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American Sign Language and Deaf Culture: Cochlear Implants 

Jennifer Enright

November 5, 2004


Cochlear Implants

(Why culturally Deaf people are against them.)


I. What Deaf people think about cochlear implants.

a. Do they think it will affect their culture?

b. Would they have one if they had the choice?

II. When are people old enough to have an implant?

a. Do deaf and hearing people want to give their children the implant?


     Gloria Cosgrove met with the Metro Silent Club and discussed with them, how they felt about cochlear implants, since most of the culturally Deaf population thinks that the implant is trying to "destroy their culture."

"You mentioned medical practice," Gloria said, "were you thinking about cochlear implants? Where do you stand on that?"

"Itís a sensitive issue," said Jake, "If I may speak for most of us, we donít have a problem with cochlear implants for adults. But for children who were born Deaf, No! Itís exposing children to an invasive experimental surgical procedure for dubious reasons and even more dubious results."

". . . If more and more Deaf children get cochlear implants and are kept away from the DEAF-WORLD, that would mean the end of the Deaf culture," Henry said.

"I donít think thatís going to happen," Jake said, "Itís my understanding that though the procedure is very invasive, an implant is just another kind of hearing aid, a built-in hearing aid. When hearing aids came into vogue, Deaf culture never faded away. Instead, we threw away the hearing aids. I think that when these implanted kids get older, they many get angry at their parents for making the implant decision for them when they were young. . ."

"But would any of you have one?" Gloria persisted.

"No!" They were all agreed, though Laurel said she knew of a few former classmates who were either totally in the hearing world or marginally in the deaf, and they would do it. (A Journey into the Deaf-World, Harlen Lane, Ben Bahan, Robert Hoffmeister, pg. 376)

     As this quote states, all of this club would refuse to have a cochlear implant, one memberís parents asked her to get a cochlear implant and she didnít speak with them for weeks. According to the member her parents hadnít accepted her for who she really was. Others state that it would cause the Deaf-World to slowly dissipate and eventually disappear altogether. Although they did say that the cochlear implant would probably soon turn out to be just another hearing aid, a permanent hearing aid, but none the less still a hearing aid.

FDA Requirements for Cochlear Implants

". . . candidates must be at least two years old (the age in which specialists can verify the

severity of the childís deafness). (Living with Hearing Loss, Carol Turkington, Allen E. Sussman, pg. 100)

     As you can see any deaf/partially deaf person can become eligible for an implant once theyíve reached their second birthday. Many hearing parents apply for this procedure as soon as their childís second birthday arrives. The Deaf community although would leave the child deaf to join in with the Deaf community.

     "It does not seem to matter that the deaf say again and again that they value their culture, their language, and their world. The hearing remain perplexed. This, of course, perplexes the DEAF-WORLD. The gulf between the two worlds engenders accusations and recriminations. The DEAF-WORLD is accused of resisting cochlear implants because it wants to Ďstealí the Deaf child." (A Journey into the Deaf World, pg. 373)

     Unfortunately the more the Deaf try to defend their culture the more the hearing world tryís to bring it down and create an all hearing world.


See the sign for: "Cochlear Implant"

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