I thought it would be good to mention this since we discussed CIs recently. A few years ago a Deaf Attorney of my acquaintance had a brain stem implant since he could not have a CI. At the time it seemed sort of cutting edge and my perspective was that the brain stem was someplace you really didn’t want to be mucking around in since it controls things like breathing. But his operation was a success and he’s happy with the results.
Individuals who have damaged auditory nerves and damaged cochlea can potentially benefit from a brain stem implant, although I have no idea what the process is to get that sort of treatment.
I linked to a wikipedia page (above) because I’m not finding a whole lot of data on the web on this issue.
Here is a link to an ABC news article about a 3 year old child who received a brain stem implant and his delighted response to hearing voices.
Having met up with David of DeafInPrison.com tonight at an ASL Meetup we took time to chew the fat over the issues of implantation of the deaf, those individuals who could not benefit from it (those with damage to the auditory center or the Brochal center of the brain) and then went on to try to figure out if direct connection to the visual center in the brain stem would work – but not being doctors we have no idea.
This is a time of huge changes for deaf culture as many individuals who might have become part of it may now be oral deaf or merely hard of hearing. Language is the repository of culture and hope that we always keep ASL. Frankly, I think all parents should be taught Baby ASL because infants can respond to sign far early than they can words. All children benefit from ASL.
100 years from now I’d love to see what has happened regarding treatment of the deaf and the blind. Will it be some Brave New World or more of the same old stuff?