What if There is a Cure For Deafness?

I am excited and fascinated by the news of stem cell research approved by FDA in relation to treating hearing loss. I can't wait to find out what they learn.

In light of the news, I have been asked by more and more people, "What if deafness was cured tomorrow? What would you do? Would you be upset about not working in deaf education?" I usually laugh and tell them, "I would not be upset. I would be excited for those who benefit from getting their hearing restored. But, in reality, not everyone will benefit from this procedure or will want to. There will still be deaf or hard of hearing students to work with. There will still be people with cochlear implants. Even if everyone magically becomes hearing overnight and there are no deaf people, there will still be people with communication issues who could benefit from accommodations and services which I can help provide. I would just have to change my job title I suppose."

I think it would be incredibly selfish of me to be upset by the idea of a cure for deafness, because I will no longer be a teacher of the deaf. I would be thrilled if my students and their families no longer have to deal with communication issues, accommodations, special education, IEPs, small group, inclusion, speech therapy, hearing aids, cochlear implants, constantly being left out of most everyday spoken conversations, etc.

When people talk to me about cures for deafness and how it will happen any day now, I imagine truckloads of deaf and hard of hearing people lining up to receive their magical ear drops and suddenly have the ability to typically hear.

I don't think it will be this easy, as least not so soon.

Nevertheless, I can't wait to hear what they learn. How exciting!



  1. I watched "60 Minutes" television show last Sunday. They were talking about scams regarding doctors claiming that stem cells "currently" cure various of diseases. In short, a leader stem cell researcher from Duke University has said that we are light years away from any form of cures from stem cell treatment. See link at http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57354695/stem-cell-fraud-a-60-minutes-investigation/?tag=contentMain;contentBody

  2. The goal of the Deafness Research Foundation's Hearing Restoration Project is to develop a biologic treatment for some forms of sensorineural hearing loss in the next decade. http://www.drf.org/hearingrestorationproject

    Scientists from top US universities are collaborating on this reseach, some of it involving stem cells and some not. It is encouraging that they are working together. It's also encouraging to learn about this autologous cord blood study on children with acquired hearing loss. I didn't realize any studies were close to the clinical trial stage, so this is fantastic, especially if it proves beneficial to these children. I think it will take longer to find effective biologic treatments for people with genetic and unexplained causes for their hearing loss, but the research that is being conducted is really encouraging. It is my hope that my seven-year-old with mild-moderate hearing loss will one day be able to benefit from this research, but I don't think that will be before she is an adult.


  3. You are right to say it won't cure everyone. And some won't want this treatment, if it worked. So there will always be deaf people around.

    If there was a cure to get my hearing back. I would probablly take it. I would like my hearing back, but at the same time, I think I would be more scared of what the treatment involves, compared to if I was to have a CI.

    This will certainly be an interesting development to watch as technology adavances to do these kind of research they are doing with stem cells.


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