« Previous | Main | Next »

Making Rita Simons: My Daughter, Deafness and Me

Post categories:

Sophie Leonard Sophie Leonard | 10:37 UK time, Tuesday, 20 March 2012

When we approached Rita about making Rita Simons: My Daughter, Deafness and Me, she was initially unsure about the amount of exposure it would bring her then five-year-old daughter Maiya.

Rita Simons in Rita Simons: My Daughter, Deafness and me

Rita Simons: My Daughter, Deafness and Me

Maiya was diagnosed with hearing loss at six months old and Rita and her family have recently found out that she will probably lose her hearing completely.

In the end Rita came to the conclusion that if she could break some of the stigma about deafness and raise awareness that deaf people can achieve whatever they want in life, it was worth doing the documentary.

Rita also, by her own admission, had been sticking her head in the sand about Maiya's condition and she finally felt ready to look into what was available for Maiya's future.

As the producer and director I was mindful about how our presence in the family home might affect the children and if it might put new emphasis on Maiya's hearing loss.

But once I got to know the family I became very comfortable with the role we played in their life for the four months we filmed with them.

Maiya and her twin sister Jaimee are fun, strong, characterful children who love being filmed and by the end of filming were directing me half of the time.

"Have you filmed me doing a handstand yet?"

However, we were always careful not to film sensitive scenes about Maiya's hearing loss when the children were around.

When Rita and Theo first found out from specialists that Maiya will probably lose her hearing altogether Maiya actually had her hearing aids out and wouldn't have been able to hear anything.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

Maiya gets her hearing tested

Ninety per cent of deaf children are born into families who have no previous experience of deafness, so Rita and Theo are representative of many parents with deaf children.

It was a rollercoaster of emotions for them.

Everyone wants to do the right thing for their children, but choosing a route of treatment seems a big gamble as you never know until afterwards if you've made the right decision.

Rita is starting to understand about what life might be like for Maiya as a deaf adult and is starting to learn about how deaf people communicate.

There are many choices but Rita takes quite a black and white view for Maiya - to keep her in the hearing world with artificial sound like hearing aids or cochlear implants, or immerse her into the deaf world with sign language.

However, there is huge middle ground and most people use a mixture of ways to live and communicate.

There are so many different options and paths available to deaf people now that as Maiya grows up I'm sure she'll work out the right fit for her and Rita and Theo will support her in that.

Filming with deaf people who use British Sign Language (BSL) was a challenge as I don't know BSL. I can now sign what my name is, that I work as a director and that I'm filming with an actress from EastEnders who has twin daughters - but that can only get you so far!

We had many moments of communication breakdown that we had to overcome, but we managed it.

What most people don't realise is that BSL is not just a translation of English, it's a totally different language with different grammar.

For me as the English language speaker it was a bit like trying to communicate with someone who only speaks Mandarin, and it made me realise how difficult communication can be for deaf people.

As we show in the documentary, Rita and her family took a BSL lesson. As an actress, Rita was actually very good at sign language as it's a visual language and she picked it up very quickly.

However, at age five, Maiya was more interested at playing dressing up games than BSL, but I do think that as she gets older the family will look into learning sign language again.

When we started filming Rita said to me that I'd never see her cry about Maiya as she takes a very practical approach and won't let herself become emotional about it.

However, when she went to visit the deaf school and saw a big group of deaf children rehearsing a school play I turned round and saw tears streaming down Rita's face.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

Rita visits the deaf school

The impact of seeing so many children like her daughter was very emotional for her and I think it hit home that Maiya is deaf and does have to overcome challenges on a daily basis because she can't hear like other people.

Rita and Theo are united in their approach to parenting Maiya, but they have very different personalities.

Theo is more reticent in making decisions whereas Rita is very decisive, but the balance between the two of them makes them a good partnership.

Rita and Theo have been together since they were teenagers and although having a deaf child inevitably makes parenting more stressful it hasn't put a strain on their marriage and they are very happy.

Rita wanted to find out about cochlear implants so she met eight-year-old Jack who has the same level of hearing loss as Maiya and was having a cochlear implant operation.

One of the most stressful parts for me was filming Jack's activation appointment.

Rita and Jack's parents were incredibly stoical about it but I absolutely hated it when Jack took a while to start hearing through his implant.

You may like to know that two months on Jack's parents Tracy and Mick have told me that he's getting on brilliantly and that he can hear all sorts of sounds that he couldn't hear before.

Sophie Leonard is the producer and director of Rita Simons: My Daughter, Deafness and Me.

Rita Simons: My Daughter, Deafness and Me is next on at 10.40pm on Tuesday, 20 March on BBC One and BBC One HD. It was first broadcast on Tuesday, 20 March at 12.35am on BBC One and BBC One HD with signing in British Sign Language.

For further programme times, please see the episode guide.

If you would like further information about deafness and the issues raised in the programme, please visit the information and support page.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


  • Comment number 1.

    I want to start by saying what a lovely family Rita has and you can see how both Rita and her husband are both their for one another and Maiya, I observerd from watching the full bag of emotions and the day to day difficulties losing your hearing presents, yet for the most I saw a little girl aware of her difference but still making the most of each day and everything.. Brave somehow does not do justice, remarkable seems a little short of what I want to say.. The program raised awareness of the affects of loss of hearing and the many ways and the different help and support that exists today so that you can lead as normal a life as those of us fortunate to have full hearing.. I wish Rita and family all the best for the future, an uncertain future but one they know has options which will enhance little Maiya and her ability to hear and communicate.. Maiya is a credit to Rita and Husband

  • Comment number 2.

    She very lucky girl to have support from her family, they will have options in front of them and Im sure they will pick the right 1..This is from a Acquired Totally Deaf person who has nothing to hear with at all, I had failed Cochlear Implant, but that was expected..And in future is it possible when show these clips that you can put sub titles up for people like me, who nothing to hear with at all.

    Good Luck and Im sure you will Ok :-) keep smiling everyday..

  • Comment number 3.

    As a person who was profoundly deaf since birth, i have worn hearing aids all my life and have no problems using them nor have i had any detioration since wearing them. However i expect that i should deteriorate with old age but i reckon that in my opinion i would much rather be able to hear if i was already able to start in life to do so, therefore i would take any oportunity to be able to keep my hearing going. I am looking forward to watching the program and do hope that Rita and her family can overcome the obstacles and finally come to a conclusion that gives Maiya what she wants in life.

  • Comment number 4.

    A really interesting programme on child hearing loss. My son Nathan who is 9yrs old has Alport's Syndrome so as well as hearing loss and currently having two hearing aids he will also need a kidney transplant. There will always be someone worse off than your own situation but also a great deal of hope in an ever changing world. Hearing loss affects many people in different ways and I think this programme has touched on that. Good luck from the Roberts family!

  • Comment number 5.

    I really feel for Rita and her family and I appreciate the awareness from the program. I am hearing with 2 deaf grand parents and I agree with her point that with any chance to be hearing, take it. However there is no need to be ashamed at being deaf. My granddad is 93 and had a great life, a well respected carpenter in London and showed that being deaf does not change anything. I hope she sees this and that there is a large deaf community and support. Love the program. X

  • Comment number 6.

    Hiya i have just watched this and i think it was great well done !! i had problems i will say with the deaf Community , i am married to a deaf man and i am hearing my husband has never been apart of the deaf Community when we meet up with his school friends once omg the way my self and are children where treated was awful the seen in the pub bought it back to me !! he dose not wish to be a due to his family and friends all being hearing, he did go to a school for the deaf and got nothing from it would of liked to of been with friends. He has no hearing but he loves life and it dose not take over his life. we wish you all the luck in the world and at the end of the day you know your own so you will get it right x

  • Comment number 7.

    I watched this programme because my grandmother was profoundly deaf for all her adult life. She was born in the 1890's, was very feisty and fun loving. She was talented as a club tennis player winning many tournaments until the age of 70 and could play the piano without hearing a note! She lost all her hearing at the age of 18 and lip read for the rest of her life. I only tell you this because I feel that Rita and Theo are trying to do their very best for their daughter and maybe this will help them, I hope so anyway! My Grandmother was handicapped by her deafness as she could not hear music, children laugh and birds singing, to name but a few - however given the opportunity she would have dearly loved to do so. She also said that when she could not see due to fog (now a a rare occurance ) or maybe during power cuts when it is so dark (more so today), she would be doubly handicapped with no vision or hearing. She found this to be quite a frightening experience. She also heard noises in her head at night which she also found upsetting, although I have to emphasise that she rarely complained or let this upset her. She was a fantastic grandmother, she took me on holidays and days out on the train, but if I had a magic wand back in the 50's and 60's when I was growing up I would have made it possible for her to hear! I was so impressed by Rita's conclusion that she felt that the best she could do for Mia was to help her hear and could not understand why anyone would not want to do so. My Grandmother would have applauded her making this decision. To try to give some hearing to Mia is the best gift in my limited but personal experience. If all else failed there are so many good options to help Mia in the deaf world which would give her great opportunities too. The programme introduced the idea that Deafness was a disability which was embraced by some and it would be difficult to argue with that and they too are to be admired as with my Grandmother who achieved so much but wanted just a little more which was denied her due to her deafness at the time. What a fantastic family they all are and I wish them all the best. The programme had a great feel good factor with so much optimism and I hope that they all get the happy ending or maybe I should say the happy beginings they all deserve. Very best wishes and good luck!

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi as the hearing father of two deaf children aged 9yrs and 11yrs ([Personal details removed by Moderator])..I was so pleased and grateful that Rita and Theo took the incredibly brave decision to agree to this filming, as hearing parents with little knowledge of deaf issues you are extremely vulnerable and in many ways overwhelmed with the enormity of the situation and reality that you are facing. Rita, Theo and family I'm sure now know that they are on an incredible journey of discovery with many twists and turns along the way but I am sure that they will meet the challenges full on and embrace the determination and inspiration that many deaf children, if given the opportunity radiate. As a family we too are having to make the life changing choices regarding cochlear implants, with the condition that my two have it's a 50/50 chance together with the knowledge that residual hearing will be lost as a result of the implants. I thought that the programme was thought provoking and really sensitively handled and I am so grateful that you have given these issues some exposure, well done and the very best of luck and warm wishes.

  • Comment number 9.

    My 7 year old daughter now has two cochlear implants. She goes to a mainstream school, has lots of friends enjoys ballet, street dance and other 'normal' activities for a little girl. The option to not hear was not an option for us. She has no deaf tones, is still happy to NOT wear them ( when being told off, for example) and was also implanted in Southampton. To understand what these implants really offer, you can't listen to a simulation - you need to meet someone who can show you what they can do.

  • Comment number 10.

    Having watched the program now and i can wholly confirm what i said yesterday in comment #3 before even watching the show. This shows that as in life you start with things you want to keep them and not lose it. Theo is much like myself and think about the consequences of before, during and after. I however feel as being deaf myself just strengthens the theory to go for the implant. There is nothing to lose really in terms of the 1 ear not working at all as you can say, you did what was best for you and the family. If at the end of the day Maiya says she wants it then you can only give her what she wants. Im sure that she will decide herself what is going to be the best solution for her when the time comes. Good luck Maiya and hope you achieve whatever you aims are in the future.

  • Comment number 11.

    As a parent of a 5 year old deaf child that has a cochlear implant, I can say with authority that there was one important view that the programme did not share with the viewers. Many children that are implanted young learn how to maximise the use of the technology to such an extent that they are able to develop near perfect speech and the ability to communicate in all but the noisiest environments.

    With the right auditory verbal and speech therapy and continued input at home from the parents, children like my daughter have broken the mould and now attend the best UK private schools and maintain the same high level of educational and social development as their hearing peers. These children are very much in the hearing world and are on an equal footing in terms of education and opportunity as anyone else. To those that are unaware, you genuinely would not realise that these children are deaf. My wife and I believe that our daughter should have the same opportunities in life (education and career) as a hearing person and to limit the restrictions of her disability especially socially. There is no parental denial regarding her disability in fact we actively encourage her to have a positive deaf identity and to be proud of her extraordinary achievements at every stage.

    At home, my daughter is comfortably able to use the telephone, listen to and enjoy music and watch television. Whilst not perfect, the fact is that the combination of the cochlear implant and her determination has allowed her unrestricted access to these every day activities that we all take for granted.

    I totally respect the deaf community's wish to preserve the wonderful culture and language (BSL), however I think that there are many parents out there (hearing and deaf) that ought to (and would be amazed) see exactly what can be achieved with a cochlear implant and the right technology and support. Ultimately, if my daughter decides later on in life that she would like to be part of the deaf community, she will get our 100% support but at least we know she is in a position to make that choice.

    I appreciate that every child and family is different and therefore different approaches are necessary - one size certainly does not fit all. Rita and Theo seem like wonderful parents and I am sure they will make the right decision for Maiya and I wish them all the very best.

  • Comment number 12.

    I very much enjoyed your program, Miaya is a lovely girl and the family were very brave to show their worries to the world.
    I wear one hearing aid and have a cochlear implant as well. My implant was turned on 3 years ago and has changed my life. All outcomes are different, however I am able to hear very well. I was able to hear what you were told the sound from an implant is like and what the sound should be like perfectly clearly and normally, including the music. I don't hear rock music as well, but the piece that was played was fine. Noisy places are still a problem, the brain is unable to cut out the background noise with an implant, however even in difficult places like pubs I am far better than I was with two hearing aids.
    People often only think about communication when talking about deafness, and when it comes to communication sign language is great, but hearing is about so much more, it keeps you in touch with the world. Everything makes a sound, the wind, the rain, leaves in the trees, water, a cat purring, a dog panting, everything. You hear through doors, walls the ceiling, the floor. Hearing people don't notice these things, and born deaf don't know about them, but when you lose your hearing you lose touch with the world. When a hearing person is in the garden they willl hear children playing next door and not notice it until a child screams, then they look up straight away. Getting all these sounds back was just brilliant.
    I am glad you are considering an implant for Miaya, the hearing she has left in her bad ear is of very little use to her, so even a small improvement would help her, and it could be a great improvement. Good luck from Mollyb, a lipreading tutor.

  • Comment number 13.

    Thanks for a fab programme. I found this well balanced, as it clearly articulated alternative perspectives (not an easy task with such a complex and emotive issue) so my congratulations to you. I would be grateful if you would pass on the following message to Rita Simons:

    Dear Rita Simons

    Congratulations on the excellent documentary aired last night. You chose to address one of the toughest issues around inclusive education, took it head on and presented your dilemma, and your position, clearly and convincingly.

    I would love to talk more about the issues your documentary raises, and to introduce you to the work of the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE) but not until later, only if you want to. For now, I cannot resist a little comment: I think there was a deaf person in the documentary, talking about a perceived insult of cochlear implants on deaf culture. I think she wore glasses. It made me wonder why intervening to improve someone’s sight is OK but to improve their hearing isn’t. And I really resonated with the argument about Jewish schools, printed in the Radio Times. I have written something very similar myself. But I am getting carried away and must stop.

    For now I just wanted to say, as a mother, and as a campaigner for inclusive education: fantastic documentary, my hat off to you!

    Kindest regards

  • Comment number 14.

    I concur with most of what has been said - my daughter had a single cochlear implant 9 years ago when she was 2. She goes to mainstream primary school and is going to our local grammar in September. I understand that there are risks and sometimes they do not work but I can't imagine how different the whole family's life would be without it. We have always wanted the same opportunities for her as any other child and the CI has given her this chance. It makes me rather cross that some people in the deaf community see the implant as abusive! If you could not see you wear glasses, if you need a wheelchair to get around you use this - why not use every opportunity you have to make your life better? I also noticed that some of the people against implants wore hearing aids - why is this ok? (I thought the show should have shown more success stories too)

  • Comment number 15.

    I was very interested in the documentary about Maiya's deafness and the dilemmas it creates for her future and all those around her.
    I was born with nerve deafness in 1956 which was not diagnosed until I was two and half. It is wonderful to know that babies hearing can be checked so young now.
    I have twice now been offered a cochlear implant, firstly more than 20 years ago and then last month, both of which I refused.
    I depend almost entirely on lipreading to clarify and make sense of speech sounds that I hear through a single hearing aid. I had to be taught how to speak, a lovely lady called Mrs Pictures came to the house every week to teach both me and my Mother so she could carry it on with me every day, for which I thank her.
    Lipreading is a truly valuable skill which was hardly mentioned if at all during the programme.
    Maiya clearly has had the benefit of good speech up till now, to me this is what she needs to hang onto most of all when her hearing deteriorates, also her lipreading skills will help her in the hearing world that is her family.
    I was lucky enough to have speech therapy once a week up until the age of 16 whilst in mainstream school. This made a huge difference. I am told that my speech is good, but I do struggle with regional and multicultural accents of modern society and the habit of dropping off the T's and similar affections seen as cool.
    Maiya herself will inspire and even surprise her parents and friends, who can then hopefully help her in the direction she needs to take. I wish her well.

  • Comment number 16.

    After a long wait, I too am going to have a BaHa implant in a couple of weeks time. I watched this proram with interest and anticipation.

    Currently, I have two hearing aids and I have been looking forward to being able to hear without them.

    However, I was shocked by the interview at the end of this program during which the probable sound was played to the your girls father. It was quite unintelligible to him.
    Having expected that I will shortly enjoy hearing superior to my current hearing aids, I plan to speak to the surgeon tomorrow morning. The girls father was understandably shocked. So am I. Have I misunderstood what can be expected from a Baha? Has some mistake been made here?

  • Comment number 17.

    I recorded the documentary and just viewed it. It almost seemed as this was a snapshot of my own life at a younger age. I am currently 36, but I also have the Large Aquaeduct Syndrome and the Pendred gene was detected in a DNA test at St Georges Hospital. I have been profoundly deaf in my right ear (only detects very loud low bass sounds) and extremely hard of hearing in my leftear since birth. I have attended main stream school my whole life. I will not say it was easy, but I do believe it has been harder on my parents than it was on me: children do get on with it. My parents (both hearing) have given me everything they could at any time: the latest hearing aids (from the big boxes worn on the chest to the digital ones), personal amplifiers (teacher wearing a microphone which would lead sound directly to the hearing aid, speech therapy, etc) and most of all their patience and time. I have never engaged with the Deaf Community, nor learned sign language. I was never bullied. I now have two masters degrees, a great job and fantastic family. I am a very happy woman, and definitely do not feel anything is missing in my life (which I keep telling my mum on a regular basis, because she still feels "guilty" for "giving me the gene" although both my parents were unknowingly carriers).
    I believe any good parent wants the best for their child, and they know what is best, how difficult it may be to make some decisions some times. I am sure Rita and Theo will make the right decision. I most of all want to tell them: do not feel bad, you are only doing the best you can and helping Mayia build her future. A good start will go along way....

  • Comment number 18.

    Excellent documentary, wonderful family and great insight into deaf issues. I was really quite shocked at the reaction Rita received from the deaf community, I completely agree with the way Rita reacted, and the abuse comment was shocking, however I did feel that there could have been a bit more about the reasoning behind the comments made by the deaf individuals. I know the programme was about Maiya and her families journey, but I felt that it really painted the deaf community in a bad light. Maybe it is just my surprise at their reactions to the cochlear implant.

    Anyway I agree with Rita's sentiment at the end of the show, if you have the chance of hearing why not take it? It's like saying no I don't want medical treatment for something that we now have and is curable, because I would rather stick in my old ways? I don't mean to offend anyone, but I would like to understand the deaf culture to why certain individuals have the opinions that they have.

  • Comment number 19.

    I just watched the programme: Rita Simons: My Daught, Deafness and Me on BBC iplayer....it was absolutely wonderful programme to watch :) I can also see that Maiya seems to be coping with her deafness really well and very happy little girl and it's all down to Rita and Theo's parenting!!
    I have a hearing impairment, i'm deaf in my left ear but i wear a cochlear implant in my right ear but when i take my speech processor i'm completely deaf. i had my first cochlear implant on august 2005 and my second implant on december 2010 but on the same ear!! i also coped without sign language, have a lots of hearing friends, live on my own, go on holidays etc....i really hate people telling me what to do just because they think i can't do it cos of hearing disability, so i just show them by doing the opposite :) but ever since i've had cochlear implant i found there's pros and cons to wearing them but quite alot of cons like for example: can't join in converstaions in a very nosiy environment, taking the speech prosessor of for having a shower, going to bed, to swim in the sea etc.....can't hear music properly and watching TV/DVDs without having a subtitles on!!
    near the end of the documentary, Theo has some concerns about cochlear implant, which is understandable cos i had the exact same concerns as he has.
    so if Rita and Theo read my comment, i would be very happy to answer any questions they have regarding the cochlear implant, just let me know :) i want wish Rita and Theo and their beautiful daughters all the best as they continue their quest in finding a suitable solutionts/treatments regarding to Maiya's deafness!!

  • Comment number 20.

    Just watched it back this morning - really interesting! Wasn't too sure about it beforehand, I guess mainly because I don't watch eastenders and didn't want to watch a "celebrity" show.
    However, it was a terrific programme exploring the issues that deaf children and families go through.
    Although our son's deafness is different (severe loss after surviving meningitis) I saw them going through so many experiences that we have/do. I do worry that as we are raising our son in our hearing family and hearing world that he is missing out being part of the deaf community.
    Having said that I don't feel it is easy to be part of the deaf community - maybe that's because we've not tried hard enough or because we live too far away from any deaf community - not sure! Unfortunately hearing the views of the deaf adults on the programme doesn't encourage me to pursue it!
    I totally agree with Rita: you cannot have a child who with hearing aids obviously hears a good amount, then allow them to have nothing. If we were in their shoes then we would go down the cochlear route too.
    I do wish there was more of a coming together between the deaf and hearing worlds, instead of it being all of one, none of the other - I wish there was a middle ground somewhere .......
    Wish their family all the best for the future x

  • Comment number 21.

    As the parent of three children, two of whom are deaf and have the same diagnosis and syndrome mentioned during the programme, I was really interested in watching it! Firstly, huge thanks to rita and Theo for opening up their family life to raise awareness of the decisions as parents of deaf children face. Whilst the programme illustrated well the black and white vie Rita holds of deaf ccommunity versus aural/ cochlear implant I am disappointed that as you so rightly point out in the blog there is a developing middle ground where children use technology but can also sign and see deaf peers but this was not shown. My boys have both had ci's and I can empathise with Rita going through the decision process, it's so hard, but I know the benefits they have reaped from use of sign and lots of contact with deaf children and young adults. I believe it has helped them to develop and embrace their deaf identity whilst also being very nuch part of the hearing world. One further point, whilst CI's have been fantastic for both the boys they are not infallable. My eldest is currently waiting for his to be removed in a weeks time because of infection. He will be re-implanted in a few months time, but in the meantime without the implant he struggles to hear a little through his hearing aid in the other ear and lip reading. Without signing I'd hate to think of his frustration. Technology is wonderful but it does not take away the fact that my son is still deaf and i don't want him to feel he has to hide from that! Both my sons have attempted and achieved so much and I hope they will continue to do this through life with confidence in who they are. X

  • Comment number 22.

    Im pleased for Rita whom has made it clear publicly of her views as regards with her daughter Maia.. If hearing can be protected and restored ,then that is fantastic thing !!! , parents know their own children best...its not for other people to be commenting on.Those three so-called deaf community militants extremists are not exactly role models !!! they are nasty and cruel they dont have children themselves, , altho they could argue they were once one( i have had the misfortune of knowing of them due to their militant harrassment ways, they did not present themselves as accepting a childs deafness, they were just insulting , Good luck to Rita and her family for all in the future :)

  • Comment number 23.

    Thank you all for making this programme. Maia is very fortunate in having such attentive parents and, whatever route is taken, she has a lot to offer them if they are prepared to listen.
    It is assumed my deafness (in one ear) was brought on by mumps at around the age of 3. The physical awkwardness that followed didn't suit my Mum's Jane Russell image and she enrolled me into ballet classes. In 1956 a five year old Clapham boy did not 'do' ballet classes . . . . and I refused.
    I was about 8 when it was finally realised that I was totally deaf in my left ear. In the interim years, left to my own devices, I had unconsciously learned to lip read and create other coping mechanisms. Worked so well, nobody realised I was half deaf. Thick, stupid and ignorant but not deaf.
    Age 8 'they' got it and I was subjected to endless tests which resulted in my being told it was total deafness, irreversable and nothing to be done. Get on with it.
    So I did.
    About 40 years later, a friend said she didn't believe that the deafness in my left ear was total. I said that without an auditory nerve it couldn't be any other way.
    Upshot was that she didn't believe the diagnosis whilst I had 40 years invested in that diagnosis. We had a 'heated debate'.
    Swallowing a lump, I agreed to go and get retested. She was right on all counts.
    The specialist I saw offered solutions ranging from aids and implants to miniscule mics and nano circuitry.
    Given all the possibilities and choices, I went with what I know best . . . myself.
    I am complete in myself, missing nothing and never have.
    Yes Maia, you are very fortunate in your parents.
    And they are very fortunate in you.

    For inspiration and a total curved ball on deafness, Kathy Buckley is an absolute joy.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 24.

    BIG Thanks! to Rita and her lovely family on such a honest and emotional journey of discovery and education. I am a mother of a 10 year old little boy. He was diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss at 7 months old. He wore digital hearing aids in both ears and got great results from these. We did look into a cochlear implant when he was 6 years old but he was getting a good response with his aids so at that point we decided against the op. However last year Mayan lost all of his hearing in his right ear and we decided to go down the route of a cochlear implant.We feel very lucky that the opperation was successfull and up until watching this programme I thought tough dicision making was over. I have since learnt from the programme that Deafness is a culture. My son attends special needs school as the mainstream schools I felt were not trained or had the time to deal with the complex needs of a deaf child. I have now also learnt that even though he attends a special needs school that maybe this is not the best environment for him either. Yes its better than mainstream but they do not have many deaf children there and the few that are there have other dissabilites aswell. So food for thought...I dont want the journey for my sons best interest to stop here. We have decided to go and look around some schools for the deaf and if we feel its right we will make the transition in 2 years when he changes school. On reflection I have understood that I saw the cochlear as the soulution but I now know this is the the tool to help him to hear but a cochlear alone will note help him cope with the complex issues that is entwined into the deaf culture...I think our next step will be to look at the environment he is exposed to, peoples understanding and awareness of all the traits that are linked to being deaf. My son has amaising coping stratergies when dealing with the hearing society, but I understand this is sometimes exhausting for him. I think we have to embrace the whole package and I will be very interested to see how he responds to being around like minded children and even though he is now hearing with his implant I just want him to feel free and happy being who he is without having to try so hard to fit in. Finally I would just like to mention the quote "you cant make a hearing child out of a deaf child" That was one of the most powerful statements I have ever heard and it made instantly see that whilst I thought Id been doing right by my son I am ashamed to say I was also trying to fix him for my own insecurities...I have learnt alto along this journey of deafness which I knew nothing about untill Mayan was born but the programme showed how this journey of learning never stops I feel like I have woken up to whats real so thanks for that guys and I hope your journey will be as amaizing as ours. All the best for the future :)

  • Comment number 25.

    Avril . . . . "I was also trying to fix him for my own insecurities"
    That is profound!!
    The finger points in 2 directions is true to so many situations.

  • Comment number 26.

    Dolce...Totally agree with you and from this I have learnt the importance of Mayan his father and I to begin to have some involvment among the deaf community so we can learn more about deaf culture and how to prepare for the best future for Mayan.

  • Comment number 27.

    Thank you for all your comments - it's great that the documentary has sparked such debate and thoughtfulness among people who watched it.

    All deaf children are different and with the various options available for deaf people now, everybody's approach will be unique to their situation.

    Rita is a strong minded woman and is happy the choices she has made for Maiya so far, but I'm sure as Maiya grows up and her needs change, Rita and Theo will facilitate and support those changes.

    Rita has been overwhelmed with the response to the programme and values all your comments.

    If you would like further information about deafness and the issues raised in the programme, please visit the information and support page:


  • Comment number 28.

    Slightly different tack here about the programme-maker's vision, choices and editing decisions in producing this programme ... as a viewer with no experience in programme-making, I am a receiver of what is essentially the product of a set of non-transparent decisions. I am not writing to criticise anyone for making the decisions they do. Rita and Theo clearly love their children - that is not in doubt - and given the compelling sources of information made available to them during the making of the programme, I can see the reasons for the decisions they made, or are thinking of making. But I am curious to know, and forgive my ignorance but, how much was this programme was a fly-on-the-wall documentary and to what extent was it constructed/directed? I am asking these questions because I simply do not know and am curious. For example, June Smith is a wonderful Deaf role model, and I am in no way criticising her - I thought she was fantastic - but how much consideration was given to how the family were going to react to a first-time visit, however positive and encouraging, from someone who is a Deaf sign-language-user from a Deaf family? A gentler introduction perhaps might have been for Maiya to meet some other deaf children, to visit a bilingual (that is, English and British Sign Language) deaf school, a bilingual family centre, or perhaps even for a younger signing deaf role model from a hearing family to have visited. Whose decision, for example, was it for Rita to visit Mary Hare and not also to visit a signing deaf school (Elmfield School in Bristol, RSD Derby, Frank Barnes in London)? Were other schools considered? I am asking, not accusing. How was the scene in the pub set up and how were the deaf people selected? How was adult-child interaction monitored by the programme-makers: for example when the little boy was asked, "Do you think Maiya should have a cochlear implant?" (he's hardly likely, I would suggest, to say, "No", or, "Well, to what extent have you weighed up the longterm options based on the individual child?") Were any other families for whom cochlear implants have not succeeded contacted? or any people for whom cochlear implants have failed and have had to be 'explanted'?

    There is a wealth of information and resources out there that redress the balance in terms of communication and education options for parents with deaf children. In the end, I just felt very sad on behalf of my Deaf friends and the Deaf community (and their hearing friends, families and allies) for yet another two-dimensional portrayal of Deaf lives. Like I say, this is not a criticism of individuals and parents who make very difficult decisions with the best of intentions, and out of love for their families. The programme has clearly had a huge impact on many viewers. I guess I am just left wondering if there is an effective forum for raising these sorts of questions with the BBC or of facilitating some kind of dialogue about programmes such as these in the future.


  • Comment number 29.

    Having watched the documentary about Rita and her family I can go some way to sympathising with the agonising choices they are left facing in light of Maiya’s condition.
    Our son Ben’s situation was different in the sense that he was born profoundly deaf. We were told when he was just 8 weeks old and it broke our hearts. We were provided information about Cochlear implants and we agreed to be referred to the South of England Cochlear Implant Centre (SOECIC) in Southampton for them to carry out an assessment of Ben to establish if he would be a suitable recipient of Cochlear Implants. After 6 months we got the news that Ben was suitable! After much soul searching, research and discussion with family and friends we agreed to give Ben the opportunity of hearing and agreed to go ahead with the cochlear Implant operation. Ben was implanted [Personal details removed by Moderator] at the Queen Alexandra hospital in Portsmouth. 6 weeks later on Ben’s 1st Birthday his processors were “switched on” and Ben heard his very first sound!! It was an amazing feeling for us and Ben was curious as to this new experience. After a further 6 weeks of travelling to Southampton for “tuning” of his processors and gradual increase of sound levels, Ben said his first word “mum mum”. To say we were overjoyed was an understatement and from this moment he has thrived. We are now 6 months down the line from “switch on” and he now says mummy, daddy, more, no, yes, he makes various animal sounds such as “quack quack” for a duck and “meow” for a cat. He understands when his name is called and is understanding simple instructions such as “pass it to mummy please”. He also understands a few basic signs which he uses to show that he has understood what has been said for example when I say “bath time” he signs bath.
    In my opinion cochlear Implants are a wonderful invention that have given Ben an opportunity to experience sound, however we are under no illusion that these implants make Ben a hearing child. Ben will always be a deaf person but with an opportunity to experience the sensation of sound to enable him to cope and communicate with a hearing world. However there will be times when Ben is unable to wear his processors and will be completely deaf so we are trying to provide him with the tools to deal with and communicate at times when he is unable to access sound such as in the bath or swimming etc. Ben is learning basic signs and this will increase as time goes on (we are learning at the same time) we are extremely fortunate to have a large support network around us including professionals, family and of course friends.
    Rita and her family have to make their choices based on their daughters needs, but I can only say that from our experience the implants have been very successful and we do not regret our decision in the slightest.

  • Comment number 30.

    I am a Deaf mother of a Deaf boy and  aHearing boy,  a professional who works with Deaf children,  a thinker, a talker but not a writer! so will make points of my view rather than writing....

    I recorded the programme and managed to watch it later in the week, it was interesting watching it.     My view is bit belated.

    I do respect Rita for going into this with an open mind and looking at options though I felt that BBC didn't seek for right advice before filming, I will make some points on my thoughts rather than writting....

     - The girls look happy and full of life which is lovely to see though I felt sorry for them, sitting on the sofa in front of a lady they had never met, speaking aliens with hands! Especially for Maiya as I am sure that she is aware that she is different from her family but doesn't understand, especially with losing her hearing, wearing hearing aids, going to audiology appointments as her twin sister doesnt have to go through this.  The best way for children to understand, to learn sign language and/or developing self identities is through play. It would've been great if they had one Deaf professional 'playing' with children while the teacher teaches the parents.

    - It would be a nice balance if the parents met a hearing family who learnt sign language with their Deaf child. It would be even better, to have a 3rd family, a Deaf family with a Deaf child so people could see the differences.

    -It would be ideal for the family to meet professionals in Deaf fields (maybe at universities as they have researchers or with NDCS), they would ensure that the parents receive balanced advice on CI, sign language and identities.

    - I wish they had picked a variety of Deaf people from different areas rather than a group of friends who obviously share same view. They need to get their heads out of the sand and look outside their world!  In my experience, Deaf people are more accepting about CI now than before (as long the child knows he/she is still Deaf) and more Deaf adults in the Deaf community are choosing to have CI themselves - we need to open our mind, open our arms to those families, letting them know we'll respect whatever their decision is and that they are very welcome to the deaf community as their children are our future otherwise it'll be a mess and more children will grow up lacking     self identities, becoming stuck in between the Deaf and Hearing worlds in the future, no matter how well they can hear or speak, which can be mind damaging. I am AFRAID of this for those children.

    - From my experience, some professionals who work in CI field do discourage families from using sign language as they think it slows down their listening and speech skills, which is NOT TRUE as it has been researched and proven.  I do find this frustrating as children need to be able to relax and communicate freely while not wearing their CIs especially while swimming, at the beach, in the bath, getting dressed and it's especially useful when a child loses temper and throws the CIs off (this has happened to a family I knew and they said thank god we could sign to him!). It also can be mind damaging if they loses/break the CI receiver and have to wait before they could communicate again, or in the worse case, the CI parts inside the head may need replacing which means waiting for an operation for a replacement and then a recovering period before switching on again, which may take 4 weeks or longer. It is a lot to ask for a child to go through this with little or no communication!

    - I say, FOR GODDESS'S SAKE COME ON,  we ALL (Deaf community, hearing people, professionals, government, aliens)  need to stop debating   which is right and to take our head out of sands then move on into 21st century! we need to encourage our children to be bilingual at young age no matter what their hearing levels (you never know if they will lose their hearing like Maiya)  and to have heathly mind, strong self identity, make their own choices as adults and after all we do live in bilingual world!

  • Comment number 31.

    Could you please let people know about Cued Speech. They have a website which will explain what it is, how it works and what they can do for people. Or you can see a video here http://youtu.be/7ApICNWRaFc . There's another option which just hasn't been mentioned here even though it was on the BBC's See Hear programme [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 32.

    Deafness is a very cruel disability, like blindness saps away at the soul and leaves one in a more negative state and can cause depression so easily.I feel this especially if one was once hearing as normal. as myself was, but now profoundly deaf.
    I think not to panic about having a cochlear implant just yet as i feel sure in this little girls life time there will be great medical advances which may make implant seem very strange.
    At least the girl could be allowed to grow older so that she could make her own decision in the future if this is an option.
    Perhaps a good idea to learn sign language now and be prepared for deafness ie in later life having difficulty in the workplace.

  • Comment number 33.

    I watched the programme with great interest , I am deaf and have been since a child , my mother was certain I could manage mainstream school and despite wearing a hearing aid - a box clipped to my shirt connected to my ear with a wire! I went through primary school and it wasnt easy but I learnt to cope however when I reached secondary school I couldnt face wearing a hearing aid (by this time it was behind my ear) so I stopped wearing them as I was emmbarased but I manage to bluff my way through school with lip reading, my mum was very good at helping me and through the younger years she taught me to speak and I owe so much to her I had two brothers both hearing we used to sit around a table and talk without sound so I could pratcise my lip reading I have had my own business for 26 years now and still some people are suprised when they find out what little hearing I have I wish Rita and Theo all the best in their quest for Maiyas hearing , but I think that there is a lot to be said for lip reading but it takes a lot to learn but is a ideal oppurtunity whilst Maiya has some hearing as she will always remember how the word sounds,I noticed in the programme Rita and Theo joked about being ugly and wanting a divorce , well with practice they would have been able to lip read each other and it gives a great satisfaction being able to pick up what someone is saying even though you cannot hear them. The deaf community is very good if you are happy with that life but I personally couldnt have settled in a community as such and have always wanted my own business which I have acheived with my wife and brothers help, So Rita it is not easy but do consider lip reading I am sure there will be some class near you who can put you on the right path for helping Miaya, Regards and best wishes Tod

  • Comment number 34.



More from this blog...

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.