Cued Speech 🐘

Me giving a plenary presentation about ADA communication access rights at the 50th anniversary international Cued Speech Conference in Virginia, 2016.

The following is an oral presentation about Cued Speech that I wrote in 2018. Or was it 2019? I can’t recall right now. Life is a blur sometimes. In any case, I was offered an opportunity by Janet DesGeorges, who is the Chairperson of the family advisory committee for the national Early Hearing Detection and Intervention conference to lay out Cued Speech for the group. I remember at the time it felt like a big deal that Cued Speech was being offered a place at a table. Any table. It’s difficult to get people’s attention for this highly valuable mode of communication that is also an extremely effective natural language and literacy building tool that I am blessed to know so well.

I happened upon a hard copy of the “speech” I prepared for the lunch group that day. I want to be sure to give credit to one of my deaf mentors, Benjamin Lachman, who helped me to write and prepare to present the critical facts in my plea for EHDI system support. Please understand that there is a growing list of Cued Speech resources around the world so this writing does not provide a complete list. These were the noteworthy resources that we identified at that time.

Finally, if you want to find me working on Cued Speech related projects in any kind of a “professional” capacity, please come find me and my family and friends doing Colorado cultural digging and game playing. I intern as a private educational interpreter and community activist for our independent Deaf family based School to Work Alliance Program that we named Solid Ground Denver because that’s what we need most right now here.

Here is our new Solid Ground Denver logo and right now you can find evidence of our cultural existence at this website.

So here we go.

I believe Cued Speech builds a human bridge. I see the Deaf community as I see every other segment of our population. It is part of the human diaspora where we all belong. I call this the deaf diaspora.

Photo from the Illinois School of the Deaf museum capturing hands signing and cueing.

At your service, in our community and in 1m3s (peace) ✌🏼 always,

Lisa A. Weiss, J.D.
Cuer, Educational Interpreter Intern , Mediator, Public School Policy Expert, and Activist

EHDI Family Advisory Committee
Cued Speech/Cued Language(s) – A Place at the Table

What is Cued Speech?

Cued Speech is the system that constitutes the mode of communication that visually conveys cued American English (and other spoken languages). It was created only five decades ago with the singular purpose of supporting literacy in Deaf and hard of hearing people. Today it has grown into 60+ visual adaptations for other spoken languages around the world and has found multiple benefits beyond the deaf and hard of hearing communities.

What is cued language?

While Cued Speech is the *system* of conveying language, the actual act of cueing a language is often referred to cued language. There’s a small but marked different between Cued American English and Cued British English, for example. We are not saying that cueing is a language, we are saying that a language is being cued. The fundamentals are highly adaptable to phonemic based languages. There are some exceptions but the majority of languages are feasible.

In my experience, the reason Cuers aren’t loud is because we do well. There isn’t a lot of discontent. Many of our kids do well in school and go on to do well in life. We are often invisible because we blend right in. We don’t “appear to be Deaf”. But we really do need this voice. And sometimes we do get angry because sometimes we really do get hurt. It’s when we don’t get the communication access or the recognition that we deserve. It’s the same as those who are loud about ASL. We just don’t have any support. Cued Speech is a redheaded stepchild. Cuers are left on our own to educate and advocate for ourselves. We build our own resources. We do our own research. Outside of our community, Cued Speech is a complete mystery to almost everyone.

There are many myths and false perceptions that have been perpetuated as Cued Speech became stuck in the LSL vs. ASL debate. But the cueing community is not the tiny minority most people think it is. It is difficult to know for certain just how may people are using it, but we are very aware that there are many more of us out there who we don’t even know. It is adaptable. It’s diverse. And it’s growing. The 2017 NCHAM EI Snapshot Report showed that almost half of the survey respondents only use one mode of communication and 12% of those people are cueing (49% LSL only; 3% ASL ONLY). It can be, but is not required to be, a stand-alone strategy. The overall deaf community is diverse and the cueing segment of our community is no different. Cuers span the breadth of it. This is because cueing is what you make of it. It is complementary to both LSL and ASL. By definition, it can and already does work in parallel with Listening and Spoken Langauge as well as in a bilingual program with ASL.

The issues we need to address:

  1. It’s not difficult to learn. Families are able to learn it in their own homes and may never connect with another person who cues. The EI Snapshot showed us that 10%+ of families are choosing to use Cued Speech in their homes. It also showed that families reported fair to poor access to information and resources about it. This is the primary issue we need to address.
  2. The majority of pre-service higher education programs for DHH teachers still don’t include Cued Speech in their coursework, there is indeed a larger segment of DHH educational professionals than people realize in the public education sector which support and have implemented the use of Cued Speech.
  3. There is a prevailing belief in the greater DHH field that Cued Speech has only been used when parents like myself have made an isolated request for it for our children and that there is no data proving its efficacy. This isn’t true. Cued Speech programs are localized with various hot spots, which means the majority of cueing services requests are in school districts that do not have existing programs in place or any knowledge about Cued Speech at all. In addition to the available empirical research about Cued Speech, these programs have actual data; they have years of experience and student performance data proving the efficacy of Cued Speech on English language acquisition and literacy.
  4. School districts are under the impression that it’s difficult to integrate cueing into a mainstream setting. This isn’t true. They just don’t know about it. Many families like my own have to bring cueing into their school district and work with the district to develop services that work for that student and the community. This is a huyge burden on families like my own and the school districts where we live often don’t know where to begin. We couldn’t tell you how many times we’ve heard people say, “we have an oral program and a total communication program here in this district. Choose one of those.”

What do we need?

We need exposure. We need support. And we need inclusion.

We have to address what the EI snapshot report highlighted, which is that “the majority of families are receiving excellent or good quality information about communication options except for Cued Speech.” 76% of famlies reported excellent to good information about LSL and 67% reported excellent to good information about ASL. Only 43% reported excellent to good information about Cued Speech. The Cued Speech community has developed the resources, but we are stretched awfully thin.

Once a child is identified, if a family is interested in cueing, they could start giving their child access to the language of their home as quickly as within a few days of starting to learn to cue. The hope is to offer the infrastructure to do that and the awareness that the infrastructure exists. We are here to serve everyone.

  1. We need families to be provided with consistent and reliable information about Cued Speech along with all of the options for language development. We need to develop a plan to systematically provide training and materials about Cued Speech and the diversity of the cueing community to states’ family based organizations (e.g. states’ Hands and Voices Parent Guides and states’ EHDI networks).
  2. We need parents to have access to free training in Cued Speech on the NCHAM website similar to how parents have access to free training videos in ASL on their website.
  3. We need states supporting efforts to expand current adult Deaf ASL mentor programs for parents to also provide that for cueing.
  4. We need early interventionists to receive instruction and training in Cued Speech. Training for state level EHDI coordinators on how to communicate what Cued Speech is and what its purposes are.
  5. Audiologists and EI providers should at the very least have some working knowledge of what its purposes are.
  6. Audiologists and EI providers should at the very least have some working knowledge of what it is and what its actual purpose is. That information needs to be developed by people who are deeply knowledgeable about Cued Speech.
  7. We have a ton of great resources already. We need support to keep growing and we need them infused into the systems that are supposed to support us all.

Here are our resources

National Cued Speech Association
CueSign, Inc. – Fully inclusive programming with ASL and Cued Speech
Cue College – online platform (cued speech instruction and tutoring services)
Daily Cues – free learning resources
TECUnit – skills assessment unit
INSCert – Instructor workshops and certification
Language Matters, Inc. – transliterator training and agency based in North Carolina

Published by StuckInMyBra

Above all else, I am a mother. I've been told by my closest friends that I am a fighter, but I actually roll my eyes at that part of my identity because I really don't enjoy fighting. I'm just good at it for the most part. The thing is, I write about whatever is on my mind, which appears to be a big mess sometimes. I mostly think about my kids and the people they are and how to help them become who they want to be in this world. I love them more than anything in this world. Sometimes I write about giftedness, autism, trauma, schools, mental health and chronic illness because those are all things that affect me. In the past I have written about deaf issues because it has been a bit part of my motherhood. I write about my own life and the people in it and I try not to hurt people's feelings in the writing process. I hope what I write touches peoples hearts and opens people’s minds because I think people in our world need to have more understanding and compassion. I tell it like it is. Read on.

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