Issue

Vol 135 No 1549: 4 February 2022

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Issue Summary

Article
SUMMARY

Deaf community views on paediatric cochlear implantation

There are two models used in the literature to describe those who are d/Deaf: the medical and the cultural. The medical model describes deafness as an unwanted disability that needs to be treated through the use of medical devices like cochlear implants (CIs). The cultural model describes the word “Deaf” (written with a capital) as a culture and membership of the Deaf community as a privilege. It also places emphasis on the importance of sign language in Deaf culture. Historically, the Deaf community has been opposed to cochlear implantation in children, but little is known about current attitudes, or those of the Deaf community in New Zealand. This research asked deaf, hard-of-hearing (HoH) and culturally Deaf people in New Zealand about their views on paediatric cochlear implants via an online questionnaire. Culturally Deaf respondents were compared to those who were not. Findings were mixed, suggesting that there are still reservations about the benefits of CIs for children born deaf. Key areas identified were consideration of a bilingual/bicultural approach to CI habilitation in children and the need to fully inform parents of all their options. The study also highlights the multitude of cultural and non-cultural factors that need to be considered in both the decision-making and habilitation processes for treatment of a deaf child. An understanding of the different perspectives between the Deaf community and health professions in New Zealand is important in considering what is best for the deaf child.

Article
SUMMARY

Deaf community views on paediatric cochlear implantation

There are two models used in the literature to describe those who are d/Deaf: the medical and the cultural. The medical model describes deafness as an unwanted disability that needs to be treated through the use of medical devices like cochlear implants (CIs). The cultural model describes the word “Deaf” (written with a capital) as a culture and membership of the Deaf community as a privilege. It also places emphasis on the importance of sign language in Deaf culture. Historically, the Deaf community has been opposed to cochlear implantation in children, but little is known about current attitudes, or those of the Deaf community in New Zealand. This research asked deaf, hard-of-hearing (HoH) and culturally Deaf people in New Zealand about their views on paediatric cochlear implants via an online questionnaire. Culturally Deaf respondents were compared to those who were not. Findings were mixed, suggesting that there are still reservations about the benefits of CIs for children born deaf. Key areas identified were consideration of a bilingual/bicultural approach to CI habilitation in children and the need to fully inform parents of all their options. The study also highlights the multitude of cultural and non-cultural factors that need to be considered in both the decision-making and habilitation processes for treatment of a deaf child. An understanding of the different perspectives between the Deaf community and health professions in New Zealand is important in considering what is best for the deaf child.