Information about Cued Speech

Cued SpeechResearch BibliographyHistory of Cued Speech
Cued Speech is a visual mode of communication that uses hand shapes and hand placements to show the consonants and vowels of spoken language. Each hand shape represents a group of consonants and each hand placement represents a group of vowels.

What looks the same on the mouth must look different on the hand, therefore the hand shapes and hand placements help distinguish between similar-looking speech sounds, or phonemes. For each phoneme, a handshape and hand placement are combined with the mouth shape to visually show the building blocks of spoken language.

An individual can speak and cue at the same time, reinforcing auditory and speech development, while allowing parents and professionals to support language immersion in their native languages.

Because Cued Speech is based on the lingusitic properties of spoken language, most individuals are able to learn the system in a few days or less and become expressively fluent at the sentence level within months.

What is Cued Speech?
Cued Speech is a modality that can visually express languages. The languages that Cued Speech can express are the languages that are traditionally communicated through sound:  the consonant-vowel languages. English, and other consonant-vowel languages, are made up of small building blocks that most hearing people think of as speech sounds. Cued Speech uses handshapes and placements around a person’s face to make each building block into a visual symbol. Once you learn how to cue, you can move those visual symbols into different patterns and cue any syllable, word, phrase, or sentence in totally visible English!
Why was Cued Speech invented?
In the 1960’s, almost all deaf and hard-of-hearing children were being taught English through speech and lipreading only. Even with years of study and practice, all the building blocks of English were not visible to the students and many students struggled greatly with learning to read and write. In 1966, Dr. R. Orin Cornett set out to solve the problem- how can English be 100% visible, so it doesn’t matter what your level of hearing is? He invented Cued Speech to make all the building blocks of English look different from each other, the same way they sound different to hearing people.
Why should I use Cued Speech?
Today, cueing has been adapted to over 65 languages and is used all over the world. Cued Speech evens the playing field for access to traditionally spoken languages- it makes them totally visible, and visually accessible. Because Cued Speech is a modality, or a way to express a language, it can be used many different ways. It can be used in a visual, bilingual environment with ASL to make both languages equally visible, or it can be used to add visual reinforcement to English or other spoken languages in an auditory, spoken language environment.
Receptive Language

CS helps hearing impaired children to comprehend discourse.

Musgrove, G. N. (1985) “Discourse comprehension by hearing-impaired children who use Cued Speech.” Doctoral dissertation, McGill University, Montreal.

CS enables deaf children to understand spoken language better than with lipreading alone. With parents cueing, the gain is greater than with cueing only at school. Greatest gain is with cueing both at home and at school.

Perrier, O., Charlier, B., Hage, C., & Alegria, J. (1987) “Evaluation of the Effects of Prolonged Cued Speech Practice upon the Reception of Spoken Language.” In I. G. Taylor (Ed.) “The Education of the Deaf — Current Perspectives,” Vol. 1, 1985 International Congress on Education of the Deaf. Beckenham, Kent, UK: Croom Helm Ltd. (Reprinted in the Cued Speech Journal, 4, 1990)

Hage, C., Alegria, J., & Perier, O. (1989, July) “Cued Speech and Language Acquisition” Paper presented at the Second International Symposium on Cognition, Education and Deafness, Washington, D.C. (Reprinted in The Cued Speech Journal, 4, 1990)

CS learners with severe to profound losses averaged better than 92% of hearing impaired children on the Rhode Island Test of Language Structure (RITLS) for receptive language.

Berendt, H., Krupnik-Goldman, B., & Rupp, K. (1990) “Receptive and expressive language abilities of hearing-impaired children who use Cued Speech.” Master’s Thesis, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.

CS improves the speechreading capabilities of profoundly deaf students.

Clarke, B. & Ling, D. (1976) “The Effects of Using Cued Speech: A Follow-up Study” The Volta Review, 78, 23-24.

CS instruction improved the speechreading ability of hearing subjects.

Chilson, R. F. (1979) “Effects of Cued Speech on Lipreading Ability.” Master’s thesis, University of Rhode Island.

Neef, N. & Iwata, B. (1985) “The Development of Generative Lipreading Skills in Deaf Persons Using Cued Speech.” In Analysis and Intervention in Developmental Disabilities, Vol. 5, pp. 289-305.

CS significantly improved speechreading abilities of prelingually deaf persons. This study analyzed the process.

Kaplan, H. (1974) “The effects of Cued Speech on the speechreading ability of the deaf.”

Expressive Language

CS learners with severe to profound hearing losses scored as well as hearing children using the Developmental Sentence Score (DSS) for expressive language. Children introduced to CS before age 2 scored significantly better than those who began later.

Berendt, H., Krupnik-Goldman, B., & Rupp, K. (1990) “Receptive and expressive language abilities of hearing-impaired children who use Cued Speech.” Master’s Thesis, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.

CS enables oral expressive language to develop well in a five-year-old prelingually profoundly deaf child even though his speech was unintelligible.

Kipila, B. (1985) “Analysis of an oral language sample from a prelingually deaf child’s Cued Speech: A Case Study.” Cued Speech Annual, 1, 46-59.

CS profoundly deaf children surpass the majority of signing and oral children in verbal language skills.

Peterson, M. (1991) Data on Language of profoundly deaf children with oral, signing and Cued Speech backgrounds.

Data supplied by correspondence to R.O. Cornett and summarized in Cornett & Daisey “The Cued Speech Resource Book” (pp 697-699) 1992. National Cued Speech Association, Raleigh, NC.


In comparing TC, Oral, Cued Speech, and Hearing students in reading achievement as measured on the SAT, there was no statistical difference in achievement between hearing students and the profoundly deaf users of Cued Speech. Among those with a less-severe loss (85-100 dB), no communication group achieved equivalent to hearing students. These cuers may have received less exposure to Cued Speech.

Wandel, Jean E. (1989) “Use of Internal Speech in Reading by Hearing and Hearing Impaired Students in Oral, Total Communication, and Cued Speech Programs.” Doctoral dissertation, Teacher’s College, Columbia University, New York.

CS develops, in a deaf child, an internal phonological model of the spoken language that can prime the whole process of reading acquisition.

Alegria, J., Dejean, C., Capouillez, J. M., & Leybaert, J. (1989, May) “Role Played by the Cued Speech in the Identification of Written Words Encountered for the First Time by Deaf Children.” Presented at the annual meeting of the Belgian Psychological Society, Louvain-la-Neuve. (Reprinted in the Cued Speech Journal, 4, 1990). 

While Director of the Division of Higher Education at the U.S. Office of Education in 1959,  Dr. R. Orin Cornett discovered that the typical reading skills of deaf adults were significantly behind their hearing peers. Motivated by this revelation, Dr. Cornett took a position as Vice President of Long-Range Planning at Gallaudet College (now University) with the goal of researching the challenges deaf and hard of hearing children faced in developing literacy skills.

During the years 1965 to 1966 Dr. Cornett spent time figuring out how to visualize spoken language and eventually came up with a system of showing spoken language using hand shapes and hand placements. He would call it Cued Speech. Leah Lewis became the first child to acquire language through Cued Speech after her family learned to cue and became accessible language  models in the home.

Eventually after more parents started learning to cue, a Cued Speech preschool class was established at Gallaudet University in 1972. Seven years later, an additional track for Cued Speech was added to the deaf and hard of hearing programs in the largest public school districts in Virginia and Maryland – Fairfax County Public Schools and Montgomery County Public Schools, respectively.

Over the next several decades, multiple cue camps would be established to support families and professionals in learning and practicing Cued Speech. The National Cued Speech Association would formally organize conferences and workshops while the TECUnit would maintain national certification for cued language transliterators in the United States.

A significant milestone took place in 2004 when “cued language services” was added to the federal legislation, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The American with Disabilities Act and Section 504 would follow suit with legislative updates to include Cued Speech as a mode of communication for deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

In the past fifty years, Cued Speech has established a presence on six continents and has been adapted to over 60 languages and dialects with active use growing across the globe.

Today, Cue College represents the next step in promoting Cued Speech for language and literacy development, speech and auditory skill development, and communication access.

Resources for Practicing and Improving your Cueing

Becoming fluent in Cued American English as well as any other cued language involves a lot of daily practice and attention to accuracy and speed.

Explore the resources we have available for improving your cueing fluency.

Cue ChartsMaterials for Improving FluencyCourses and CueTutor
Stages and Phases in Developing Expressive Cueing Fluency
Stages of Fluency 
Click here to download the Stages of Fluency developed by the Cued Speech Office at Gallaudet University and updated by the National Cued Speech Association.

Phases of Learning to Cue 
Click here to download the Phases of Learning to Cue developed by the Cued Speech Office at Gallaudet University and updated by the National Cued Speech Association . 

CS100 - Introduction to Cued American English
Cue College’s first online course provides an overview of the Cued Speech system and includes all the hand shapes and hand placements associated with each phoneme, or speech sound, of spoken English.

CS 100 takes you through the foundations and mechanics of Cued Speech, with examples of different words cued at each hand placement with each hand shape. Along with an introduction lesson, there are fourteen lessons that cover the phonemes corresponding with each hand shape and hand placement. Each of those lessons include videos that you can watch while practicing your cueing.

You will be able to save your progress and return at another time to complete the course.

Want to improve your cueing? Stay tuned for more information on additional courses and programs, including tutoring and evaluation services.

Credit goes to Individuals with Disabilities Research and Training, Inc. (IDRT) and the National Cued Speech Association for providing the rights to the contents of “I Cue U Cue” (2006), a cd-rom for learning Cued Speech developed by IDRT.

DailyCues -
DailyCues provides features and resources to help people improve their expressive fluency as well as expand their understand of Cued Speech and cued languages.

DailyCues’ features includes:

– a dictionary with preferred settings for phonetic spelling and cue notation as well as videos (not every word has a video)
– iQpedia, a community wiki for Cued Speech
– a word list generator to help you practice cueing with specific hand shapes and placements or specific word types
– quizzes and games designed to test your knowledge about cue notation, expressive cueing, and transliteration

With a registered account, users can use DailyCues’ features free of charge. Visit DailyCues today! Note: you will be leaving the Cue College website.

Additional Resources

VideosCued iBooksCued Speech OrganizationsBooks and ArticlesAdditional History

“50 Years of Cued Speech – A Video Retrospective” features footage and interviews from the past 50 years since Cued Speech was invented in 1966 by Dr. Cornett at Gallaudet College (now University). This video was produced by Cue Cognatio on behalf of the National Cued Speech Association.

Considered the world’s first “cuesic” video, “Go” features Twista, a rapper who set the record for world’s fastest rapper in 1992 with 11.2 syllables per second. This video features cuers who cue the song.

This educational video produced by the National Cued Speech Association provides an overview of Cued Speech and includes interviews and footage with different families.

This educational video produced by the National Cued Speech Association describes the process of learning to cue.

This educational video produced by the National Cued Speech Association provides a professional perspective of Cued Speech as it applies to language and literacy development.

Thanks to generous donors, the National Cued Speech Association has created a number of iBooks featuring cued stories including classics such as “The Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Three Little Pigs.”

The NCSA mission is to champion language, communication and literacy for children who are deaf and hard of hearing through the use of Cued Speech. The iBook Project was supported by our donors to increase literacy and make classic children’s books accessible to children who are deaf and hard of hearing. These classic books are presented with beautiful illustrations, in text, and with cued videos of the actual text. Cued Speech users will be able to have the book ‘read’ to them by fluent cuers. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did producing it!


The National Cued Speech Association (NCSA) presents an adaptation of the classic children’s story, Rumplestiltskin.

My Brother is Special

The National Cued Speech Association (NCSA) presents Peggy A. McGlone’s second original story, My Brother is Special, illustrated by Donna Powers. The story is about a deaf boy with his brother at a baseball game.

Snow White

The National Cued Speech Association (NCSA) presents an adaptation of the classic children’s story, Snow White.

Three Little Pigs

The National Cued Speech Association (NCSA) presents its first iBook, the Three Little Pigs.

Little Red Riding Hood

The National Cued Speech Association (NCSA) presents an adaptation of the classic children’s story, Little Red Riding Hood.

I Have a Special Grandma

The story by Peggy McGlone is about a deaf child who visits her grandmother and helps her practice Cued Speech. During this visit, her window into the world of language and communication opens.

Alice in Wonderland

The National Cued Speech Association (NCSA) presents an adaptation of the classic children’s story, Alice in Wonderland.

Hansel and Gretel

The National Cued Speech Association (NCSA) presents an adaptation of the classic children’s story, Hansel and Gretel.

Affiliates and Chapters of the NCSA
AG Bell Montessori School - Alternatives in Education for Deaf/Hard of Hearing Individuals (AGBMS-AEHI)
AG Bell Montessori School – Alternatives in Education for Deaf/Hard of Hearing Individuals (AGBMS-AEHI)
CueSign, Inc.
Cued Speech Association of Maine
Cued Speech Maine
Cued Speech Association of Minnesota
Rocky Mountain Cued Speech Association
Maryland Cued Speech Association (MDCSA)
New England Cued Speech Services (NECS)
New York Cued Speech Center
North Carolina Cued Speech Association (NCCSA)
Northern Virginia Cued Speech Association (NVCSA)
University of South Florida Cued Speech Initiative
International Organizatons
LPC Belgique ABSL
Avenue Beau Sejour, 80
B-1410 Waterloo BELGIUM 

Centre Comprendre et Parler
Brigitte Charlier, Director
Rue de la Rive, 101
1200 Bruxelles BELGIUM
Phone: (011 32) 02/770 04 40
Fax: 02/772 62 88

Alberta Cued English
Lynn Beech
26 Peacock Drive
Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada T8A 0A8
Tel/Fax: (780) 464-9990
Association LapCI ry
Cued Speech Project: Vinkkipuhe ja kommunikaatio
Valurinkatu 2 A 5, 03600 Karkkila, Finland 
L’Association Pour la Promotion et le Développement du Langage Parlé Complété
21 rue des Quatre Frères Peignot, Hall E
75015 Paris, France
[011-33-1] 01-45-79-14-04 (Voice)
[011-33-1] 01-45-78-96-14 (Fax) 
Credag Narcis Maso/Ce “La Macana”
Av. Folch i Torres, n. 6 17190 SALT (Girona) SPAIN
(011-34) 972-23-59-30
Fax (011-34) 972-40-17-92

La Asociacion Entender y Hablar y Fundacion
Dales La Palabra
Escuela normal con integracion preferente de deficientes auditivos
Colegio Tres Olivos, C/Casildea de Vandalia, 3
28034 Madrid Spain 91 735 51 60

Modelo Oral Complementado (MOC)
University of Malaga, Campus de Teatino Facultad
de Psicologia Bascia, 29071 Malaga, Spain 

Edith Ghirlanda, Secretariat
rte du village 130
CH-1724 Oberried SUISSE
Fax et telescrit: +41 (0) 26 413 37 09 
United Kingdom
Cued Speech Association UK
9 Jawbone Hill, Dartmouth, Devon TQ6 9RW
[011-044] 01803 832 784 (Voice) 
The following tiles are recommended reading for anyone who wants to learn more about Cued Speech and cued language. You may find these available for purchase online through our Cue Store. Click on the blue link to take you directly to the book’s product page.

Cued Speech and Cued Language for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children
Cued Speech and Cued Language for Deaf and Hard of hearing Children is an edited research book featuring chapters written by a variety of authors on different topics regarding language and literacy development for deaf and hard of hearing children.
Choices in Deafness: A Parent's Guide to Communication Options
Choices in Deafness has been the preeminent guide to communication options since 1987 and is now extensively revised and expanded to provide the complete scope of information parents of children with deafness or hearing loss need.
English as a Foreign Language for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Persons
English as a Foreign Language for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Persons has been written by teachers and researchers involved in teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) to deaf and hard-of-hearing students in various different European countries, including the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Norway, Poland, and Serbia.

Visit the R. Orin Cornett Memorial Cued Speech Collection, hosted by Gallaudet University. The collection features publications and materials from the early years of Cued Speech.