levels of representation

The term levels of representation refers to degrees of symbolic representation from most concrete to most abstract. For example, to represent a coffee mug, one could show someone an actual coffee mug (most concrete), show them a picture of a coffee mug (less concrete), or say the words coffee mug (most abstract). The ways we symbolize objects is an important consideration in education especially with children with communication disorders like autism or deafness.

Cued Speech Instruction

Consideration of the level of representation can also be important for Cued Speech instruction. There are advantages and disadvantages to various ways of representing how we cue words.

MOST CONCRETE

Demonstration

  • Showing someone how to cue is the most concrete
  • Cues appear in three dimensions
  • Viewer can move to see cues from various angles
  • Provides information about the relationship of the hand to the body
  • Shows rhythm, duration, intensity, prominence and facial expression 
  • Complex movements of the lips, teeth, tongue are available and synchronized with manual cues.
  • Useful information about the transitional movements that occur as the hand moves between cues is also available

Videotape 

  • Cues appear in two dimensions which can be problematic for side movements
  • Viewer can only view cues from a single angle determine by the camera position
  • Provides information about the relationship of the hand to the body
  • Shows rhythm, duration, intensity, prominence and facial expression 
  • Complex movements of the lips, teeth, tongue are available and synchronized with manual cues.
  • Useful information about the transitional movements that occur as the hand moves between cues is also available

Photographs

  • Cues appear in two dimensions
  • Viewer can only view cues from a single angle determine by the camera position
  • The image is static which poses a challenge for showing side movements
  • Side movements shown with arrows (more concrete) or text (less concrete)
  • Provides information about the relationship of the hand to the body
  • Information on rhythm, duration, intensity, and prominence is not available
  • Static representation of facial expression 
  • Complex movements of the lips, teeth, tongue are reduced to single, static articulatory gesture (one mouthshape)
  • Useful information about the transitional movements that occur as the hand moves between cues is unavailable

Realistic Line Drawings 

  • Cues appear in two dimensions
  • Relation of hand to face can be shown if handshapes are depicted on a face
  • Handshapes often shown separately from vowel cues
  • Arm and body generally not depicted
  • Side movements shown with arrows (more concrete) or text (less concrete)
  • Provides no information about the relationship of the hand to the body
  • No information on rhythm, duration, intensity, and prominence is available
  • Generally no facial expression is provided 
  • Complex movements of the lips, teeth, tongue are simplified (more concrete) or not depicted (less concrete)
  • No information about the transitional movements that occur as the hand moves between cues is unavailable
  • Relatistic but unnecessary detail can detract viewer from salient features (thumb up/down)

Iconic Line Drawings (with outlines)

  • Cues appear in two dimensions
  • Relation of hand to face can be shown if handshapes are depicted on a face
  • Handshapes often shown separately from vowel cues
  • Arm and body generally not depicted
  • Side movements shown with arrows (more concrete) or text (less concrete)
  • Provides no about the relationship of the hand to the body
  • No information on rhythm, duration, intensity, and prominence is available
  • Generally no facial expression is provided 
  • Complex movements of the lips, teeth, tongue are simplified (more concrete) or not depicted (less concrete)
  • No information about the transitional movements that occur as the hand moves between cues is unavailable
  • Simplified handshapes are more abstract but less likely to detract viewer from salient features (thumb up/down)

Cuescript

  • Head and hands are simplified to curves and lines
  • Relation of hand to face can be shown if handshapes are depicted on a face
  • Handshapes often shown separately from vowel cues
  • Arm and body are not depicted
  • Side movements shown with arrows (more concrete) or letters (most abstract)
  • Provides information about the relationship of the hand to the body
  • No information on rhythm, duration, intensity, and prominence is available
  • No facial expression is provided 
  • Complex movements of the lips, teeth, tongue are reduced to most basic shapes (generally open, round, and flat)
  • No information about the transitional movements that occur as the hand moves between cues is unavailable
  • Handshapes appear as lines with no outline
  • Relationship of fingers is limited (e.g., one line represents the index finer, not retracted fingers are not depicted)
  • Diphthongs (e.g., chin-throat) sometimes differentiated from two separate syllables (chin, throat) by a curved line or combination of two handshapes on one face with an arrow to show sequence

Cue Notation 

  • Only cues are represented (no relationship to arm, head, or body)
  • Vowel cues are represented by the first letter of their name (e.g., “c” for chin, “sf” for side-forward)
  • Consonant cues are represented by a number (1 to 8 for American English)
  • Side movements are only shown as letters (e.g., “sf”).
  • No information about the relationship of the hand to the body
  • No information on rhythm, duration, intensity, and prominence
  • No facial expression 
  • No information about the complex movements of the lips, teeth, tongue
  • No information about the transitional movements that occur as the hand moves between cues is unavailable
  • Diphthongs (e.g., chin-throat) sometimes differentiated from two separate syllables (chin, throat) by a curved line or lack of space (e.g., 1c5t)  

MOST ABSTRACT

It is important to note this hierarchy describes the levels of concreteness for depictions of cues and not necessarily best practices for instruction. This information is not meant to imply that concreteness equates with ease of learning. Often a multi-sensory, combination of representations may be preferred when teaching. For example, in addition to modelling (most concrete), an instructor may wish to provide spoken commentary (most abstract) to provide visual and auditory support to learners (e.g., While cueing say, “Notice how I’m changing handshapes as my hand is moving to the throat.”) Instructors and producers of instructional materials may wish to consider the levels of representation and evaluate which the features are available/unavailable to the receiver.