breaking the implant myths
It's important for Deaf people to fight the implant myths wherever they go. USA-L linked to an article on implants, which pretended to be about genetic alteration of children (but then went on to talk about you know what!) Two common myths appeared in this article which I'd like to talk about:
- Cochlear implants are the most effective form of "treatment" for Deaf people. While it's true that for Deaf people with no hearing whatsoever benefit greatly from implants, by and large implantation is not appropriate for Deaf people. Hearing aids, for example, are much more powerful. HOWEVER, I have a problem with this whole part of the discussion. If it's so okay for people to be Deaf - a concept which I agree with - why do we counter one form of "treatment" with another? It's true hearing aids are more powerful than implants, for those who can use them. But if our argument is "It's okay to be Deaf," if we're marching in the Deaf pride parade, why use these tinkertoys at all? Let's not forget the brainwashing we go through from childhood. We've been told since we were kids that we're broken and we need the tinkertoys to survive. Psychology sucks.
- Oh, I love this one: The device, especially when implanted at an early age, is so effective that many of
those who wear it no longer need to communicate with signs or with lipreading. For all intents and purposes, they are converted into full-fledged members of the hearing community. One thing that pisses me off is how authors like this one never actually talk to Deaf people or go to schools for the Deaf, despite acknowledging that implants and genetics are great issues in the Deaf community. It's like someone writing about Black people without going to see one, you know? You wind up with this totally twisted picture of what Deaf people are about, mostly made up by other hearing people who've never been there. Jason Silberberg, who wrote this article, is no different, and it certainly seems as if he hasn't spoken to many - he quotes one Deaf person from the World Federation of the Deaf, that's it. So: what about the "effectiveness" of this "device?" First off, if you look at implant company webpages, many caution you to realize that implanted children will still be Deaf. Secondly, I've been to a lot of Deaf schools and see tons of Deaf children who just aren't using the machines anymore and who are signing happily. As for Deaf people not being part of the community, the fact that Gallaudet has set up an "implant centre" and thousands of students with implants are applying for this culturally Deaf university gives the lie to this argument. I've personally never thought Deaf people needed to fear implants destroying the Deaf community; the danger lies in implants taking away time from our education, deluding parents, and causing medical problems later on in our lives. Not to mention the fact that to be implanted once is to be implanted for ever, and therefore a medical patient and perhaps truly disabled, for the rest of our lives. We just don't need them to survive, learn, or be full able-bodied people, and those who "push" them have never spoken to or tried to be a part of us-does anyone know about the Walter Nance this article mentions? The one who claims Deaf people are now embracing the "cochlear revolution?"
Well, there it is. The other little bits of audism in the article - things like saying "people don't need to communicate with signs" (as if Sign wasn't a language, or was something really dirty and onerous....) you can look at yourself. But this is hardly very good reporting in any case.