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Re: Wait time halved for hearing implant -March 8 2011

 

Health Minister Deb Matthews’ recent announcement that an additional $5.9 million is being provided for cochlear implants should lead to increased scrutiny of Ontario government policy regarding deaf children’s access to sign language.

 

The Ontario Infant Hearing Program will not fund American Sign Language (ASL) services to deaf children who receive cochlear implants and auditory-verbal therapy, and children’s hospitals in Ontario explicitly forbid cochlear implant recipients from learning ASL.

 

There is no research basis for not allowing deaf children access to ASL. In fact, a strong case can be made for the overall cognitive, affective, and educational benefits of bilingualism in a signed and a spoken/written language and of deaf children’s access to the ASL community. This is particularly true in light of the fact that results of cochlear implant surgery in congenitally deaf children remain uneven and unpredictable.

 

Furthermore, Dr. Blake Papsin’s comment that a cochlear implant “increases the ability of its recipients to become educated and employed” is offensive to educated, employed deaf members of the ASL community such as myself. The deaf ASL community of Ontario includes medical doctors, lawyers, university professors, CEOs and various other professionals who contribute to our economy.

 

The fact that parents of deaf children are not routinely informed of the ASL community’s accomplishments speaks not only to the unbalanced information provided by medical professionals but also to our society’s failure to celebrate diversity and promote true inclusion for deaf people.
 

Kristin Snoddon, PhD, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Early Childhood Education, Ryerson University

 

Ear implant decision raises questions

Published On Fri Mar 11 2011