Dear Thomsen: 2.20.2012

Dear Thomsen:
If it's not too personal a question, what percentage of hearing do you have? What's your opinion on cochlear implants? I have a friend who has partial hearing loss and is going to school to be an ASL interpreter and I get the impression that cochlear implants aren't too popular in the Deaf Community (is that the most polite way to refer to that community?)...
In the left ear, I have about forty percent hearing left. My right, nothing. Since the age of 11, my hearing has leveled off and has not gotten any worse, however, they say that by the early age of 40 is when you show signs of hearing loss. I decided at the young age of nineteen to learn American Sign Language (ASL) to be my backup language in case I fully lost all my hearing. I grew up in a mainstream environment where I got my education at both private and public schools. Thus, I did not get involved into the Deaf Culture until after I graduated from high school.

Now to answer your second question, my opinion on cochlear implants is actually quite conflicted. If you asked me now if I would get cochlear implants myself, I would answer without hesitating, no. But if you asked me that question again twenty or thirty years from now, I might say yes. Just like glasses, we already found the technology to be able to "correct" our eyes with the use of lasers surgery. Within time and with our infatuation with improving technology, there will be a time when our hearing can be "corrected" without anyone actually knowing that we were deaf. (People know that we have a hearing loss when they see our hearing aids/cochlear implants for example,  but the day will come when that will cease to exist.)

With your last question, the Deaf Community is somewhat tricky when it comes to cochlear implants; they are frown upon, yet, if a friend or family member decides to get them, they'll support their decision. Now, just like in any other culture, you have your extremist(s). They tend to be people within the community (or even outside the community) who are totally against cochlear implants. They will do and say anything to make people think twice about getting a cochlear implant. They totally frown upon them and think that cochlear implants will destroy the ASL/Deaf Culture Community. But, I'm not going to go into that; I'll save that for when the time is right. Yet, I think when it comes to the debate about cochlear implants is that what the Deaf Community is really trying to say is that they want equal opportunities when it comes to knowing what their choices are.

Just do not leave ASL out of the picture...

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  1. Thom, thanks for answering my questions! I feel like I understand the issue a little better now.

  2. Anytime. Feel free to ask questions anytime :-)

  3. I would think you better wait til the new technology that would improve the hearing since I am profound deaf since toodle. I have hear that stem that can grow the better nerve and hair inside the ears will stand up. I hope that will be done soon so they can do it on humans.

  4. I am seeing more in the deaf cultured community being accepting of cochlear implants, definitely the extremists are totally against it. Many within the deaf community now have it. However, for the extremists - for the most part - seem to see it as being okay if one were old enough to decide. Yet, many do not understand why it is important to have implants early as one year old. If many were to decide to have em later in life, the success would not be evidenced as it would be for those implanted as an infant.

    I think over time, cochlear implants will be less controversial.

    Used to be I thought implanting babies were cruel, that was five years ago. Now, the more I understand why it's critical to implant earlier, my views have totally changed. If mine has changed, others will too. Except for the extremists, of course. ;)

  5. @wymoosehead-That's what I heard as well. Stem cells has made amazing progress in the last ten years and I'm excited to see where it will take us in the next ten years!

    @candy-I certainly hope that within time cochlear implants will be less controversial in the future.

    Thanks for reading and sharing your comments!


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