Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why was cued speech chosen over ASL?

My parents chose cued speech over ASL for me because they felt it was the best way for me to grow up as normal as possible in a hearing environment and to talk and function in life. How did they discover cued speech? They read it in a sesame street magazine telling of a story of a little girl who was profoundly deaf like me and had limited speaking abilities. When she started on cued speech, immediately could talk and function normally and go to mainstream school. My parents saw me in this girl's story and wanted to try it out and it was then the same day that phone call was made by my mother and as they say the rest is history.

I lost the hearing around 16 months. I was speaking and making words and sounds but some people could not understand me. I had some residual hearing which helped a bit but not enough for me. Mom and Dad could understand me because they were attuned to how I spoke, my dialect and body language with my words. They were still frustrated I was not speaking fluently or well enough they wanted to find something to help. American Sign Language was not, nor did it ever help me. Once they learned of cued speech they saw how well I would be able to learn and catch up to my hearing friends.

After the phone call was made, trips were made to Chicago, and Baltimore where cued speech is well-known. They attended camps and meetings, orientations and such, and finally they were ready to start with me. Immediately, within DAYS they saw results. I could now SEE visually how to say the word. I didn't need to hear it! I was seeing how the lips formed, and would mock it like babies do. If I said it right, parents would cue good or nod their head. If I didn't, they would say bad or try again and believe me it took P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E. As most know there are only 8 cues, then you go on beyond it forming it around the lip, nose, chin, side, face, outer area and throat.

Learning Cued does not mean I am able to cue myself. I am only taught to read cues and read lips. Soon in progressing plus speech therapy I was able to be fluent in speaking English. I have a speech dialect which sounds a lot like a British accent, oddly enough. Now most people LOVE British accents, which is just dandy with me so I try to play it off when I can muwahaha. However, next step was now to find a person who would be willing to become a cued speech transliterater. This did not take long at all, we would use someone who used to baby-sit me.

She flew out to Baltimore to attend a cued speech camp to learn. When kindergarten rolled around, it was time to show the school they were wrong, I would be successful, and I would be able to talk, and I would not be mentally retarded. First day of school, I sat in the front row, teacher spoke to the class in a normal way, I would watch my transliterater, and read the cues and understand what was being said. When it was my turn to speak, I remembered how to say it based on what I saw and would speak it!

Schools were amazed at how well I progressed and how quickly, we obviously proved them wrong. With a bit of help, using cued and my residual hearing, I was able to speak as normal as possible. I could be understood and communicate with most of English speaking people. I succeeded well in school, making good grades, and graduated in HS with honors. I credit the success to cued speech.

Lastly, this was going to be a controversial topic. I understand that everyone does not agree with cued speech and how it is used with the Deaf and Hearing Communities. I wanted to share about my life and the choices that were made. Furthermore, to share why the choices were made by me and the parents, and to let people know the results of the choices I made. Please remember, this is my life story, I am not saying I am better then anyone else based on the actions and choices I made. Just remember that I believe I am a better person for me because of the choices I made, and that is all that matters. Thanks for reading.



Abbie said...

This is a classic example of the many tools that the d/Deaf and HOH have available to us to help us communicate with the world at a larger scale. Some people start out with ASL and then progress to SEE because of the English grammar and syntax, some people like yourself use cue and have flourished. Being deaf does not have a one size fits all solution to being able to communication, everyone is different.

Thank you for sharing this with us, I hope you will open some eyes with the choices that you have made.

CJB :)

Meryl said...

Thank you for sharing your experience and the results of it now that you're grown. I believe that parents do the best they can with what they know.

If the child starts to express interest in another communication method, then the parents should be able to to embrace it and help the child along.

You can't predict what choice will work out best for a child. I'm happy with the choices my parents made. If I weren't -- I would do something about it.

I'd like for all of us deaf folk to get along based on each other's personalities, not what methods we use to communicate.

Anonymous said...

Your parents thinks ASL is not normal in a hearing world. Very SAD! I'd die laughing at your parents. They should be living in a war-torn country and see how they are living.

I tell you that I met a hearing person said being deaf is not normal. Well I told to this person that "you are NOT normal at all" Therefore your parents are not normal to me!

Seek Geo said...

Hey Alex,

Interesting how it turned out for every one of us growing up based on parents' decision. My mom decided to put me through oral school when I was 3 or 4 years old and it did not work out even though she taught me to use ASL when I was baby so basically ASL is my first language.

Reason she wanted me to go through oral school not only I know ASL, so I can speak as well but it did not work out well so instead I went to school with deaf program for ASL ever since then the off I went to deaf school, at least she tried.

Did I ever wish I'd be able to speak? You bet, I do to this day for employment reason but other than that I'm just grateful for how the way I grew up. As long as it worked out well for you then it's great! Every child is different.

Hope to hear more of your life story!


Seek Geo said...


I understand how you feel and it is usual for almost every parent to do everything they can to make a kid, "normal". Even though in our own heart that we know we are normal regardless. It's just how the world work trying to get every kid to be normal as possible.

When a baby is born with issue(s) so the parents try to do anything so the baby can be "normal".

I don't see anything regarding that ASL is not normal on this blog, btw. In fact, Alex is learning ASL right now to communicate with us which is great! :-)


Deb Ann said...

I want to say that you're an amazing person. Thank you for sharing your experience. :)

J.Matheson said...

Thank for sharing your story. I always love from other fellow cuers! :-)

Going to any cue camp this summer? The one in NY for me!

Anonymous said...

What a pity!

Anonymous said...

hummmmm.... did you ever go to a play where all actors and actress peform without sign language. They dont use cue speech. You miss out all the talks. Even interpreter will be signing (ASL or English) but you don't undestand. What are you gonna do? Meeting? Depend on cue? Never use cue and my speech are very good. Speak very well, am pure ASL users. If you are not socialable person then perfect for you, if you are socialable person then you will be left out. You can keep CUE and learn ASL, you may be surprise yourself. Good luck.

Anonymous said...


What's your parents' definition
of "normal"?

Alex said...

"hummmmm.... did you ever go to a play where all actors and actress peform without sign language. They dont use cue speech. You miss out all the talks."

No I don't. Usually I am able to understand quite well, sit up front, and my parents will cue for me when I go.

"Even interpreter will be signing (ASL or English) but you don't undestand. What are you gonna do? Meeting? Depend on cue?"

Yes I depend on cue if needed, they are required to provide one for me, if they don't I bring my parents in, otherwise in all the meetings I go to, interviews, etc etc it is done by voice, I speak to them, they speak to me I listen, I hear, I understand by reading lips.

"If you are not socialable person then perfect for you, if you are socialable person then you will be left out. You can keep CUE and learn ASL, you may be surprise yourself. Good luck."

I am one of the MOST sociable person one has ever met, some may say too sociable! :)And I have never really felt left out, because I grew up, and was in school with hearing friends, families and public, I was never, ever around deaf or ASL only users, so I had never came across that problem or issue.

As seekgeo mentioned I am teaching myself sign for a bit until I take a class for it in the fall.

"What's your parents' definition
of "normal"?"

Me. I am Normal to them.


Abbie said...


Cued speech is a tool that helped Alex learn how to discriminate words, as well as many others. Cued focuses on each syllable of by providing the mouth movement and the hand shape. This helps with learning how to comprehend speech.

This post isn't about which language is better then the other and I don't know if you realize but you are trying to sell the idea of ASL. Alex is absolutely open to learning ASL but this post is about the choice that his parents made for him and it worked for him.

There is so many different ways that a person with a hearing loss can learn. A few decibels difference can change a persons entire learning strategy. What worked for Alex probably wouldn't have worked for me, and what worked for me probably wouldn't have worked for someone else.

That is all that he is trying to say.

Anonymous said...

Depend on parents, oh wow, you are dependable person. What about parents are dead? What are you gonna do? Cry not because they dead, you cry because you need cue speech interpreter (parents). You are so cheap. Free service from parents? Gee, get a life. I don't use CUE and people understand me perfectly, am pure ASL users. I speak very well without Using CUE method.

Abbie said...


You are way out of line and reading your last comment, just made me feel very sorry for you.

I pity you that you ACTUALLY suggested a mortifying scenario of his parents being dead. If you have EVER lost a parent, you would never have said those words. If you have lost your parents, you are a sorry reason for a living human being.

I pity that you said that he would be grieving because he would have lost a cue speech translator and NOT his parents. I don't know what kind of person you and obviously one that I would never associate with but anyone that loves their parents would be besides themselves over the loss.

I pity that you feel that you have to prove that ASL is better then any other language and resort to such grim tactics. I'm so happy that you are a pure ASL user and ya know what, it shows! Its common that people type just the way the talk and the way you type does reflect a pure asl user.

The only one that I see that needs to get a life is you. Taking cheap shots at Alex like that is truly a sign of how pathetic of a person you are.

Kryst said...


Thank you for sharing your personal experience with us.

I understand why your parents chose Cued Speech over ASL for you. Because I majored in Deaf Education in the USA, I started to realize that most hearing parents struggle with ASL, so they often choose alternative ways of communication such as Cued Speech.

During my four-year stay in the USA, I encountered some deaf cuers. Most of them use ASL as well. A few of them are ASL teachers. Interestingly, they claim that in their everyday lives they prefer ASL to Cued Speech, but they strongly suggest that Cued Speech should be introduced to deaf young children. Simply, Cued Speech helps deaf young children comprehend spoken messages with ease. As they get older, they may use ASL instead. At the same time, they still can speak English when appropriate.


Anonymous said...

Crap, Anon, get off your ASL soapbox.

Where do you get off asking Alex what he's gonna do for cued speech translation once his parents are dead? That's pretty insensitive propaganda for ASL, if you ask me.


Anonymous said...

Here short post, I am sorry that I crossed the line. I wont bother your comments. Have a good life. Be happy.

Tassielady said...

I have met one mother in australia that did cue speech and it was wonderful to see how she show it to her son which im good friends with. It is their choice and he does do AUSLAN as well so he got both world to learn CUE and AUSLAN. Really for me i never had those 2 because i was always lipreading did speech therapy etc and it was a breeze for me because my mum said i was always interested to learn new things. At age 14 started AUSLAN but dropped out due to so much committment at school and sports. Until at age 18 thats when reality hit me at a deaf social i was outcast due to what ?? Because i can speak well and hear well by these so call deaf community dictate me to use AUSLAN i said in time i will but dont tell me what to do. Thats when i realise why deaf community is so SHUNNED against anyone who CUE or LIPREAD etc but must know AUSLAN really that is bloody big discrimination against deaf person to another!!
Alex is a wonderful guy he learn from the best and he is learning ASL is his choice because we all are learning!!
Oh Anon if you want to say more ASL crap .. do it in the mental hospital next time !!!

Cuemom said...

We are cueing with our daughter and she is surrounded by peers, adults, teachers etc who cue. We tried ASL; it wasn't for us. It is great to hear about someone who grew up with it. Thanks for your post!

Seeing the English writing abilities in the comments of those pushing ASL is telling in itself. Go cuers!