(Closed) What are your thoughts on children born deaf and cochlear implants?

posted 8 years ago in The Lounge
Post # 3
820 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

@GoldfishPie:  I don’t think parents who decide to use a cochlear implant for their deaf child are causing the child to be cut off from Deaf culture. The child will have an easier time learning to sign since they can now hear to a certain extent what peole are saying to them and they can hear themselves. I’ve know two people who have had cochlear implants, one guy is super happy with his choice. Another person i know had it and his mother had it removed after the child requested they take it out. I’m not 100% why, but from what I’ve been able to gather it was a large source of bullying. 

So in all honesty I think deaf children who are not implanted are still given a good chance to succeed in life, but the implant sure does help. My friend who has the implant would not be able to work with me in the hospital if he didn’t have it. It would just be too hard because a large part of his job focuses on being able to hear what people are asking of him. 

Post # 4
2695 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2008

I did some work in the space and saw the movie.  I totally understand the concerns of people not being a part of the deaf community.  That said, if I had a deaf child, I (think I) would implant them, as it would provide them more opportunities in life.  And the earlier the implant is done, the better the result.  I would also want us all to learn sign language, as that is really the gateway into the deaf community – and then the child could always choose to remove the implant later in life if he/she wanted.

Post # 5
5295 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: January 1993

I’ve heard about this – deaf people being upset at the idea of their children not being as entrenched in the deaf culture.. Frankly, I think it is selfish of the parents. I think it is impossible to deny the fact that a hearing person will have more opportunities in life than someone who is deaf. Not that a deaf person can’t have just as a fulfilling life (I’m sure they can), but they probably have to work through more challenges than a hearing person.

Why would you want to DENY your child the chance to make life a little easier on them? I see no reason why these children (esp. with deaf parents/family members/friends) can’t learn ASL and still learn and know about the deaf culture. I just couldn’t imagine, as a parent, NOT doing something that would be hugely beneficial to my child’s life.

Post # 6
13095 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2010

@hisgoosiegirl:  You took the words right out of my mouth.  I totally agree with what you wrote.

Just because someone gets a cochlear implant doesn’t mean that they can’t learn ASL and be a part of the deaf community.  It doesn’t mean that being deaf is the “worst thing in the world”.  It just means that they are making certain aspects of life easier.

It seems pretty impossible to deny that it is easier overall to go through life as a perosn of hearing than a deaf person.  That doesn’t mean the deaf people can’t be very fulfilled and successful but they will face more challenges.

Post # 8
685 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

I’m a speech language pathologist and have worked with deaf children.  I can definitely see both sides of the coin.  I think that most parents, who are deaf, choose to not implant their child because they want their child to be a part of their culture, while others, implant them because they want them to have more advantages in their life than they did.  With that being said, just because you have a cochlear implant does not mean that you will be able to hear perfectly.  If you google it, you will get an idea of what they hear, and it’s not clear speech.  If anything, it gives them the ability to hear more environmental sounds.  But often, people who have cochlear implants supplement their speech with sign language because they still have “deaf speech”.

I think that cochlear implants are an AMAZING innovation in technology that can only improve.

Post # 9
395 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 1969


I once saw a quote that applies here: “why are blind people always so cool, and deaf people are such assholes?” lol. It’s tongue-in-cheek but, after studying ASL for several years myself, I think there is truth in that statement.

Personally I would never deny my child the ability to hear. I do not believe this is the parents’ choice. Deafness *is* by definition a disability. Why would I force that upon my child? I’d get the implant, teach him/her ASL, and let the child decide when they are old enough.

Post # 10
1443 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

As someone who has a deaf twin sister, and is also working towards becoming a certified interpreter, I understand both sides of this debate.

My twin sister had a cochlear implant when she was a very small child, which never worked properly. Throughout her life she has had this implant that was useless, and a few years ago she decided to try going through the process again since the technology had changed. After the initial peak of hope that it had worked, we ran into complications again and she had the implant removed. That is when we found out that she was born without an auditory nerve and will never be able to hear. She, of course, was perfectly fine with that and just happy to finally be without the implant. She has lived her entire life as being a 100% deaf individual, and has no problem continuing that way.

My sister has kind of flip-flopped on her thoughts about the inplant throughout her life. She definately does NOT see an individual with a cochlear implant as not belonging to the deaf community. She is very much interested in deaf pride, and doesn’t not see herself as being a handicapped person.

I don’t think that not giving your child is bad, nor do I think that giving a child an implant is bad. Ideally, that decision should be made when they are old enough to decide for themselves, but sometimes you have to make choices early on in life and have to guess at what is going to be best.

The only thing I DO have a problem with though, is either giving a child a cochlear implant and forcing them to speak and never learn sign language and being made to believe that being deaf is a bad thing and they should try and hide it or be ashamed of it. I’ve also seen parents that don’t give their child a cochlear implant, but refuse to learn or use sign lanaguage, and basically give their child no way to communicate with the world because of their ignorance. That’s the only choices that burn me up inside.

Post # 11
945 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

I’m a CODA (child of deaf adult{s}) and my Fiance is deaf. I can see reasons as to why parents would have a CI for their child, and why they would not. 

I’m not against one way or another, but I am against parents who force young children to get a CI, honestly I think parents should hold off on that and wait until the child has had time to research CI’s for themselves and let them make their own educated choices regarding the subject. 

My FI’s parents did not force him to get a CI, and they sent him to a deaf insitute to socialize him early on, and allowed him to make his own choices regarding school, CI’s, and just about anything else regarding his deafness so that he wasn’t being forced. Now, my one pet peeve about what they did is that they didn’t learn sign language and they themselves shyed away from the deaf community. Now that they have a soon to be daughter-in-law with deaf parents, they are struggling to come to terms that they are not going to be able to effectively communicate to my parents without me or my Fiance by their sides interpreting the whole conversation. 

I wish that doctors who have parents come to them with deaf children would first advise parents to learn sign language to communicate with their children. I’ve seen many deaf individuals with CI’s who still largely rely on ASL to communicate as the CI only allows them to hear sounds, but not words and specific things like that. I’ve seen way too many deaf people grow up to resent, hate, and actually cut off contact from parents because they had such lonely childhoods, no one was there to communicate with them well in the home. 

If after everyone has learned sign languge and the child and parents would still like to try a CI, then I say go for it, but learning sign language is sometimes just the simple fix that is needed. It bothers me when hearing individuals think that technology can fix the deafness, thats not always the case.

Being deaf is to be a part of a whole other culture and world, just as hearing is. Having a CI puts you in limbo between the two, similar to being a CODA, like I am, I fit in better in deaf culture, but I’ll never really be one of them becuase I’m hearing, and I will never be a normal hearing individual becuase I’ve been raised in deaf culture. It can be a tricky balance to be honest, which is why I think parents should really leave the choice to the child. 

Hopefully that didn’t come off as snarky or anything. I support whatever choice is best for each individual. 

Post # 12
2232 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Being deaf is to be a part of a whole other culture and world, just as hearing is. Having a CI puts you in limbo between the two, similar to being a CODA, like I am, I fit in better in deaf culture, but I’ll never really be one of them becuase I’m hearing, and I will never be a normal hearing individual becuase I’ve been raised in deaf culture. It can be a tricky balance to be honest, which is why I think parents should really leave the choice to the child. – This is a really great point. I have a friend who works for the Canadian Hearing Society (she is hearing) and when she first started there she would talk about how it’s like a whole other world that she never knew about before.

I can see why those parents would not want their child to get the CI. With it, he or she is still not hearing and would still have to use ASL most likely.

Post # 13
2695 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2008

@miss.wiggums:  My understanding is that if you do the CI very early in life, the results can be dramatically improved (just like learning any language is easier earlier in life rather than later).  That would be my only concern in waiting for the child to decide….because they can’t go back and get the benefit they would have had if it was done before they even could learn to “talk”.

But I totally agree with all PPs that the whole family should learn ASL either way….

Post # 14
1820 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

This is an interesting debate.  I recently read a follow-up to the NPR story where a doctor weighed in and basically said that with the way technology is advancing, there may not be much of a deaf culture for children born now to participate in as adults.  He also mentioned that deaf adults can make the choice to remove the external part of the CI any time they want if they decide that they no longer want to use the technology.  Two very interesting points, I think.

Post # 15
5543 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: December 2011

The issue I have is, by design or chance or however you believe humans came to be in their current state, we were meant to have hearing ears. So by definition, being deaf is a disability, not a horrible one, but still is. The honest truth is in a world were the vast majority of the population can hear, there will be serious advantages to habit the ability to hear. If we ever have a deaf child, we will be doing whatever possible to make their life easier, including learning and using sign, and implants if they will help. And be gettig the implants as soon as possible. Though hearing/ speech development isn’t something I have done much research about, I do know that being able to hear can seriously improve learning normal speech, so It would be important to start allowing the kid to hear as early as possible. My friend with a CI got it when he was fairly young, before he could decided and talks and interacts with other people like he was never deaf at all. I honestly had no idea he had them until someone told me. He just had a twang a little different, but not noticeably “deaf speech” or whatever. Personally, I think it is kind of unfair to kids whose parents WON’T let them ever implants because the facts remain, in the wide world, hearing gives you an advantage. I

Post # 16
2739 posts
Sugar bee

I remember watching a Law and Order Criminal Intent episode about deaf culture. I thought it was very interesting. That was the first time I knew that there was a deaf culture that was resistant to implants etc. As bad as folks think it is here, I grew up in Africa and being deaf almost assigns you to a level of existence that is unfathomable here. We didn’t have ASL (African sign language I guess) and it was so HARD to communicate with my next door neighbor who was born a week before I was but was deaf. Anyhow, I do see both sides of the coin though. It’s like some folks who come to America and keep a tight hold on their kids so that their kids don’t lose their cultural heritage I guess. But it’s interesting reading from folks who have a personal perspective on this issue. 

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