In the last 20 years, cochlear implants have transformed the worlds of deaf people.

Deaf infants have a real chance of learning to talk after this surgery thanks to the sound they access. Deaf adults who have never experienced sound can now hear.

But this transformation brings many dilemmas.

In June, Sound Advice screened the US-produced film ’95 decibels’ in the IFI – about the journey a young couple went through after their baby daughter was diagnosed as being profoundly deaf.

The film followed their journey from the diagnosis of deafness to deciding to get the ear implants to adjusting to life with implants, and deciding how best to support their child.

After the film, we got to meet the actors and talk with people using implants in Ireland.

95 Decibels – the Film

Panel Interview with cast of 95 Decibels after the screening

The film name, 95 decibels, is the sound threshold where if a person can’t hear below that level they’re considered profoundly deaf and are candidates for ear implants.

The diagnosis of a baby with deafness is a challenging period for any parent. It’s not only the initial diagnosis but with cochlear implants available, parents now have to make the decision to put their child into surgery at a very early age, often from under one-year-old.

The film explores that journey and addresses the many challenges facing the parents.

Getting the family’s insurance company to pay for the implants in the US was a problem. Thankfully that is no longer an issue – however, there were many other smaller issues. What school’s would best support their child? Will their child socialise well?

The key message in the film was the importance of parent support. Of finding parents who were further down their journey that can help support, share stories, and most importantly share the best ways to tackle challenges they will face going forward. Parents are the experts here. No clinician or teacher will be able to give support to other parents who have been through it all.

What are Cochlear Implants?

Cochlear implants have been available worldwide and in Ireland since the 1990’s, and have transformed the lives of those with hearing difficulties.

Implants work by transmitting the sound directly to the hearing nerve from an external microphone worn on the head while working with the ear’s physical structure.

There are two parts to an implant. The internal part, inserted under the skin and the external microphone and battery, which looks like a hearing-aid or Bluetooth headpiece.

To be most effective, these implants need to be inserted at an early age to give infants the best opportunity to develop speech and language skills.

Parents choose implants so their baby can grow up speaking the family language/s, with their future reading ability optimised by hearing (and reading) speech sounds in their family environment. Cochlear implants enable 85% of deaf children detected in infancy, and access auditory-verbal (hearing-speech) teaching to start preschool, talking at peer level.

More information on the benefits here.

Personal Stories

After the film, we got to meet with the actors and producers and members of the cochlear community in Ireland, to hear personal stories.

As children, they get asked a lot about ear implants. Apart from curiosity, there was no stigma about these hearing hearing-devices, which can get mistaken for music hardware.

Some of the challenges implant wearers had were where to sit in classrooms and giving a teacher a microphone at the start of class so they could hear better. People felt they were bringing attention to themselves, very challenging as children enter their teens.

Strong accents are also an issue and take time to get used to.

Hardwood floors and tiled areas are also very challenging, with the sound of chairs scraping off them. But this is being dealt with in schools for children with implants, installing rubber feat onto all chairs and tables.

Personal stories of those using implants

Ear Implants Replacing Sign

Ear implants now work so well that many children with them don’t even need to learn sign language. Children with implants from dual-country families grow up, speaking both their family languages and interacting fluently with cousins and relatives at gatherings.

Many in the signing-deaf community see this decline in sign language use as a personal loss. but sign language use relies on another person being available to talk with at that specific time, either in person or online.

As Miranda Meyers from the 95 decibels film said, with implants she can travel anywhere in the world and speak and communicate with most people if they know the English language.

Ear Implants and Deafness in Ireland

Ear implants are available in Ireland, but in the public system, there is an 11-month waiting list. Going private is still an option – parents in the film audience had gone that route out of frustration of the long waiting times and the keen awareness of how there is a better outcome for babies, the sooner implants are fitted.

Ear Implants Replacing Sign

Ear implants now work so well that many children with them don’t even need to learn sign language. Children with implants from dual-country families grow up, speaking both their family languages and interacting fluently with cousins and relatives at gatherings.

Many in the signing-deaf community see this decline in sign language use as a personal loss. but sign language use relies on another person being available to talk with at that specific time, either in person or online.

As Miranda Meyers from the 95 decibels film said, with implants she can travel anywhere in the world and speak and communicate with most people if they know the English language.

 

Links


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This