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What is Cued Speech?

The name Cued Speech (CS) describes the system of 8 handshapes and 4 positions which completely clarify the lip-patterns of speech, and it is quick and comparatively easy to learn.  Cued Speech is a visual version of English (and other spoken languages) - 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.   

  • Hearing families can use English – visual English - to communicate with their deaf child the same as they would with a hearing child, and as a result their deaf children can learn full language without delay.  
  • Education is fully accessible - teachers can use it for literacy, to teach phonics, to access the whole curriculum. 


Take a look at how the CS works and meet some people who use it:

Why is Cued Speech (CS) needed?  Without hearing, or with imperfect hearing, it can be hard to understand English, or any other spoken language—just because you can’t hear it!  If you can’t understand English, you can’t communicate in it and it’s very hard to learn to read and write.

Speech-reading (or lip-reading) isn’t much help; it’s only possible to lip-read only about 35% of what is said – the rest is guesswork. It’s almost impossible to learn English from scratch as a baby needs to through lip-reading alone. 

Won’t hearing aids or cochlear implants be enough?  They might!  Some children do very well, but others still fail to understand English or understand it only partially.  Some children can’t be implanted or don’t fully benefit from implants.  An aid or implant may not be enough to allow a deaf child to hear all the sounds of speech, or they may hear most speech sounds in perfect listening conditions but very little in noisy situations or when they are not close to the speaker.  This will cause problems with communication and language development.

Why not just use British Sign Language?  British Sign Language will give access to the BSL-using community and - in time - a language for communication.  But 90% - 95% of deaf children are born to hearing families, and it takes years for hearing parents to learn BSL, so most parents can’t give access to full language in early childhood – which is the most important time for language development.  Also BSL is very different from English, it is a silent gestural language of approximately 2-4000 signs and has no written form.  The signs do not represent English words, but form a distinct, separate language.  English is a language of sound and has over a million words that, of course, can be written down - it is the language of education, work and the country as a whole, so deaf children will still need to learn English.  But CS and BSL do work very well together.

Using Cued Speech restores natural language-learning for deaf children.

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