Dr. Richard Orin Cornett (1913 to 2002) was a physicist and former Vice President of Long-Range Planning at Gallaudet College.
In summing up his philosophy of life, Dr. Cornett once remarked, “If a person wishes to accomplish the greatest things that he is capable of accomplishing, he must form within himself a vision…” Cornett’s accomplishments are many. He is perhaps best known as the father of Cued Speech. His vision was to create a method where parents could communicate naturally with their children, where deaf children could learn the English language, where learning to read would no longer be a problem for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.
“I would wake up at night dreaming about that awful problem – the tragedy that deaf kids don’t read.” Cornett believed that he could devise a method to solve the literacy problem. He gave himself a year to solve the more than a century-old dilemma. However, it only took him only three months to develop Cued Speech. Cornett’s secretary found out that a high school friend had a deaf child. That mother agreed to try Cued Speech with her daughter making Leah Henegar the frst child to learn English through Cued Speech. Her mother, Mary Elsie Daisey, went on to co-author The Cued Speech Resource Book for Parents with Cornett.