Publication : Reassessing what matters in experiences with cochlear implants
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This white paper is the result of a two-day workshop bringing together scholars with disciplinary expertise in anthropology, audiology, English literature, history, psychology, and science and technology studies, to consider what is known and unknown about the experiences of deaf people with/out CIs and how such experiences are shaped through diagnostic and therapeutic infrastructures. We focus on experiences with CIs as deafness (as opposed to hardness of hearing) is increasingly associated with CIs. At the same time, being deaf is commonly contrasted to using CIs: people with the latter experience are generally considered to be “hearing”. We foreground experiences of communication with CIs, more than cognitive, spatial, or mobility-related experiences, attending to the sensory, social, and embodied experiences associated with communication.
Through the discussion, we map out the contributions of different disciplines to the state of the knowledge about experiences with CIs, identify where more research is needed, and deliberate on how audiological measurement practices in particular might be revisited to better account for people’s sensory experiences with CIs. We suggest that an examination of the values and assumptions in mainstream audiology and a consideration of what matters to CI users, grounded in deaf ontologies and epistemologies (Kusters et al. 2017), might lead researchers and clinicians across a range of disciplines related to CIs to consider “whether we are asking the right questions in the first place” (Hendren 2011, 62 cited in Kafer 2019, 12).