Monday, February 18, 2008

Cued Speech-My Story

Hello All!

Glad to see your here reading about Cued Speech. I understand this is a very controversial issue for many involved, myself included. Deaf People are either against it, support it, or mutual, they don't care too much to see both ways. After my parents found out about my hearing loss, the first thing they did was to seek about ASL. However my parents were adamant from the start that I was not to go to a deaf school. They were at a doctor's office for one of my regular check ups when my mother came across a story about cued speech in a sesame street magazine. Most of us are already familiar with cued speech, whether you support it or not. A basic description is it is based on the sound/phonetics of the speech, and not so much the visual aspects of it. A quick look on or will yield you many search results.

My parents were fascinated by cued speech and learned using this would widen my vocabulary and help me learn to speak as well. They contacted some people through the magazine to get some more information, and figured this would be a perfect tool to aid me when I am mainstreamed. My parents pulled me out of the deaf school to put me in kindergarten. The deaf school apparently was not going to have that. Battles ensued, back and forth about what was the right thing to do for their child. The deaf school wanted me to stay put and raise me in a deaf world surrounded by deaf people. They knew I would be a role model for other people, but my parents did not want that. They wanted me surrounded by hearing people and to grow up like them-hearing.

Battles however STILL went back and forth. Meetings were held, but the stance was always the same. Deaf school telling my parents they were doing the wrong thing. Parents saying no, we want him raised in a hearing environment and he will learn cued speech. If I recall lawsuits almost were brought up or threatened by the schools as a legal ground to hold me at a deaf school, but don't hold me to that. It was a really bad time for everyone.

I was placed to enter kindergarten, by then I had the vocabulary of a hearing kindergarten student. I stuck with cued speech all the way until now. I had a cued speech interpreter all throughout elementary, and High school.

Of course only learning cued speech, meaning I am able to read it but not able to be fluent in actually cueing it. This allowed me to communicate with many people deaf and hearing who were able to talk or speak enough I was able to read their lips. Unfortunately I was not able to talk to deaf people who only did ASL. So I was still stuck and lost and left out of the deaf world because of that. You can believe I was harassed and bashed and called everything in the book for leaving the deaf world and going to the hearing world. I was told my parents did the wrong thing for myself; I didn't help the deaf people's case in trying to be a community. I no longer belonged and I was shunned. That was fine, I had hearing people who accepted me and embraced me. It was a shame I couldn't see the same with deaf people. Why the reason? I don't know, I have guesses but I won't say them here. They have their reasons for being upset at me for taking the direction I went and the choices my parents and I made.

Now I am finished with High School, I have entered the real world. I went to go work for Southwest Airlines, and this broadened me to more deaf people then ever. Every day almost I was meeting Deaf Customers, and I could not help them one bit. I felt so sorry for myself and for them but then thought no, I am the one that needs to teach myself. After being surrounded and such and struggles of my self in the job I took a leave of absence with the airline, and am currently trying to go back to school in college. With this I hope to become fluent in ASL. I went online to search stuff on you tube and such and came across Geo's site- I was absolutely fascinated by the vlog content and surprised to see people like him signing online and using subtitles for people like me who could not follow along.

I got to speak to Geo and many others and was lead to the site as well. Oh my gosh, there was MORE OF THEM?! Immediately I was surrounded by all these deaf people who were using ASL, and I was literally like deer in headlights. So I felt it is now my duty as a hearing impaired person to learn ASL and build a bridge between the hearing and deaf community. I don't mean to become an interpreter, but simply have the flexibility to speak to the hearing and sign to the deaf and vice versa.

I still support cued speech and always will because of the huge success I have had with myself. I promote it for educational purposes, and beyond. Cued speech not only helps deaf people but hearing people who for some reason cannot speak well or have low vocabulary experience. Deaf people seem to be threatened by cued, but correct me if I am wrong about that. I do promise cued speech will NEVER replace ASL. ASL is a beautiful language and it is an art in itself and to see it expressed in so many ways and different languages is fascinating. It is everyone's choice to take the road they want to, and the direction they want to. But please, be respectful of the choice they made, and not every thing is for everyone.

I was lead to that’s site for a reason, why not sure just yet. But so far I am meeting many online people. I am being pushed to learn ASL as expected, however I hope they respect my decisions I made with cued speech and know I will never leave cued speech and will continue to support cued every way I can. With that, I hope to become fluent in both cued and ASL and broaden my knowledge, vocabulary and language in everything!

Thanks for reading!



Deb Ann said...

Hi Alex,

I'm so touched by your story. I believe that you're a very nice person. I don't mind about cued speech. I like you and Aaron.
I wonder if you have a deaf friend who can help you with ASL or take ASL class?
I look forward to reading more of your blogs.
Deb Ann

KyDeafie said...

Hi Alex. Wow, very interesting story. Of course, I do respect your decisions you made with the cued speech. This is what it makes so beautiful, the diversity of deaf people together. I also am happy that you're seeking to learn ASL.
BTW, I enjoyed chatting with you last night. :)

Aaron R. said...

Hey Alex,

Glad to see another cuer on here! Thanks for sharing your story.

Abbie said...

This is very touching! My parents wanted to teach me ASL but the school was not prepared for it.

LaRonda said...

Great story, Alex. Looking forward to more.

~ LaRonda

Mary-Beth said...

Hey Alex. I enjoyed reading your story. I am a native cuer myself who learned sign language at a later age (19 years old). I look forward to your future blogs!

Anonymous said...

You have choose what you feel comfortable in and it is not your parents fault it is what they think its best for you and you came out what you have achieved so far in life. I know a little about cue speech and was brought up in hearing world without extra help i had to do the hard way but had very good teachers back then. I did go to deaf school only 1 year coz the principal at that deaf school said i talk too much and wont sign guess i have that stubborn streak in me. He said if i continue in deaf school i would be jumping classes from grade 1 to 3 as i was too good for them and the deaf kids shunned me out as i talk and refuse to sign. So thats the reason why i was in hearing school and now understands the different of deaf and hearing they both clash alot of the time. Long story short to me if hearing understand the deaf needs none of this fight wouldnt have happen eh?? You do whats best for you alex and be happy.
yes i know i have another sn :P