Misconception: CUED SPEECH IS A CRUTCH.
The heart of this issue is not that Cued Speech is a crutch, but a belief that Cued Speech somehow prevents deaf children from developing other vital skills and from becoming independent.
Cued Speech does allow for English language development to occur through vision rather than hearing. This is advantageous to anyone who does not hear.
For those with residual hearing or who use cochlear implants, Cued Speech lays the groundwork for language-learning and provides a visual analog to the speech signal. For those learning to use a cochlear implant, cues are not a crutch, but a way to connect this new input to the language already in their minds.
The analogy that Cued Speech is a crutch is somewhat inaccurate. Cued Speech does "support" children so that they do not need to guess what someone is saying. However, unlike a crutch, Cued Speech use strengthens a childs native use of the English language. Cued Speech continues to support children even when they may only experience an ambiguous means of communicating - like speechreading.
Research suggests that Cued Speech enhances a child's ability to speechread, use residual hearing, and benefit from cochlear implants. [Link to Center for the Study of Learning]
REALITY: Cued Speech enables deaf children to acquire language, literacy, and develop speechreading skills.
Misconception: Cued Speech is inappropriate because it is not a language.
There are still those who hold to the misconception that Cued Speech is unacceptable for deaf children because it is not a language. This is likely to be an unfortunate backlash from well-intentioned (but misguided) attempts to supplant American Sign Language with manually coded English systems like Signing Exact English or Conceptually Accurate Signed English.
It is true that Cued Speech itself is not a language. Rather, Cued Speech is a modality for language. To understand the difference between modality and language, consider the fact that speech and signing are also modalities and NOT languages.
SIGNING is a visual modality for languages like American Sign Language, British Sign language, etc.
SPEECH is an acoustic modality for languages like English, French, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, etc.
CUED SPEECH is a visual modalilty for languages like English, French, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, etc. Cued Speech is mode which allows languages to be conveyed completely and accuractely through a visual medium.
Some languages once existed solely as spoken languages. However, for some, written systems were devised to represent these languages in a visual medium. Although an alphabet is not a language, nor is writing itself a language, the text you are reading on this page does convey language. You are reading written English. It is a different form than spoken English. Cued Speech does not function like an alphabet nor like a written language, but this analogy invites us to consider that Cued Speech is not a language, while cued English is a language.
So while speech, signing, and Cued Speech are themselves not languages, each can be used as a viable modality for language. American Sign Language and cued English are valid languages for use with deaf children. Spoken English and spoken French are valid languages for hearing children.
REALITY: Cued Speech is not a manually coded English sign system. Cued English is a language – one which is complete, natural, and delivered in a wholly visual medium.
Misconception: CUED SPEECH IS ONLY A SPEECH TOOL.
Perhaps it is the outreach supplied by the Cued Speech community causes the misconception that Cued Speech is simply a speech tool. Some believe that cues are used solely to identify speech sounds in isolation in order to eliminate confusion: /s/ from /z/.
Although cues can be used as an effective part of speech therapy, Cued Speech is most often used in natural communication as families converse in cued English. Cueing can be produced real-time (with voice or without) and is used with and among deaf cuers.
Cued Speech can also be used as a speech tool (just as signs may be used therapeutically for children with apraxia), but this application is not the sole purpose of Cued Speech. In fact, the original intent behind the development of Cued Speech was for literacy and communication, not for speech production.
Cued Speech enables speech clinicians to model targets ("lived" /d/ from "worked" /t/), to provide immediate feedback to the child by cueing what he/she has produced. Cued Speech also gives the clinician unparalleled insight. As a student speaks and cues, the clinician is able to monitor his/her speech production (by listening) while also determining what target the child intended (by seeing the manual cues.) This gives the clinician unprecedented access into both the linguistic performance and knowledge of the child.
[NOTE: Neither the ability to produce speech nor any residual audition is required for Cued Speech. Cued Speech is a mode of communication which has numerous applications including use in speech-language therapy.]
REALITY: Cued Speech can be used to disambiguate individual speech sounds, but is more often used as a natural modality for conveying English visually.
Misconception: CUED SPEECH LIMITS COMMUNICATION.
There are people who do not know cuers who suspect that children will be isolated by their use of a manual system that is not as widely known as American Sign Language (ASL). However, children who grow up with Cued Speech do not simply know a manual system. These children also are native users of whatever language that is cued – often English.
These children benefit from their ability to speechread a language that they know fluently and the literacy skills which are supported by their native abilities in English.
Deaf children who know American Sign Language are part of a relatively smaller community than those who speak English, but that does not diminish the rights of Deaf signers to be part of the Deaf Community and to flourish intellectually, socially, and culturally by being part of the ASL signing community. Likewise, cuers are not limited by their knowledge of cued English. Many cuers enjoy interacting with the cueing community and also integrate with other communities as well. Many cuers are bi-lingual. Learning to cue does not interfere with one's ability to learn a signed language.
Cued Speech allows deaf children to become competent users of English. Cuers are not isolated by their abilities to learn languages. Many cuers learn signed languages and additional spoken languages as well. Knowledge is not limiting.
REALITY: Language learning provides opprotunities. Acquiring a first language provides a foundation for second language learning. Many cued English users learn additional languages (French, Spanish, Hebrew, American Sign Language, etc.)