Have you seen this viral video of an English woman hearing with a cochlear implant for the first time? As a deaf journalist, I’ve been upset with the media’s characterization of the story. Note that I specified she’s hearing with a cochlear implant for the first time. She was born profoundly deaf (like me), and has been wearing hearing aids since she was two. Granted, the sound is different and much improved with a CI, but it is simply inaccurate to say that she’s hearing sound for the first time. Leave it to the media to over dramatize things and perpetuate stereotypes!
A speaking deaf advocate sent me this link today, in which a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) and activist in the Deaf Community lists her own reasons for being upset with this video. In doing so, she perfectly illustrates a big problem I have with such activists: They buy into the propaganda and spread misinformation.
Lilit Marcus says CIs primarily work in two situations: When a child who is born deaf gets it before 5 years old or for a deaf adult who was born hearing. The eligibility rules for CIs are constantly changing as the technology improves. There is an involved process to determine candidacy. Yes, CIs work better in adults who were born hearing or in children as young as possible, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work for others as well.
Marcus also says many doctors advise their patients not to leave the house for several weeks after getting a CI so they can get used to new but common noises. I haven’t heard of this before! Generally, people are encouraged to explore their new world. If it gets too overwhelming, we can simply turn down the volume or *gasp* take the implant off.
Deaf Culturalists think that those of us who lipread, listen, and speak view deafness as something that needs to be fixed. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I was born deaf. I will always be deaf. Even though I wear a CI and digital hearing aid, they don’t make me hearing. They help me hear better and allow me to be independent. When I take them off, I’m still deaf.
As for Joanne Milne’s video, she chose to share it with the world. Because she has Usher’s Syndrome, she’s losing her sight. Who can fault her for wanting to hear better so she doesn’t completely lose two of her senses? I’m all for the public learning about this wonderful technology and realizing that deaf people can indeed listen and speak. I hope this kind of information goes viral, not the crap the media and Deaf activists like to spew.