Friday, September 21, 2007

Deaf Education, Cochlear Implants in the Tribune

On the front page of the Chicago Tribune is a story about deaf education in Illinois:

Lending Ears to Learners

An interesting statistic is that 80 percent of deaf students are now in the mainstream. Thirty years ago, it was the other way around.

While technological advances have given some deaf children an incredible opportunity to hear, I wonder about the social emotional aspect of so many kids alone. For some kids, they adjust well and have a good group of friends to hang out with. But I know there are others who go through the daily motions and find it difficult to communicate in groups and in noisy situations.


kw said...

It seems a lot of people have been talking about this article. I haven't yet read it, but I wonder the same thing. I've met many late-deafened adults with cochlear implants. Not children. The adutls I have met still consider themselves deaf even though they have the implant and grew up hearing. You are still deaf in so many situations. You still struggle so many times without ASL. You still yearn for the contact with others like yourself. How do these children feel at night in bed during camp-outs or slumber parites with friends when everyone is talking and they have their cochlear implants off?? How do they feel at swim parties or when water skiing or when playing sports that require helmets and they have to take their implants off? They are deaf then. They NEED to learn ASL and be with others who know ASL. We all need to be accepted for who we are. They are deaf. I hope the deaf community will be there to reach out to these children when they grow up, when they start having their identity crises realizing they really do NOT fit in with hearing society. It is not their faults that their parents are mainstreaming them.

Sange said...

I agree with you kw! I actually felt a little sad after I finished reading it. Why is it a good thing to keep a Deaf child away from others like him? Would this article be so positive if it were a child with Down's or is Blind kept away from his/her peers?

Right now, going mainstream and speaking are all he knows. When he is older and meets others who are Deaf/HOH, what will he think? Why no friends like him when he was younger or no ASL? Did my parents did it for me or for themselves?

As the end of the article said, the results of the oral deaf experiment may not be known for decades...but I wonder if it will really take that long.

amishwoman1 said...

If you read my remarks on the Trinune site, you will see that I totally disagree with the article. it is biased in the direction of oralism!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for linking to this article, I look forward to reading it. There have been Ci parents on Ci Circle who were very pleased with it and then there have been Deaf adults whose blogs have had a much harsher take.

As a Ci parent, the concerns you have and that kw reiterates are shared by my husband and I. Try as we might, we are not fluent in ASL and there is no deaf community in our redneck of the geographically isolated woods. It's a bummer, yet we are still dedicated to teaching him as much ASL vocabulary as possible.

Cate and Ryan said...

We happen to live in central Indiana but are from Chicago and have lots of family in Chicago so we still read the Chitown news. I was THRILLED when I saw this article!
My husband and I are both hearing and have no history of hearing loss in our family's. Our precious little girl was born last May with a bilateral and profound hearing loss. We were lost in a world of what to do next. We didn't speak ASL and we didn't know what to do for her. So, I started going my research and found this interesting thing called a cochlear implant. Our daughter was implanted this May and activated in June. She is on target with her hearing peers and is doind better than ANYONE expected. She's amazing all the experts.
That being said, my husband and I are also taking classes in ASL as we consider ourselves a part of the deaf community even though we are not deaf. Our family is the future of the deaf community.

I think it's important to tell everyone out there that one baby every other day is born with some degree of hearing loss and that 70% of new mothers come home with a new baby not knowing what all of their communication options are. The majority of babies born in North America with a hearing loss are born to parents with typical hearing. That should tell everyone out there that we need to educate everyone about the importance of Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and educating medical staff with regard to options for those families who are going home with a baby who did not pass the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening.

At this point, I would like to add that a person who is deaf will always be deaf. A cochlear implant is a prosthetic device just as someone born without a limb might receive a prosthetic leg or arm. One must consider whether or not it's in their childs best interest to provide them with a prosthetic device that could possibly open their entire world. We have chosen NOT to shut our daughter into the deaf world but open her eyes to her entire world, including her deaf world. Again, my husband and I both being hearing individuals with no history of heairng loss in either family, decided to implant our child and offer her the best of everything available to her in this world. NOTHING is going to hold our little girl back. NO ONE will ever tell her they don't know what she's saying because they don't speak ASL.

Thanks for your time and I invite you to visit us at
She's just adorable!

Deaf Mom's Blogsite! said...

I couldn't read the article that was given in the link. But based on the comments that was left, I have mixed feelings about CI's. I have been thinking about getting CI in my left ear which has no apparant hearing left.

I am Deaf and my husband is hard of hearing. We have taught our two hearing boys sign language so that they can communicate with the Deaf World without a problem.

I am not so sure if today's CI children would grow up well adjusted or what. But here are few examples of what happened recently.

My hearing son knows of a girl who has Cochlear implants at his school. He tried to approach her and say "hi" in an attempt to be friend with her.

Guess what is her reaction to his approach? She scowled at him and walked away, refusing to be friendly to him.

To this day, he still have no idea WHY this girl reacted badly. He didn't even sign to her.. he just spoke very nicely.

One other Deaf child insulted him saying that he has no idea what its like to be Deaf. That's when he explained to them about me and my husband. They don't care.

In this world of Cochlear Implants, I really do feel that an adult makes a decision for themselves. A baby does not have a voice of their own. A child that spoke of her desire for one would be a much better thing than an infant whose world is mostly sight. Yet, parents shoved the technology via scalpel.

My parents shoved the hearing aid in me. (Of course, eventually, I thanked them for doing that.) BUT, the doctor told them NOT to learn ASL for they believed that it would hinder my ability to learn correct grammatical skills. Today, I tried to encourage them to opt to get a hearing aid for themselves since they are in their 80's and obviously losing their hearing in a dramatic way (tv volume louder than I would normally set!). They refused because it is too expensive. But that's beside the point.

I applaud that parents who not only had the CI in their daughter, they also went out to learn ASL. It is good to know that language!

But still, it upsets me that the parents out there feel that CI is the ONLY options when they could have checked out any alternative means. CI is not the only thing that is available out there.

I have met few Deaf whose CI experience have failed. What if the CI failed in a small child? Would the parents kick themselves in the head for not trying the hearing aid first before going under the knife?

Let's not rush into something permanent before trying other means first!

Anonymous said...


I've been holding onto something for awhile and finally passed it along to you, check out Eboy's page whenever you get time.


Anonymous said...

This topic has always raised the hair on the back of my neck. It is so controversial and in my opinion it is one that will ALWAYS be controversial. I was told one time by a deaf adult that I should have my son taken away from me for child abuse because we implanted him w/a CI. I was told by another deaf adult when we were deciding if we wanted to do the CI that if it makes him HOH instead of deaf we've given him a lot. So even deaf adults have different opinions on the matter.

With that said, we also sign with our son, but not ASL, more signed exact english. Of course today, 7 years after his implant we don't sign that much anymore. I still concider my son deaf, because he IS deaf,like cate and ryan said, the CI is only a prosthetic device it did not make my son "hearing".

My son,like many others is mainstreamed. He was in a self contained class room w/other deaf children until 3rd grade when he was sent to our home district. He is the only deaf child in school. He does have a lot of hearing friends, he has an interpreter, he is above average in all his classes, and he is sometimes very lonely. It makes me sad. He is in 8th grade this year and he wants to maybe go to the H.S. next year that has the deaf program, so he can be with kids like him---deaf kids. We are supporting his decision 100% and so is our local HS, they have said "What ever you want." Thank God!

My son loves his CI, he loves to hear, but let's face it--it IS a prosthetic device, it didn't "fix" him. I'll never regret our decision to implant him or mainstream him. He does have to live in a "hearing world", so listening and speaking are a must! BUT..having friends that are just like you and can understand you and what you are going through are extremely important!

Just one more thing to "deaf mom's blog", a child must go through a lot of testing to decide they qualify for a CI, they would not implant a child that could get great hearing results from a hearing aid.