Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are cochlear implant users deaf?

John Lee Clark's post titled "Cochlear Implants: A Thought Experiment" hit on one topic I have given a bit of thought to myself:

     If you cannot hear without your CI or hearing aids, are you deaf?

This may seem like a simple question, but I think outside the Deaf community, so little thought is given to deafness in general that it becomes unclear what the answer is.

The way I see it is through an analogy.  Suppose someone loses their legs in an accident.  Now they have a wheelchair.  Are they no longer physically disabled?  I mean, the wheelchair gives them mobility, right?  Oh, but we need to pay attention to the imperfections of the solution of the wheelchair.  Much like CI and hearing aids, a wheelchair can provide great help in achieving a more mainstream life, but what about those stairs?  What about those stores that place aisles too close together?  What about climbing on a stepstool to reach a top shelf?  At the end of the day, the person in the wheelchair is in fact still physically disabled, despite the help provided by the wheelchair.

Much the same, if you cannot effectively hear without CI or hearing aids, my opinion is that you are, indeed, deaf.  These tools help in most circumstances, but then leave people high and dry in others (e.g. pouring rain, swimming pools, exercise gyms, sleeping, batteries dead, etc etc etc).

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just because a person is in a wheel chair does not mean the person is unable to walk or stand. Just that he or she has a mobility issue and requires a wheelchair for mobility purposes. Wheelchair doesn't equate with people who are paralyzed.

Aaron said...

I think you misread. I said someone without legs :)

Nesmuth said...

The Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center http://www.deafadvocacy.org gets all excited whenever there is news of deaf babies and adults with hearing loss getting cochlear implants and news that parents are opting to get their child with hearing loss cochlear implants. We have a rich website that supports the reasoning for cochlear implants http://www.tinyurl.com/deafbabies with plenty of heart warming videos. Not to mention that our agency is moving on upwards with newer medical technology to mitigate hearing loss as our powerpoint presentation we presented in San Diego http://tinyurl.com/stemcellfixdeaf earlier this year. The best life journey for babies with hearing loss begins with sound, listening, and then speaking. Finally, ignore the deceptive propaganda charades by the deaf extremists stating that cochlear implants are a form of child abuse and they also claim that deaf kids without sign language are deprived and isolated by society.

Anonymous said...

The comparison of deaf with a CI/Hearing Aids, with a person who loss his legs is a wrong one, especially when he/she is doing well. It is like you are saying that a person with glasses is called blind. Actually a person like you feel jealous of them because they can listen and speak.

Candy said...

Maybe you should look into "migitating factor" within ADA. It used to be that ADA cases were dismissed based on migitating factors, for example, if one had cochlear implant, he/she would not be considered disabled. So, the new ADA revision removed that, anyone with any assistive devices that improves any disabilities are still considered disabled.

So, legally, the answer to your question is: yes, cochlear implant users ARE deaf.