In the United States, candidacy and insurance coverage for cochlear implant (CI) technology is determined mainly by guidelines set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Current FDA guidelines for CI candidacy include meeting a minimum age requirement, having a certain degree of hearing loss, and demonstrating limited benefit from traditional hearing aid technology as determined by performance on speech perception tests.

Given the heavy reliance on speech perception measures in determining CI candidacy, research surrounding device outcome measures has also generally been based upon the acquisition and understanding of spoken language.

While speech perception assessments may be accurate tools to measure or determine device success for most CI users, this measurement pattern potentially omits a subset of the population – CI users with a preference for communicating via American Sign Language (ASL).

The purpose of this study is to shed light on the perspectives of CI users who identify ASL as their preferred or primary language. More specifically, this project aims to do the following:

  • Evaluate what CI users, who are also members of the deaf community, view as the purpose of their implant
  • Assess whether or not the purpose of their CI relates to or affects their identity
  • Examine the ways that CI users who prefer to communicate via ASL define successful outcomes of implantation.

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Deaf Cochlear Implant Users’ Perspectives on Successful Device Outcome Measures

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