I was a bit late in the day getting to this. Obviously I aways listen to the Today programme on Radio 4 but yesterday, what with being Daddy Daycare and all, I had to forego...
Anyway, wouldn't you know it, yesterday's (Tuesday 24th July) show featured an item on cochlear implants. You can hear it until Sunday on http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/radio4_aod.shtml?radio4/today_mon - the item is about 2 1/4 hours in (around 8.19) - the controls allow you to jump in 15 minute increments.
A play, expressively titled 'Playing God', was being discussed. The playwrite, a deaf woman who's comments were being translated, had a position on implants for children that you mightn't have too much difficulty gathering from the play's title. I'm one of the folk 'playing god' with my child's hearing.
Also interviewed was Emma Nicholson, a Liberal Democrat MP who is partially deaf herself. She weighed in with some heartily ill-informed comments too, largely based around concern about the young age of some implantees.
I have no problem with people having opinions different from mine it's just that, too often with cochlear implants, they are couched in language that brooks no alternative and it was these opinions that were broadcast on a national radio show that is largely regarded as setting the day's news and political agenda with no airtime given to the counter-argument. And when I say counter-argument I mean scientifically proven benefit and factual accuracy.
There are so many untruths and leading opinions in the piece that could leave those who have no understanding of cochlear implants feeling that surgeons in this country were inflicting terrible pain on children for no reason. The desire to give a child the opportunity to develop spoken language and operate in the hearing world (which the vast majority of their parents occupy) is presented as a fool's errand and detrimental to the child's wellbeing.
Those of us 'on the inside' of the cochlear implant world thought that the climate had changed. For us the battle lines are drawn on issues of number of implants (two for all children at least please) not on whether parents should be able to make the decision on their child's behalf. The item actually suggests that the decision should be left until the child is able to contribute to the decision - a stage when the benefits are greatly reduced because of a lack of auditory stimulation to the brain in the intervening, developmental years. These are the facts that need to be put before the opinion-formers when they are listening to inaccurate reports such as this.
Just go and listen - and then write to Radio 4 and possibly your MP too.