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Soft toy, with cochlear implant, China, 1999

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Some profoundly deaf people can hear sound with the aid of cochlear implants. This has been possible since the late 1970s. This soft toy was developed by Advanced Bionics UK Limited as a teaching aid to explain and reassure children about the medical procedure. Cochlear implants electrically stimulate the auditory nerve therefore bypassing the inner ear. They consist of three parts: the internal component implanted behind the ear, the headpiece worn behind the ear and the external speech processor usually worn on a belt. Some people in the Deaf community consider cochlear implants could be interpreted as ‘normalising’ deaf people. Others argue deafness should not be considered a disability, but a cultural identity.

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Glossary: deafness

A condition where the hearing in both ears in not functional to ordinary levels.

Glossary: toys (recreational artifacts)

Use for objects of delight, playthings that give pleasure during idle moments and are often small representations of something familiar.

Glossary: educational toy

Toy with an educational or teaching component.

Glossary: bionic

Artficial body parts, usually electronic and mechanical.