Cued Speech: Guide

Cate Calder | View as single page | Feedback/Impact

Use with Deafened Adults

Cued Speech can be of real benefit to adults with a hearing loss by giving full access to spoken language, helping them process new vocabulary accurately and keep their own pronunciation skills honed.

The situation for deaf adults falls broadly into three categories:

  1. Deaf adults who are already fluent in English - and Cued Speech - because they have had access through Cued Speech from an early age
  2. Deafened adults who are already fluent in English because they have previously had normal hearing
  3. Deaf adults who may be signers and wish to learn English as a second language.

1. Deaf Adults who have had access to English through Cued Speech may continue to use it:

  • to access any social or work situation as required.
  • to clarify new words.
  • to help themselves improve their own lip-patterns/pronunciation.
  • to support lip-reading in ‘difficult’ situations e.g. over a wide distance, with someone who has unclear lip-patterns, in new situations.
  • as a transliteration service.

2. Deafened adults who are already fluent in English because they have previously had normal hearing:

  • will need to train with someone with whom they regularly communicate.  They need to be able to ‘receive’ a cued message and do not need to learn to cue themselves, although many find it helpful to do so as a way to deepen their understanding of the system.

The English language is notoriously difficult to lip-read as about 70% of the lip-patterns are so similar they cannot be differentiated.  It does take time to learn to ‘cue read’, but it is worth the effort because with the cues added it may become possible to lip-read with almost 100% accuracy, which is a huge advantage for deafened people functioning ‘in the hearing world’.

  • By learning to lip-read somebody who is cueing, the ability to lip-read others who are not cueing is also increased.
  • They may make use of a transliteration service.
  • They may relieve the stress of lip-reading as this takes an enormous amount of energy and concentration, watching someone cueing is far less tiring.
  • It will be possible to learn/see the correct pronunciation of new vocabulary.
  • You can use Cued Speech like a therapy tool to maintain and improve clear speech patterns.

3. Deaf adults who wish to learn English as a second language:

  • One of the arguments for using sign language is that it is ‘natural’ because it is visual and does not require the receiver to hear anything to understand it.  It is also possible for deaf people to receive spoken language in this perfectly ‘natural’ way by seeing it cued.  Cued Speech is an entirely visual mode and also does not require the receiver to hear anything to understand it.
  • Cued Speech may also support the understanding of written English as each sound within each word is visually represented.  These individual sounds can then be separately emphasised and linked to the appropriate spelling choices.  In this way the Deaf person can develop a phonological awareness and then draw on the same skills that hearing people use when they read or write English.  (Hearing people recall how words ‘sound’ when they read and write - they turn those sounds into letters when they write and turn letters into sounds when they read.  With Cued Speech, Deaf people can learn to use those same techniques.)