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.
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.
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.