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Cochlear Controversy Dramatized In ‘Sound’

Deaf News: The world-premiere play “Sound” explores the controversy over cochlear implants for the Deaf.

SEATTLE TIMES - To hear? To speak? To sign? Those are the questions.

Deaf children in America are eligible for a procedure that can significantly expand their ability to hear. It is a cochlear implant, and rather than amplify sounds like hearing aids do, it works by directly stimulating the auditory nerve in the brain.

By 2012, about 96,000 adults and children in the U.S. alone had undergone the procedure.

Yet while many have hailed it as a breakthrough that not only can turn up the volume but also help Deaf children develop speech, not everyone is cheering.

“There are a lot of emotional feelings about CIs (cochlear implants) in the Deaf community,” explained Howie Seago, a Deaf Tacoma-bred theater artist and co-director of the new play “Sound,” which debuts this week at ACT Theatre.

“Many Deaf people feel that the doctors and other ‘professionals’ in the field of deafness consider us ‘defective’ and need to be fixed,” Seago commented by email.

“They stress this ad nauseam to the parents and do not fully educate them as to the range of communications options available. They almost always leave out the benefits of using sign language with their Deaf child.”

The conflict over whether children in particular need the device intrigued Seago’s co-director, Desdemona Chiang, when she read an early draft of hearing playwright Don Nguyen’s drama, “Sound.” It portrays the heated dispute between a Deaf father and his non-Deaf ex-wife over whether to try to restore their daughter’s hearing with CIs... Read more:
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