Caiden Moran is a five year old boy who was born profoundly deaf, with no cochleas -- an inner part of the ear that converts sound to nerve impulses and sends them to the brain. Cochlear Implants are unable to help people born profoundly deaf, with no cochleas such as Caiden; however, a new piece of technology that helps patients with no cochleas hear. This new piece of technology is the auditory brainstem implant (ABI). “An ABI consists of a microphone and transmitter on the head, which convert sounds from the outside world into electrical signals. Those signals are transmitted to an internal receiver made up of electrodes, implanted on the brainstem. The auditory neurons are stimulated directly in the brain, bypassing the inner ear completely.” In January 2015, Caiden had brain surgery to implant the device.
The obvious advantage of this device is that it enables children to hear (the surgery is only available in the U.S. to children between 2 and 5 years of age). What is a significant advantage to them, as Caiden’sfather expressed, is that allows them to hear sounds such as a car coming when they are playing in the streets. This ability could potentially save their lives. Furthermore, Dr. Krieger (who calls this implant the bionic ear)states that "’By putting this electrode directly into the hearing centers of the brain, it actually is taking stuff and using the brain the way it's designed to work…And the brain itself ... in a very young child, is able to grow and develop around this implant.’"
This implant enables children to hear, so how could this be a bad thing? One would think that devices that give people one of the five senses wouldn’t be looked down upon; however this is not the case. In fact, there have been several objections to devices that help people hear. For example, two disadvantages are that some feel it is “demeaning, to be viewed as a problem to be fixed [and furthermore] the gadgetsthreaten their culture.” Some people who are deaf don’t see being deaf as a bad thing, and feel offended that others would make devices that would change how they have lived so far as if they were broken or wrong. Furthermore, there is an entire deaf culture. Examples of this culture are that there is deaf theatre, Deaflympics, and deaf raves with sign language rappers. These events will likely decrease if hearing is given to those who have the implants. Another con of this implant is that it will put many people who rely on sign language for their jobs, like sign language teachers, out of their jobs. This implant will decrease unemployment and make it so those who have made a living out of sign language will need to find another skillset (not just find a new job as sign language will become more obsolete). The final con is that this implant will likely be expensive, making it unavailable to some.