A cochlear implant is made up of many different parts that connect to the auditory nerve and ultimately make the brain receive sound signals and allow someone to hear. An implant is a complex device made up of many parts including: a microphone to pick up sounds that the ears are not able to hear themselves, a speech processor that makes sense of the sounds being picked up by arranging them in a logical order, a transmitter and receiver/simulator that converts the work done by the speech processor into electronic impulses, an electronic array that collects the impulses and sends them into a different section of the auditory nerve that ultimately allows a person to hear. The sounds picked up by cochlear implants do not sound the same as someone with full normal hearing, but it still gives a deaf person an idea of their environment and allows them to understand speech. Cochlear implants work differently than other hearing devices, making them very unique and giving them the ability to allow someone with no hearing previously to understand sound. The major difference between cochlear implants and hearing aids is that hearing aids amplify sound in the damaged ears so that they can be loud enough to detect. Hearing aids can only be used on hard of hearing people whose ears can still detect some sound. Someone without any hearing loss hears as a result of sound waves being sent through the ear canal, causing the eardrum to vibrate. The vibrations from the eardrum then travel across the three smallest bones in the body to a part of the ear called the cochlea. The purpose of the cochlea is to convert the sound waves created by the vibrations to nerve impulses. The cochlea has hair cells, and these microscopic structures are what send the nerve impulses to the brain, which the brain then interprets into sound. Cochlear implants work by bypassing the hair cells altogether and sending the nerve signals straight to the brain (Hopkins). Cochlear implants are designed for completely deaf people who have ears that can no longer detect any noise. Cochlear implants use technology to go around the parts of the ear that are no longer functioning and stimulate the auditory nerve. Because the implants go past the damaged parts of the ears and straight to the auditory nerve, it is the brain, not the ear, that recognizes the sound. This also means that the sounds that normal hearing people hear will not be the same sounds someone with a cochlear implant hears. It also makes it so you do not feel like you are hearing from your ears, but instead from the inside or even back of your head. Often times, people who receive cochlear implants have to relearn how to make out sounds and make sense of noises. Through time with the implant, an individual will be able to receive sound signals, hear everyday noises in the environment, and even have conversations with people both in person and over the phone (NIDCD).
When you consider cochlear implants in the Deaf community, you see a stigma that can be traced back of the concept of deafness in possibly one of the biggest debates of non-normality