History Through Deaf Eyes – Cochlear Implant

The NAD has always and continues to support and endorse innovative educational programming for deaf children, implanted or not. Such programming should actively support the auditory and speech skills of children in a dynamic and interactive visual environment that utilizes sign language and English. – National Association of the Deaf Position Statement on Cochlear Implants

Not all technological developments are universally accepted. The cochlear implant has inspired both strong support and vehement opposition. Among deaf people, the implants are generally hailed as a boon for individuals who lost their hearing later in life, but their use in deaf children has been controversial.

The effectiveness and risks of the implants are a major part of the debate, but there is an additional conflict between those who view deafness as impairment and those who see it as a valued part of cultural identity.

As cochlear implants for children have become more widely used, the emphasis of the debate has changed. The focus is more on the type of support and educational services provided and the child’s exposure to visual language.

A pink button saying 'Stop the Cochlear Madness by The Bicultural Center' and another white button that says 'I love (heart shape) my Cochlear Implant.' by Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf. Teacher teaches children for Oral Education and Cochlear. Three images are: a boy with Cochlear Implant talking with a teacher, a medical drawing of inner ear, and a close-up view of a cochlear implant behind the ear and a wire attached to the head.

External components of a cochlear implant, above, include a microphone worn behind the ear, a speech processor, and a coil that is placed on the skin behind the ear. The coil sends signals to the internal piece, the cochlear implant.

CLARKE School for the Deaf/Center for Oral Education

Artwork courtesy of Cochlear Corporation