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I read “Understanding Deafness: Not Everyone Wants to Be ‘Fixed’” in The Atlantic with great anger

August 13th, 2013 by | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

The Atlantic, another highly regarded publication, perpetuates misinformation about cochlear implants, listening and spoken language, and a highly regarded deaf-related organization, Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

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Here is my letter to the editor to help you understand why the article was filled with misinformation:

Dear Editor,

I read “Understanding Deafness: Not Everyone Wants to Be ‘Fixed’” with great anger. It was very clear that Allegra Ringo did not complete her research. I was born profoundly deaf and first received a cochlear implant at the age of 2 and half years old in 1989. I will always be forever grateful for my parents’ choice to teach me to hear and speak without the use of sign language.

Prior to the invention of cochlear implants, without any doubt, learning to speak and read lips was hard for most deaf children. However, today, according to research studies, because cochlear implants provide access to clear speech comprehension, the majority of deaf children are able to easily learn language through speaking and hearing without lipreading or communicating in sign language as long as they receive the technology at an early age and appropriate rehabilitation. Research studies say that deaf children who speak and hear with cochlear implants lead a quality of life and socialize equal to their normal hearing peers. Because research studies prove the opposite of what Audism Free America (AFA) states, it is clear that the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AGBell) does not miseducate.

While AGBell does receive funding from cochlear implant manufacturers, the funding is used to simply provide support and resources for families who personally choose listening and spoken language and cochlear implants for their children. AGBell never came to my family and said, “You must teach your child to hear and speak.” My family only learned about AGBell through a friend and made their own choice to come to the organization to acquire more information.

AGBell is very well aware that other method of communications are valid options, as they list all communication options including American Sign Language (ASL) and Total Communication, on their website For those who are interested in learning more about ASL, AGBell directs people to National Association of the Deaf and American Society for Deaf Children.

It is misinformation that people become rich from cochlear implantation. Audiologists and Speech Language Pathologists average salary is $70,000. Because many insurers do not reimburse hospitals well for cochlear implants, some have had to close their cochlear implant programs.

It is false that cochlear implantation results in a child who speaks a different language from their Deaf parents. According to various sources, many culturally Deaf parents who choose cochlear implants for their deaf children are still incorporating deaf culture and sign language while pursuing listening and spoken language.

While AFA may have appeared peaceful when the author was present, the author was, however, completely unaware of their past vicious attacks. They walked inside an AGBell conference in 2011 without authorization and disrupted an in-progress presentation. They defaced AGBell’s headquarter signs with adhesive tape. They blocked parents in a preschool carpool line when protesting at their headquarters. They made death threats to professionals and family members, requiring the FBI to be involved and some to wear bullet-proof vests when advocating publicly.

I sincerely hope that the author will revisit this issue to learn correct facts.


1 Comment

Don Liveley

August 14, 2013 at 8:35 am

Rachel, Thanks!