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NY Times Opinion: A Clearer Message on Cochlear Implants

Friday, November 23, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jessica Houk
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NY Times Article: Portrayals of this technology for deaf people overlook its potential downsides and challenges

The NY Times published an opinion piece on cochlear implants that contained a good bit of misleading information. We posted a comment at #179 and there were many excellent responses highlighting why people disagreed with the author's commentary.

Here is our comment:
The author notes that there are many ways of being deaf and that the ultimate decision on how to provide language to a deaf child rests with the parents. She then expresses her opinion on the best way for a child to be deaf.

Fortunately parents do have choices about how to approach their child’s deafness, choices that will have long-lasting consequences. Over 90% of children with hearing loss are born to two typically hearing parents who do not know sign language. Unlike children born to deaf parents who already know and use sign language, deaf children in households in which the parents are learning ASL, are often language delayed.

In a multi-site study of 100 deaf children with cochlear implants (Geers 2017), researchers found that children who had limited exposure to sign language developed better listening, speech, and reading. Studies that find an ASL advantage typically involve small samples or children whose parents already knew ASL. The reality is that the “years of vigorous auditory-verbal training” noted by the author is really just good parenting—lots of talking, asking questions, reading, and limited screen time—doing things that parents can be mentored about so that they and others who interact with their child spend a lot of time doing what all parents should do. The organization where I work, the American Cochlear Implant Alliance, encourages and shares research based findings on cochlear implants. For more details, visit

The mission of the American Cochlear Implant (ACI) Alliance is to advance access to the gift of hearing provided by cochlear implantation through research, advocacy and awareness.