Thursday, June 25, 2009

AFA petition to the FDA for an investigation of Cochlear Implants

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To sign the petition

To: Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Dear Commissioner Hamburg,

Audism Free America (AFA) requests that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establish an independent and impartial investigation into the long term physical, psychological, social and cultural impact of the surgical insertion of cochlear implants (unilateral and bilateral) into the bodies of infants, children and youth.

The current research related to cochlear implant surgery has focused on medical issues and auditory functioning and has been undertaken by doctors. Yet, even medical risks associated with the surgery do not appear to be fully reported. The psychological and linguistic development of Deaf children is not solely a medical matter; there are issues of language acquisition, socialization, and psychological well-being; these have received very little attention. Thus, it is essential that the FDA-formed group conducting this impartial investigation must include Deaf and other individuals who are knowledgeable about Deaf culture, American Sign Language, human rights, audism* and linguicism (language based form of audism) since these are presently absent from the current research. There must be full transparency, full disclosure and an assurance of no built-in bias.

*Audism is attitudes and practices based on the assumption that behaving in the ways of those who speak and hear is desired and best. It produces a system of privilege, thus resulting in stigma, bias, discrimination, and prejudice‹in overt or covert ways‹against Deaf culture, American Sign Language, and Deaf people of all walks of life.

Many scholars have referred to the recent proliferation of cochlear implant surgeries coupled with the oral / aural only movement (prohibiting of signing and over-emphasis on auditory technology) as a form of eugenics that may lead to cultural and linguistic genocide of Deaf Americans. Because these infants and children are unable to give informed consent and are being denied a fully natural and accessible language, cochlear implant surgeries have also been identified as being a violation of human and linguistic rights. Clearly, the FDA needs a more in depth consideration of the moral and ethical issues associated with cochlear implants.

Given that the FDA is responsible to ensure the safety and effectiveness of these devices and protect the rights of citizens:

We, the undersigned, call for Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to immediately initiate an impartial and independent investigation into the physical, psychological, social and cultural impact of cochlear implants on Deaf infants, children and youth.


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