Inside Cochlear Implant Online: Who Are They

On June 3, 2008 the DeafRead team announced that they were inactivating Rachel Chaikof’s blog, Cochlear Implant Online [CIO], from the DeafRead aggregator. Immediately since her debut on DeafRead on January 13, 2008, Rachel and her blog has been embroiled in controversy. Some DeafRead viewers felt her blog was merely a thinly veiled advertisement for cochlear implants.

Due to the intense controversy over Rachel’s blog and its subsequent removal from DeafRead, I decided to do some digging. Due to the amount of the information I have discovered, this will be broken up into three blog posts. All of the information I have discovered is on the Internet – mainly from Rachel’s blog itself. The information I am presenting will be undoubtedly controversial, and in all likelihood, I will be labeled anti-CI and possibly a stooge of DeafRead.

So allow me to state this: I believe that cochlear implants are a tool, and it is all about how people use that tool. In regards of DeafRead, while I am friends with some of the DeafRead editors, DeafRead business remains their business, and nobody dictates what I blog. All of those things I believe, do not in any shape or form diminish the facts that I am going to present here.

To understand the controversy a bit better, I believe that we need to look at the backgrounds of Melissa, Rachel, the history/purpose of CIO and the purpose of the Cochlear Awareness Network [C.A.N.] first. All of the information about their background is pertinent to the controversy itself and will become clear later on.

Who’s Who

Melissa is the mother of Rachel, the blogger of CIO. We do not know very much about Melissa herself, but we do know that Melissa is a volunteer for C.A.N., per her comment #25 here on June 3, 2008. Then I found this tidbit – Rachel writes on March 3, 2008, “So, at one point, I saw a cochlear implant organization magazine on the kitchen table and picked it up. my mom was a writer and an editor for the magazine. [Emphasis added]

Rachel is the blogger of CIO, and was one of the first at such a young age to receive a cochlear implant (a Nucleus brand). In high school At her university, she was is an editor of her school newspaper. Currently, she is majoring in Photography at a private arts university in Georgia, and aspires to be a photojournalist one day. Rachel is also the winner of the Graeme Clark scholarship (February 2007), and is a volunteer for C.A.N. as of December 2007.

History and Purpose of Cochlear Implant Online

The exact date of CIO’s inception is unknown but on June 2, 2008, Rachel states CIO has been around since 2001. Since Rachel was not of age in 2001, it is reasonable to assume that her mother, Melissa was involved in establishing CIO. However, the CIO archives do not go back to 2001, but only back to 2006. So it is extremely difficult to ascertain how active CIO was prior to 2006.

As for the purpose of CIO, Rachel writes, “This website is not the place for me talk about my personal life. This website is merely a cochlear implant resource.

Purpose of Cochlear Awareness Network

Onwards to C.A.N., which is a major component of this controversy. What exactly is C.A.N.? They explain on their website’s FAQ: The Cochlear Awareness Network is a group of volunteers each of whom have lived deaf but have had their hearing returned through technology. They have chosen to be members of the Network to tell their stories, proqactively [sic] raising awareness for the wonderful changes in their lives.

Basically Advocates tell their own story. They do this by making presentations to community and interest groups or clubs or one-on-one to potential receipients. [sic] They may also seek publication of their personal story in local newspapers. They may also help out at trade shows and talk to people referred by their local Cochear [sic] Implant Clinic.

They continue on to explain the benefits of being a C.A.N. volunteer, or rather as they call it, advocate:

* Sharing your story helps others know there are solutions to many kinds of deafness
* Provides a resource for others
* Professionals hear your story and tell their patients
* Corrects wrong information in the market place
* Helps people make a decision about a Cochlear Implant or Baha procedure.

Next – Where Is The Full Disclosure?

About A Deaf Pundit

A Deaf Pundit holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Public & Nonprofit Administration. In her spare time, she enjoys fantasy novels, gaming and wandering the vast Deaf social media world. View all posts by A Deaf Pundit

7 responses to “Inside Cochlear Implant Online: Who Are They

  • Inside Cochlear Implant Online: Disclosure? « The Deaf Edge

    […] June 11, 2008 Inside Cochlear Implant Online: Disclosure? Posted by A Deaf Pundit under Blogging, Deafness, Musings   (Continued from Part One) […]

  • dog food

    gee, you really like to talk about this don’t cha?

  • Felicity Bleckly

    You have got it wrong. The web-site you quote has nothing to do with Cochlear Americas and is in fact an Australian site. It is not owned by Cochlear Australia It is my web-site, a Cochlear Implantee and I chose deliberately not have Cochlear in the web address. I was a piano teacher and went deaf, living deaf for 15-20 years and with my implant have got my life back, even enjoying playing the piano again. Now how good is that! I wanted to share my joy at the changes and invited other CAN members to do the same. It took off from there and the site has become a resource for Australian CAN members, as well as those who might be interested in the outcomes of having a Cochlear implant.

    The site was built by me, written by me in Australia and hosted on my husband’s web-host under my own initiative. Deliberately it is ‘garish’ (as you suggested in another post) to make sure people did not mistake it as a Cochlear corporate site. You will notice there is no Cochlear logo (unlike many other personal sites) again deliberately so the site wasn’t mistaken for a Cochlear owned site.

    However, it does have permission from Cochlear Implantees to put up their stories and from Cochlear to add links and a little about what CAN members do because it is used as a resource for people who want to know more about what it’s like to have a Cochlear Implant. I do provide resources and links to help CAN members in their volunteer work. There is therefore, no reason that Cochlear should give a ‘full disclosure’ about CAN members on this site because it’s not their site. However, CAN has nothing to hide, the members are volunteers who simply want to share their story because of the amazing benefits their returned hearing has given them.

    [Thank you for pointing out the ‘typos!]

  • Paotie

    Deaf Pundit ..

    Well .. ?



  • A Deaf Pundit

    Well, Paotie. I’m still waiting for your answer about Sprint and DeafRead. :o)


    You’re welcome about the typos. The fact remains that CAN is owned by Cochlear. I guess I should’ve been more precise – CAN is owned by Cochlear Ltd., which Cochlear Americas is under.

    Nobody has denied that CAN is owned by Cochlear and in fact, one commenter somewhere on DeafRead (I will need to find that link) stated that it was a no brainer that CAN was owned by Cochlear.

    Furthermore, the United States CAN is directed by a former regional sales manager of Cochlear Americas.

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to make this clarification. I should’ve made it more clear in my blog. My apologies for that.

  • A Deaf Pundit

    And by the way, Felicity, here is the link showing a direct financial connection with Cochlear with CAN.

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