Cochlear Implant: Yay or Nay

Cochlear Implant: Yay or Nay

by Brianne Bowles

Allow me to introduce two opposite people, two people who would have very different opinions on a lifestyle that couldn’t be any more separated. One person is proud to be Deaf (capitalized because of the pride) and lives in the world of signing. The other person is proud to sign and embraces it, seeing no need to change themselves for hearing people. Then there is the Deaf Community: classifies as deaf because they are the only deaf family in a town or neighborhood or could be the one deaf child in the family of hearing guardians. The implant leads to the diversity in conversation of the Deaf culture and the deaf community; this implant could be apart of both worlds or strictly hearing.

Accepting an implant that could change a deaf person’s entire world. A cochlear implant replaces the damaged parts within the ear that no longer lets one hear and provides those signals to the brain. This implant could give a deaf person a new life and allow them to hear noises for the first time.However, when the implant is removed or taken off the person will be deaf. The issue in that statement is: would it be okay to make the decision for the child and not let him decide if he wants to be Deaf or if they would rather be hearing.

On the hearing side the implant poses as a solution to give someone the ability to hear, not perfect but somewhat, sounds. The person would need therapy to learn how to have a voice and teach them the ways a person would speak.

Yet on the Deaf side it is seen as an insult to the culture. The damage doesn’t need to be fixed, and all the implant seems to be is a solution to an unfixable problem. The Deaf culture doesn’t think they need to be fixed or that they are broken. To them they are perfect the way they are and use American Sign Language to communicate with each other.  They find that to be as normal and fluent as english would be to a hearing person.

According to the NAD( National Association of the Deaf) committee,“Cochlear implants do not eliminate deafness.  An implant is not a ‘cure’ and an implanted individual is still deaf.”

Oakdale High School ASL teacher Ms. Elizabeth Mulcahy gave her opinion on the issue. Even though she is not deaf she has knowledge of the controversy and replied, “ The Deaf community/ culture feel they’re not impaired, and there is no need for them to be fixed. While hearing people seem to think it is a solution.” 

Agreeing with her as a hearing person I have no insight to being Deaf, although I can give an insight and information on the implant. I have respect for someone who is proud of being different and there is no need to make he/she feel they need to be fixed.

Let me introduce two people. Both different and not close to being the same. One sees cochlear implant as a solution and the other sees it as an insult. How do you make both sides see the change it would bring or the proudness and confidence in not wanting to change? There is no right in changing someone who does not want to be changed, but also the power and incredibility of change can help bring something new to the table.

Photo courtesy of:  http://www.auditory-verbal.org/tag/cochlear-implants/