THE PROFESSIONAL VIEW

This department was originally titled “The Audist View.” “Audist” refers to those who maintain the supremacy of speech, speechreading, and ultilizing residual hearing as a deaf person’s primary mode of communication. This includes deaf and hearing oralists, professionals in the medical/audiological field who work with deaf patiemts and clients, cochlear-implant advocates, surgeons, speech therapists, clinicians, and parents. However, as Ryan McCreery’s response shows, it’s not necessarily a black-and-white, good guys-and-bad-guys scenario. A number of audiologists and other clinicians and medical professionals respect the Deaf community and recognize the diversity of communication choices for their deaf clients. Some already know sign language, and some are learning it, so that they can better communicate with their clients and patients. This is a good trend.

Not all audiologists are audists, and it is therefore unfair to stereotype them as adhering to a repressive oralism-or-nothing philosophy.

Audiologists and other professionals who wish to share their views are welcome to E-mail us at editor (at) cochlearwar (dot) com.

The importance of establishing bridges between Audiology and Deaf Culture: an audiologist’s view

To Whom It May Concern:

I have been monitoring the Cochlear War website for some time, as I am interested in learning more about the views of the Deaf Culture and Community regarding cochlear implantation. As a Pediatric Audiologist, I work with a vareity of families to help them learn about hearing loss, but primarily to help them and their children to learn to communicate. I realize that many in the Deaf Culture and Community have had extremely negative experiences with Audiologists, and that there are many Audiologists who do not respect the heritage and language of the Deaf Culture. However, I am concerned that your website seems to make no distinction between those Audioloigists and a growing number of us who encourage families to learn ASL, seek mentors and information from the Deaf Community, and do not believe that hearing aids, cochlear implants or any other form of Audiological Habilitation are a “cure” for hearing loss.

Instead, your website promotes the idea that all Audiologists are “Audists.” I understand that a large number of Audiologists would probably qualify as Audists, but I think it's important for families to realize that there are a number of us who are not opposed to the Deaf Culture, and recognize the Deaf Community as an invaluable resource for our families. While I value the opinions and experiences of Deaf Individuals, the information presented on your website makes the Deaf Culture seem inflexible, uncooperative, and unfriendly, which I know is not true, because I have friends and associates who are Deaf.

I think it’s important to consider your target audience. Over 90% of children with hearing loss are born to hearing parents, most of whom have little or no information about the Deaf Culture. Thanks in part to universal newborn hearing screening in many states, the first professional a family meets when they have a child with hearing loss is an Audiologist. A good Audiologist is your greatest ally in educating families about the Deaf Culture and the language and history associated with it. If I didn't know the Deaf Culture from my own personal experiences and I came across the information on your website, I would be less likely to consider sharing this point of view with families, simply because the way the information is presented makes the Deaf Culture seem scary to hearing people.

I know from my experience that putting hearing families with deaf childrenin contact with the Deaf Community is incredibly important for the parents and their children. I agree with your statement that the views and opinions of the Deaf Culture on many issues are unfairly ignored as part of the big picture. However, instead of sharing all the wonderful history, language and benefits associated with being part fo the Deaf Culture, your website stereotypes Audiologists as Audists, and in the process gives parents the idea that we’re opposed to each other in some way, when really, it’s not like that. I feel like more energy should be put towards building cooperation between Audiology and the Deaf Culture, since I think that both are important parts of helping families. The Cochlear War Website seeks to divide rather than build this cooperation, and it puts me in an incredibly frustrating position.

Best regards,

Ryan McCreery, M.S., CCC-A
The Pediatric Hearing Center
Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Health Center
Tacoma, WA


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