When in a fast-paced conversation with a group of hearing people, do you understand everything that everyone is saying?
Sadly, no. When it comes to one on one conversations, my speech processor is fantastic and filters out background noise in order to make hearing the person in front of me more streamlined. I still struggle to a degree in group conversations especially when it’s more than four people as sometimes it can get so dynamic that I sometimes lose track of what’s been said and who said what, or not even be able to keep up and understand at all. It becomes even more of a struggle if the social setting is very loud, like in a bar or concert. In those instances, you have better luck just texting me what you want to say or showing me on your phone.
Is your Cochlear Implant expected to be as efficient into your adult life?
As a technology, there’s no doubt that this is just the beginning and cochlear implants will continue to improve over time and companies may explore different routes like completely internal processors and the like.
From what I’ve been told, the cochlear implants from my generation have a theoretical lifespan of around 15 years before needing to be replaced, either due to outdated hardware or parts failing. I’ve now been deaf for 19 of 22 years of my life, and through yearly audiologist appointments they have confirmed that the inner mappings and hardware are perfectly fine for the time being, but it’s obviously up in the air that I may need to have surgery at some point to upgrade my implant, especially in terms of compatibility with future implants that may require me to do so. Thankfully the surgery is much less invasive these days, and requires an incision not like my scar in the picture in my last Q&A, but instead one the size of a 10p coin if not smaller. Fortunately, it seems that I won’t need it yet.
Do your thoughts have sounds?
Mine do, but I guess that’s because I have a cochlear implant and so therefore can hear people speak. If I have heard somebody’s voice before, I can simultaneously imagine their voice as I lipread when my speech processor is off, and it has weirdly been a massive help. I’m not sure how widespread that is though. My dreams have sounds too, though weirdly the visuals are usually black and white.
Can deaf people have tinnitus?
I think so, at least for me I get it at random but not often. I don’t get the ringing in the ear, but rather in my head. It seems to be most apparent when I’m extremely tired or have turned off my processor for too long.
Wait, I’m confused. You had a complete lack of hearing, and this device makes you able to hear well? And many in the Deaf community shun people for that choice? That seems a bit crazy to me. Could you go into more depth about this?
It does seem crazy. A lot of new parents nowadays are suggested by doctors to get the implant for their deaf baby and the community thinks this is highly unethical and see being deaf as not being a bad thing, just different. I’ve heard of deaf people having kids with other deaf people, hoping the child is deaf. It just blows my mind. I really don’t understand it. Gaining the ability to hear, if simply to hear music, seems like an amazing thing to me. Or for safety at least! I just don’t understand why someone would choose or advocate to shut out a large part of the world. Thankfully it’s a very small majority of the Deaf community, and less so in the UK where cochlear implants are largely accepted and schools for the deaf exist that support hearing aid and cochlear implant users, as well as those without either.
Why does TV assume deaf people are nocturnal? I only ever see a sign interpreter on the corner of my screen at ridiculous times of the day.
I didn’t fully think of this until you asked, but that’s actually a really fair point. It does seem unfair for those that require an interpreter and I wouldn’t be surprised if it greatly restricts their viewing. Or maybe it’s so people that are off their heads can dance along with them at 2 in the morning.
On a serious note, it seems like it is largely due to broadcasters needing to meet a required quota yet still cut corners. There’s a section in the Communications Act 2003 that states that 5% of broadcasting is required to have sign language, so I assume they put it on late night repeats to meet the quota without having to put sign language on regular viewing slots.
With subtitles on the screen is an interpreter necessary?
Many deaf people do often need an interpreter even if there are subtitles. People who are born deaf often use BSL as their first language over English and literacy rates are a lot lower than for hearing people. I also imagine that it helps those wanting to learn sign language, as they can collate the subtitles with what is being signed in order to learn the gestures.
If you have a question that you’d like answered in tomorrow’s Q&A, please reach out to me through my email (email@example.com) or tweet me at @DeafStream