Thursday, November 22, 2007

PILGRIMS AND PIONEERS

Feeling kind of nostalgic today, missing my family...so what I really need is an excellent video of a very special person, Rachel Chaikof, a pioneer cochlear implantee AND a designer extraordinaire of the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Circle COCHLEAR IMPLANT AWARENESS CAMPAIGN. I'll let Rachel do what she does best...speak for herself.



Entry taken from Rachel and Jessica's (See my blog from November 1st -Jessica)Blog
September 19th, 2007

"Just wait and see when your kids become 18 years old or finish high school. I was one of them. I grew up oral and I often was told that I am hard of hearing (which is not true) because I speak fairly well. Today I have considered myself as a Pride Deaf woman. I wish that I had learned ASL many years ago. I also wish I had made alot of Deaf/HH friends back then. I respect you that you've chosen your kids to learn to speak and many more. I am not surprised that you will regret this later on. Wait and see ....."

While my sister and I have been raised in the hearing world, our deafness will always be part of us, but it does not define who we are. Nearly 30 years after the revolution of the cochlear implant, the debate of using sign language is still endless. Deaf advocates are taking advantage of the cyberworld by using blogs to advocate that babies with cochlear implants and even normal hearing babies use sign language starting as newborns. They believe that deaf infants who start learning sign language as soon as possible will have better expressive language than children with cochlear implants who do not learn sign language. As a 20 year old adult, I firmly prove these deaf advocates wrong because I do not regret that I have not learned sign language. I feel that ASL is absolutely unnecessary to be part of my life as I am leading a rich life in which I hear and speak well. I graduated from high school with honors and am now a sophomore at a regular mainstream college.

Many people have been fooled into thinking that I am not deaf because my speech is clear and also because I hear well. This is to thanks to all the years that I worked in Auditory-Verbal therapy where my therapist and family taught me to listen and speak.

In my public middle school, which had a total communication program, I met a few students with cochlear implants and hearing aids, and they all signed and also spoke. Their speech was very unintelligible because they relied on sign language frequently. Most of them were also not mainstreamed and were in a self-contained classroom all day. If I relied on sign language like these students, my life would have been like theirs In that I would not have fully participated in the mainstream environment, and my speech would have been unclear and, thus, more difficult for people to understand. Also, my parents’ first language is English. Why should my parents have spent a great amount of time learning another language just to teach me for only a few years when there was an easier and valuable option of implanting me and teaching me their first language that they had a full grasp of? Also, my sister's language evaluation at age six showed her to have language that was 6 months to two years above age level.

Many deaf advocates told my parents that, when I became an adult, I would discard my CI processors, adapt to the deaf culture, and be angry at my parents. As a 20 year old adult, I am happily living in the hearing world with bilateral cochlear implants and would never discard my implants in the future. I am bilingual, but not in English and ASL, but rather I am fluent in both French and English. I listen to my iPod on a regular basis and attend movies in theaters with my normal hearing friends, fully enjoying the sounds of the movies.

My deafness will still be part of me as I have attended several cochlear implant conventions where I met other people with cochlear implants also raised with the Auditory-Verbal approach. We share our fortunate paths of being raised with this wonderful technology, the cochlear implant, by telling each other of our achievements that could not have happened without our cochlear implants and also share some small obstacles that we’ve had, such as not understanding people who mumble. At the conventions, we hung out in our hotel rooms or in the lobby and TALKED to each other until past midnight! These friends are my deaf community, but my main community is the entire world.


As the mother of a deaf child who wears a cochlear implant, I am constantly looking for role models. Rachel and Jessica are two exceptional young women with two strong inspirational voices and one helluva motivated and devoted mother!

2 comments:

Val said...

Don't you just love those girls?
Very proud of them both!

monye said...

Thanksgiving is not the same without my family to share it with. I must say I ate enough for everyone who wasn't there. It's very hard being so far away from my daughter and grandchildren. The blog Jodi has developed to get the word out about cochlear implants and the amazing results they have is quite inspiring. It's wonderful reading about all the great stories and the amazing results people have had wearing the cochlear implant. To everyone out there who works so hard to make their lives or their children's lives the best they can be I salute and admire you all.