Essay about Deaf Culture

Submitted By DW27
Words: 2545
Pages: 11

Cochlear implantation is controversial in the Deaf community. What do you know about cochlear implantation and why do you think so many proponents of Deaf Culture are opposed to this technology?

Before I began to research cochlear implants, my knowledge about them was very basic. I knew they were surgical implants used to provide deaf people with the opportunity to hear sounds. I was also aware that there are internal and external portions used in collaboration to aid an individual to hear sounds. I assumed that they allowed people with hearing impairments or hearing loss to hear in the same way that the majority of people hear. I have since learned that, “…cochlear implants do not restore normal hearing” (nidcd.nih.org). Instead, cochlear implants circumvent impaired parts of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. While it takes time to learn how to hear via a cochlear implant, their recipients are then able to interpret speech without visual cues. Cochlear implants have also enabled children to acquire speech, language and improved social skills when partnered with postimplantation therapy (nidcd.nih.org).
After watching the documentary, Sound and Fury, I think one of the reasons members of the Deaf community are so opposed to this technology is because they fear that due to the advent of the cochlear implant, Deaf Culture will some day cease to exist. For individuals who belong to the Deaf community, being deaf is an important part of their identity. In the documentary it appeared to me that each parental figure in the Artinian family wanted what was best for the children, they just had very different views of what they would be.
I feel that another controversial issue is the age of the patient during the optimal time of receiving the cochlear implant. The earlier children with hearing loss receive cochlear implants, the better success rate they are projected to have in terms of comprehending sounds and speaking (children.webmd.com). Considering infants participate in a newborn hearing screening in the hospital shortly after delivery, hearing loss can be detected soon after birth. Parents who are interested in having their child undergo the cochlear implantation surgery will most likely be making the decision for their child. In the film, it appeared that many members of the Deaf community were against the idea that a child would not be granted the opportunity to choose which life style they would prefer to live.
It was so interesting witnessing the struggles the families faced while deciding whether to allow their children to receive the implant or not. Heather’s parents were clearly very proud members of the Deaf community. Although the child expressed that she wanted a cochlear implant, she was only 4 ½ and too young to make such a life altering decision independently. Only time will tell if she will choose to get the implant as she matures. I understood why her parents denied her the implant. Heather’s father, Peter, mentioned that he felt the procedure was “scary” and “invasive.” Heather’s parents expressed that they feared if Heather got the implant she would no longer fit into the deaf world.
I felt that Heather’s parents seemed to have the impression that their extended family members looked down on them for being deaf. I did not feel that was their intention. It appeared to me that the entire family genuinely loved and cared for each other. It appeared that the extended family wanted Heather to be provided with equal opportunities for success in life. Heather’s father even admitted that he felt his hearing impairment held him at a disadvantage at work. He expressed that his deafness forced him to rely on the help of translators and written modes of communication.
I think people become comfortable with what they know and experience. It made sense to me that Heather’s parents decided against the implant. On the other hand it seemed predictable that his brother…