Declaring my interest
This site could be seen as a modest exercise in “Patient Power” because the views expressed here arise from my personal experience as an unsuccessful candidate for implantation, and because I am not an audiologist, but a lawyer.
I have behind me about half a century of living with deafness. I am 55 years old and experienced what might have been a congenital, but certainly was a progressive, hearing loss so I started wearing hearing aids when I was six and my Pure Tone Average loss was about 55dB. The loss passed the 90dB milestone, placing me in the ranks of the “profoundly deaf”, when I was 25 and continued to climb at a steady rate. From the age of 33, my high frequency loss was off the chart (an audiogram cannot measure a loss greater than 120dB) so it was no longer possible to arrive at Pure Tone Average across the three main speech frequencies. If one assumes the steady loss continued at the same rate, however, then my loss at the time I was first assessed for an implant, in 2001, was about 136dB.
My years of deafness had given me a fairly clear insight into how I coped with my loss and, inevitably, I viewed the process of assessment through the prism of my insight. As a result, when it turned out that the key measurement in the assessment was a sentence test, I felt I was plunged into a surreal world. The test seemed manifestly absurd as a measure of hearing. At first I found it very difficult to understand why my audiologists treated my views as if they were sacrilegious, and not therefore worthy of a rational reply.
It was only when I learned more about the international cochlear implant community that I realised that there was nothing unusual in the system applied in my assessment, however misconceived it might have been.
In the Main Argument section of this site, I explain my view of how it has come about that well-intentioned and highly intelligent audiologists across the world have been beguiled by a test that is so flawed.
Misapprehension on my part? Insufferable impudence? Maybe, but I would be only too happy if an audiologist could justify their colleagues' dependence on the test. Meanwhile, the issues raised are of fundamental importance to tens of thousands of profoundly deaf people. Asking the Cochlear Implant establishment to take stock and revise their approach is just as relevant to each of those deaf people as it is to me personally.