Letter: Let the deaf choose implants

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Sir: I am afraid Bryan Appleyard is confused about cochlear implants (article, 6 June). He says the argument that "hearing people have no right to define something as a problem and then impose a solution to impose normality" is profound. Fine. But he should not imply that I want to impose anything on anyone.

On the contrary, I maintain that opponents of cochlear implants must choose for themselves and their families. I support their right as well as their culture.

What I object to is their emotive condemnation of cochlear implants for others, and of the surgeons. This includes calling for a complete ban on cochlear implants, and claiming that the principles of the surgeons are little different from the Nazi scientists playing with victims in the name of medical science.

This vociferous campaign by a few people confuses the public and can be seized upon by some district health authorities that are reluctant to spend money on cochlear implants. The real problem is that children and adults desperate for cochlear implants cannot have them because some health authorities will not fund them.

Mr Appleyard may deter some deaf adults from having cochlear implants when he says they are "most likely to work" when fitted before the age of 10. This is only applicable to children born deaf or deafened in early infancy. They work very well at any age for most deafened people.


(Lord Ashley of Stoke)

House of Lords

London SW1