications; the most common are wound problems, device related problems, and temporal bone / central nervous system problems (Buchman & Fucci, 1999). According to “Cochlear Implants” (1991) there were 55 complications associated with 459 operations. There have been no deaths, but meningitis did developed in one patient. Other major complications were perilymph fistula, electrical problems, and severe facial nerve stimulations.
Also some people are not properly fitted with their devices and we do not have enough information on how to custom fit each device. (Biderman, 1998) Some patients report that the ‘noise’ is painful and annoying. Another drawback is the extensive rehabilitation and follow up after surgery (Walling, 1998). Many of these complications, emotional and physical, along with the feelings of ridding the world of deafness, makes the deaf community’s argument seem not so irrational. We must also examine the positive effects of cochlear implants to see how the hearing culture supports their view.
More than 20,000 people around the world have cochlear implants. Half of these recipients, at least 10,000, are children. Most experts in the field of speech and language therapy agree that the earlier the intervention the better the acquisition of speech and language will be. Of born deaf children only fourteen percent reach a fourth grade reading level, but fifty-seven percent of those with a cochlear implant reach a higher level (Bonn, 1998). Patients older than sixty-five have also obtained excellent results with cochlear implants by audiological evaluations and quality of life measures. This includes the alleviation of loneliness and depression as well as an enhancement of self-esteem (Buchman & Fucci, 1999). Seventy-five percent of profoundly deaf patients felt that nine months post operation the quality of their life had improved greatly and ninety percent showed improvement with speech and language (Bonn, 1998). One recipient claims that he just loves hearing his granddaughter say “Grandpa.” Doesn’t that seem like justification enough for supporting cochlear implants? (Finn, 2001).
Along with the quality of life improving so is the technology. The Nucleus 24 is smaller than past implants, it weighs less than .5 oz., and is the shape of the traditional behind the ear hearing aid. The Nucleus 24 is very good for children because it is so small (“New Generation,” 1998). Cochlear implants are improving everyday.
With any new technology there are going to be disagreeing companies. All options must be weighed carefully before deciding for or against a cochlear implant (Swanson, 1997). The decision to receive a cochlear implant is a personal one and should be based on values and hopes for the future (Stewart – Muirhead, 1994). As I said in the beginning I expected to be angered and offended by this research, but my views have changed. I went from feelings of disbelief about the deaf culture and their views, to a feeling of respect. I could not understand how a parent would refuse their child the ability to hear, but now I realize that cochlear implants can have devastating effects on families and the individual with the implant. I feel that an individual would have to be personally faced with a situation before they can say which culture they would decide with. Cochlear implants enhance lifestyles and language acquisition, but they have also split up families, they play a part in cultural preservation, and there is extensive rehabilitation. Cochlear implants can definitely change lives, but it is not always for the best.
I haven't read all the posts, but as some one who as a degree in speech and language sciences and has a nephew who is deaf, I hope I can shed some light on this subject.
cochlear implants don't all of a sudden make you hear. The patient who recieves one only can hear a series of sounds/noises, not like we hear. It will still be hard for them to understand a normal conversation and will still rely mostly on reading lips. They usually will need hearing aids to help, but these don't always work.
Being deaf is a culture, just like being American, African American, German, Jewish, etc. have their own culture. There is nothing wrong with deaf people. They have their own language (ASL). There are great deaf schools in this country (a great one here in Indiana) to help deaf children obtain a quality education. Most universities in this country will provide an ASL interpurter for a deaf student.
Being deaf is not a disability. Deaf people are and can provide any thing that a hearing person can. I look at as this way, if I'm going to another country, shouldn't I learn to speak their language? If I work with a deaf person, should I learn to speak ASL? I am by far not fluent in ASL, but I know the basics (this wasn't my main area of study), but I know enough to communicate with a deaf person.
So what happens if a deaf coupls has hearing children? Should these parents make their child deaf? HECK NO!! So why should hearing parents make a deaf child hearing? There are so many resourse out there to assist hearing parents with their deaf children. Why should they put them thru this horrible surgery that really doesn't work anyway?
08-17-2005, 10:06 AM
I put this thread in the wrong area so I have created it in chit chat. Please post this there since you have added a lot! Please :)
08-17-2005, 10:12 AM
I find this topic very interesting.
There are actually two versions of being deaf. There is deaf (little d) which refers to the physical nature of deafness and then there is Deaf (capital D) which is following Deaf Culture. Not all deaf people consider themselves "Deaf", or part of Deaf Culture, and some believe it is possible to be "Deaf" and be hearing (such has hearing children born to Deaf parents whose first language is American Sign Language).
The Deaf community has a culture all it's own. They have their own language (ASL), art, poetry, literature. People in the Deaf community do not see deafness as a disability.
Because there is a deaf community with its own language and Culture, there is a cultural frame in which to be deaf is not to be disabled. Quite the contrary, it is as we have seen an asset in Deaf Culture to be deaf in behavior, values, knowledge, and fluency in ASL. Deafness is not a disability but rather a different way of being. However, it must be noted that not all members of the deaf community share the same values of those deaf who support Deaf Culture.
Although a deaf person may sign, that alone does not mean they follow Deaf Culture or the beliefs of that Culture, remember that Deaf Culture is an identity. Each D/deaf individual is unique and opinions may differ.
It is the people who consider themselves Deaf who almost certainly would not give their child a cochlear implant. They feel the child should be old enough to make their own decision about getting a CI. Then there are hard core Deaf people who would reject a teenager or adult who decided to get a CI.
I fully support a Deaf parent's decision not to give their child a CI.
08-17-2005, 10:15 AM
Kiddo, if you don't mind can you repost in chit chat? I want to keep the conversation there since I messed up by putting it here. Sorry for the inconvenience!
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