Background: Severe hearing impairment can have devastating effects on social integration and vocational opportunities.
Objectives: To investigate how well – or poorly – individuals who underwent cochlear implantation as children integrated into the general Israeli hearing community.
Method: We sent a questionnaire to the 30 subjects ≥ 18 years old who underwent cochlear implants our department from 1990 to 2004 when they were < 18 years of age and had used their device for at least 3 years before replying.
Results: Eighteen implant users responded (14 males), yielding a 60% response rate. Their mean age was 13.3 ± 7.0 years (range 6–17) at implantation and 21.1 ± 3.6 years (range 18–34) when they filled in the questionnaire. Five were attending rabbinical school (yeshiva students), four were in regular military service, five were university students (three also held jobs), two were attending high school, one was employed (and had a university degree), and one had left the yeshiva and was unemployed when he returned the questionnaire. Fourteen respondents use the oral communication mode for conversation and the other 4 use both oral and sign languages. Longer daily implant use was significantly associated with coping with the difficulties in the setting in which they were currently active, with a higher level of satisfaction with their current lifestyle and with recognition of the implant’s contribution to this satisfaction (P = 0.037, P = 0.019 and P = 0.001, respectively).
Conclusions: Advances in cochlear implant technologies enable profoundly deaf implanted children to integrate well into the Israeli hearing society, albeit with a large inter-subject variability.