Channel 4 is set to show cochlear implant patients having their implants switched on live on air. The programme, which is called Breaking the Silence: Live, will be shown tomorrow night at 8pm.
This ground-breaking observational documentary (a signed live version will air simultaneously on 4Seven) brings together a group of profoundly deaf people and over the course of an hour of live television and shares the moment they may hear for the very first time since having a cochlear implant fitted. The implant, an electronic device which stimulates the inner ear, can replace hearing that has been lost and gives access to sounds users were previously unaware of. The programme will provides privileged access to this potentially huge life-altering moment – as it happens.
In the last few years, online videos showing people having their implants switched on have become increasingly popular, with some of the videos going viral, collecting millions of views.
A BBC Alba documentary called The Switch On was reviewed by our writer Andy Palmer earlier this year, which he praised for showing the full story of people having implants, not only the switch-on, but also everything that comes with it, including extensive speech therapy.
The programme makers seem aware of how varied responses to switching on an implant can be, with the Channel 4 website saying:
The reaction to a cochlear implant ‘switch on’ is very hard to predict. Some patients report hearing speech clearly, others may only hear whistles and beeps, which in time will develop into more meaningful hearing. How much hearing an implant provides is unique to each individual and often they require follow-up care to fine tune them. They require several follow-up appointments to fine tune the device to gain the best possible outcome.
The majority of the patients featured in tomorrow night’s programme are deafened, having lost their hearing in the last few years.
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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