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Sound and Fury
Deaf Culture
Cochlear Implants
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Cochlear Implants
how the implant works debate over the implant hearing aid history essay
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4. How would you describe the success rate of cochlear implants? spacer
Debate Questions Menu:

1. Position on Cochlear Implants

2. Cochlear Implant Candidates

3. Advice on Cochlear Implants

4. Cochlear Implant Success Rate

5. Psychological Effects of Cochlear Implants

6. Deaf Culture

7. Cochlear Implants and Deaf Culture

8. Who Is Part of Deaf Culture?

9. Cochlear Implants and Sign Language

10. Cochlear Implants and Deaf Education

Donna Sorkin,
Alexander Graham Bell Association
Nancy Bloch
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Studies of cochlear implant outcomes indicate that the majority of children and adults derive significant understanding of speech. Most gain open set discrimination (i.e., they can understand speech without seeing the speaker's face). There are important gains in children's ability to speak intelligibly, especially when they are implanted earlier (i.e., prior to age 4). Learning to speak is much easier for implanted children since they can hear and modulate their voices. Furthermore, the majority of cochlear implant recipients state that they like the sounds that they receive — both speech and environmental sounds. People often note that their cochlear implants give them a sense of being "connected" to the world.

Nancy Bloch's Rebuttal:
Again, I wish to emphasize that unbiased and independent long-term studies are needed with regard to the benefits of implant and hearing aid technologies. Current implant research outcomes emphasizing speech and auditory capabilities are so positive that one must pay attention also to the other side of the coin, so to speak. The reality is we are seeing too many children with implants who are given the benefit of sign language much later in their lives, rather than early on. And these children are fighting to catch up on basic language development. We all know that the ages of 0–6 are the most critical for language acquisition and usage.

Success, again, is a relative term that varies from individual to individual. For some who cannot benefit from hearing aids, the implant that provides environmental sound awareness brings about a sense of great satisfaction. For others, the ability to discern some speech sounds will be thrilling. This partial ability may cause considerable frustration for others. And for others who can maximize the use of their implants for barrier-free human discourse, it is a liberating experience.

Being "connected" to the world is a highly individualized experience —it must also be recognized that there are quite a number of individuals without implants who have been and continue to be quite successful at making such worldly connections.
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Nancy Bloch's Answer > >

Nancy Bloch,
The National Association of the Deaf
Nancy Bloch
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Success is a relative term. Being able to hear and speak does not necessarily mean the child or adult — with or without an implant — is successful. Independent and unbiased long-term research is clearly needed on academic achievement, cognitive abilities, language usage and psychosocial development of children both with and without implants. This includes comparative research with children for whom sign language is the primary mode of communication, taking into account academic performance and psychosocial development considerations. The benefits of the newer digital hearing aid technologies as an alternative should also be researched.

Donna Sorkin's Rebuttal:
I agree with Nancy's comment that "success" must be measured in a variety of ways. Measures of language and literacy have demonstrated that children who are the beneficiaries of early intervention, utilize cochlear implants, and have received appropriate (re)habilitation have speech and language skills that are equivalent to those of their normal hearing peers.

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