There was a time when almost no respectable scientist would have anything to do with cochlear implants. In the 1970s, pioneering researchers who thought they could create a device that allowed the deaf to hear and speak were shouted down at professional conferences. The National Institutes of Health refused funding on “moral grounds”: The idea was so improbable it was deemed a “cruel incentive” for parents and possibly harmful for children.
Soon after the scientific community began to acknowledge the possibilities of implants in the 1980s, members of the deaf community rose up to protest the medical approach to deafness. They argued the prosthesis was deeply offensive because it was designed to “fix” something they didn’t believe was broken.