Last week, I shared my story about my cochlear implant, and how my hearing loss journey led me there. You can read/watch that story here. I was taken aback by the response, with so many deaf friends and colleagues reaching out to share their story too.
But that wasn’t the response I got back in 2012, and there’s still some a stigma around cochlear implants in some parts of the community.
When I was going through the process, I picked a cochlear implant that matched the colour of my hair and wouldn’t stand out too much. There’s no shame in having an implant, but at that time, I wasn’t ready to advertise it either.
Over time, I started to share my story with people, telling them that I’d had a cochlear implant fitted, with some interesting reactions.
‘Oh no, not you too?!’
‘You have let the deaf community down!’
‘Why are you trying to become hearing?’
‘You are sending the wrong message!’
My story certainly started some debates, but I felt optimistic when I started to receive more positive responses.
‘I was scared, but if someone like you would have cochlear implant, maybe I can too?’
I gave people the confidence they needed to investigate this journey for themselves.
But why are some people so opposed to cochlear implants?
In some parts of the deaf community, deaf people and activists are opposed to the use of an implant, believing that the person is trying to become ‘hearing’ and thereby denying their deaf identity.
But to me, a cochlear implant is just another hearing aid. I will always be deaf, and I will always be part of the deaf community.
I hope that my choice and experience will help others understand and accept that cochlear implants do not have to carry a stigma.
Making the right choice
Getting a cochlear implant came with its challenges, but looking back, I know I made the right decision for me. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right decision for every deaf person.
If you’re considering getting a cochlear implant, do your research and speak to deaf people who have gone through the journey before you make your decision. Whatever you decide, it will be right for you.