In 2018, I visited twins in Bangalore, India, who recently underwent cochlear implant surgery. Their operation was performed last month, and their implants were activated or opened a few weeks after the operation. When I met them, they were fiddling with the processor behind their ears, massaging their still soft scalp. They wanted to show me a large cardboard box containing their processor, but also with additional cables, magnets and microphone covers for final use.
Like twins, I have cochlear implants, although mine is bilateral, meaning one for each ear. My implants and extra parts are not packed in a cardboard box. One is in a smooth hard plastic briefcase, and the other is in a waterproof sports backpack. My implant and the twins are made by the same company, even though my processor is at least two generations ahead. In fact, the twin processors have never been listed in the United States. They were originally developed as special processors developed specifically for developing countries.My processor is different from theirs and has Advanced environmental scanning and noise cancellation functions This makes it easier to hear in noisy environments. I also have a small microphone that can be given to colleagues during lectures or to friends when chatting outside; this microphone can eliminate external and unwanted sounds.
India is often noisyWhen visiting an Indian primary school, I observed and heard the open windows, the sound of traffic everywhere; the rotating ceiling fans; and the shaking benches on the concrete floor. As an anthropologist who conducts research in Indian schools, NGOs, and clinics, I often nervously hear the people I talk to or observe. Like most children with cochlear implants, the twins’ goal is to get them to a typical (and noisy) mainstream school.
In 2018 New York Times editorialFilm producer Irene Brodsky wrote: “Whether to implant a cochlear implant was and is still a first-world debate.” However, the cochlear implant market Rapid expansion, and Developing countries It is an emerging and fast-growing market. In addition, India and other countries, such as Pakistan and Malaysia, also have public and private funding projects to provide cochlear implants for children. These procedures usually provide surgery, internal components and external processors, device mapping, and finite years of adaptability. Such programs are expensive and involve the purchase of implants from multinational cochlear implant manufacturers.
As the well-known American audiologist Jane Madell said of the progress in technology, hearing screening and rehabilitation in the United States: “This is not old-fashioned deafness.“ With the spread of cochlear implants and treatments (such as auditory speech therapy), her statement is also correct internationally. As Mader and other audiologists and therapists have pointed out, early newborn hearing screening, cochlear implants and other complex hearing techniques and early intervention can allow deaf children to reach their full potential.
Cochlear implants are considered to be the first true bionic device, and it is an example of technology that improves the lives of deaf-mute children and ordinary people. For example, a quick Google search for cochlear implant activation videos can see parents crying happily after the child’s implanted processor is activated. In India and elsewhere, Media claims Cochlear implants can and do make children “normal”, and implanted children “can hear now.”
This acceptance of cochlear implants ignores the fact that children in developing countries are receiving technologies that are outdated or have never been used in richer countries. When this question was raised, I was not interested in re-discussing the controversy between sign language and spoken language or the ethics of cochlear implants.I acknowledge and respect the position of the deaf community, namely deafness Is part of human diversity. My first book Exploring the experience of deaf users of Indian sign language, they advocated using more resources for sign language development. These deaf-mute Indians are frustrated by the government’s attention to cochlear implants.
On the other hand, I believe that if children are to be implanted, they should implant the latest and most advanced technology so that they can maximize their potential, as described by cochlear implant supporters, development theorists and economists Like that. We know that listening is hard work And regardless of the complexity of the technology, using a cochlear implant to do so involves Degraded signal, Often causing cognitive fatigue.
We also know that hearing technology is very important; the World Health Organization’s recent “World hearing report“ Emphasize the economic, educational and social benefits of cochlear implants. In my research, Indian government managers often tell me that cochlear implants make deaf-mute children productive citizens. So why are children being implanted with inferior, now outdated technology? Why are they given less meaning?
There are exceptions to this “behind the implant”: Listen to the World Foundation and Global Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss A plan has been launched to provide 10 children in Vietnam with the latest processors, and promises to upgrade after a certain number of years to support children using the latest equipment until they reach adulthood. If nation-states and civil society organizations want to promote listening and speaking, they need to implant children equally.
Why do I, because of my geographical location, can use more complex technology than twins? In the United States, all children, including those participating in Medicaid and other public assistance programs, have access to the latest technology. What does this mean for sensory life, children’s abilities and maximizing their potential? Although cochlear implants are becoming more and more popular, differential implants are introducing new inequalities.
This is an opinion and analysis article; the views expressed by the author or author are not necessarily Scientific american.