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The Deaf Culture And Cochlear Implants

Deafness is a tragedy, or at least to the vast majority of people. However, the fact that there are deaf individuals that protest against cochlear implants proves that there is more to this problem. Considering this, is allowing parents to make the decision about these implants on their children’s behalf a good thing?

The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AGB) has been at odds with the representatives of Deaf culture for years. AGB members aim to reduce the number of children that suffer from hearing loss, by promoting the practices that should help with early diagnostic and treatment of the conditions that can cause deafness. Recently, they added cochlear implant promotion to their list of incentives, and many parents saw this medical technique as an opportunity to solve their children’s problems. Representatives of Deaf culture are concerned about this for several reasons. The most important of them is the infringement on the child’s rights and will. Deaf activists state that a child can lead a fulfilling life even without hearing, and claim that AGB makes profit from miseducating parents.

AGB advocates an oralist approach to deafness. This means that they aim to educate hard of hearing children through lip reading, and the use of oral speech that they should be able to understand due to cochlear implants. Bell himself was an avid supporter of oralism, and the idea that being able to speak and hear is better by default. He contributed to the removal of Deaf faculty from schools, and even advocated the initiative to prohibit deaf marriages. In the eyes of the Deaf community, these policies dealt irreparable damage to their society. Children were most affected by the changes because this approach enhanced their feelings of inadequacy. Due to Bell’s advocating, American Sign Language (ASL) was banned in schools. Today, one of AGB’s objectives is reducing its use.

Cochlear implants that are strongly promoted by AGB are sources of concern, even without the added controversy that surrounds them. They are implants, so they are susceptible to all inherent surgery and technical risks. They can also cause serious problems when used such as sound distortion, complete destruction of residual hearing, irritation, failure, and many others. Therefore, it is imperative that all parents study the complete list of risks associated with this procedure before making any decisions. It is also wise to look deeper into Deaf culture to see what kind of alternatives their children have.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding cochlear implant technology in the Deaf community. Many people support it, while others try to restore their rights to not hear. It is impossible to determine who is right in this case, because the issue is too personal.