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Cochlear Controversy
3 pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 |

Unfair Perceptions

Photo of  Girl with Cochlear Transmitter
  The transmitter that sends sound to the implant is worn outside the head.

Deaf and hard of hearing advocates also worry about the impact the cochlear implant will have on hearing people's attitudes. Already, there is a long-standing bias among many hearing people about deaf people. Those who speak well are considered far more intelligent than those who cannot communicate orally.

Nancy Bloch, who is herself deaf, is all too aware of this prejudice. "Attitudes are our worst barrier. Often people just do not realize the kinds of attitudes they impart to others, and—believe me—deaf and hard of hearing people do sense these very quickly."

Some implanted children still don't hear well enough to be able to speak and understand oral language...These issues are often not made clear to enough parents.

According to Shannon, these attitudes mean many deaf children graduate with below-average reading and writing skills—from both deaf and mainstream schools. In fact, this is one reason why Shannon advocates implants—even if the results are less than perfect.

"A cochlear implant helps a child get attention," he says. "Deaf children are often categorized and sent off to deaf programs, which are often pretty bad."

But Bloch would like to see deaf and hard of hearing people get that attention and respect without having to get an implant. In her capacity as executive director of the NAD, Bloch works to cultivate understanding and respect for the deaf and hard of hearing. "How would you treat your very hard of hearing grandmother?" she asks of the hearing population.

"We're far more capable and diverse than folks realize," says Bloch. "Even without 100% sound comprehension, we're just like everyone else."

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3 pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 |

Photo: Central Institute for the Deaf.
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