Thursday, January 05, 2006

Regardless, Tour de France is an awesome song.

Cochlear implants are skull electronics that allow the deaf to hear through direct electrical stimulation of the hearing nerves. The whole hearing assistance setup consists of the implant inside the skull which receives signals from electronics outside the head. This exterior electronics package has software which can be revised to improve the subjective experience of the implantee.

This Wired article was written by a guy with a Cochlear implant who goes through several revisions of software in order to have a satisfying experience listening to Bolero, a piece he had loved prior to his hearing loss.* Software revisions are usually quite dull, but here the software being revised is this fellow's sensory experience, which is neat.

There's also an NPR story on the subject from October, but as I'm in the school's computer lab without headphones, I can't hear it. O transient disability!

*He does arrive at a relatively satsifactory experience, but can't stand Kraftwerk once he hears it. So really, what has he gained? Ha ha, I kid the deaf man.


warm fuzzy said...

V. Intersting. You should listen to the NPR clip b/c it contrasts a bit of music to what that bit of music might sound like through a cochlear implant.

Sound and Fury is a great documentary on the subject of cochlear implants and the controversy that surrounds them. The movie follows two brothers who each have a deaf child and how each family comes to their ultimate decision to implant or not to implant.

Virtually no one thinks implants are controversial for post-(oral)lingually deaf people like this music loving dude. It is cool how the technology is improving - just even since I was working with Hard of Hearing kids 5 years ago.

Most of the controversy that exists todays surrounds parent's decisons to implant their babies and the fact that most hearing parents (mom and dad to over 90% of deaf children) are not given/seek out the opinions and knowledge that the Deaf Community has to offer. Tales of getting the "horrific" news that their child is not "normal" are abundant, but fear not becuase the doctors then tell them they can "fix" their child and he will be "normal" so they do it.

Additionally, Deafness is very different from most other disabilities becuase while the mainstream culture views Deaf people as disabled, most Deaf people do not see it that way. They see themselves as members of a Deaf Community and not as people who need to be fixed. They have rich language with ASL poetry, folklore, etc that is (for the most part) discounted by the hearing world.

Its a very interesting and emotionally charged subject.

Matt said...

Sound and Fury is great. I found it very very hard to sympathize with the deaf parents who don't want to give their kids cochlear implants, I have to say. I think that the kid's life is gonna be so much fuller and have a lot more opportunity if the kid can hear, and to see parents deny those opportunities to the kid makes me pretty angry.

It's like female genital mutilation. Sure, there are "reasons" for it. Sure it's your own culture, but in the end it's just being shitty to a kid.

warm fuzzy said...

Caution: frantic post b/c I'm slammed at work, but I wanted to comment.

one main difference is that women who go through female genital mutilation don't want to (for the most part). It is an a form of oppression that is trying to be changed from within the culutre. In my opinion, this is completely different.

Many people who consider themselves Deaf do not want to be hearing. they do lead rich lives, and don't consider themselves deprived of anything.