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A. Improving Communication For The Hearing Impaired

Narrator: This is Science Today. Cochlear implants are medical devices which have been used several years for the deaf. But now implant centers nationwide are offering these implants to adults with severe hearing loss. Jan Larky, coordinator of a University of California, San Francisco-based implant center, describes who's eligible.

Larky: We're looking at people with a seventy decibel hearing loss in both ears and who have maybe some word recognition ability, so they can follow some words or sentences without using lip reading. But for the most part the speech that they hear is not very crisp or clear even with the best hearing aids.

Narrator: Cochlear implant chips are surgically embedded behind the ears and provide an electric signal through an external, pager-like apparatus.

Larky: It takes a while to get used to the sound because it is an electrical signal, so it's not normal hearing, but it gives much, much more than they had before, opening up the opportunity to have easier communication.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.