Last week we spent a fairly large post discussing some of the many types of sign language. This post is about another method of communication used by many deaf and hard of hearing as well as individuals with communication disorders, known as Cued Speech. The uniqueness of this form of communication lended that it would be more effective to explain its qualities with a post of its own.
Cued Speech is a mode of communication based on the phonemes and peroperties of traditionally spoken languages. In a laymen’s description, Cued Speech is a phonetic system of signed speech. Cueing allows users who are deaf or hard of hearing or who have language/communication disorders to access the basic, fundamental properties of spoken languages through the use of vision.
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More videos on Cued Speech can be seen here.
Developed by Dr. R. Orin Cornett in the mid 1960s, he surmised that through mastering the phonemic base of a spoken language is the key to learning a language in all its forms–including reading, writing, speaking, and understanding. The primary goal of Cued Speech is improving literacy.Cued Speech does not require any hearing or speech, nor is cued speech a language (a characteristic that Sign Langauge does have). Rather, cued speech is a closed system adapted to more than 60 languages and dialects–this is due to the systems use of showing the phonemes (consonants and vowels) of spoken languages visually. Cued Speech requires synchronization of both the hand and mouth to send complete messages.
So why utilize Cued Speech when there is already the accepted methods of sign language systems, which are in fact recognized languages? Well, there are some distinct advantages of Cued Speech. Studies have shown that cuers who are deaf or hard or hearing meet or surpass hearing peers in linquistic competence. These cuers can aquire and use the same language other family members use at home. They also receive visual access to English from their transliterators; therefore, they do not rely on interpretation. With the benefit of having earned English skills that match the skills of their peers, cuers also have an acurate phonological model of a spoken language–because of this they are also able to learn foreign languages as easily as hearing students.
Because of the unique qualities of Cued Speech, cuers bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing communities. Cuers are often fluent also in signing and so are able to easily communicate with the deaf while their phonetic skills learned through cueing allows them to interact with the hearing community because English is their first language, and they use speech, speechreading, and/or listening with hearing individuals. You can read more details on cued speech here and learn facts and debunk myths on cued speech here.