Bilingualism: A Pearl to Overcome Certain Perils of Cochlear Implants

Summary (Abstract)

Cochlear implants (CI) have demonstrated success in improving young deaf children’s speech and low-level speech awareness across a range of auditory functions, but this success is highly variable, and how this success correlates to high-level language development is even more variable. Prevalence on the success rate of CI as an outcome for language development is difficult to obtain because studies vary widely in methodology and variables of interest, and because not all cochlear implant technology (which continues to evolve) is the same. Still, even if the notion of treatment failure is limited narrowly to those who gain no auditory benefit from CI in that they cannot discriminate among ambient noises, the reported treatment failure rate is high enough to call into question the current lack of consideration of alternative approaches to ensure young deaf children’s language development. Recent research has highlighted the risks of delaying language input during critical periods of brain development with concomitant consequences for cognitive and social skills. As a result, we propose that before, during, and after implantation deaf children learn a sign language along with a spoken language to ensure their maximal language development and optimal long-term developmental outcomes.

Video Transcript


Humphries, T, Kushalnagar, P, Mathur, G, Napoli, DJ, Padden, C., Rathmann, C., & Smith, SR

Publication Date



Journal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology