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Sound and Fury
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Cochlear Implants
how the implant works debate over the implant hearing aid history essay
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5. Some deaf people argue that using the cochlear implant on a child impacts their psychological well-being by denying them the opportunity to be raised as a full-fledged member of either the deaf or hearing worlds. Do you believe that a cochlear implant can affect a deaf child's psychological development? If so, how? 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

Nancy Bloch,
The National Association of the Deaf
Nancy Bloch
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The NAD believes that children with implants who have parallel visual language development opportunities have greater ability to interact with deaf peers and adult role models. This, in turn, leads to a healthier sense of identity and psychosocial development, for success in both the deaf and hearing communities. Without such opportunities, implanted children could well wonder where and with whom they feel most at ease when they reach adulthood.

Donna Sorkin's Rebuttal:
AG Bell believes that deaf and hard-of-hearing children can be psychologically and socially well-adjusted regardless of the mode of communication or technology utilized. It is not the technology that determines social adjustment; rather, there are a host of other factors that come into play.
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Donna Sorkin's Answer > >

Donna Sorkin,
Alexander Graham Bell Association
Donna Sorkin
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A child who receives a cochlear implant does not have normal hearing, just as a child who is hard-of- hearing and uses hearing aids does not have normal hearing. Both children are, in fact, functionally hard-of-hearing. Parents in America and elsewhere still have the final say in how they wish to have their children brought up. Whether parents decide to have their child brought up as part of deaf culture or as part of the larger world is, ultimately, a decision that parents should make with full knowledge of the decision-making and its consequences. As with most things, there is no one right or wrong answer in this debate.

AG Bell has seen no evidence that children who are brought up to be part of deaf culture are somehow "psychologically better off" than deaf children who are brought up in the larger world. While we at AG Bell are confident that children can thrive in either environment, the access to spoken language offered by cochlear implants provides individuals with the ability to function with greater independence and maximize their life opportunities. Ultimately, this is a choice that parents make for their children.

Nancy Bloch's Rebuttal:
Ms. Sorkin and I are in agreement with regard to parents' having the right to decide what is best for their children. However, I wish to clarify the fact that the NAD does not expect parents to choose between the deaf and hearing worlds. Learning sign does not relegate a child to the deaf world, as is commonly thought. Conversely, learning speech does not automatically admit a child to the hearing world. Many deaf signers have fully developed speech capabilities and function equally successfully in both the deaf and hearing worlds, which are by no means distinct and independent of each other. The crux of this question focuses on psychosocial, cognitive and linguistic development. We all have a responsibility to provide children with unrestricted access to all the tools available for optimal growth and lifelong success. The NAD does not believe in restricting such opportunities in any way.

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