Mini-Course: Preparing for School-Entry


2 - What is a Cochlear Implant?

How do cochlear implants work?

Cochlear implants provide a deaf child with real-time access to sound.
  • The microphone captures sounds from the environment and sends them to the processor. The processor converts sounds to electrical signals.
  • A cochlear implant processor is programmed to optimally hear speech. Each child has his or her own cochlear implant program that is set by an audiologist who has special training with cochlear implants.
  • From the processor, the signal travels through the cable to the transmitter/headpiece, where the signal is sent across the skin to the receiver.
  • The receiver then sends electronic signals to the electrodes inside the cochlea.
  • These electrodes send a message to the auditory nerve and then to the brain, which interprets these signals as sound.
Because the internal and external components work together, a child without functioning external equipment cannot hear in the ear with the cochlear implant. If you have a student with a cochlear implant, see the information sheets Conducting a sound test and Troubleshooting a nonfunctional cochlear implant for tips on ensuring the cochlear implant equipment is working.

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