Had a wonderful day today in Cambridge where I met two Deaf friends who also have Cochlear Implant (CI). Like me, they were both born profoundly deaf and brought up with British Sign Language (BSL) and in the Deaf World. They too, like me, objected to CI in the past as we saw them as a threat to the Deaf Community and our Deaf identities. Having seen more members of the Deaf Community who use BSL and have strong Deaf identities like me getting Cochlear Implants, our views are changing. We realised that with being cochlear implanted as adults, we don't change and there is no threat to BSL. We are still Deaf and although we can now hear environmental sounds and music, we still cannot follow speech except lip-reading 1 to 1 with a very Deaf aware hearing person. Due to the lack of our auditory experience growing up and being too deaf at the time our brains develop these auditory pathways for the comprehension of speech, despite the said benefits with environmental sounds and music, we still have alot more limitations with speech comprehension than those who were implanted very young or was hearing who became deafened and got cochlear implant. I must stress to you and remind you that the environmental sounds are not always identifable and due to being implanted and only hearing from one side only, the location of the sound source is impossible.
As BSL and the Deaf identity has not been threatened by born Deaf adults getting implanted, more and more BSL users Deafies are getting cochlear implants. I am amazed by how fast cochlear implants are spreading within the Deaf World and also how cochlear implants are becoming more and more accepted.
It was brilliant to meet my Deaf friends in Cambridge today as we have extremely similar experiences with our hearing experiences with the CI and dealing with similar attitude and expectations of hearing people. One of my friends had her implant for 6 months and she was concerned about her lack of progress and when I told her what I went through, she felt much better as I went through the same and that it was normal for us. The other friend only had his CI op last week, but meeting us and listening to our experiences will help him what to expect and what not to expect.
What a great time that I didnt get home until 2am!!