Sound & Fury: The Cochlear Implant Debate

Part of being a part of the deaf community is that, well…its members are deaf. What qualifies as a level of being deaf isn’t just a consideration that professionals and legislators must consider when formulating laws and accommodations. This qualification has also come under heated discussion as the deaf community considers these implications of hearing on deaf culture. What has really spurned on this heated topic of discussion is the development of cochlear implant technology.

To sum up the whole of the topic of debate would be impossible. Everything from considerations of “Who has the right to make the decision? The child or the parent?” to “If I can hear, does that still make me deaf?” and everything in between would be a good place to begin pondering. In short, many deaf have bombarded the internet with blog posts, website, videoblogs, and more with their opinion on the situation, many even boldly declaring that to have an implant is to be ashamed of or in a great way turning against the deaf community and its deaf culture. Others still argue that if the technology is there, why shouldn’t parents make the decision to give their deaf child an opportunity to be a member of the hearing world. The internet is literally peppered with the writings of experts stating that the very cohesiveness of deaf culture depends on the continuity of sign language, which is virtually destroyed with the use of cochlear implants.

The debate is wide and varied. And certainly to weigh in on the great whole of an issue that is so very personal and individual would be wrong. But the two video’s below cast an interesting light on the issue.

“Sound & Fury” follows two brothers as they make the decision for their deaf children on whether or not to get the cochlear implant. The documentary explores the interesting dilemma faced as one brother who is hearing makes the decision to have the implant surgery peformed on his deaf son, while the other brother who is deaf faces quite the conundrum when his deaf daughter asks for the implant that he is so adamantly opposed.

Aside from exploring the issue of hearing and the medical concerns that each brother faces in regards to the procedure and the implant, the audience is also treated to an insight into the family dynamic of a mother who wants no part of having a deaf child as she bitterly resents her own childhood being raised by deaf parents, grandparents who, by the way, think that nothing could be worse than making their blessedly deaf grandson hearing. Issues of culture are also explored from several points of view.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Sound & Fury: Part 1, posted with vodpod

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Sound & Fury: Part II, posted with vodpod

The full PBS Documentary can be ordered here. The PBS Sound & Fury website also has links to resources on deaf culture, history, and follow-ups on the family; available here.

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