I’m taking a Deaf Education class and this topic is not only interesting but also very controversial. On the issue of cochlear implants, since I’m hearing, I don’t think I could ever take a side unless I had the life experience of being deaf. I can understand a deaf child or parents of a deaf child wanting him/her to have the ability to hear and fit into the hearing world. Yet, in learning American Sign Language and having a professor that has very strong pride in her Deaf culture and language, I can also see how cochlear implants are viewed as a “cure” for deaf people and a threat to their community.
So far, in our class, we’ve had several guest speakers from different schools and organizations in the community speak about Deaf Education. Most of the speakers seem to have been strongly in support of signing and against cochlear implants. Next week, our professor has invited a speaker who is an oralist, someone who supports the implantation of cochlear implants and teaching deaf students to speak. It’s going to be very interesting and eye-opening to hear the issue from the other side.
By the way, I find it interesting that not once does the article mention American Sign Language. I wonder, do the children with cochlear implants also learn American Sign Language? I would think that makes a big difference in how “cochlear implants redefine what it means to be deaf” and that a discussion on “what it means to be deaf” is directly connected to the language they use, whether English, ASL, or both.
You can read the full NPR article here: “Cochlear Implants Redefine What It Means To Be Deaf”