National Cued Speech Association

Definition of Cued Speech

Girls and Boys cueing at Cue Camp FriendshipCued Speech is a visual mode of communication that uses handshapes and placements in combination with the mouth movements of speech to make the phonemes of a spoken language look different from each other.


The cueing of a traditionally spoken language is the visual counterpart of speaking it. Cueing makes available to the eye(s) the same linguistic building blocks that speaking avails the ear(s). Until the advent of cueing, the term spoken language accurately described what had been the only way of distinctly conveying these building blocks: speaking. In fact, until that time, the sounds of speech and the building blocks were thought of as one and the same.

Nevertheless, speaking is simply a process of manipulating tongue placement, breath stream, and voice to produce a sound code that represents these building blocks. The blocks are assembled by way of the stream of sounds produced by these manipulations. Cueing is a process of manipulating handshapes, hand placements, and non-manual signals to produce a visible code representing the same building blocks. The blocks are assembled by way of the stream of cues produced by these manipulations. Because cueing is the visible counterpart of speaking, cued language is the visible counterpart of spoken language.

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- Fleetwood & Metzger, 1995

Statistics About Deafness:

  • 1 out of 1,000 newborns are born with a profound hearing loss each year in the United States which will have a significant impact on their speech, language and educational development.
  • Even though hearing loss at birth is more common than any other disability, most newborns are not routinely tested.
  • 15 out of 1000 people under the age of 18 have some type of hearing impairment 2 million Americans have a profound hearing loss.
  • As of 2005, 37 states and the District of Columbia have Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) laws or mandated policies.
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