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See Deaf Ten-Year-Old Receive Cochlear Implant: VIDEO


Science is awesome. See legally deaf 10-year-old Sammie Hicks receicve her cochlear implant, and for the first time hear the world in all its crazy polyphony, AFTER THE JUMP ...


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  1. This is cool - but a last resort once you get an impant - it's over you will always need it to hear anything

    Posted by: Marty | May 26, 2012 3:34:41 PM

  2. @Jasun: I cannot comprehend how so many hearing impaired people have such huge chips on their shoulders about wanting to stay deaf or make technology that cures the sensory defect seem like a bad thing. Any problem I have of the hearing impaired comes from the fact that they act like self-righteous dicks, not because they're hearing impaired.

    Posted by: Iko | May 26, 2012 3:38:28 PM

  3. The joy on this little girls face, and on the others I've seen getting these implants outweigh your outrage Jasun. If you choose it for yourself, that's fine. But I see nothing ignorant in posting this. I see a child overwhelmed to be able to experience all that the world has to offer in all it's complexity. Something up until now denied to her. Like same sex marriage, don't want an implant? Don't get one, but don't deny others their chance because it's not for you.

    Posted by: Michaelandfred | May 26, 2012 3:41:05 PM

  4. Jasun, et al:

    Sorry you're offended. I'm not "audist." I do, however, believe in the right to self-determination -- and that extends to deaf people who wish to hear, blind people who wish to see, and -- though it's not quite the same thing -- bi people who wish to lead heterosexual or homosexual lives. Also: I respect the right of wingless people to fly, wheel-less people to drive, and gill-less people to go SCUBA-diving. That's their right. Not my business. Nor is it yours if a little girl is made happy by cochlear implants.

    The parallel you might wish to draw with "reparative therapy" -- and with those few young gay kids who go through it and seem superficially happy afterwards -- isn't actually a parallel at all. "Reparative therapy" comes attached to a whole host of harmful superstitions, which cochlear implants do not. Most importantly, "reparative therapy" doesn't work, while cochlear implants do.

    If there was some miracle technology that allowed human beings to painlessly alter their sexual orientations -- just for the thrill of it; or for any other reason that didn't involve a mistaken belief in a sexophobic, vengeful god -- I'd be all for it. Viva choices! I myself might spend a season attracted to women, and then, for the sheer giddy hell of experimentation, I might see what it's like foster a romantic interest in trees. Why not? And I'd hope my fellow gayfolk would have enough respect for me to allow me to experiment in peace, unimpeded by the political agendas of others.

    Thanks for reading,
    - BKT

    Posted by: Brandon K. Thorp | May 26, 2012 3:42:37 PM

  5. I"m with Jasun!

    Posted by: Danny | May 26, 2012 9:23:05 PM

  6. Brandon,

    The point Jasun is making is that Deafness is an identity and a culture that was cruelly suppressed on an official and international basis since the 19th century. Hearing and speaking as a normative goal were identified and forcefully advanced by non-Deaf people in 1868, and have been the direction of educators and doctors since that time. There was no self-determination available. The cochlear implant, while a really amazing bit of technology, is not a miracle. It doesn't work for everyone. Hearing and language are more complicated than that. It is a controversial subject in the Deaf community, because to some, it reminds them of the fact that non-Deaf people continue to label deafness as a pathology in need of a cure. In truth, the Deaf community has a distinct culture, history, values, language, and polity. Many older Deaf people have heart-breaking stories of isolation from parents who were told by "experts" that they shouldn't learn or use sign language, as it would keep their children out of "our" world. Deaf kids would be slapped across the hands with rulers for using their language. Please don't fault Jasun for having an emotional reaction to this topic. Deaf people are very proud of their culture, and I think you can relate to that.

    Posted by: Mike | May 26, 2012 10:59:26 PM

  7. Mike:

    Yes. I understand this. I'm proud of gay culture. Yet I've had "gay" male friends who wound up marrying girls, and I'm fine with that -- totally secure enough in my fabulous gayness to say: "Hey! I'm different from this person, but I wish 'em well!" No reflection on me or the validity of my culture at all.

    Thanks for reading,
    - BKT

    Posted by: Brandon K. Thorp | May 26, 2012 11:22:01 PM

  8. What a RIDICULOUS statement, Jasun. My cousin was born deaf, got a cochlear implant when he was 16, and he says he pinches himself nearly every day, three years later! We're talking about a medical condition here. Saying we as gays should understand this sort of thing implies that homosexuality is also a birth defect -- something that's non-functioning at birth and therefore could possibly be changed. We know that's not true. Hearing, vision, respiratory issues, etc. are not the same thing. And for you to say that this implant will do nothing is tremendous overreaching on your part. I don't speak for every gay person, and you don't speak for every deaf person.

    Posted by: Robert | May 27, 2012 10:23:58 AM

  9. I have tremendous respect for deaf culture and all its strides forward for art and communication. Still, if cochlear implants enable people to appreciate music--Beethoven, Schubert, et al--how can you begrudge that?

    Posted by: margueritegautier | May 27, 2012 11:01:43 AM

  10. What a sweet girl - what a great gift.

    Posted by: TyInTennn | May 27, 2012 11:07:07 AM

  11. I still haven't made peace with the "cis gendered " label. Now, I'm an "audist?"

    Look, I appreciate the total immersion aspect of identity development and the self-esteem it encourages. And if all one ever wants to be is a member and product of one culture, well, I guess that's their business. But there is nothing wrong with wanting to be all you can be, and striving to appreciate the world rather than settle into a ghetto.

    How many of the deaf community, defensive as they seem to be of their culture and derisive of those who dare to suggest that hearing might be desirable, are able to see? How many wear glasses? How many, given the option, would choose to go blind rather than seek medical intervention that might preserve that source of sense information? How many eat, and enjoy the pleasure of taste? How many would give up that sense and say, "no big deal?"

    There is no shame in being differently abled. But there is also nothing wrong with striving for ultimate personal efficacy. In fact, it's a healthy and more lasting basis for esteem.

    Posted by: TJ | May 27, 2012 11:51:39 AM

  12. JASUN's comment is baffling. If a child has a body part which does not function, and we can repair it, enhancing the child's life experience in so doing, we should repair the problem immediately. Full stop. How any other person feels about that change is their problem.

    If a child's lung doesn't work, am I a "respiratorist" for wanting to fix it? Am I failing to appreciate the contributions to society of people who can't breathe? Outrageous. No, I am not failing to appreciate the role of people who can't breathe--I'm just trying to help someone who is within the reach of help. Shame on you for trying to shame those of us who are happy for this kid.

    Posted by: fedorajoe | May 27, 2012 12:15:18 PM

  13. I am personally neutral on implants as they can restore some appreciation of sound (I think it would be a mistake to think of it like regular hearing) but implantation isn't without risks. There are many people who are deaf and happy successful people and very proud of what they've made in the world who see the risks as unacceptable compared to the perceived gain. What if the girl had died during surgery or gotten a very serious infection causing another debility? A kid in 2012 that is deaf can very realistically live and thrive in our society. I'd take deaf kid vs dead kid any day. People can get them implanted all they want, even kids can get them, you just have to understand this is a very big thing to do.

    Some commenters have it so ingrained that to be deaf is an awful negative thing that you can't see that you have that position.

    Posted by: MaddM@ | May 27, 2012 1:27:41 PM

  14. Deafness is a serious disability and most of the people getting treatment lost their existing hearing, rather than being born completely deaf. A person who loses their hearing in middle age will not be accepted easily into the "deaf community" so they don't get a pat on the back. The fact that deafness does not reduce life expectancy does not mean it's not a serious condition. Sign language is great, but there are issues with that too, largely because of historical splits between different versions that meant deaf people have been divided into various camps. Overall, the "deaf movement" seems defensive and joyless.

    Posted by: anon | May 27, 2012 1:40:20 PM

  15. I was going to write out a post buy Danny said it best, see his post below.

    Posted by: Eric | May 27, 2012 7:51:11 PM

  16. While I wish CI recipients the very best, this entry on Towleroad struck me as ironic in a very sad way. Towleroad wouldn't have been possible if we were still governed by a medical paradigm of homosexuality as a disorder. By contesting the medical paradigms that justified oppressive practices, both the deaf and the gays have carved out social and legal protections. It is awkward that Towleroad and other gay bloggers like Andrew Sullivan have uncritically celebrated these implants, when there is such a troubled history of medical interventions on gays.

    I think that Brandon Thorp, as a hearing person, could stand to critically examine the narratives surrounding medical interventions on the deaf.

    At the very least, I congratulate Brandon for drawing attention to a minority group that faces considerable daily discrimination from the hearing.

    Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2012 8:32:43 AM

  17. Can someone explain how sexual orientation, which in no way limits a person's ability to form satisfying relationships, be a decent, moral person, and experience all that life has to offer, equates with deafness?

    There is nothing wrong or shameful about being differently-abled. People can form satisfying relationships, be decent and moral, and lead fulfilling lives. And if a medical treatment's success rate is not worth the risks, I wouldn't expect anyone to take an unnecessary chance. But I guarantee you this: if there were a procedure that cured broken backs, my brother, who has been confined to a wheelchair for 30 years, would do his best to leap at the chance. Well, actually, he'd have to crawl, using his arms, but he'd do it.

    Deafness is a sensory deficit. It s not necessarily a hardship, it certainly is not something to be ashamed of or pitied, it doesnt make one less of a person, but it is what it is. Being gay is not a deficit, except for those who have moral (and false notions) about homosexuality and same-sex relationships.

    Posted by: TJ | May 28, 2012 12:00:02 PM

  18. TJ, no one is equating sexual orientation with deafness. Users here are instead noting the history of deafness and homosexuality as defined by medical paradigms. And in many cases, medical experts have been far less charitable than you in defining deafness and working with deaf people. Even in 2012, the treatment of deaf people and the usage of CIs is much more nuanced than these saccharine celebratory pieces on CNN would suggest.

    Posted by: Anonymous | May 28, 2012 5:12:45 PM

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