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March 16, 2007

You Can Defy the Sounds of Silence

From: Metro France - Paris,France - Mar 16, 2007

By Seth Goldschlager, an American in paris

Would you agree to read these few words so that a child born deaf might be given the gift of hearing, speech, and language to permit a normal life?

If that sounds like asking you a little so that you can help a lot, you are right.

But that is the case when it comes to a remarkable French invention that deserves to be better known so that children can be saved from a life of silence, and so that adults who lose their hearing in an increasingly-noisy world can regain it.

The National Day of Hearing in France yesterday included an important message about the cochlear implant, a French hearing invention that celebrates its 50th year.

It is an ingenious combination of external sound capture and implanted internal processor that sends signals to the brain in a way that it can understand as sound. Following the surgical implant, speech specialists work with the patient including very young children so that hearing and speaking can be learned or re-learned and thus become as normal as possible.

A new in center Paris , L’Institut Francilien d’Implantation Cochleaire ( offers information, preparation and follow-up for patients in the five Paris-area hospital centers specializing in the surgery.

Surprisingly, the solution is available but information about it is not; that explains the tragic discovery not long ago of a six year old boy who was sent to a psychiatric hospital here in error; doctors did not realize that there was nothing wrong with him other than a malfunctioning hearing system that could have been restored with the cochlear implant.

For the approximately 750 children born with profound hearing incapacity each year in France and who could benefit from the technique, it is simply inadmissible that the information is not available to their parents and families. In fact, the earlier the implant is done, the better are the chances to success. So systematic testing of very young children should be required.

Yesterday’s National Day of Hearing in France also drew attention to a handicap that can be called silent in more ways than one. Because there are no real external signs of the handicap, the deaf person who appears not to be communicating is often the subject of discrimination by all of us.

So let us who enjoy the gift of hearing and speaking become more attuned to and more caring toward those who don’t. And, now that you have read these words, you can help defy the sounds of silence. You can be ready to point people toward a solution which French inventors were clever enough to create half a century ago.

© 2007 Metro International