How should one communicate with and educate a deaf child? Families and professionals feel that they must make a choice between signing, cueing or relying only on technology and listening and spoken language. The answer is to do what is best for the child — to do everything you can that will help the child succeed and be happy.

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Commonly Asked Questions about Cued Speech

What is Cued Speech?
Cued Speech is a visual mode of communication that uses handshapes to touch places around a person’s face to make the sounds of a spoken language visually distinct. In English, you only have to learn/memorize 8 shapes and 4 places– they are used in combination to represent all of the English phonemes. Cued Speech has been adapted to over 65 different spoken languages. It makes each spoken language clear and accessible through vision, just as each one is clear through sound.
How hard is it to learn Cued Speech?
It takes the average person 10-20 hours of instruction to learn to cue all 40 sounds of English, which would equip them to cue unlimited numbers of words, phrases, and sentences (including nonsense words and proper nouns). It takes another 2-3 weeks to memorize the entire system so that you can cue without a cheat sheet — at a slow but steady speed. It takes another few months of consistent practice to build up your speed to a regular conversational level.
If I use Cued Speech, am I limited in using other communication modes or technology to help my child?
Not at all. Think of your toolbox. The more options you have, the easier it is to be ready for whatever you need! Cued Speech is compatible with all technology and all other approaches to communicating with and educating a deaf or hard-of-hearing child. This includes using more than one language in a bilingual or multi-lingual approach. It is often the ‘missing link’ that, when added in, can optimize your child’s success with other approaches. Cueing a spoken language helps create an entire phonological model of the language in the mind of the child, preparing him/her to get the most out of hearing aid and/or implant use — and to attain age-appropriate language and literacy skills and overall academic achievement.
How might you use Cued Speech if you are a deaf parent where ASL is the primary language of the home?
Cued English and ASL go well together! There are many different ways that families fit two languages into their home. One way would be to have ASL as your child’s first language from you, and cued English as their second language — either at school, from a babysitter, a cueing deaf mentor, or other friends. You can learn along also, but the pressure is off to be the role model for their second language!
How might you use Cued Speech if you are a hearing parent where English or another spoken language is the primary language of the home? And what about ASL if you are a hearing parent?
Cued English goes well with other languages! There are many different ways that families fit two languages into their home. One way would be to have English (or your preferred language) as your child’s first language through cueing from you, and ASL as their second language—either at school, from a babysitter, a signing deaf mentor, or other friends. You can learn along also, but the pressure is off to be the role model for their second language.
What if I plan to use all of the latest technology with my infant or young child and want them to use that technology as effectively as possible?

Don’t wait to communicate. Cue a spoken language to your child to prepare him or her with a phonologically complete language base before getting a cochlear implant. Research shows that, when the implant succeeds in providing access to speech sounds, children are able, within 6 months of implantation, to understand auditorily all of the spoken language they acquired via Cued Speech. (Leybaert & LaSasso, 2010) Also, cueing to the implanted child post implantation (and cueing to a child who is using hearing aids in addition or instead of an implant) will continue to assist the child in perfecting his listening skills and in acquiring more language at an accelerated rate, given that all of the sounds of speech are confirmed and disambiguated by cueing them. And certainly Cued Speech will always be there as a backup in noisy situations and at other times when the implant (or hearing aids) are not in use.

Leybaert, J., & Lasasso, C. J. (2010). Cued Speech for Enhancing Speech Perception and First Language Development of Children With Cochlear Implants. Trends in Amplification, 14(2), 96-112. doi:10.1177/1084713810375567

If I use Cued Speech and/or ASL with my child, what about when they are out in the hearing world where most people don't know how to sign or cue? Will they be able to communicate with others in the hearing world?

If you use Cued Speech to provide your child with a spoken language, such as English, they can use their knowledge of English, plus what they can hear with technology, what they can see on the mouth, and/or the context of the situation to understand people who are not cueing or signing as they speak. One study of deaf adult cuers found that deaf people who grow up cueing:

“ …tend to be highly flexible communicators and language users, able to use expressive cueing and cue reading, speech and speechreading, expressive and receptive signing, reading/writing/texting, or combinations thereof as the situation dictates.”

Excerpt From: Carol LaSasso, Kelly Lamar Crain & Jacqueline Leybaert. “Cued Speech and Cued Language for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children.”

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