Friday, September 30, 2011
Mori Lecture on Cochlear Implants at Japanese Sign Language「Atelier」
Recently Soya Mori returned to Hirakata-shi and Japanese Sign Language「Atelier」for another lecture, this time about cochlear implants. Mori is the Deputy Director and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Developing Economies (Poverty Alleviation and Social Development Studies Group, Interdisciplinary Studies Center) and as such has much experience with cross-cultural deafness studies. He has traveled extensively throughout the world - most especially Asia - for his research.
Mori is also culturally Deaf, and as such has a bias against the use of cochlear implants. And his research supports such a bias. The use of cochlear implants is increasing all over the world as a "cure" for deafness. Mori discussed dangers of the surgery and implications of having such a device. He presented propaganda from cochlear implant advocates and deaf groups opposed to the devices.
When a person gets a cochlear implant, how does it affect their identity? Are they still deaf? Do they become hearing? Do they become part of a new cochlear implant culture? Will deafness and Deaf culture(s) be eradicated?
Mori's position is that deaf people do just fine as they are and do not need the device. Deafness is not a flaw - society's attitudes towards deafness are flawed.
This is a complicated issue but I have the same opinion as Mori. His lecture as an event (as well as his content) confirmed my bias: the whole lecture was done in JSL without an interpreter for deaf and hearing people. There was healthy discourse and jovial conversation. Hearing, or any device to create it, simply was not necessary in this setting.
Click here for more information bout Mori.
Click here for more photos from Mori's lecture.