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Thursday, January 4

Deaf Culture Controversy

I have found a wonderful group on Yahoo! for parents of children who are deaf and either have been implanted or are pursing implantation. These parents have a wealth of information on cochlear implants, the latest technology, helpful hints for surgery and habilitation. CI Circle has been a great resource for me. The part I love the most is all of the stories about their implanted children and how well they are doing with listening and speech.

The main topic that has been discussed over the last few days has centered around "deaf culture," primarily the negative opinion of those in the deaf community toward cochlear implants, especially in young children. One mother found a deaf culture forum where a posting stated that it "should be illegal for parents to have children implanted." Another was talking about classifying children with cochlear implants as "artificial hearing". The deaf community does not accept those with cochlear implants. The additional argument here is that they are not an accepted member of the hearing world either.

This whole topic got me thinking, and got me really fired up! I wholeheartedly agree that Drew is perfect just the way he is. He has all of his cognitive and physical abilities, and could have a wonderful, happy life without ever hearing. But why should I not take advantage now of the wonderful technology that would allow him to be a part of my hearing world? Why should I wait, giving up the formative years of listening and speech, so that he can make the decision after it is too late? And would I not be doing Drew a disservice by not doing everything I can today to give him all the world has to offer? I do not want to ever think about Drew, ten or eleven years old, signing to me "Why did you choose not to let me hear? Why didn't you have me implanted?"

More importantly, I do not understand those in the deaf community that feel as though they should be able to impose thier will on others. I have found this attitude toward cochlear implants from hearing individuals that work in the field as educators, speech therapists, etc. While I understand that there is concern about the deaf culture dying as a result of cochlear implants, unless you are a hearing parent that has given birth to a deaf child, how can you have such strong views and positions on a topic that has not directly impacted you? Unless you have stood in my shoes, I certainly do not think that you should pass judgement on my decision.

I have been surprised many times along this journey with Drew. I don't think anything is more shocking to me, however, than the negative attitude of so many toward those with cochlear implants. I will not judge you for choosing not to implant your child. I would hope that you would extend me the same grace.

If you have an opinion, please leave a comment.

1 comment:

Brad said...

I agree with that last part of your post. We are all entitled to our own opinions, and that’s great. If you disagree with cochlear implantation then that’s your right, and if I come over to your house and knock on your door and ask you what you think about cochlear implantation then by all means give me your opinion, but otherwise I don't really care what your opinion is on the matter.

And as far as there being a riff in the deaf community between those with cochlear implants and those without, how awesome would it be if all hearing impaired people could work together as one for the benefit of each individual based upon each persons individual situation. Then wouldn't the group as a whole come out on top?

I don’t know because I’m not in the situation, but from what I can logically comprehend, if I were deaf and another peer of mine had cochlear implants and I did not, I would hope that my feeling on the matter would be either A.) Wow man, that’s awesome. I’m glad you like your implants. I can't imagine what it would be like to hear. Congrats! Maybe I could get some too. Or B.) You know what, I’m happy just the way I am without implants, and I get along great signing and reading lips, but hey, that’s really great for you dude! I'm happy if your happy.