ERIC Identifier: ED414673 Publication Date: 1997-08-00
Author: Caldwell, Barbara Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Disabilities and Gifted Education Reston VA.
Educating Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Cued
Speech. ERIC Digest #E555.
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,
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.
WHAT ARE THE LIMITATIONS OF CUED SPEECH?
While sounds that
look alike are distinguishable because of the hand cues, lip movements still are
an integral part of the system. Cuers must make lip movement and be within 20
feet of the cue-reader. The upper body and face should have adequate light. Cued
Speech is not an ideal platform medium.
The Cued Speech system is more than 30 years old. The numbers of cuers and
support groups vary throughout the United States, but Cued Speech is not
available everywhere. Parents of children who are deaf sometimes meet with
resistance from their local school administration when they choose to use a
system not usually offered in that district.
The number of available Cued Speech transliterators (proficient cuers who cue
what instructors say), while growing, is insufficient for the demand, primarily
because Cued Speech students are usually not placed in programs where one
transliterator can serve several students, but are mainstreamed in their
Unless they learn American Sign Language (ASL) as a second language, students
who grow up using Cued Speech are not able to communicate with the larger
community of Deaf adults who use sign language.
WHAT ARE SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK IN CHOOSING THIS OPTION?
questions below should be asked when deciding any communication option.
Is this the most appropriate communication tool for our family
How long will it take us to learn and where can we learn it?
Will we be committed to using it as much as possible as we
Is support available and, if not, are we determined enough to
do it on our own?
What results can we expect from using this communication
tool? (If those expectations are not met within an appropriate
time frame, another option should be explored.)
Beck, P.H. (1985). What can Cued Speech do for
you. Cued Speech Annual, 1, 9-18.
Clark, R. (1984). The eyes have it! Nu-Vue-Cue, A veritable breakthrough. The
Post-Tribune Sunday Magazine, May 19, Section H, p.1.
Cornett, R.O. (1967). Cued Speech. American Annals of the Deaf, 112, 3-13.
Cornett, R.O., & Daisey, M. (1992). The Cued Speech resource book for
parents of deaf children. National Cued Speech Association.
Wandel, J. (1989). Use of internal speech in reading by hearing and hearing
impaired students in oral, total communication, and Cued Speech programs.
Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Teacher's College, Columbia University, New
National Cued Speech Association: NCSA@naz.edu
Alternatives in Education for the Hearing Impaired, 2020 E. Camp McDonald
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