Message to the Media

As a child, I was the subject of many articles in my local paper, the Kingston Whig Standard. I was even part of the Through the Sound Barrier documentary, and local CKWS news segments. This was during the mid to late seventies in Kingston, Ontario. I have lost those articles to flooding, but hope to find them to share on my blog.

That said, I have a huge tremendous peeve to address. The media has a horrible, horrible tendency to inaccurately present facts, to sensationalize achievements when it comes to cochlear implant activations. Case in point: this video of a woman’s activation, which she gave me permission to use. Gift of Hearing.

She posted the link in our Facebook group, and I commented the following:

I hope the media made sure the public knew that this is an atypical activation. My biggest peeve is they make it out to be a cure and that everyone hears automatically, when the reality is, most of us have to work at it and wait for several months or longer to achieve the full access the CI gives.

Her response:

I know. I told him that over and over. Both audiologists told him that. I didn’t see that on the footage that he kept.

Adding: it does say it takes a year to rehab, however it is still a bit inaccurate, because everyone is different, and children in particular start from ground zero and often have a longer process than adults

Far too often the reporters sensationalize these events. It gives parents unrealistic expectations as they implant their young children. It gives other adults the impression that they too will have what is called a “ROCK STAR ACTIVATION”. This is an atypical activation, not the norm, and the ones that have activations like those are extremely lucky.

Mine was not the same, in fact, mine was the norm. All I heard were tinny voices, that were faint impressions of words in my brain, and random sounds. It took three months, which is average, before voices sounded normal and I could differentiate between male or female, or even pick it up thirty feet away. Longer still for my brain to acclimate to all the sounds. In fact it’s still working on building the auditory memory bank. With AVT, my ability to comprehend speech is improving, and with more work, I may not need to rely on lip reading, logic, guesswork to have conversations on the phone, or across a room, or from one room to the next.

My message is this: be accurate, be realistic, and yes celebrate a great achievement like this woman’s activation, but please for heaven’s sake, don’t sensationalize something that is not the norm for the majority of adults who get the cochlear implant, and certainly is not for children implanted. Don’t give unrealistic expectations to these families. It would be more accurate to follow the progress of several people, to show the difference in experience and achievements.

Rant over!

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