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Sound and Fury
Deaf Culture
Cochlear Implants
About the Film
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Cochlear Implants
how the implant works debate over the implant hearing aid history essay
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7. What long-term effect, if any, will cochlear implants have on deaf culture? 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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Cochlear implants have clearly had an impact, given the general public's focus on spoken language development. Deaf culture, with its rich visual language and heritage, will nonetheless continue to endure through the ages, even with new and emerging technologies. Sign language is increasingly being used by hearing parents of hearing children to stimulate cognitive development, by high school and college students seeking foreign language credits, and by those whose daily lives involve interaction with signers, and so on. The bottom line is that every one of us needs to respect every child and adult, including language usage and communication preferences.

Donna Sorkin's Rebuttal:
I agree entirely with Nancy's comments with regard to the need for all of us to respect others' choices. But I wish I could agree with the comment that the public understands the needs of people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing who have chosen to use their residual hearing. In fact, we find the opposite is true. Too often, children and adults are offered access that consists of an ASL interpreter, when, in fact, they don't know ASL. Such lack of understanding occurs throughout the public school system, at places of entertainment and in the workplace. We don't find that there has been any improvement at all in the public's understanding of the needs to provide captioning, assistive listening devices, or oral or Cued Speech interpreters.
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Donna Sorkin's Answer > >

Donna Sorkin,
Alexander Graham Bell Association
Donna Sorkin
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I don't know for certain what the long-term impact on deaf culture will be, though, clearly, a greater proportion of children with severe to profound hearing loss now have access to sound that allows them to listen and speak. At this time, approximately 20 percent of eligible children are receiving cochlear implants and this percentage is expected to increase over time.

Nancy Bloch's Rebuttal:
Hearing aids have, in fact, been with us for quite a long time, and have had no significant impact on the deaf culture, with its rich heritage and language. The same would be true for cochlear implant technologies.

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