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If you could make your deaf child hear, would you? Academy Award-nominated Sound and Fury follows the intimate, heart-rending tale of the Artinians, an extended family with deaf and hearing members across three generations. Together they confront a technological device that can help the deaf to hear but may also threaten deaf culture - and their bonds with each other. For Peter Artinian and his wife, both of whom are deaf, a surgical ear implant for their five-year-old daughter Heather means a choice between two worlds - an unfamiliar hearing world and the deaf world, a robust culture in its own right united by a uniquely visual and artistic language. Heather Artinian - precocious, vivacious, and avidly curious about implant surgery - is caught between her deaf parents and her hearing grandparents, as they argue passionately about her future. The debate is sometimes silent, but by no means quiet. When all is done, Sound and Fury speaks volumes about the choices we make and the battles... Written by
When Peter asks Nancy (the girl with the cochlear implant from the deaf family) if she socializes more with deaf or hearing, the voice-over says, "Mostly deaf people." However, she is actually signing, "Grandma and grandpa." See more »
This documentary was excellently done, and completely heartbreaking.
Mostly this was hard for me because my mother, deaf from birth, had a cochlear implant over four years ago, with wildly successful results. She did not have the implant because people were pressuring her to do so, nor did she do it because she did not like herself the way she was, she did it in order to experience sound.
She was warned that it was very unlikely for her to develop speech recognition, and that the most she could hope for were recognition of environmental sounds. She asked me what I thought about it, and I said, "Go for it! It's worth a shot!" To me, and most of my family, the chance to hear music seemed worth it alone. So what she never becomes a "hearing person"- truly that's not the goal anyway. The point is that hearing sound is a tremendous experience most of the hearing world takes for granted, and if you have the opportunity to hear even some of the world of sound, why not take it?
My mother has never really been part of the deaf culture as defined by this film, she learned to lipread and speak excellently and was able to function very successfully without the ability to hear, as many deaf individuals do.
After she got the implant, my mother worked incredibly hard to develop speech recognition, astounding her audiologists. She truly proves that if you are highly motivated you can do it. She was also amazed at the things that made sound, plastic bags crinkling, dry autumn leaves under your feet, and the buzz of street lamps.
My mom would be the first to tell you that it's worth the risk, recovery and work required. Not because you become part of "the hearing world" but because you gain a sense. You can hear a child cry, a dog bark, a bird sing.
Personally, I feel really disgusted with parents of children who are eligible for the surgery and don't go for it. It's not a question of deaf culture or not- it's a question of knowingly depriving a child of the chance to develop their sense of hearing.
I object strongly to the deaf community's feeling that hearing people can't accept them the way they are. That may be some people's thinking, but it's not everyone's. I certainly didn't think that when my mother decided against the implant years ago, then for it four years ago. It was up to her at that point. With children, the chance for developing speech and speech recognition is so great, and so much slimmer if they were to wait- that deciding against it for a child is really taking away an opportunity that is once in a life time.
Is development of speech and the sense of hearing necessary for a child? Hearing people would say yes, many deaf people would say no. Fair enough. I agree that it's not necessary, but rather a luxury? Why not allow a person the opportunity to do it if the technology exists? Sign language and deaf culture will never be extinct, because the cochlear implant is not for every kind of hearing loss. It is also not a cure-all- an implant patient only hears when his or her implant is turned on. They are still deaf.
And in all honesty- does it really matter? If you have the chance to make your child's life easier and fuller by giving him or her the ability to hear sounds that perhaps you as a deaf parent never heard, it is selfish to stop them just because you yourself may never have the opportunity. A hearing child will still be a part of your family, hearing or not.
This film was a more than fair look at both sides of the issue, and produced in me a myriad of emotions and thoughts.
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