Cued Speech

Cued Speech is a manual modality of communication that makes spoken languages into visual languages. Cued Speech was developed by Dr. R. Orin Cornett at Gallaudet University in 1966. It is primarily used among people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. 

Concept

Dr. Cornett recognized that many of the distinguishing features of spoken sounds were not available to deaf children and that lipreading was not reliable. He devised handshapes that could be delivered along with movements on the mouth. These signals reintroduce distinctive features so that all the building blocks of English are unambiguous in a visual channel. This means that deaf children have visual access to the phoneme stream of English. Cues are assembled into syllables, words, sentences, and conversational discourse. Fluent cuers can produce cued English at a conversational rate. 

Design

Handshapes represent consonant phonemes. Placements and movements represent vowel phonemes. Phonemes that look alike on the mouth were assigned different cues. These cues then disambiguate the phonemes. Several phonemes are assigned to the same cue. That is possible because they look different enough on the mouth. In this way, the combination of the hand and mouth make each phoneme clear to the receiver.

The grouping not only makes for a more efficient system; it requires the deaf cuer to attend to both the hand and the mouth. This provides an advantage in that many deaf cuers develop excellent speechreading skills.

Cues for American English

Vowels

Vowels in American English are represented by placements on the face or movements made from the side placement. 

Vowel Placement Cue Vowel Phonemes Keywords/ mnemonics Video examples 

side

No following vowel (e.g., “Shhhh!”).

The handshape for the consonant /ʃshsh/ is placed at the side placement.

wishit, red

mouth

/ɚûrur/, /iēee/ dirty hurry

chin

 

/ɔôaw/, /ɛěeh/, /uo͞oue/ small red shoe all, bed, who, new

throat

 

/ʊo͝ooo/, /æăa/, /ɪĭi/ look at it hood, fat, liptrip

side-down

/əəə/, /ʌŭuh/ above above, undone, run

side-forward

/ōoh/, /ɑäah/ gross sock home, top

Diphthongs

Vowel Cue Vowel Diphthongs Key words/ mnemonics Video Examples

side-throat

/ɑɪīie/, /ɑʊowow eyebrow hinow, eyebrow, howhouse

chin-throat

/ɛěehɪĭi/, /ɔɪoioy/ play toy hey, boy

Consonants

Consonant phonemes are represented by the shape of the hand. One handshape can represent several phonemes as along as those phonemes look different on the mouth. In this way, the distinguishing features (of the hand in combination with the mouth) make every phoneme of English visually clear and unambiguous. 

Handshape Cue Consonant Phonemes Keywords/ mnemonics VideoExamples
/ppp/, /ddd/, /ʒzhzh/ pirates, dig, treasure perdidZsa Zsa
/kkk/, /vvv/, /ðt͟htH/, /zzz/ cows visit the zoo key, V, the, zoo
/rrr/, /sss/, /hhh/ rattlesnakes hiss he, saw, row, hairy
/ʍhwhw/, /bbb/, /nnn/ whales bite nails boo, know, banana, when
/ttt/, /mmm/, /fff/,  too many fish tea, Mimi, fat, if, toy, tomb
/ʃshsh/, /lll/, /www/ sheep love wool shoe, we, will, shall, wish
/ggg/, /ʤjj/, /θthth/ gorilla jewel thief go, jaw, thaw, Earth
/jyy/, /ŋngng/, /ʧchch/ young children you, young, chew, each, church

Adaptations to Other Languages

Each language has its own inventory of phonemes. The Cued Speech system can be adapted to convert other spoken languages into visual languages that are accessible to deaf individuals. In fact, Cued Speech has been adapted to nearly 60 languages and dialects

Related Terms

  • cued language - a language that is cued
  • cued English/cued Spanish/cued Hebrew - a specific language that is cued
  • spoken language - language that is spoken (e.g., uses speech)
  • signed language - language that is signed
  • written language - language represented by orthographic symbols (i.e., written letters)

External Links

Chart for American English - This downloadable, printable chart is produced by the National Cued Speech Association. It uses a phonemic notation system (e.g., liek tHis). 

National Cued Speech Association - the national organization for the United States that provides instruction, professional certification, information resources, and advocacy.

Cued Speech Association UK - The national Cued Speech charity in England which provides instruction, information, resources, and advocacy.

wish

  • /wɪˈʃ/
  • /wiˈsh/
  • /wĭˈsh/
  • 6t6s

it

  • /ɪt/
  • /it/
  • /ĭt/
  • 5t5s

red

  • /rɛˈd/
  • /rehˈd/
  • /rěˈd/
  • 3c1s

hurry

  • /hɚˈi/
  • /hurˈee/
  • /hûrˈē/
  • 3m5m

all

  • /ɔˈl/
  • /awˈl/
  • /ôˈl/
  • 5c6s

bed

  • /bɛˈd/
  • /behˈd/
  • /běˈd/
  • 4c1s

who

  • /huˈ/
  • /hueˈ/
  • /ho͞oˈ/
  • 3c

new

  • /nuˈ/
  • /nueˈ/
  • /no͞oˈ/
  • 4c

hood

  • /hʊˈd/
  • /hooˈd/
  • /ho͝oˈd/
  • 3t1s

fat

  • /fæˈt/
  • /faˈt/
  • /făˈt/
  • 5t5s

lip

  • /lɪˈp/
  • /liˈp/
  • /lĭˈp/
  • 6t1s

trip

  • /trɪˈp/
  • /triˈp/
  • /trĭˈp/
  • 5s3t1s

above

  • /əbʌˈv/
  • /əbuhˈv/
  • /əbŭˈv/
  • 5sd4sd2s

undone

  • /əndʌˈn/
  • /ənduhˈn/
  • /əndŭˈn/
  • 5sd4s1sd4s

run

  • /rʌˈn/
  • /ruhˈn/
  • /rŭˈn/
  • 3sd4s

home

  • /hoʊˈm/
  • /hohˈm/
  • /hōˈm/
  • 3sf5s

top

  • /tɑˈp/
  • /tahˈp/
  • /täˈp/
  • 5sf1s

hi

  • /hɑɪˈ/
  • /hieˈ/
  • /hīˈ/
  • 3s5t

now

  • /nɑʊˈ/
  • /nowˈ/
  • /nowˈ/
  • 4s5t

eyebrow

  • /ɑɪˈbrɑʊˌ/
  • /ieˈbrowˌ/
  • /īˈbrowˌ/
  • 5s5t4s3s5t

how

  • /hɑʊˈ/
  • /howˈ/
  • /howˈ/
  • 3s5t

house

  • /hɑʊˈs/
  • /howˈs/
  • /howˈs/
  • 3s5t3s

hey

  • /heɪˈ/
  • /hayˈ/
  • /hāˈ/
  • 3c5t

boy

  • /bɔɪˈ/
  • /boyˈ/
  • /boiˈ/
  • 4c5t

per

  • /pɚˈ/
  • /purˈ/
  • /pûrˈ/
  • 1m

did

  • /dɪˈd/
  • /diˈd/
  • /dĭˈd/
  • 1t1s

Zsa Zsa

  • /ʒɑˈʒɑˌ/
  • /zhahˈzhahˌ/
  • /zhäˈzhäˌ/
  • 1sf1sf

key

  • /kiˈ/
  • /keeˈ/
  • /kēˈ/
  • 2m

v

  • /viˈ/
  • /veeˈ/
  • /vēˈ/
  • 2m

the

  • /ðʌˈ/
  • /tHuhˈ/
  • /t͟hŭˈ/
  • 2sd

zoo

  • /zuˈ/
  • /zueˈ/
  • /zo͞oˈ/
  • 2c

he

  • /hiˈ/
  • /heeˈ/
  • /hēˈ/
  • 3m

saw

  • /sɔˈ/
  • /sawˈ/
  • /sôˈ/
  • 3c

row

  • /roʊˈ/
  • /rohˈ/
  • /rōˈ/
  • 3sf

hairy

  • /hɛˈri/
  • /hehˈree/
  • /hěˈrē/
  • 3c3m

boo

  • /buˈ/
  • /bueˈ/
  • /bo͞oˈ/
  • 4c

know

  • /noʊˈ/
  • /nohˈ/
  • /nōˈ/
  • 4sf

banana

  • /bənæˈnə/
  • /bənaˈnə/
  • /bənăˈnə/
  • 4sd4t4sd

when

  • /ʍɛˈn/
  • /hwehˈn/
  • /hwěˈn/
  • 4c4s

tea

  • /tiˈ/
  • /teeˈ/
  • /tēˈ/
  • 5m

Mimi

  • /miˈmi/
  • /meeˈmee/
  • /mēˈmē/
  • 5m5m

fat

  • /fæˈt/
  • /faˈt/
  • /făˈt/
  • 5t5s

if

  • /ɪˈf/
  • /iˈf/
  • /ĭˈf/
  • 5t5s

toy

  • /tɔɪˈ/
  • /toyˈ/
  • /toiˈ/
  • 5c5t

tomb

  • /tuˈm/
  • /tueˈm/
  • /to͞oˈm/
  • 5c5s

shoe

  • /ʃuˈ/
  • /shueˈ/
  • /sho͞oˈ/
  • 6c

we

  • /wiˈ/
  • /weeˈ/
  • /wēˈ/
  • 6m

will

  • /wɪˈl/
  • /wiˈl/
  • /wĭˈl/
  • 6t6s

shall

  • /ʃæˈl/
  • /shaˈl/
  • /shăˈl/
  • 6t6s

wish

  • /wɪˈʃ/
  • /wiˈsh/
  • /wĭˈsh/
  • 6t6s

go

  • /goʊˈ/
  • /gohˈ/
  • /gōˈ/
  • 7sf

jaw

  • /ʤɔˈ/
  • /jawˈ/
  • /jôˈ/
  • 7c

thaw

  • /θɔˈ/
  • /thawˈ/
  • /thôˈ/
  • 7c

Earth

  • /ɚˈθ/
  • /urˈth/
  • /ûrˈth/
  • 5m7s

you

  • /juˈ/
  • /yueˈ/
  • /yo͞oˈ/
  • 8c

young

  • /jʌˈŋ/
  • /yuhˈng/
  • /yŭˈng/
  • 8sd8s

chew

  • /ʧuˈ/
  • /chueˈ/
  • /cho͞oˈ/
  • 8c

each

  • /iˈʧ/
  • /eeˈch/
  • /ēˈch/
  • 5m8s

church

  • /ʧɚˈʧ/
  • /churˈch/
  • /chûrˈch/
  • 8m8s