Deaf Girl's Super Bowl Win Sparks Controversy

Miami 11-year-old's essay irks blogosphere

The heartwarming story about a South Florida deaf girl who wrote an award-winning essay about recovering her hearing has caused quite a furor, with some activists claiming she has spurned fellow hearing impaired people.

Little Caroline Masia's story about the first time she was able to hear was so stirring that the NFL Players Association easily voted it their "Winning Moments" essay winner.

But the North Miami Beach 5th grader's essay is touching off a firestorm of controversy in the deaf community, with bloggers and other activists accusing her of contributing to the discrimination against deaf people, also called Audism.

Under a post titled "Is Audism Involved with the NFL Contest," blogger Robert Mason argued that touting Caroline's ability to hear through Cochlear implants while not having to use sign language is dangerous to the preservation of deaf culture.

"The media portrayals of this very same deaf CI user to be seen as a true miracle and success without any "deaf" features," Mason wrote. "Very troublesome about how the deaf youngster being portrayed in that manner without any balanced and objective newsreportings."    
Masia's parents in particular have become a target, for allowing her to undergo surgery to receive the cochlear implants that restored her hearing.

"People in the deaf community are very split and emotions run very high on both sides of the issue," said Miriam Masia, Caroline's mom. "We are used to this by now, but it still always shocks you. Many people in the Deaf community believe we mutilated her."
Masia, a musician, made the decision to have the surgery for her daughter so she could be a part of her music and the "hearing world."

"As far as Robert Mason...I completely respect his and others right to live in the deaf community and speak sign language but unfortunately they don't respect my choice to have our daughter be a part of the hearing world which is our community," she said.

Mason could not be reached for comment.

Masia's essay talked about her mother's music and how the implants have changed her life.

"Every song I hear is special," Masia's essay reads. "My winning moment started with my first implant, leading to my first sound and continues every day that I can hear the beautiful sounds of the world."

Despite the controversy, Masia said her daughter had a great time Super Bowl weekend, as the 11-year-old served as a junior reporter for the NFL for winning the essay contest.

"Caroline met like a hundred NFL Players on Saturday and interviewed six of them and we all had a great time," Masia said.

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