Yesterday, I wrote about the marginalization of children from the Native American communities at boarding schools. Today, I want to move ahead a number of years to a new technology and a different type of culture with similarities to the autistic culture: the deaf culture. Those who are vocal in the deaf culture believe that deafness is a different way to experience life, not a disability. With this in mind, imagine what they think about cochlear implants.
Last week, I read an article on the “knowledge enthymeme” by J. Blake Scott which states an exigent (or important) situation creates a need for knowledge and knowledge creates the opportunity for change (power or agency). Put another way, important situations create the need for knowledge which creates power. At one point, Scott says, “Infected mothers who fail to get tested or refuse testing are irresponsible vectors of the virus rather than ignorant victims. Thus, the knowledge enthymeme interpellates women in two contradictory ways” (69).
What, then, are parents who don’t put their children under the knife for cochlear implants? Parents want what is best for their child; put another way, parents want their children’s lives to be easy, not hard, but is easiest always the best?
But I digress. Now, let’s say a teenager has been deaf all her life and her parents decide to have her go into surgery for a cochlear implant. Up until this point, she has fit within deaf culture. Once she has a cochlear implant, is she still a part of the deaf culture? Yes…and no. She is neither hearing because she can’t hear normally, nor deaf because she can hear. Yet again, we see a marginalization in their place within the cultures?
Just as the Native American was between two cultures, so would be a person with a cochlear implant. Tomorrow, I will be bringing this back to how it relates to autism and special education.