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:
i/ Deaf adults who are already fluent in English – and Cued Speech – because they have had access through Cued Speech from an early age
ii/ Deafened adults who are already fluent in English because they have previously had normal hearing
iii/ 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.

CS transliterators are trained professionals who function in a similar role to the sign language interpreter or lip-speaker, cueing silently, and usually verbatim, the spoken message of a third party. They may also ‘voice-over’ the cued message of the deaf adult if required.

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’. While sign language does not require the receiver to ‘hear’ at all, neither does Cued Speech. It is perfectly possible to ‘receive’ and understand spoken English entirely through vision with Cued Speech.
  • 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.)

The system of Cued Speech has been adapted to represent approximately 60 languages and dialects (with more being developed all the time). Through CS, deaf people can learn more than one spoken language in this way, should they wish to.

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