I admit, in the past I have been very… biased. Mentally I looked down upon things such as SEE or Cued Speech, which are modality of English and are not full languages. I can see how each would be helpful now though. I can see how SEE can be helpful in learning the grammatical structure of English, personally it is much too slow and a little convoluted for me to use on a daily basis. Cued Speech I was also biased against. I wasn’t nice to it… I thought that it had no place, that it was forcing the oral method onto people; that it was confusing; that it was wrong. I have been forced to eat my words… it has a place, it has a time, although right now… it’s still confusing.
I started on a journey to cued speech shortly before I moved to Arizona. I had started thinking… people tell me again and again that ASL is less, and I know differently… but then after looking at myself, I noticed, I was doing the same thing with modalities of English… I was looking at them as if they were less, as if they had no place and that the people who used them were less than I, that they couldn’t master the complexities of conceptual thinking, of visual thinking, and they were stuck in a rut… boy was I wrong.
Right before I moved, I met with Aaron, of Aaron Cues, and his wife for a short Cue lesson, to get my hands wet, and to figure out if it was something I was interested in continuing. It was exhausting… eye opening… and a lesson in eating crow. These two people could communicate easily, in real time, just as I can with ASL. I thought cueing would slow things down, I was wrong. I thought it would be confusing for a child to learn, I was wrong. I thought it would work best (like lip-reading) with some sound… I was wrong. It was lip-reading with hands. With lip-reading alone, only 30% of what is said in the English Language is shown on the lips, the rest is up to you to figure out and make sense of. With a person who is proficient at cued speech, the 8 hand shapes and 8 Locations, turn the 30% into 100%. For me… right now… it turns the 30% into about 10% because I might be focusing on it a little too hard…
But I’m trying to learn, to give myself more opportunities. In the first night that I sat with Aaron and Mary-Beth, I learned many things, like I am saying words wrong. I think that Cued Speech would be very helpful in all speech therapy classes, especially for those who are dhh… because it shows things at a phonemic level, words that sound the same to a person who is dhh, may actually have different phonemes, such as a and ate commonly sound the same to me. With Cued Speech, I will be able to tell the difference between them. “A” would be cued 5C-5T (5 Hand position from the chin to the throat) while “ate” would be 5C-5T 5S (5 Hand position from the chin to the throat then a 5 on the side). Words that are hard to say, such as seven, would also be easier to learn to say if you have the phonemes mastered in other words.
Learning Cued Speech is going to take me a while, with lots of patience, lots of mistakes, and lots of practice. But, it’s a journey I’m willing to take, and something I am looking forward to. Never stop learning… and that’s what I’m trying to do.
If you are interested in learning more about Cued Speech, click on the picture above, it will take you to the National Cued Speech Association or Visit Aarons Blog posted above.