When reading the DeafView section in DeafLife (January 2008) that asks a question to gather opinions of the Deaf community. This question is a deep one. It said, "If a deaf person receives a cochlear implant, should this person be rejected by the Deaf Community?" How many percent said No, they should not be rejected? The survey said 72%. How many said Yes, they should be rejected? 15%. How many percent said not sure? 10%. Interesting to see these results. Combined the Yes and Not sure results, it is like 25% reluctantly accepting CI people and 75% support the idea of not rejecting them. I am going to explain the reasons for these three views.
For those who think that they should be rejected were because they wanted to “be hearing” that they separate themselves from the DEAF thinking that they are better than them. Once they can hear, they are not considered as a DEAF person. They don’t have the pride to be Deaf or cherish it. Also they are like 'robots'. They will not continue to sign. They are inferior." It is a harsh view in my opinion.
For those who think that they should be accepted makes sense and it was because they felt that in their “Deaf World”, they have always accept the others. It (C.I.) is not considered as a big deal. The C.I. wearers will always take the device off at certain times and they are still “DEAF” and that they are still a part of the Deaf community. In spite of wearing C.I., they may be learning it or those who already use it will still continue using ASL.
For those who say unsure, they have mixed feelings that "those who get C.I. made them feel divided and that they value hearing more than deaf. Their definition of cochlear implant represents oral philosophy. It offends DEAF people. There is a difference between those who wear cochlear implant and hearing aids since they can take hearing aids off anytime while for those who have C.I. always have the magnet device in their heads. Also, those who wear hearing aids are considered 'temporary' while those who wear C.I. is considered 'permanent'".
My view? I dismiss the reasons for those who reject cochlear implantees. Why? Today, it is considered a part of technology in the world we live in that I accept the changes, at the same time, when rejecting them, I ask myself, “What good is it? What would it help us as a Deaf community to reject them?” You know, we have been concerned about Deaf babies receiving implants (it is because of not using signs that would be most accessible to them since birth). It doesn’t help when one makes negative facial expression and nasty remarks toward them. What would you think how hearing (and DEAF) parents feel? I would imagine that they would feel more resistant toward those who reject them. They may get to the point of not wanting to learn ASL because of the negative encounter they have experienced. Let’s say one keeps an open mind, set aside their differences and just focus on the positives by stating that ASL is a beautiful language and how it can help a Deaf child to develop better literacy. Also explain how bilingual approach greatly benefit Deaf babies and children who wear C.I. (and increase cognitive thinking). Make ASL activities fun! Expose ASL to parents how it is used in theaters, songs, poetry, etc. that will attract them rather than repelling them by making negative expressions and remarks. Think of ways to approach them by giving them a better picture of ASL and introducing them to links or whatever ways to make them interested. I feel that we should think ourselves as a marketer not as one who criticizes, rejects or bashes them. Negative criticism should be thrown out of the window and "use marketing approach" that promotes ASL in their lives.
Now, Martin Luther King celebration is coming up as we honor him on January 21st. It is important to remember what was his purpose and why his message was shared to the world. Of course, his strong philosophy was to promote unity between the Blacks and the whites that they get to live together in harmony. This philosophy should be applied to the Deaf community that consists a variety of people who are Deaf, ASL users, hearing or capable of hearing by wearing C.I. and hearing aids. Whatever the differences are, we need to learn to accept, work together and respect each other. It is important to remember Martin Luther King’s dream. The question is: Can WE live in that everlasting dream?