Cued SpeechFAQs About CueingHistory of Cued SpeechResearch Bibliography
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.

Handshape chart
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What is Cued Speech?
Cued Speech is a communication system that incorporates hand cues and mouth shapes to convey spoken language in a visual format. Cued American English has eight handshapes and four placements around the face to convey all the individual phonemes of spoken English. Handshapes and hand placements are grouped together as pairs to convey syllables as well as isolated phonemes. With enough practice and feedback, people can cue fluently at a conversational level
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.
How long does it take to learn to cue?
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.
Can I use Cued Speech with other communication modes or technology to help my child?
Of course! 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.Cued Speech 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.
I am a deaf parent and use ASL. How do I use Cued Speech?
Cued American English (CAE) and ASL are visually distinct that children will not get confused by consistent exposure to both modes of communication! There are many different ways that families can provide access to both CAE and ASL in their home. One way would be to have ASL as your child’s first language from you, and CAE 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!
We speak multiple spoken languages in the home. How do we support a multilingual environment?

Cued Speech has been adapted to over 70 languages and dialects! Some parents learn the cued language specific to their native languages, while others may adapt Cued American English conventions to their native languages in switching back and forth between multiple spoken languages. The National Cued Speech Association can help connect you with other parents and professionals fluent in your native languages.

How do I support ASL as a hearing parent?
Cued Speech goes hand in hand with sign languages! There are different ways that families fit both Cued American English and American Sign Language 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. Visit for more resources on using ASL and Cued American English together.
How do I use technology and Cued Speech 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, 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.”
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.
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).

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