Cued Speech advocacy

Many parents of deaf children are not aware that Cued Speech is an option for their child.  This is due, in part, to the fact that professionals who work with these families (e.g. audiologists, speech-language pathologists, early intervention workers, classroom teachers and otolaryngologists) are not aware that Cued Speech is an option.  During clinical training, students often learn that Cued Speech is something that was developed in the 1960’s but is no longer used.

Effective advocacy is required to counteract this misperception.  There are many groups that will benefit from advocacy; however, the correct approach will depend on each group.  For example, audiologists are most interested in outcomes whereas parents are most interested in communicating with their child.  Furthermore, the background of each group is different.  Audiologists are familiar with deafness, phonemes and communication strategies (including Cued Speech even if they believe it is no longer used).  Parents, on the other hand, often are not aware of phonemes or communication strategies.

Effective advocacy requires tailoring the material presented to each group to match their knowledge level and interests.  However, all presentations should include:

  • A five to ten minute overview of Cued Speech.  Hand out a cue chart.  At the end of the overview, get all participants to cue something easy.  Let them figure out how to cue it based on the chart you gave them.  The “aha” moment when they suddenly figure out how to cue the word is very powerful and emphasizes that Cued Speech is easy to learn and is based on the spoken language.  This will leave a lasting impression on the audience.
  • Content tailored to the questions the audience is most interested in (see below for audience-specific questions).  You often have limited time to make your case for Cued Speech, so we have include a list of information you should include as well as information that the audience will consider irrelavent (and thus should be left out of the presentation unless they ask).
  • Plenty of time at the end for questions.  This is particularly important for presenting to an audience of professionals.  Often they make time out of their busy schedules to listen to you, so be sure you finish on time.
  • Be prepared to handle tough questions.  See the end of this article for a list of questions and suggested approaches to answering them.

Audience specific suggestions

Parents

Audiologists

Information you should include

  • Which of my patients can take advantage of Cued Speech? nfants and children with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss can benefit from Cued Speech.  Since it is difficult to assess the severity of auditory neuropathy until the patient is old enough for speech discrimination tests, Cued Speech should be used with infants and young children with auditory neuropathy until the severity of the deficit is establish.
  • Will Cued Speech interfere with the patient’s ability to use their cochlear implant? ||TODO, but the answer is NO||
  • What are the expected outcomes?  Emphasize that children will achive the same developmental langauge milestones as their hearing peers and provide references for studies that support this ||TODO, list studies here||.

Irrelavent information

  • Anecedotal evidence about using Cued Speech with autism and Down’s syndrome.  Audiologists do not deal with these clinical populations.
  • Research on functional MRI imaging contrasting deaf and hearing cuers.  This study has not been published (audiologists will find that concerning) and does not say anything about the expected outcome (audiologists don’t care how Cued Speech is processed, they want to know that using Cued Speech will maximize the child’s ability to learn language and communicate with hearing peers).

Speech-language pathologists

Otolaryngologists

Classroom teachers

Early intervention workers

Common questions and concerns

  • I’d like to tell my patients about Cued Speech, but there are no resources (e.g. cued language transliterators) in the area.  This is a very common concern expressed by professionals and is often true unless they are located in one of the states that has a good Cued Speech program.  It is important to be honest here.  If there are no transliterators in the area, say so.  Parents should be aware of all the options available to them and their child, even if one of the options is not available in their area.  If they decide to go with Cued Speech, they will have to make a decision.  They can decide whether to move to a school district that provides cued language transliterator services or advocate for cued language transliterator training in their local public schools.