Cued Speech – Gregg Shorthand Marries ASL

By BitcoDavid

Shanna Groves – the Lipreading Mom – did a fascinating post this morning, on an alternative method of communication called Cued Speech. Apparently, this is a system by which, both lip-readers and Signers can communicate with each other, and the Hearing. The system works on phonemes. That’s a fancy – yeah, I got a degree – way of saying, sounds. In that, it is similar to Gregg shorthand, a largely outdated system of speed-writing for notation.

Image Credit: National Cued Speech Association
Image Credit: National Cued Speech Association via LipreadingMom

So, in other words, instead of saying – or Signing – a word, like grandparents, you would use several signs or symbols based on the individual syllabic sounds. Gr-and-p-air-nts. A Gregg shorthand stenographer would only have to strike 5 keys rather than the 12 required for the standard word.

Gregg shorthand
Gregg shorthand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the world of lip-reading, where so many sounds share a mouthshape, like bid, bad and bed, this form of communication represents a revolutionary shift. In the world of ASL, it can create an environment for first language Signers to learn English, enabling development of reading skills. ASL children are already adept at reading a hand based visual language. This system can easily open the door to verbal language. What’s more, since it is phonemically based, it can be used to teach Deaf and Hearing alike, any second language – say Mandarin, for example.

Most spoken languages are natural evolutions. Ogg the caveman needed a way to tell Ugg the caveman not to eat his saber-tooth tiger.  Man’s earliest forms of communication were aural grunts and body language. Eventually, those aural grunts evolved into words. As early man migrated to different parts of the globe, different languages developed. Conquest, trading, intermarriage and other elements led to a code-swapping that grew into modern language.

But Sign, lipreading, shorthand and this – Cued Speech – were invented forms of communication. These methods actually required a single enlightened individual or group to sit down and create them. Once created of course, they too evolved into their modern forms. ASL is evolving still, as is English, for that matter. (Oops, my bad. Lol.)

The goal of Cued Speech is literacy. The Deaf in America have a huge literacy problem. Now, I realize that statement rubs some people raw, but there’s no denying simple facts. The average Deaf High school graduate reads at a 3rd grade level. I’m sorry, but there it is. Children raised with Cued Speech in conjunction with Sign, do far better learning to read. And best of all, from my point of view, these children are raised bilingually, from birth – giving them that awesome cerebral boost I keep harping about. By utilizing Cued Speech and ASL, your Deaf kid can grow up to be smarter than Socrates. Use it to teach her a 3rd language, and she’ll shed this mortal coil and turn into a beam of light.

Here’s a video from the NCSA, explaining further. For more information go here, here or here.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

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