How does Cued Speech  work?

Cued Speech uses eight hand shapes in four positions near the mouth to clarify the lip patterns of normal speech.  With the structure of spoken language made visible, deaf children can quickly aquire an understanding of spoken language. Simply put  with Cued Speech, deaf people can see all sound based units of speech (44 phonemes) as clearly as hearing people can hear them. 


The late Dr Cornett, who devised Cued Speech in  1966 brief was that:

  • Cued Speech must be oral so that the deaf watch the lips and become able to lipread people who do not cue.
  • Cued Speech must show every sound, meaning and rhythm of every word clearly in the time it is spoken in face-to-face communication.
  • CS must show all the details of each word as it is spoken so that the deaf child can learn the words as they watch people speaking and cueing to them and as they cue the words to themselves.
  • Very young deaf children should be able to learn Cued Speech by watching others cue, and not need to be taught how to cue.
  • Parents should be able to learn to cue without too much difficulty.

He also wanted Cued Speech to incorporate the following:

  • Lipreading :  Watching the lips and muscular movements of the face means it is essential for the cuer to speak/mouth clearly but naturally - the cuer can use voice or mouth silently.
  • Watching the cues of Cued speech:  Necessary to achieve a high understanding and accuracy in lipreading (90 - 100%)
  • Use of residual hearing: Whatever residual hearing the deaf child may have is to be encouraged.
  • Voicing and projecting speech:  If speech is desired, the child will need speech therapy.  Cued Speech used in speech theraphy sessions will enable the child to understand target sounds to be uttered, and help with production of sequencing of sounds as he cues to himself.
  • Expressive Language:  The child is encouraged to use cues to express himself.
  • Body Language:  Natural use of body language and gestures to be used to be used freely.

What are some of the benefits of Cued Speech?

  1. Most deaf children are born into hearing families.  For parents to communicate in their home language will assist with language development from a critical  early age.
  2. Cued Speech is a closed system and can be learnt in 10 - 20 hours of instruction.
  3. As it is sound based, it helps with reading and spelling skills.
  4. South Africa is moving towards Inclusive Education, both teachers and learners will be able to communicate and interact effectively with deaf learners fairly quickly after learning the system.
  5. It is possible for the deaf child to learn other languages.