Educating Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Cued Speech is a sound-based hand supplement to speechreading. Eight handshapes representing groups of consonants are placed in four positions around the face that indicated groups of vowel sounds. Combined with the natural lip movements of speech, the cues make spoken language visible.
Cued Speech was developed by R. Orin Cornett, Ph.D. at Gallaudet University in 1965-66 (Cornett, 1967). His research was one of the responses to a report by a federal government study critical of deaf education, in particular, unsatisfactory literacy levels among high school graduates who were deaf. The purpose of this communication tool was to improve the early English language development of children who are deaf and provide them with a foundation for English reading and writing. Cued Speech has been adapted to approximately 60 other spoken languages and dialects. It is used in schools and programs for children who are deaf, but its primary use has been within hearing families of young children who are deaf and in regular education classrooms when those children enter school.
Who Can Use Cued Speech?
Families of and professionals working with children with hearing losses, symptoms of autism, Down Syndrome, deaf-blindness, cerebral palsy, and auditory processing deficits have used Cued Speech (Beck, 1985; Cornett, 1985). Families of individuals with physical disabilities that make them unable to speak use Cued Speech through a vision board that tracks eye gaze toward cue groups on a grid. This aid is called Nu Vue-Cue (Clark, 1984). Cued Speech has been used by regular education teachers for phonics instruction, by speech therapists for articulation therapy, and by deafened adults to re-establish communication with their friends and families. Young adults who grew up using Cued Speech use it to communicate with other cuers and their hearing friends who learn it.
What are the Benefits of Cued Speech?
For families of children with disabilities, Cued Speech removes communication barriers. Normal interaction is restored quickly because the system can be learned in about 18 hours (Cornett & Daisey, 1992). Once the system is mastered, any word in the language can be cued as well as environmental sounds, nonsense words found in children's literature, proper nouns, and the large number of English words for which there are no sign language equivalents. It provides an appropriate foundation for reading and writing English. Children who have grown up using the system read and write on the same grade level as their hearing peers (Wandel, 1989).
While not developed for purposes of speech training, Cued Speech provides a system that reinforces the work of the speech therapist, showing pronunciation, accent, duration, and the rhythm of speech. Since Cued Speech is presented with natural, running speech, it has been shown to improve speechreading when the cues are not in use.
Reprinted with the permission of the Education Resources Information Center.
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