Cued Speech Conference Draws International Attention

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For the first time in a decade, top international researchers as well as participants from around the United States, will attend Cued Speech: Celebrating Language, Literacy, and Excellence – a major national conference that celebrates the enormous progress in the education of deaf/hard of hearing students since Cued Speech was invented 40 years ago. The conference celebrates unprecedented literacy rates among deaf children. Hurry! Registration ends July 10. Go to http://www.cuedspeech.org for more information and to register.

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For the first time in a decade, top international researchers as well as participants from around the United States, will attend Cued Speech: Celebrating Language, Literacy, and Excellence – a major national conference that celebrates the enormous progress in the education of deaf/hard of hearing students since Cued Speech was invented 40 years ago.

Cued Speech is a mode of communication that visually represents the sounds of language. Research indicates that cuers across the nation achieve literacy rates equal to their hearing peers, and have broken the paradigm of low literacy rates so common in deaf education.

Dr. Jacqueline LeyBaert of the Free University of Brussells, as well as Dr. Charles Berlin, formerly Professor of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, and Physiology, and Director of Kresge Hearing Research Laboratory at Louisiana State University, will be keynote speakers and presenters. Dr. Berlin is known for making complicated auditory concepts accessible to parents, teachers, hearing aid specialists, as well as to his students.

The conference reflects a phenomenon sweeping the country and peaked professional interest in using Cued Speech to meet tougher state educational standards. Cued Speech has had proven success in increasing the language and literacy of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

The conference is of unprecedented content for the Cued Speech community and will provide a forum at which experts, educators, and families can come together and share their experiences and expertise for the first time in a decade. Groundbreaking, new applications of Cued Speech are proving to be beneficial not only to the deaf and hard-of hearing, but also in helping children with Down Syndrome, autism, and other communication disorders to communicate effectively with their families and within society.

As the only conference of its kind in the country, Celebrating Language, Literacy, and Excellence provides a once-in-a-decade opportunity for leaders in Cued Speech to explore the potential applications of Cued Speech for the future. Representatives attending the conference come from almost every state as well as Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Finland, and Poland.

The conference is expected to bring together families and professions from the cueing community at Towson University from July 20th to July 23rd. The program includes thought provoking seminars on subjects such as cochlear implants, early intervention, cued language transliteration and discussions of various applications for cueing. A Gala Awards Dinner remembering the inventor of Cued Speech, Dr. R. Orin Cornett, as well as special activities will be held. Children’s and teen programs will be held in coordination with the conference.

Cued Speech is already heavily entrenched in schools systems from California to Maine. With states demanding higher levels of educational achievement and President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, the idea that deaf children can achieve the same literacy levels as hearing children is attractive. In states like New York, where a diploma requires students to pass Regents exams in history, math, science, English and a foreign language, educators are taking a second look at Cued Speech. Research coming out of Gallaudet University shows that deaf cueing children are capable of basic pre-reading skills, such as rhyming, which are excellent predictors for future reading abilities. (LaSasso, Crain, & Leybeart, 2003; Leblanc, 2005)

Cued Speech was invented in 1966 by Dr. R. Orin Cornett, a physicist with no prior experience in deaf education. Appalled at the low literacy rates for deaf people, he became Vice President for Long Range Planning at Gallaudet, where he focused his attention to resolving the literacy issue. His solution was Cued Speech, a system of eight handshapes (representing groups of consonant sounds) in four positions around the face (representing groups of vowel sounds) in combination with natural mouth movements.

The simple but revolutionary concept caught on across the country, especially among hearing parents of deaf children (over 90 percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents). But many parents had difficulty obtaining services from their local school systems, most of which were set on either oral education or sign language. And deaf cuers could not fit in at schools for the deaf because their literacy levels were too high.

Since its invention 40 years ago, researchers have documented that Cued Speech holds the keys to language growth, phonemic awareness, increased communication and inclusion in the family, literacy, higher level thinking skills and a college education. Deaf cuers this year can be found at Yale, MIT, Stanford, Wellesley, Syracuse and Baylor College of Dentistry, to name a few.

The National Cued Speech Association was formed in 1982 and is the oldest cueing advocacy organization in the world. The NCSA champions effective communication, increased language, and literacy through the use of Cued Speech.

The conference was made possible by a grant from the US Department of Education and the generosity of Advanced Bionics, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Butte Publications, Cochlear Americas, Giant Foods, Harris Communications, House Ear Institute, Maryland Cued Speech Association and National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

To register for this landmark event, go to http://www.cuedspeech.org and sign up today!

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