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Hearing Impaired Iowans Have Differing Opinions on Cochlear Implants

Monday, October 06, 2003, 1:10:46 PM

By KCRG-TV9 News Anchor/Reporter Diane Pathieu - TV9 Cedar Rapids Newsroom

Eastern Iowa's deaf community wants you to hear their side of the story. A growing number of children have been getting cochlear implants since the mid 1990's.

9-year old Eric Lehmkuhl of Cedar Rapids received his cochlear a year-and-a-half ago. His mother says the longer Eric has his cochlear, the better he can hear. He's moved from the Deaf Education Program at Arthur Elementary School, to what most would call a normal classroom.

Eric still has an interpreter who helps him in class, but he says he doesn't always use her because he doesn't need as much assistance anymore. Eric's mother says he's doing fantastic and never likes to be without his cochlear.

You might think the deaf community would be excited by such news. But that's not necessarily the case. Approximately 28 million Americans, or about one in every ten people in this country has some degree of hearing loss. And projections indicate that number willl grow as baby boomers age and increasing noise pollution continues to take it's toll.

Here in cedar rapids, the association for the deaf has members from all walks of life. They get together several times of year for to socialize. Except for all the signing, you probably wouldn't be able to tell this crowd was any different from a group of *hearing people. Most of the people in this group, like duane meyer of Iowa City, prefer to sign. Meyer is a deaf father of a hard-of-hearing 7-year old. He understands cochlear can make a major difference, but says he will not give one to his son because the implant requires a major operation. "My wife and I decided, it needed to be my son's choice. Like, if he grows up and he has that cochlear implant, its really not fair to the child, because he doesn't have a choice to make.

Dixie Meyer, unlike her husband and son D.J., can hear. She believes acting as if the cochlear is a cure-all for people who can't hear, reinforces the stereotype that deaf people are not normal. But the Meyers are not alone, some experts also say implantation of the device does not guarantee the ability to hear.

To learn more about the deaf culture, read "Journey into the Deaf-World", a recommended book on this subject.

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Help Kids Hear is a site dedicated to helping parents of deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children. We are parents of hard of hearing kids and simply want to "give back" to the community. We welcome your comments, questions & suggestions. Please drop us a note at