An Investigation of the Influence of Exposure to Deaf Communities on Deaf Identity of Young Adult Cochlear Implant Recipients

April 4, 2021   /  

Name: Heidi Likins
Major: Communication Sciences and Disorders
Advisor: Dr. Donald Goldberg

The purpose of this study was to investigate young adult cochlear implant recipients’ Deaf Identity and how it is influenced by their “amount” of contact with people who are culturally Deaf. This study uses a quantitative research method via an online survey that was sent to young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 years who have at least one cochlear implant. The survey utilized items adapted from the Revised Deaf Identity Development Scale (Fischer & McWhirter, 2001) and the Deaf Acculturation Scale (Maxwell-McCaw & Zea, 2010). The major conclusion from this study is that participants had high “Bicultural” identity scores while reporting that their Deaf identity was important to them and that being part of the Hearing world was also important to them. Participants also reported that they neither agreed nor disagreed that being part of the Deaf world was important to them. One implication of these findings is that there may be another “Deaf” identity that is separate from a culturally Deaf identity. Parents and professionals can use this knowledge to better connect young cochlear implant recipients to culturally Deaf peers. By making these connections, young cochlear implant recipient scan make more meaningful relationships and feel less lonely and excluded from both hearing and Deaf peers.

Keywords: Deaf Identity, Cochlear Implants (CI), identity development, Deaf Identity Development Scale, Deaf Acculturation Scale

Heidi will be online to field comments April 16:
10am-noon EDT (Asia: late evening, PST: 6-8am, Africa/Europe: late afternoon)

55 thoughts on “An Investigation of the Influence of Exposure to Deaf Communities on Deaf Identity of Young Adult Cochlear Implant Recipients”

    1. Thank you Dr. Goldberg, I really appreciate all of the help you provided throughout this process!

  1. So exciting to see this kind of research at this level. As a parent of a deaf student/young adult we never considered where she identified. I would like to see this expanded more as you develop into an amazing audiologist.

    1. Thanks Liv! The hardest part was trying to get people to take my survey. Writing the whole thing was difficult but in my head the hardest part was the part that was out of my control.

  2. Congrats on finishing, Heidi!
    I love how your poster is laid out, and how easy it is to follow! I know a lot of hard work was put in over the course of the year. Thank you for giving me a glimpse of your research!
    Happy for you!

    1. Thanks so much Chels! I really appreciate you taking the time to check out my poster. Hope all is well!

    1. Thank you for helping me get to this point! My IS would not be this good without your help.

  3. Hello, Heidi. Congratulations on your I.S.! Your findings are so interesting, and your I.S. has such important implications.
    How did you measure “amount” of contact and enjoyment of “contact-related” activities? Did you measure these activities on a score-type scale or a categorical scale?

    1. Hi, thank you! I measured “amount” of contact categorically and enjoyment was measured on a score-type scale. For “amount” of contact I compared two groups, those that reported they had met only a few culturally Deaf individuals or had never met any, and those that reported that they had met quite a few or many culturally Deaf individuals.

  4. Nice job Heidi! I work with d/Deaf children and adults. Knowing how they identify themselves is critically important to providing guidance to and working with these patients and colleagues. I appreciate your efforts to reach out to organizations whose mission statements align with aural/oral communication as well as ASL communication or both. An interesting and important study.

    1. Thank you so much! It was really important to me to try and reach out to individuals regardless of the way in which they communicate because it does play a role in identity development.

  5. Hey Heidi! Congratulations on all of your hard work and doing such amazing research! How will this impact what you choose to study in the future?

    1. Thanks Miyauna! I plan to use the knowledge gained to provide information and opportunities to parents of deaf children to help connect these individuals with others who are like them. Understanding how important it is to children with hearing loss to know others who share their struggles will make me a much better audiologist.

  6. Congrats! This is a really important project. While I do not focus on d/Deaf communities, I have also done work in disability studies and it makes me really exited to see all the amazing work that you and others are producing in this field.

  7. Heidi, I’m so impressed by your work and by your professionalism toward a topic that clearly means a lot to you. What was your favorite part of the IS experience?

    1. Thank you so much Em! I really enjoyed constructing the survey but I think my favorite part was the data analysis part. It was so exciting to go through the survey responses and learn about the differences and similarities of the experiences had by the participants.

  8. Congrats this is a interesting study, did you find any studies on how receiving the implants changed the recipients interactions with non-deaf members of their community?

    1. Thanks Noah! I did not come across any studies like this in my search, mainly because I think this would be something more noticeable in a population who received a cochlear implant as an adolescent or adult. Even though my target population was young adults, most of the participants had received their implant(s) as children. This was not something I thought about but this is a very great question.

  9. Well done, Heidi! This is very interesting. Wish I could wave a magic wand and fix it so that people with cochlear implants will be MORE likely to feel apart of both the Hearing and Deaf cultures! I look forward to discussing this with you in more detail!!!

    1. Thanks Mena! As much as I wish it was that easy, its not that difficult to remedy this. Being more inclusive to these individuals is something I think everyone can be better at, including myself. As hard as I try to keep Molly included in things, there is still more I can do.

  10. Hi Heidi! How is your day going? I will likely ask this on Monday also, but I am wondering what you enjoyed most about IS.

    1. Hi Dr. Johnson, my day is going great so far, thank you for asking. I really enjoyed researching the topic and learning more about Deaf Identity, but I also really enjoyed analyzing the data that I collected.

  11. Great study Heidi! I’m glad to be a part of this study and cannot wait to see what you achieve in your future!

  12. Congrats on this interesting study!

    What is one limitation or opportunity for further research of your study?

    1. Thank you! One limitation was that my participant population was pretty small and even though I had participants from across the country there was still limited diversity among responses. An opportunity for further research would be to include interviews to collect more qualitative data. This way we can ask more details about experiences and get a better understanding of these individuals’ identity.

  13. Amazing work Heidi!! Love how you discussed your topic and gave insight to this community! If you could continue working on this, what is the next question you would be interested in researching relating to this topic? Congrats girl!

    1. Thanks Ricky! I have lots of research ideas, one is to include interviews to collect more qualitative data and another is to expand the age range for participants. Identity is constantly changing so by including children and adults we could look to see if there are any general trends in identity development. This could also be done by a longitudinal study.

  14. Great work Heidi. It is interesting to see how that generation of Deaf people see themselves. The idea of a “Deaf Identity” separate from the cultural identity.

    1. Thank you! I agree, it was so cool to read and learn about different aspects of identity and how individuals develop their identity.

    1. I would like to, that is my plan as of now. The tough part will be deciding how I want to continue this research, as I have many ideas.

  15. Congrats Heidi! This was such an informative topic and I can see how much dedication you put into it. Amazing work!

  16. Thank you for sharing your research, do you anticipate working with this age group in your professional life? If you are working with younger children, what are some concrete things you could do to help them create positive identities?

    1. As of now I would like to work with young children but things may change over the course of the next few years while I continue my education. I plan to inform parents on how important it is for their children to be able to meet other children like them and to provide opportunities to connect families together. I expect t0 have more ideas as I continue to gain experience in the field while studying as a graduate student.

  17. Heidi! This was an amazing study and I am so proud of you. I’m honored to be apart of your four years at Wooster and I cannot wait to see what you achieve at Rush. Congratulations on this huge accomplishment!

  18. Thank you for this research. I have a niece who is deaf and has the cochlear implant. It bothers me that the hearing world things she needs the implant and tried to force it on her because it makes life easier for the hearing. I want her to be comfortable being her. I want the hearing to learn to sign and communicate with her. We cannot use the easy way. Excellent work!!!

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