Developed in 1966 by R. Orin Cornett of Gallaudet University, cued speech is a form of visual communication used primarily with deaf children. The basis of cued speech is eight handshapes in four locations around the mouth. Because bat and mat look much the same on the lips, the appropriate handshapes are used to indicate whether the initial sound is b or m. Cued speech also makes lipreading easier for adults who have lost their hearing, and has even been used for phonics instruction with hearing children.

Cued speech is generally used in a mainstreaming program, with the teacher or, more likely, an interpreter (often called a "transliterator" in the cued speech community) providing the handshapes. Typically children who receive their education through cued speech have an easier time grasping English and developing literacy than children learning through sign language alone.


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