As stated in a Sept. 5 News article, cochlear implant surgery is indeed changing the lives of many children and adults with severe to profound hearing loss. While the article focused on a family in Florida, the good news is that this state-of-the-art surgery is available in Buffalo.
Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center, of which I am president, began its cochlear implant program as a pilot project in 1998 in collaboration with the University at Buffalo and St. Mary's School for the Deaf. It has coordinated cochlear implant services for 34 Western New Yorkers, and 10 more surgeries are pending. Not only is the surgery available here, but it does not cost as much as stated in the article.
This new technology has a profound impact on the lives of people with cochlear implants and how they communicate. One communication technique known as auditory-verbal therapy is now gaining in popularity. In keeping with its mission to break down the barriers of communication among people with hearing and speech impairments, Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center will hold a workshop on the topic in October.
The article also made an important point regarding the importance of capturing sound early in a child's life. A child's first year is very critical to developing the process for hearing and speaking.
We applaud New York State's new mandatory infant hearing screening law aimed at identifying hearing impairments in newborns so that parents don't lose valuable time in considering their options.