Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Movies about People with Hearing Impairment

Sound and Fury

If your child were born with a disability which medical technology could cure, would you use it? Stupid question, you might say. But it might depend on your definition of "disability" and your environment.

SOUND AND FURY deals with the questions raised by the development of cochlear implants which can restore hearing for those with congenital deafness. Very few (if any) people in the hearing world would think this to be a bad thing, but within the deaf community some see this as encroaching technology which will eventually obliterate deaf culture and sign language.

This is one of the best documentaries I've seen in some time - partly because it really made me think (reminding me of the statement 'If you make people think they're thinking - they'll love you. If you *really* make them think, they'll hate you.')

I didn't feel hate - but I experienced some very strong emotions. Not nearly as much as those on screen, though. I was exposed to a situation in which I didn't think there could be more than one side - and was brought to the realization that there was. A very provocative film.

There was a forum after the screening of the film I attended with Josh Aronson (the director), a local pediatric surgeon who's done a number of implants, the mother of a young girl who'd had an implant operation by this surgeon, and a person from the Theatre for the Deaf in the area. I was best able to appreciate the feeling of some of those in the deaf community when the theatre director made an analogy to the Borg in STAR TREK (I paraphrase): A lot of people in the deaf community see cochlear implants like the Borg - instead of going through the eye, the implants go through the skull by the ear. It seems like hearing society is saying to the deaf society "You will be assimilated - resistance is futile."

How important is deaf culture? Whose responsibility is it to choose whether a child should get an implant? To delay and "let the child make the choice later" can very much be like choosing no, as the window for brain plasticity for language narrows with every passing year. Are parents who don't get an implant for their child, thereby keeping them in the deaf community "abusive"?

An interesting film raising intriguing questions.

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