Educating Children Who
Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing:
ERIC EC Digest #E555 August 1997
Is Meant by "Cued Speech"?
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
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
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.
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 neighborhood
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 the Cued Speech Option?
The following questions
should be asked when deciding any communication option.
- Is this the most
appropriate communication tool for our family to use?
- 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 interact?
- 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
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. (1985).
Update on Cued Speech. Cued Speech Annual, 1, 3-8.
Cornett, R.O., &
Daisey, M. (1992). The Cued Speech resource book for parents of deaf children.
National Cued Speech Association.
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 York.
National Cued Speech
Alternatives in Education
for the Hearing Impaired
2020 E. Camp McDonald Rd.
Mt. Prospect, IL 60056
Cued Speech Discovery
23970 Hermitage Rd.
Cleveland, OH 44122-4008
Cued Speech Center,
304 E. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 828-1218 (V/TTY)
New York Cued Speech
825 East 18th St.
Brooklyn, NY 11230
Sunshine States Cued
4442 Bay Shore Rd.
Sarasota, FL 34234
(941) 355-4194 (V/TTY/FAX)
West Coast Cued Speech
348 Cernon St., Suite D
Vacaville, CA 95688
(707) 448-4060 V/TDD
Barbara Caldwell worked with Dr. Cornett for six years during the development, early research, and implementation of Cued Speech. She is a past president of the National Cued Speech Association and director of Sunshine States Cued Speech Services in Sarasota, Florida.
ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education (ERIC EC)
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Reston, VA 20191
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The opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions
of policies of OERI or the Department of Education.