I am on a number of different groups… some Deaf groups, some deaf groups. Some CI groups, some ASL groups… I surround myself with different types of people, and to me I think that is a wonderful thing, seeing different opinions, and different thoughts, nothing then is allowed to be dogma, but I am allowed to see facts for facts.
Recently… I’ve been thinking about leaving one of the groups, why? Because it seems their main goal is to end ALL cochlear implant surgeries, they are telling lies about how getting a CI isn’t a choice for anyone, that it is a death sentence, that Deaf people who choose to get a CI will be ostracized from the Deaf Community, that you will no longer be Deaf, or that getting a CI is promoting Audism… none of this I agree with.
Let me get a few facts out there (that are already in this blog site, but still) 1. I am Deaf, 2. I use ASL as my main Language, 3. I have a CI 4. I HAVE NOT been ostracized from the Deaf Community, nor has anyone I know who has chosen to get a CI been.
Now… there are a few things I do agree with in the most recent post that has gotten me upset… 1. CI’s should not be done on infants, 2. all deaf children should have sign language (ASL if in the USA, or the countries sign language), 3. Being Deaf should be accepted as a natural state, 4. CI’s are not a “fix”, 5. Before getting a CI, you should talk with MANY people who have CI’s (this was from a comment, not the original post)
- if a child wants a CI, let them choose a CI when they are old enough to understand what it means to get one.
- Sign language is the natural language of deaf children, and should be taught first. Speech is not the important thing, language is. If you have a solid base for language, then you will be able to learn other languages easier (including the spoken forms of language).
- Deaf is natural, there is nothing wrong with being deaf, it doesn’t matter if it is a deaf human, if it is a deaf cat, or if it is a deaf Dalmatian (more on that to come). It is a natural state of being, we have multiple senses for a reason, so we are not relying on only one.
- A CI will not “fix” hearing. For one thing, there is nothing wrong with being Deaf… see #3… a CI may or may not improve the simulation of hearing, give a sense of hearing. A CI should not be seen as a fix for a deaf person, because we are not broken. It will not give a person normal hearing, even if a sound booth test shows near normal results with a CI, because the world is not a sound booth.
- Before anyone chooses to get a CI, they should talk with many people who have had them, be told the good, the bad, as well as the ugly. In some cases, it doesn’t work, in some cases it works beautifully. But before you decide, talk to as many people as possible, with all different brands (no brand is honestly better than any other), with all different stories. Don’t count out the person who was a teen when she was implanted and suffered severe vertigo from it, or the person who was born deaf and can’t understand anything but environmental noise, or the girl who was implanted as a child, but can’t have it turned up to where she gets speech sounds because of facial stim, or the adult who chose a CI after progressive loss, and is doing great. Don’t count a story out, because you NEED to know the truth, things happen, its not always successful, bad things can happen, but so can good things. CI’s, just like life in general, is never black and white….
So, after reading these things, it gets me wondering, if, because I have chosen, not only once, but twice, to receive a CI, and if the following is true: “if it does work, you are likely to be ostracized by Deafs (you have expressed that being Deaf is bad, and want to distance from it)” , where does that leave me? Am I back in that middle ground between Deaf and Hearing where I use to be before I found my Deaf Community? Do I fit anywhere? I know the answers to these questions… because no matter what I am still Deaf, I still use ASL, and my Deaf Community has not turned their backs on me, and I know they never will, they are my family, just as much as blood makes a family.
Now I’m on another group, and I see so often pictures of children, babies even, having CI surgeries, and their parents or grandparents talking about how they are now hearing (LIE… GREAT BIG LIE) and how they don’t need ASL, or how they won’t respond to their child if they use ASL… or how they only use ASL at bath times (a sign here or there)… and that… it breaks my heart for so many reasons.
These children will never be hearing, they are deaf, and nothing will change that. ASL is still needed, because it doesn’t require batteries, it will never break, it is always accessible (even to a deaf blind child), noise doesn’t interfere with it… it is the only 100% accessible language to a child. I’m in no way pro infant or child implantation, I believe it is a very personal decision that must be made individually, and a child, especially a baby, has NO way of telling you if it is too loud, if they are feeling funny things (stimulation that can be very uncomfortable, even to the point of pain)… I think the person should make the decision, and it MUST be an informed decision. Before I got my first CI I talked with MANY adults who have CI’s, I read blogs, I have friends who’s CI’s failed, who are candidates, but choose not to get one, who regretted getting their CI, those who wanted explants (removing the CI), and those who were pleased with it. I did my homework, I actually watched a CI surgery (I must find that link), and I think that is something that is VERY important, I knew exactly what was going to be happening when I was under the knife, I knew what to expect (mostly) when I woke up from anesthesia, and I knew there was a very real possibility that it wouldn’t work, and that I would never be able to understand speech. Honestly, if you look back, my audiologist told me I was underestimating myself, by saying I wasn’t expecting to understand speech, I just wanted to be able to hear (not necessarily understand) music again, and know if someone was talking… my CI has exceeded my expectations yes.
ASL also, it isn’t something that is only needed for bath times, in fact, if you use it only at bath time… I think there are issues there… it gives mixed signals to the child, especially if the child’s first language is ASL… they may have a hard time telling when its appropriate and when it isn’t (I have a lengthy explanation of that here)
So… I also wonder… do I fit in this group? I can share my CI joy, and I love that… but do I fit in with the people who feel their deafness is something to be ashamed of, or that if you can’t hear something you are missing out? I don’t know… I am not, and will not be ashamed of being Deaf, and I know you can have a full life without hearing a thing… I’m starting to wonder… where do I fit… there are only a few places I know for sure. In my loves arms, in the Deaf community, and with my family (most of it anyways), and this… this I am ok with. I don’t have to fit with the Radical Deafies, nor with the Oral deafies, and certainty not with the audist deafs… but their stories I also shouldn’t count out… but I shouldn’t take anything at face value either…