Cochlear implants are a form of BCI technology that is used to give hearing to the deaf. To most, it would seem obvious that this is a good innovation and should be implemented for all of the hearing-impaired. However, the deaf community does necessarily see this as a cure for an ailment, as much as a rejection of their culture. Although some are welcome to the implant, others are offended by the idea of “fixing” something that they do not consider broken.
“The younger the better.” –Dr. Simon Parisier, Cochlear Implant Surgeon
The implant is recommended for young children, ages 12 months and over. This ensures a more natural development of speech and language understanding. Children who are given the implant at a young age are typically able to understand words/sounds and speak at, or slightly lower than, the level of their hearing counterparts. The older the recipient, the less likely they are to develop to a similar level as those who can hear.
The costs of the typical cochlear implant, including post-operation aural rehabilitation, exceeds $40,000. This may reduce the number of patients who can afford it, but there are some things parents considering an implant should know. First, a lot of insurance companies do cover cochlear implants. Medicare, TRICARE, the Veterans Administration, and all federal health plans offer benefits for all cochlear implant procedures. Second, the implant is one of the most cost-effective medical procedures ever recorded. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, “These studies indicate that cochlear implantation can result in a net savings of more than $53,000 per child versus the more than $1 million average expected lifetime cost of a child who has profound hearing loss prior to language development.”
Sound and Fury and Deaf Culture
Summary from filmmakers: “SOUND AND FURY documents one family’s struggle over whether or not to provide two deaf children with cochlear implants, devices that can stimulate hearing. As the Artinians of Long Island, New York debate what is the right choice for the two deaf cousins, Heather, 6, and Peter, 1 1/2, viewers are introduced to one of the most controversial issues affecting the deaf community today. Cochlear implants may provide easier access to the hearing world, but what do the devices mean for a person’s sense of identity with deaf culture? Can durable bridges be built between the deaf and hearing worlds? Find out.” http://www.pbs.org/wnet/soundandfury/film/index.html
The deaf parents, grew up deaf and have been immersed in deaf culture all their lives. They, as well and most of the deaf community, do not see their deafness as limiting. They want their daughter to experience deaf culture and all it has to offer. But, the hearing side of the family believes that not providing the deaf child with the implant is a form of abuse. Below is a link that displays how each side of the argument feels regarding the implant.
Questions to ask yourself regarding Cochlear Implants.
Who has access to this technology? Who is willing to access the technology?
Why do so many deaf people oppose cochlear implants?
Why do hearing people support cochlear implants?
Is it fair to label deafness as a disability?
Do deaf children/people with a cochlear implants have more opportunities than those without?
Links to Additional Information