Cochlear Implants: The Death of Sign Language?

Millie Webb millie-webb at CHARTER.NET
Sat Nov 16 19:04:41 UTC 2002

I doubt that the implants will become that "universal" (cost factors have
already been brought up, but there also remain questions of culture and
attitudes towards "fixing" something that is -- in many deaf people's
opinions -- "not broken").  They only work for some types of hearing loss,
and the huge problem with (possibly fatal!) infections remains;
notwithstanding the wisdom of introducing yet another series of
"vaccinations" that may or may not really work, into the system of a very
small child who does not have full immune system functioning yet.

The question of culture is huge.  You can never "cure" all types/causes of
deafness with surgery, and there is also a wide spectrum of responses to a
diagnosis of deafness (which happens, it is my understanding, on averagee by
age nine months in Israel, and by 40 months in the US), ranging from
intensive acoustic traingin of what hearing the child may have, and sole use
of spoken language and speech training, to eschewing all hearing aids and
raising the child mono-culturally deaf and using only ASL.  Most parents, of
course, end up somewhere in the middle of those extremes, utilizing ASL,
speech training, lip reading, and some degree of hearing aids.  But I have
perosnally know people on both extremes also.  -- Millie

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