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Cochlear Implants

This information is part of an online guide, Resources for Mainstream Programs

A cochlear implant is an electronic device designed to enhance the hearing of people who are deaf. The discussion on cochlear implants could have been integrated into the Hearing Aids and Other Assistive Devices section of this online guide, as that is what a cochlear implant truly is-an assistive listening device. However, the use of cochlear implants with deaf children is growing rapidly and significantly impacting educational strategies and outcomes for deaf children, thus warranting a separate section to highlight these specific considerations.

There are two components to a cochlear implant-the internal device that is surgically implanted and the external device, called the speech processor, that is worn outside the body and looks like a hearing aid. A cochlear implant is different from a hearing aid in that it provides electronic stimulation directly to the hearing nerve via the cochlea. A hearing aid provides acoustic amplification to the outer ear. A cochlear implant provides access to sound that cannot be actualized through traditional hearing aids to individuals with severe to profound hearing loss. While many individuals obtain significant awareness of sound with a cochlear implant, there is still great variation in how individuals will perform with an implant. For more information regarding why outcomes vary, see Cochlear Implants: Navigating a Forest of Information...One Tree at a Time-Factors Impacting Performance at http://clerccenter.gallaudet.edu/ciec. Note: The Cochlear Implant Education Center is currently updating "Cochlear Implants: Navigating a Forest of Information....One Tree at a Time". Check back later this fall to see this revised resource.

Extensive information about all aspects of cochlear implants and their role in students' educational programming is available at the Clerc Center's Cochlear Implant Education Center. For a quick overview of cochlear implants, view the pages below.

Overview of Cochlear Implants