Cochlear Implant Considerations: Is it Right for You or Your Child?

~ Authored by Candace Woodside

There are specific cochlear implant considerations to be aware of when determining if it is right for you or your child.  Cochlear implants (CI) are not for everyone for multiple reasons, but do not count it out just yet.  Do appropriate research so you make an educated decision.


Not everyone is eligible for a CI.  You must have a certain range decibel of hearing to be thought of as a candidate and have a functioning auditory nerve.  So, if your hearing is not in that specific range or if your auditory nerve is nonfunctional, you are not eligible for a CI.  (ASHA)

Cultural Deafnesscochlear implant considerations

Some Deaf individuals say a CI is unnecessary and believe it destroys cultural integrity.  What does ‘culturally Deaf individual’ mean?  (Valarie Sutton, SignWriting)  Some core characteristics would be the following:

  • Educational Background – the individual went to a residential Deaf state school
  • Family Upbringing – they have more than one Deaf individual in their family
  • Native Language Use – they use sign language
  • Sign Language Interpreter Preference – they prefer the use of an interpreter
  • Associate with Deaf Community – they are proud to be part of the Deaf Community and label themselves as such

For someone who is culturally Deaf, they may not believe deafness is something to be “cured.”  It is looked at as something to be passed through generations.

If a medical team (i.e. doctor, audiologist, speech pathologist, etc.) is advising you, cochlear implant considerations might include the cultural aspect.  From the medical team’s perspective, it may be viewed as neglect to refuse a CI for your child.  But perhaps they cannot fathom the importance of the Deaf culture and the beauty of sign language in you or your child’s life.

You may share reasons why so the team can better understand.

  • Deafness is an identity.
  • There is a common language (American Sign Language) that can be used in the home.
  • There are common beliefs and shared stories, which in turn make a culture.

In this case, you may feel if you proceed with the implant, the medical team is not only trying to fix the hearing of your child but taint the pride and dynamics of the family line. (James McWilliams, Pacific Standard)

Age of Deafness and Implantation

Other cochlear implant considerations would be the age of the onset of deafness and the age of implantation.  A CI may cause more of a challenge if you or your child were deaf since birth or before learning to speak.  Often people misunderstand if a person gets a CI it will fix their hearing, similar to glasses for vision.  But it does not work the same way.  (Debbie Clason, HealthHearing)

Financial Ramifications and Time Commitments

Receiving and having a CI requires long term financial and time commitments.  There are ongoing appointments required to tweak the CI program to fit your specific hearing needs called “mapping,” an abundance of speech therapy sessions, continuous upgrading and repairing of the equipment, and of course family involvement.


There are many cochlear implant considerations you should research before making this important decision for you or your child.  Do not hesitate to reach out to an expert or individual who has experienced a CI.  They may have the best advice as someone who has personally gone through it.


Disclaimer: We remain neutral about the topic of cochlear implants.  There are varying perspectives in the Deaf Community and opinions are determined by each individual.


Additional Resources:

Cochlear Implants” by American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

Physical Versus Cultural Deafness” by Valarie Sutton

When Deafness is Medicalized: Inside the Culture Clash of Cochlear Implants” by James McWilliams

How Hearing Loss is Different Than Losing Your Vision” by Debbie Clason


Photo Credit:

MT & Associates | Sign Language Interpreting Practice BBB Business Review