The national peak body for deafness issues, Deaf Australia, spoke out today against the biased reporting in Channel 7’s 30 minute long advertisement for the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre, aired as part of its Sunday Night program on 23 March 2014.
The program focused on a deaf mother and father who had their new cochlear implants switched on for the first time live on television, watched by their children.
“Although we understand that cochlear implants are a great choice for many deaf people, such as this family, we are concerned that Channel 7 used the program to infer that an implant is the best and only choice for a family that loves each other,” said Deaf Australia President Todd Wright.
Deaf Australia’s position is that cochlear implants are remarkable devices but only one of many viable options for deaf and hard of hearing people.
Although this was an informed decision for the Nobes family, the program stretched the truth, focusing on sensationalising the story while leaving out the realities of a CI choice and ignoring the positive and fulfilling lifestyle most deaf people lead.
Cochlear implants offer about 36 frequencies and are amplified, compared to hearing aids, which boost all sound. This represents less than .0000001% of ‘normal capacity’. Sign language offers full language and communication; much more than 36 frequencies.
“Most disappointing of all is how the live “switching on” session reinforced the misconception that the cochlear implant works instantaneously – what they did not show was that further training will be required to use the implant properly, and that it will never give them ‘normal’ hearing,” explains Mr Wright, “They will still need to rely on lip-reading, and need access to captioning and other services.
“This family, and other deaf and hard of hearing people are not victims who are unable to function without a cochlear implant. Tim and Natalie have three lovely children who they raised themselves and have led healthy productive lives without a cochlear implant.
“And they do not need a cochlear implant to hear their daughter say ‘I love you’; they already see it and feel it which is far more powerful.”