Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Cued Speech: "Most theoretically and empirically supportable mode" for Literacy

While reviewing the research book Cued Speech and Cued Language for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children (CSCLDHH), I came across this quote by Carol LaSasso, a longtime researcher on reading outcomes at Gallaudet University, which seemed to sum up the views of many Cued Speech advocates, including my own.
"Linguistic access via Cued Speech, compared to communication access via oral-aural methods or MCE sign systems, is the most theoretically and empirically supportable mode for developing each of these abilities* in deaf students"   (Chapter 1)

* - "abilities" refer to the five critical factors for reading development (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension strategies) as defined by the National Reading Panel (2000).

Now we have Illinois School of the Deaf using Cued Speech to support literacy outcomes and the top administrative official of special education in the Dominican Republic making the executive decision to require the use of Cued Speech in all schools for the deaf across the country. A female doctoral student, Guita Movallali, even went as far to develop Cued Persian for supporting deaf children in Iran for her dissertation. She reports that many educators are now interested in using Cued Speech. One could make the case that Cued Speech has more support internationally than within the United States, despite Gallaudet University being the source of its origins. 

We still have the continued use of Cued Speech in multiple school districts from Fairfax County in Virginia and Montgomery County in Maryland to the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. A source of mine indicated to me that more parents were choosing the Cued Speech preschool in Fairfax County Public Schools compared to the total communicatons and oral program. Additionally, parents in isolated areas are asking for support in their desire to use Cued Speech at home and in the educational setting as evidenced by inquiries to the NCSA and posts on Facebook, despite resistance from educators and professionals entrenched in one philosophy or another. 

However there is a significant issue in terms of the preparation and certification of teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing. For my 
independent study as part of my graduate studies in deaf education, I created a survey to be answered by coordinators and directors of teacher preparation programs for the deaf and hard of hearing. One should spend time reading the responses to my survey since they actually reveal the varied attitudes that are present within those programs. A definite conclusion one can make from the results of my survey was that post-secondary programs are severely lacking in resources for training teachers in Cued Speech. 

Part of this is due to state-level educational agencies not placing emphasis on the inclusion of Cued Speech in their requirements for licensing and certification, therefore limiting the demand for Cued Speech instructors. Another factor is the perception of administrators or program directors on the subject of Cued Speech as a "research-validated practice" as evidenced in one of the responses to my survey. 
"Cued Speech is not included because it is not a research-validated practice. The only studies (reviewed internationally by Marshark & LaSasso) that showed consistent and  positive outcomes were those done in French-speaking Netherlands. Most of the "research" about Cued Speech is anecdotal or not empirically validated." 
My question then is why would LaSasso, a nationally renowned researcher in the field of reading development for the deaf and hard of hearing, go as far as to co-author a book addressing research on Cued Speech, which is published by Plural Publishing, a large printing company for professional texts?

Another point to highlight from this text is that Dr. Kelly Crain and LaSasso also carried out a survey of adult deaf cuers from a psychosocial perspective. Virtually all cuers correlated being a cuer with being highly literate. Additionally the majority of them were considered to be highly flexible communications in terms of being able to communicate in spoken, written, cued, and signed form. Of all the cuers I know, a few do have "some" difficulty with reading and writing. However the common factors in their difficulties are either the presence of a specific learning disability or late exposure to Cued Speech after limited success with other approaches. They still affirm their identity as cuers as seen through their continued involvement with social events and cue camps.

It seems that it is time for those teacher preparation programs to take a closer look at Cued Speech for supporting spoken language, listening, and literacy outcomes, and especially as an early intervention strategy. As the authors of CSCLDHH assert, Cued Speech is not an exclusive option, but rather meant to complement auditory-oral practices and sign language. 


MM said...

American Cued speech seems about using signs with lip-reading (?) What I find is once you include signs then people tend to assume not that you lip-read, but use sign language, how does the tuition approach this issue ? as it seems the promotion of 'deaf people use sign language' seems pretty ingrained within mainstream, even if they don't promote use themselves..

Aaron R. said...

We use the term "using hand cues with lipshapes," but Cued Speech is essentially lip-reading with additional markers that help distinguish the similar looking lipshapes (/m/, /b/, /p/ all look the same on the lip, but have different handshapes).

We make the point that Cued Speech is based on spoken language phonemes, where as American Sign Language has its own set of phonemes and grammatical structure.

We just address that issue by educating people about Cued Speech and inform them that it's not the same. Some people have commented that when they saw a cued language transliterator and a sign language interpreter at the same time, they could see the difference in terms of mechanics.

Let me know if I didn't answer your question clearly enough.

MM said...

It is an issue here that is very basic you see your HANDS therefore sign is involved in some way. It is probably the fact the UK has no inclusive system of deaf communications at root.

You sign, or you lip-read (Cued speech in the USA), or you use an hearing aid/Ci, there is no inclusive approach. Personally I have lobbied against 'exclusive/stand alone' communication modes since day one, but both sides seem pretty entrenched, and I suspect the UK is many years behind the USA approach.

Maybe the USA via ASL sectors and HI sectors are miles apart too,if we read the AGBell thing right. The issue is what MAINSTREAM assumes not what deaf or HI use. Lip-reading is pretty much attacked here as viable really, with only 30% effectiveness accepted as a statistic.

Anne said...

I was very interested in seeing the research responses you gathered; however, the link does not work. Would you mind re-posting that?

Aaron R. said...

Anne, fixed the link. It's posted now. Here's the direct link.

Ana Pineu said...

Aaron, besides Guita, there is another doctoral student from Columbia, Zara Husain, who implemented CS in Pakistan! She has an amazing school in Lahore, and they teach English through CS, and also sign language. I don't have the link here, but you should be able to find it online.