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Why is CS successful?

Parents who bring their child up with Cued Speech (CS) are, just like the parents of hearing children, able to surround them with a language-rich English-based environment and one complete with stories and rhymes. 

Through CS deaf children can learn and understand the whole of the English language, acquired naturally, day-to-day in the same way as hearing children acquire language – but visually.  Because CS conveys whole language sound-for-sound by clarifying the ambiguous lip-patterns of speech it also gives access to the individual ‘sounds’, or phonemes, which make up language.  Deaf children who have had access to Cued Speech can then bring their understanding of language to learning to read; they can make the association between the words they already know and the sounds these words contain.

Hearing children acquire their understanding of language through listening to the speech of others – which is made up of sounds.

Deaf children brought up with CS acquire their understanding of language through watching the cued speech of others – which is made up of the sound-based cues. 

Deaf children brought up with CS and hearing children can both bring the same skills to learning to read. 

It is not surprising therefore that research shows that children brought up with CS have reading levels which equal those of hearing children and that they learn to read using the same phonetic techniques.

Although designed to give whole language access, Cued Speech is very efficient at giving access to phonics and some teachers have used it specifically with phonics work in the classroom.  It has a number of advantages over other systems:

  • There are only 12 cues for the 44 sounds (the rest of the information being on the lips) so it is easy to learn. 
  • It very clearly shows the difference between consonants (shown by handshapes) and vowels (shown by position); this instantly gives pupils extra information about the composition of language.
  • Children pick it up quickly and easily.
  • Research shows dramatic improvements in phonetic awareness with little input in terms of time (link to the early ERADE research ?2006?). 
  • It can be used to build into whole words and sentences – in real-time.
  • Because lip-reading is an integral part of the system deaf children familiar with Cued Speech are more skilled at lip-reading people who do not cue.

Used at a whole language level it will also give the information about the stress and duration of words and phrases that are so important for speech and lip-reading.

There are also specific resources created by THRASS (Teaching Handwriting, Reading and Spelling Skills), a system using colourful picture representations so that people of all ages and abilities can access the sounds of the english language in the easiest most engaging way possible.  These resources teach vocabulary and phonics using CS.  To learn more about CS use with THRASS, contact us, as low-cost workshops can be arranged.  

Some experiences:

Our son is now 14 years old, and was diagnosed profoundly deaf at 9 months.  Hearing aids didn’t seem to help and MRI scans revealed that he had no auditory nerve on one side, and very little, if any, on the other.  With lengthy assessment for a cochlear implant (CI) underway with no guarantees of the likely outcome, we faced the very difficult challenge of how to support his language and communication skills through his vision alone…….

It seemed unbelievable and miraculous to us that we could cue to him nonsense words, silly sounds, nursery rhymes, read stories to him, chat to him, to say to him whatever we liked in English with every bit of syntax, grammar and vocabulary fully, simply and easily represented as though speaking normally. In fact, after only one week of CS training, we were capable of cueing perfectly and accurately every single one of the 30,000 or so words in our own vocabulary and any word or phrase ever published or spoken in the English language – something that wouldn’t be even remotely possible for us in BSL even after a lifetime of immersion in sign language. The discovery of CS and what it could do for our son and for us as a family was profoundly liberating and life-changing, and continues to be thirteen years down the line....

He took very easily to reading and writing – more easily than many of his hearing peers – perhaps helped by already having a visual phonic ‘map’ in his head from his early exposure to CS.  By Year 2/3, he was using spoken English as his first language; by age 6 he had a reading age of 10; he achieved Level 4/5s in his English SATs in Year 6; and now, at 14, he has a reading age of 16+.

To read the complete story, click here >>


When Z. was first diagnosed as deaf, one of my greatest fears was about whether he would be able to learn to read.  As it turned out I really had nothing to worry about.  Z. at three years seven months has just had a reading test with an Educational Psychologist and has come out with a reading age of seven and a half!’ 

If I hadn’t witnessed it myself I’m not sure if I’d actually believe it possible.   Undoubtedly Z. has a love of and talent for the written word, but I know this talent would not have been realised if he hadn’t had access to Cued Speech.

To read the complete story, click here >>


Our son was born profoundly deaf and we started to learn Cued Speech (CS) before he was one year old.  It took a few months before I could cue fast enough to cue everything that I said, however, because CS is a sound-based system once you have learnt the system you can say anything. 

Our Teacher of the Deaf didn't cue; it would have been a support if she had, but it didn't really matter because our son learnt enough English through us.  It’s not important for everyone to cue because CS is just English and it helps deaf children understand the English all around them. 

By the time he was two years old he understood a lot of simple sentences and by three years old he was talking, using long sentences (but with poor diction at this stage).  He could also recognise some written words, like his name and that of his brother.  We had a ‘eureka’ moment with a phrase in a story book: ‘Boo, hoo, hoo, what a to do’ when he realised that the cue for /oo/ sound tied in with the letter o.  He was then on the lookout for /o/ words and found them in zoo, moo and poo.  The letters ‘m’ and ‘p’ were also in his name and that of his brother and he suddenly realised that cued English and written English were based on the same units – and that there was a system linking them.  He demanded to know how other letters and cues linked up and he very quickly made the association between the sounds that he could not hear, but knew existed because of the cues, and letters (or combination of letters like ‘sh’). 

When he started at his local mainstream school aged four and a half he could de-code any word and link it to words that he knew through cueing – the teacher had to go to year 3 class to get reading books of the right level for him. 

Crucially, for a deaf child who can’t hear speech well enough to recognise and learn words, he was starting to learn new words through reading.  He had a Cued Speech Transliterator at school so he didn’t miss any of his education.  Also a Speech and Language Therapist helped with his diction so he became easily understandable even by people who didn’t know him.  As he got older, because he knew so much English through cueing, he understood complex written sentences and thrived at school. 

To read the complete story, click here >>

We do not usually identify parents or children on our website because children may grow up and prefer anonymity, but we can give you the parents’ names if you enquire.  

To read the full accounts of these parents experience with CS, and many more accounts from both professionals and partents, click here >>

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