Cochlear Implants

March 9, 2011
By JennaEmbree SILVER, Oak Lawn, Illinois
JennaEmbree SILVER, Oak Lawn, Illinois
9 articles 0 photos 0 comments

When a deaf child is born to hearing parents, the parents will often debate on the child undergoing a procedure so they are able to hear, not realizing the harm they may cause. A cochlear implant is a mechanical device promoted by the hearing society against the deaf’s free will. Cochlear implants are oppressive, hazardous to one’s health, and unnecessary to the deaf community. Hearing parents desire for their children to have this surgery is extinguishing the importance of deaf culture and causing serious physical and emotional harm to the child who uses it. While the implant can be effective, the risks of health injury and dangers of the child’s well-being seriously outweigh the chances for success. Some may say that a child with hearing-loss can live a normal life such as a hearing child. However, this procedure will set this child apart from the rest. Cochlear implants will take away the significance of the deaf culture and is damaging to a person in all aspects.

A cochlear implant is an electronical device inserted under the skin and behind the ear to cure severe hearing loss. What isn’t understood by most is that the people who are making the decision to get the implant are usually not the ones going under the knife. Hearing parents are making a choice to have their deaf child undergo a surgery in which twenty percent of people can’t understand spoken language afterwards. Recent studies have shown that the implant is more likely to be effective when the surgery happens when the child is six years old or younger. The problem with this is that the decision must be quick and could effect the child’s life in negative ways. Frederic Venail a Medicinal Doctor said, “In a prospective French study of children who received their cochlear implant before age 6, some 53% failed at least one grade at school” (Phend). The children with the implant whose test scores have improved, have had to be taught by vocational trainers. The cochlear implant is influencing the way the hearing world views the deaf. Deaf schools are no longer being funded by the government because an increasing amount of people believe that they should be sent to a public school. Putting a deaf child with or without cochlear implants will be forcing them to adjust to an environment they aren’t comfortable in. The National Deaf Education Project states that “Children who are deaf who are not exposed to early language input are likely to have severe deficits that will have an impact on future learning and will require extensive intervention to facilitate language development” (Siegel). This will result in low test scores, uneasiness, and no sense of belonging. In addition to educational failure, cochlear implants have risks of: meningitis infection, bleeding, complications due to anesthesia, dizziness, temporary taste disturbances, additional hearing loss, and even device failure. Also anyone the that has had a cochlear implant cannot have access to the use of an MRI in the future. A cochlear implant is not mandatory nor beneficial to a deaf child’s life.

Cochlear implants have had a huge impact on the views of the deaf community. It is seen by the hearing people a disability to be fixed rather than a culture to be thrived on. It is something that should be accepted by the hearing population not something to be changed. The main purpose of the implant is to be normal and hear like everybody else. Kathleen Hoppe, the mother of deaf children said “Some may argue that the benefit of possible speech perception, and use outweighs the disappointment in a child having to avoid these play situations. However, I find it ironic that in an attempt to make the child be more like the rest of the ‘hearing world’ that the child must be identified as ‘different’ on playgrounds and at birthday parties” (Hoppe). Cochlear implants are not a solution if it’s something that sets the child apart from everyone else at first glance. Getting a surgery usually means that something is wrong and is need to be repaired. Telling a child that they need to get this surgery is going to make them feel like they’re broken. “Critics of cochlear implant literature point out the lack of studies investigation the implant’s impact on the child’s family, peer relationships, self-esteem, and sense of identity” (Delost). Hearing parents are obsessed over the loss of hearing instead of focusing on the childs future and self-confidence. This attitude can keep a positive self-image from the child and they might lose their sense of identity. With a cochlear implant they are looked upon as traitors to their own kind and to the hearing as someone who is ‘different’. The average deaf adult is proud of their indiviuality and have love for the deaf culture to which they belong. The deaf child needs to be shown the world of deafness and allowed to see it as subculture to develop upon.

Many people argue that the cochlear implant is a valid suggestion to better a deaf child’s future. The American Medical Association says that “The main concern of the cochlear implant supporters is for the deaf child to have access to the mainstream, or ‘normal’ hearing world” (Delost). They state that the benefits range from detection of sounds to understanding spoken lip reading. Their child would be presented with unlimited opportunities throughout life achieving equal amounts of success just as much as the next hearing person. It’s understandable that the parents of a deaf child would like to be able to communicate with their offspring and that being deaf serves as a huge communication barrier. However, normalizing the child against it’s will is detrimental to the child’s physical, mental, and intellectual stability. The cochlear implant gives reason to treat deafness as if it’s a disability making the child feel broken and insecure. According to Aviva Weinberg “treating deafness as a medical handicap is discrimination and the idea of a cochlear implant is exceptionally offensive” (Weinberg). The deaf community is a culture and the idea of a cochlear implant is threatening the entire existence of it. It’s difficult to the deaf society to accept something that would take it’s entire tradition into question. Furthermore, hearing parents should know that the word ‘success’ has nothing to with the ability to hear or speak.

The actuality of the cochlear implant will hold back communication development for the deaf and threaten the support of deaf cultural tradition. Cochlear implants are oppressive and harmful to a child’s well-being. Others feel that the implant is meant to improve the life of a deaf child and that it will help them succeed in life. Instead, they are exterminating the life of the deaf environment and proceed to make a child feel like something is wrong with them. The cochlear implant is harmful and unneccessary to the deaf world. It undermines the pride and importance of the deaf community and should be recognized as an ability to prosper, not a disability to be looked down upon. The hearing parents of deaf children should be well-informed about the outcome of the cochlear implant before preceding with the surgery for their child. In an age of accepting diversity, the deaf child should be embraced instead of altered.

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