Cued Speech: Guide

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Improving lip-reading (speechreading) skills

Lip-reading spoken English is notoriously difficult as we have identical lip-patterns for at least 8 pairs of phonemes and a further 6 phonemes have no discernable lip-pattern at all, this means that at best only about 33% of our spoken words are ‘lip-readable’.  Of course you can only lip-read a language you already have fluent understanding of – if you can’t think in the language you are trying to lip-read then you cannot match lip-patterns to an existing word bank in your memory.

This means that relying on lip-reading alone is not going to give a deaf child a means to learn language in the first place. However, adding Cued Speech to aid lip-reading will change all that.

Cued Speech is a visual version of English

Research shows that with CS, 96% of English can be lip-read accurately. With CS, deaf babies and children can see the whole of the English language as clearly as hearing people hear it. 

This study investigated the possible effects of English CS on the speech perception, phonological awareness, and literacy skills of a 9-year-old boy, who had been exposed to English CS from the age of 1 year.

An added benefit of being cued to is that it is unconsciously training the deaf child to develop exceptionally good lip-reading skills that they can then use to understand people who are not cueing.  Most families find that they need to cue less and less as their deaf child grows older because the child has become such a skilled lip-reader they simply don’t need it as much.  This ability to lip-read well is a skill that continues to serves them for life.

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 analysed the process.

  • Kaplan, H. (1974) "The effects of Cued Speech on the speechreadingability of the deaf."