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Gaining Cued Speech Proficiency - A Manual For Parents, Teachers, and Clinicians.
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Chuck Akemann shares this with our readers:
Let me add more about Cued Speech from the perspective a family that has used it for over 7 years. You got the official definition, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Cued Speech is phonics based, and the basic description of the whole system fits on the two sides of a credit card (yes, literally). The cues are handshapes (one hand only) placed in positions around the mouth in sync with speech. The handshapes clarify the consonant sounds, and the positions clarify the vowel sounds. The handshapes do not give full information about the sounds spoken. However, in conjunction with speech reading, the handshapes and positions make the visual representation of each sound (phoneme) unique. The cue reader has a precise visual picture of speech sounds via the combination of speechreading, handshapes and positions that are in sync with speech.
Cued Speech is not related to any sign language. It based entirely on the phonemes of speech, not on words (like Signed Exact English) or on ideas (like ASL). Since it is used in sync with speech, the visual information on the lips is not repeated in the handshapes. Sounds that look alike on the lips have different handshapes. For example, the initial consonant sounds in "ball", "Paul", and "mall" are very much alike on the lips but are distinguished by different consonant handshapes. The initial consonants in "shake", "wake", and "lake" all have the same handshape, but they are very different on the lips.
For those HOH people who are not entirely deaf, it is important to note that Cued Speech is normally used with fully voiced speech. Thus the auditory information arrives in sync with the visual and has exactly the same meaning. For instance, if a HOH person can usually hear all but certain consonant sounds, then Cued Speech can be learned more quickly and used more easily. On the other hand, for experienced cue readers like my daughters, unvoiced Cued Speech transliteration, say in the classroom, can provide exact auditory information without any sound being used.
We began using Cued Speech when Shannon was about 2.4, about 6 months after we discovered her hearing loss. We found that everything that was claimed about it was true. We learned the system from a weekend guest. We were on our own after the first weekend, using video and audio tapes, with no other cuers within a hundred miles. After about three more weeks of daily drill (very much like learning to type), Patricia and I could reliably cue anything that we could say, although much slower. Like typing, Cued Speech allows the person cueing full use of his/her vocabulary. There is no new language to learn. If you have a 20,000 word vocabulary, you have a 20,000 word vocabulary to use with Cued Speech. If you like to use foreign words, you can cue them too.
Shannon picked up cue reading very quickly. In a few months we could reliably talk with Shannon using Cued Speech. We could help to correct her speech by showing her the difference (using Cued Speech) between what we heard her say and what she was supposed to be saying. For the next 6 years Shannon's hearing slowly declined from a 90 dB. loss at age 2.8 to a 110 dB loss last July. Cued Speech allowed us to have perfectly normal conversations with her during all of that time. There was no need to repeat what we said, and we could constantly work on her speech to keep it understandable.
After Shannon's cochlear implant last July, Cued Speech was extremely valuable in helping her turn the new "sounds" she was hearing into words. She had always "seen" words as sounds via Cued Speech. Post implant, when listening to members of her family who were cueing to her, she was receiving electrical stimuli that her brain could interpret as the same sounds she was seeing via cues. She quickly learned to put her implant information to good use for understanding speech, including monitoring her own.
Shannon is not a super kid in any way, nor does she have super parents. What we found with Cued Speech was a system that met OUR needs better than we would ever have expected. Our needs might not be the same as the needs of others. Hope this is all taken as it is intended, in the spirit of education. Please feel free to pass this on to anyone who is in the process of deciding on a communication method. Another good source for such people is:
Oral, Sign and Cued Speech are all discussed in some detail with lots of case studies.
Dr. Sue Schwartz works with parents of deaf/HOH children in an area of Maryland where all
three methods are popular, so she is especially well-qualified to write such a book.