The Controversy of Cochlear Implants

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Melissa Weeks
Professor Christina Hitchcock
HUMA 150 Critical Thinking
24 April 2012
Melissa Weeks: The Controversy of Cochlear Implants
While composing this research paper, I had been asked what topic I chose by a few close friends. Most of the time, the person interested in the topic I chose, had no clue what a cochlear implant is. This is the first issue I’m concerned about. Another concern is the choices that are made by hearing parents of a deaf child. Does the parent consider if their deaf child will be considered Deaf? There are two definitions of deaf. One definition is lower case, and the other upper case. The lower case word refers to hearing loss. The upper case word refers to the Deaf Culture or using Sign. The question still remains. This topic interests me because I have been around Sign since I could remember. Being raised in a church that had an interpreter at every service had a profound impact on my interests. At a young age, I was taught how to Sign the alphabet, numbers, and simple songs. I also took 2 years of American Sign Language at my high school. After high school, I then became more involved in the Deaf community. I learned more and more about their Culture on a daily basis. This is what has made me so passionate about the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. I feel the topic of the Deaf Culture isn’t as known by hearing as it should be. This in turn has a direct impact on a hearing parent that has found out their child is deaf. A Cochlear Implant is a device that provides direct electrical stimulation to the auditory nerve in the inner ear says Boswell. She also states that the device has internal and external components. The external parts include a microphone, a speech processor, and a transmitter and the internal parts include the receiver and electrodes. These electrodes stimulate the auditory nerve and completely bypass the damaged hair cells in the inner ear. The processor turns the sound digital and sends it to the transmitter. The transmitter sends “coded signals” to the receiver implanted under the skin. Sound “sensations” are perceived when the transmitter sends a signal to several electrodes that simulate the auditory nerve.

I firmly believe that any parent should take time to research any concern a doctor might have. Let’s pretend you’re at the doctors with your child who was under developed at birth and is missing their arm from the elbow down. The doctor suggests prosthetics. Wouldn’t you want to understand the prosthetics you will be introducing into your child’s life? More than likely I would turn to the resources available to find the very best of the best for my child’s needs. Often times when looking into Cochlear Implants, the Deaf Culture isn’t a part of the decision making. It’s often over looked by the recommendations of the doctor. Might I add, who isn’t deaf. “Despite the large amount of information parents may encounter, most hearing parents are exposed largely to a medical model of deafness and may not be presented with information about the social, cultural, and linguistic life of the Deaf community.” (Hyde, Punch, and et al) Something I found similar and equally concerning are the words of Blume. He said manufacturers of the Cochlear Implant couldn’t understand the lack of interest by Deaf adults. So they turned to children. Most of who were born with hearing parents. (Blume, 58) Because of this, Cochlear Implants are becoming more and more popular within the hearing community. It was also argued in the same article that parents are unable to make fully informed choices. Studies show that parents are making decisions about Cochlear implantation based more on their values then by doctors recommendations alone. (Hyde, Punch, and et al) One parent who chose to forgo the Cochlear Implant said she noticed that Deaf and Hard of Hearing are happy. Studies also showed that the main deciding factor was the motivation of the parent for their child to be able to speak the...
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