What if my child’s school doesn’t use it?
Cued Speech can help all children who don’t have full access to English through listening in their school. All children have a right to access education and if deaf children can’t hear, or fully hear, parents can request that they have the support of someone who uses Cued Speech to give visual access to what the teacher, and other children, are saying. If deaf children need Cued Speech to access English then the Local Authority should support this and pay the costs of training. Because Cued Speech can be learnt in around 20 hours it is a) economic and b) gives support quickly. The Cued Speech Association UK can train both families and professionals in Cued Speech. Please contact us to talk about this.
Does my school-age child need Cued Speech?
Do you know if your child’s understanding of English is the same as their hearing peers? If you don’t know ask their teacher to test his/her understanding of English. Of course, late diagnosis or support will have an effect, and some deaf children will have additional needs, but once this is taken into account your child should have age-appropriate language if the communication method you are using is suitable. With Cued Speech deaf children can learn language at the same speed as hearing children; if your child is not doing this then find out how Cued Speech at home and /or at school can help.
Will the class teacher use Cued Speech?
In mainstream schools a specially trained learning support assistant will usually be the main staff member using Cued Speech, although it is helpful if the teacher learns too.
Can foreign languages be learned through Cued Speech?
Yes, Cued Speech has been adapted into approximately 60 languages and dialects. These adaptations can also help families with deaf children whose first language is not English to communicate in their home language and English. There are a number of deaf children who have been brought up with two or more languages through CS. Read one family’s story here >>
Are there any limitations to using Cued Speech in school?
Very few! Deaf adults and children who use their eyes to ‘listen’ (either with signs or Cued Speech) do get tired and may need more breaks than hearing children who are listening. It is, however, much less tiring than trying to lip-read. Also, of course, the deaf child can’t look simultaneously at an item the teacher is describing and at the Cued Speech Transliterator (CST), so some extra time or input will be necessary from time-to-time.
A continual use of a CST may limit the one-to-one contact that the deaf pupil will have with others (as will the use of a sign interpreter) and it is important to facilitate some direct communication. Almost all children brought up with Cued Speech use speech expressively (although their diction may be poor initially) and are good lip-readers, but Cued Speech does not teach diction. It is useful to have help from a Speech and Language Therapist, preferably one who uses Cued Speech.
Is Cued Speech used on its own?
Most children will use hearing aids of cochlear implants as well if they benefit from them. Speech therapy and, where necessary, intensive listening practice can also be helpful. Children with no hearing at all, and those being brought up bilingually, would normally have additional input in BSL.
What if my Local Authority offers sign language support instead of Cued Speech?
Signs are never an alternative to Cued Speech because BSL, or non-language sign systems like Sign Supported English, are very different from Cued Speech with different aims and outcomes. BSL is a visual language which gives access to the deaf community; it does not have a written form and the grammar of BSL is very different to that of English. For example in BSL meanings can be added onto a single sign through (for example) direction, duration, facial expression, and body movement. These additions give a great deal of extra information, for example about what is happening, when, and how the narrator felt – and all in one sign – but this doesn’t tie in at all with either spoken or written English, which may need a whole sentence to convey the same meaning. In schools deaf children STILL need to be able to understand and read and write that English sentence.
To attempt to solve this problem some schools use a system of 'Manually Coded English' such as Sign Supported English (SSE) where some BSL signs are used with additional signs which were devised to represent parts of English grammar. The balance of BSL signs to English varies greatly depending on the signer's knowledge of the two languages. A single sign is often differentiated into a number of English words by clearly mouthing the word, so, in order to comprehend SSE well, one needs good lip-reading (speechreading) skills, as well as a good knowledge of English grammar. SSE is not a language and is does not tie in with the sound-based elements of spoken English. As one professional said:
I can see that Manually Coded English was originally devised many years ago to try to solve the problem with literacy – but I can find no evidence that it leads good language skills in either BSL or English or age appropriate literacy, and I can’t see why it continues to be used when a) it debases the language of BSL and b) Cued Speech gives compete access to the English language, which does lead to good literacy.
Whether BSL or a non-language sign system is used there is no direct sound-based relationship between the sign and the written word as there is between speech (and Cued Speech) and the printed word. Many children supported at a mainstream school which uses BSL or a sign system will have a teacher who speaks English which is then interpreted into sign by an assistant. The child will then have to re-interpret back to written English and to do follow-up reading in English. They must learn to associate each and every written word individually with its sign. This is like going to an English school, having lessons translated into Chinese, then having to read and write in English.
On the other hand, Cued Speech is a visual mode of English. ‘Cued English’ and ‘spoken English’ are exactly the same, except ‘cued English’ is in a visual mode and ‘spoken English’ is oral/aural mode. Both lead equally into literacy. Both give full access to education.
By definition signs can never be an alternative to English - but BSL and CS can work very well together to give access to both languages bilingually.
For videos of a family who used BSL and CS together, click here >>
For the text document 'Complete Bilingualism - Achieving full access to both BSL and English', click here >>
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