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August 16, 2003

Myths And Lies About Cochlear Implants

From: Wradnews - Aug 16, 2003


WRAD is SHOCKED that there are lies and myths and a lot of wrong information being spread about cochlear implants and people who choose to receive cochlear implants to improve their independence, their lives and their careers.

Even much worse, a lot of these LIES are being spread by ASL Interpreters, apparently for two reasons:
(1) They are so fascinated with "sign language" that they do not want any prelingually deaf person (born deaf or early deafened) to have the ability to hear or to speak
(2) they want the MONEY that comes to them from keeping deaf people dependent... ON THEM!

OK, it is time to STOP these rumors and lies and myths! It is time to focus on the REAL NEEDS of deaf people, for more independence and more access to the whole world. Here are the LIES we have been hearing about, and here is the TRUTH!

LIE #1:
This is absolute NONSENSE! THERE IS NO "HOLE"! The headpiece attaches magnetically. There is a small metallic section of the implant under the scalp skin. There is a magnet in the headpiece. Ask ANYONE you know who has a cochlear implant to temporarily remove their headpiece and see for yourself! 

LIE #2:
This is a LIE. No one can "force" anyone to get a cochlear implant. When a deaf individual wishes to receive INFORMATION about the Cochlear Implant's technology, they must go through a full Cochlear Implant EVALUATION to get INFORMATION ONLY. These evaluations are done through a certified Cochlear Implant centers, and simply involve a more thorough audiological test; a test of the hearing nerves (most deaf people have fully functional hearing nerves -- "deafness" is caused by damage to the cells in the cochlea); a CT scan of the cochlea bones (about 5 minutes for each ear); a discussion and education session with a ci audiologist; and a full medical evaluation by an ci-trained ENT physician. These evaluations are for INFORMATION ONLY, and do not involve "surgery" or any "pressure" by anyone.

[NOTE: If you wish to have a ci evaluation, go to , contact the location near where you live and ask for a ci evaluation. If you are under an HMO medical insurance plan, tell your Primary Care Physician (PPO) to refer you to an ENT specialist within your HMO network for a ci evaluation]

LIE #3:
Absolutely WRONG! No one has ever died from ci surgery. In fact, ci surgery is MICROSURGERY, so small that the surgeon needs to use magnifying glasses. The entire "surgery" through the skull bone is no bigger than this typed "O". There are very few side effects after surgery and all of them are TEMPORARY. Proper care of the stitches after surgery prevents skin infections. The "meningitis risk" you have been hearing about is primarily in young children between birth to 6 years old, and is preventable by a simple immunization (everyone should be immunized against meningitis anyway).

LIE #4:
Absolutely, definitely NOT TRUE! The cochlear implant is simply an inner ear radio transmitter. It just sits on top of the damaged cells on the surface of the cochlea bone and sends radio signals of ALL sounds to the hearing nerves. There is NOTHING "connected to" any nerves of the body or to the brain.

LIE #5:
No they DON'T! "Deaf Culture" is primarily about the gestural languages (such as ASL in the USA and Canada), unrelated to spoken phonetic languages, that are used by BOTH deaf AND hearing people all over the world. These gestural languages can be learned AT ANY TIME in any person's life. In fact, many late-deafened people and many ASL interpreters have proved that gestural languages can be learned at any age. If an ASL interpreter can have the best of BOTH worlds (gestural and phonetic), then why can't a deaf person have the same benefits? WE CAN!

LIE #6:
Not true! All major health insurance plans pay IN FULL for the ci surgery and TWO sound processors (body-worn and BTE) and all attachments, and most of them also cover, or reimburse for, all of the replacement batteries, cords, etc.

LIE #7:
WRONG AGAIN! We all have TWO different "auditory systems" in our brains!

The BASIC level of the human auditory system is for identification of ENVIRONMENTAL sounds. This is called the "WHERE" auditory system, and this part of the auditory system has ALWAYS BEEN activated and fully functional, for ALL sounds, for prelingually deaf adults, from the time the ci is first activated.

The other part of the human auditory system is at a higher level for understanding of other people when they are speaking. This is called the "WHAT" (speech identification) part of the auditory system. IN THE PAST, this benefit was not available to prelingually deaf people because of limitations of technology. BUT THIS IS NOT TRUE ANYMORE! The most recent advances in ci technology, in just the past few years, NOW permit prelingually deaf people to be able to learn listening skills for understanding human speech.

Because of the most recent improvements in ci technology, it is now possible, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HUMAN HISTORY, for a prelingually deaf person to activate BOTH their "WHERE" auditory system AND their "WHAT" auditory system. If a deaf child is implanted during the period of development of the "WHAT" auditory system (between birth and age 3, preferably), and IF that child is properly educated in listening skills, the deaf child functions as a MILDLY HARD OF HEARING person, with outstanding and clear speech and without the need for continual "communication assistants" (which is why ASL interpreters and others who MAKE MONEY from keeping deaf people dependent are trying to PREVENT deaf people and especially deaf children from becoming independent).

If you want to see the NEW GENERATION of deaf children, go to , click on "Oral Deaf Education Schools" and go visit these children at a school nearest to where you live!

Also, on the same webpage, click on "Free Materials" and order the 60 minute videotape called "Speaking for Myself" and WATCH IT (it's captioned), and order any other materials you want -- THEY ARE ALL FREE!

LIE #8:
Absolutely WRONG! A hearing aid blasts sound into the outer, middle and inner ears. For a deaf person, the cells in the inner ear that transmit sounds are DEAD. If doesn't matter how much sound you blast into the ear since those sounds won't ever be heard by the auditory nerves. All a deaf person gets from a hearing aid is VIBRATIONS, not actual sounds, and a lot of headaches.

A cochlear implant provides direct transmissions to the auditory nerves. There are NO vibrations at all, and the sounds are very clear and distinct, ALL SOUNDS, much more than anyone can hear with a hearing aid. A person with a cochlear implant hears sounds the same way as a hearing person. Ask ANY hearing person how they "hear sounds" -- they don't feel ANYTHING AT ALL when they hear! In fact, hearing people don't even know their ears are there -- they hear in their brain, NOT "in their ear"! So do ci users, and there are no "earmolds" to bother them either.

LIE #9:
No they don't! Most ci users, especially prelingually deaf adults, were implanted too late in life for their "WHAT" auditory system to be fully functional, even though their "WHERE" auditory system IS fully functional, which greatly improves and assists lipreading ability. MOST ci users DO want to participate in the deaf community, but they are BEING INSULTED, DEFAMED, EXCLUDED, ISOLATED AND ATTACKED by stupid people who do not understand the truth about cochlear implants. THIS IS WRONG! It is WRONG to attack and hurt innocent people in the deaf community who want to be more independent!

ASL interpreters, who regularly participate within Deaf Culture and the deaf community have FULL hearing and speech ability, PLUS the FULL ability to communicate in gestural language, too. WHAT IS SO "WRONG" IF DEAF PEOPLE WANT TO DO THE SAME?

If HEARING or even hard of hearing people within the deaf community are "threatened" by this, then they should NOT BE IN the deaf community or in OUR Deaf Culture organizations and groups! We who are PHYSICALLY DEAF have the same rights as everyone else to have as much access as possible to BOTH the world of sound AND the world of silence!

LIE #10:
Very, Very, VERY WRONG! NO prelingually deaf person (born deaf or early deafened) who still chooses to remain deaf has NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER to talk about cochlear implants! They have NO experience at all in hearing the FULL RANGE of sounds!

Would you ask a born BLIND individual to choose colors for decorating your house? No you wouldn't! That person has NO ACTUAL EXPERIENCE with the full range of colors. And a prelingually deaf person has NO ACTUAL EXPERIENCE hearing the full range of ALL sounds, either!

It is NOT POSSIBLE for a BORN BLIND OR EARLY BLINDED person to understand colors, even if you try to explain colors to that person -- colors are OUTSIDE of that person's life experience.

It is also NOT POSSIBLE for a BORN SOUND-BLIND OR EARLY SOUND-BLINDED person (a born deaf or early deafened prelingually deaf person) to understand what it is like to hear ALL sounds -- having full auditory function is OUTSIDE of that person's life experience. DO NOT LISTEN TO ANYONE WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE REALLY TALKING ABOUT!

If you want to know THE TRUTH, ask someone who DOES know what they are talking about, from actual professional training (which is NOT given in "ASL Interpreter Training Programs"), and/or from ACTUAL LIFE EXPERIENCE!

One more thing... PLEASE stop "looking at the outside" of people who use cochlear implants! When they are communicating with people who choose to be deaf, they will always use the communication mode understandable to people who CAN'T HEAR ALL SOUNDS (so do ASL Interpreters, CODAs and others). This doesn't mean their ci "doesn't work"!

Finally, PLEASE stop saying that the ci "doesn't work" because a ci user might not be able to "instantly talk on the telephone" or have "clear speech"! THIS IS NOT WHY PEOPLE GET A COCHLEAR IMPLANT! Prelingually deaf adults, especially, really don't care if they can "use a telephone" or even "speak clearly," since they haven't been able to do these things all of their lives anyway, and there was no ci technology available during their own ages of birth to 3 years old when they could have developed these specific skills. SO WHAT? They still receive EXTENSIVE benefits from their cochlear implants, and they STILL can hear and enjoy ALL sounds, and for the first time in their lives, they can develop listening skills.

The ci BREAKS THE INVISIBLE GLASS BARRIER between the world of silence and the world of sound... ALL sounds. When the ci is activated, the learning of sounds BEGINS from the point in time when the person became deaf.

For many prelingually deaf adults with cochlear implants, this is the first time in their WHOLE LIFE that they have heard some types of sounds, and it TAKES TIME for their brains to learn to identify and understand what they are hearing. This is an exciting time for them.

We should all HONOR AND RESPECT people who are taking these new adventures into the "unknown world of sounds" and WRAD asks you ALL to STOP criticizing, attacking, defaming and excluding them! They are the pioneers who are leading the way to a NEW AND MUCH BETTER FUTURE for the entire deaf community of today and tomorrow.