Teaching Language to Our Children
Illustration from NCSA booklet
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NATIONAL CUED SPEECH ASSOCIATION (NCSA)
Guidelines on the Mechanics of Cueing
(Approved by the NCSA Board of Directors, September 25, 1994)
These guidelines are intended to supplement the National Cued Speech Association (NCSA) procedural guidelines for persons who desire to secure NCSA input during the production of Cued Speech instructional and practice materials, such as manuals, audio lessons and videocassette lessons. They will also be of help to teachers, parents and others seeking authoritative information on specifications for the mechanical details of the cueing process, not on teaching methods as such. Cuers, instructors, and persons preparing materials on Cued Speech should consult current sources of information on techniques and teaching methods for meeting these specifications, and for correcting deviations from them. The NCSA office will maintain an up-to-date list of such sources.
Some cuers' body proportions are such that the normal, comfortable positioning results in a lower side placement. Persons who suspect that their forearm-wrist-hand combination is too short to reach to the recommended chin-tip level without tension in the shoulder should get in touch with the NCSA office, which will either help them or refer them to qualified sources of help in determining (1) whether they actually need to use a lower side placement, and (2) how to select and use that placement if they should. This can be done by placing the elbow close to the body and raising the inclination of the straight forearm-wrist-hand combination to almost vertical (about 80 degrees above the horizontal). The shoulder must be neither raised nor lowered from the relaxed shoulder posture. If under these conditions the fingertips do not come up to the recommended chin-tip level, the level to which they come is the appropriate side placement level for the individual, who should use it consistently. Qualified guidance in carrying out this procedure and arriving at the right decision, preferably through face-to-face assistance, is essential. Individuals who find it necessary to use a side placement lower than the recommended one, and who thus need to keep the elbow close to the body, must be careful to follow the specification that the forearm-wrist combination shall be kept straight and moved as a unit.
If the cuer's body proportions result in a fingertip level above the recommended chin level, when the arm is close to the body and at an angle of 60 to 80 degrees, the inclination of the forearm should be reduced (to 45 degrees or so), so as to lower the fingertips to the chin level. This will require placing the elbow a little farther from the body.
The forearm inclination for the mouth placement will be essentially the same as for the side placement, or slightly less. That for the chin placement will tend to be less than for the mouth placement, and that for the throat placement still less. These differences, however, should be held to the minimum consistent with smooth, efficient, accurate cueing.
Beginning cuers should try to keep the forearm-wrist-hand combination straight, avoiding any bending of the wrist. As they become fluent and cue more and more rapidly, they will need to increase their effort to avoid excessive bending of the wrist. If beginners form the habit of bending the wrist at will, the tendency to increase the bending as they become fluent is likely to make them ``floppy'' cuers, which is undesirable. Cuers should also avoid any twisting of the wrist, unless they are cueing in one of the languages in which pronation of the wrist is used to indicate palatized or aspirated consonants, or nasal vowels.
The wrist and the back of the cueing hand should remain even with the forehead and chin, that is, in the same vertical plane with the forehead and chin, when cueing at the side, mouth and chin placements.
The mouth placementFor the mouth placement, the tip of the pointer finger should touch just outside the corner of the mouth. Care must be taken not to let the site of the contact stray on to the mouth and cover part of it, but it needs to be very close to the corner. The pointer finger is the longest finger extended in the hand configuration, with one exception. For handshape 8, in which the index and middle fingers form a wide open ``V'', the middle finger is the pointer for the mouth placement. This differs from the chin and throat placements, for which the index finger is used as the pointer for handshape 8.
The chin placementFor the chin placement the tip of the pointer finger should touch the very tip of the chin, at its geometric center, that is, in the plane dividing the right and left halves of the face. Care must be taken not to execute this placement higher on the chin, or to either side of the center line.
The importance of consistent touchingThe mouth, chin, and throat placements have the advantage of furnishing a tactile response to the cuer if he/she is careful to touch the designated location. The tactile response serves two important purposes: (1) furnishing tactile feedback to the cuer that the placement and timing are correct, and (2) making sure that parallax (the error that results if the cue placement is away from the face and is viewed from an angle) does not give a false impression of the placement for the reader, even when that placement is in front of the right location.
Touching is important in maintaining synchronization of cues with the visible manifestations of speech, which is advantageous to decoding. Cuers should take care to touch consistently at these placements. When they cue faster, they will need to exert more concentration in order to maintain touching as consistently as possible. They will encounter most difficulty in maintaining consistent touching at the throat placement.
In executing the handshapes for which the thumb is free to hold the bent fingers in position, it should do so. For example, in executing handshape 3, the thumb should actually hold the bent index finger in position, not just touch it, in order to make sure that the thumb and finger are out of view.
Touching at the Apropriate Cue PlacementsTouching at the throat, chin, and mouth placements furnishes the cuer a tactile verification of timing that is essential in maintaining synchronization of cues with speech. To the decoder of Cued Speech, synchronized touching in these placements furnishes the timing information needed in fully utilizing the cues.
Successive TouchingWhen a cue is executed at mouth, chin, or throat placement, and another cue or a repetition of the same cue is to follow immediately at the same placement, the fingertips are lifted slightly from the contact location, and replaced. This provides a tactile timing verification for the cuer and a visual timing indication for the Cued Speech reader.
Vowel sounds /ah/ and /oe/.For the vowel sounds /ah/ and /oe/, or a CV syllable containing one of them, a forward motion of about one inch is made. If another cue is to follow in the same location, the hand must first be moved back to the original location, so that the second forward movement made for the second syllable--if there is one--is initiated from the same location. Thus, /photo/ [foetoe] is cued 5 side forward and back, 5 side forward. Similarly, /polo/ [polo] is cued 1 side forward and back, 6 side forward; and /ha-ha/ [hah-hah], 3 side forward and back, 3 forward.
The ``flick'' rule.``When the same handshape is executed twice in succession in the side placement, the second occurrence must be accompanied by a flick to supply timing information. Example: /left/, 6 chin, 5 side , 5 side flick.''
Cornett's interpretation of the flick rule is that it applies whether or not a vowel occurs between the two successive executions of the same handshape at the side placement. Examples of cueing for this interpretation are: /coke/ [koek], 2 side forward and back, 2 side flick; /pop/[pahp], 1 side forward and back, 1 side flick; /coves/ [koevz], 2 side forward and back, 2 side flick, 2 side flick; /source/ [soers], 3 side forward and back, 3 side flick, 3 side flick.
A differing interpretation is that the rule does not apply when a vowel occurs between the two successive executions of the same handshape. According to this interpretation the words used as examples above should be cued as follows: /coke/ [koek], 2 side forward and back, 2 side; /pop/ [pahp], 1 forward and back, 1 side; /coves/ [koevz], 2 side forward and back, 2 side, 2 side flick; /source/ [soers], 3 side forward and back, 3 side, 3 side flick.
Until research results or other considerations enable the NCSA board to resolve this difference in interpretation of the flick rule, both interpretations will continue to be taught and used by their supporters.
Cue What Is SaidThe cardinal rule governing cueing is that one must cue what one says exactly the way one says it on that occasion. This requires accurate rendition of such options as variations in pronunciation, elision, liaison, assimilation etc. Current sources of information on these subjects is available in several publications. Cuers, instructors, and preparers of materials should consult such sources in order to apply the principles in this document accurately in cueing exactly what is said.
It is a responsibility of Cued Speech instructors to emphasize and work on the development of accurate, normal mouth movements for beginning cuers, and to furnish suggestions (mirror work, etc.) for self instruction in this aspect of production of Cued Speech. All instruction materials for Cued Speech should address and emphasize this aspect of the development of competency in Cued Speech, not just competency in executing the cues.
Charts showing the handshapes, either in isolation or in relation to the face, should position the handshapes at an appropriate angle above the horizontal, not vertically or horizontally. Charts showing them in horizontal or vertical orientations, which have appeared in the past, have caused some people to try to cue that way. Charts included in instructional materials should orient the handshapes at about 45 degrees above the horizontal.
The Ubiquitous u~ hu~One of the most frequent utterances in American English is the expression commonly spelled uh huh. The nasal vowel in this expression was Inadvertently omitted from the original Cued Speech chart because it was not listed among the phonemes of English in phonetics books. This and the negative form, huh uh, are only in slang dictionaries, yet are used by most Americans many times a day. It is the nasal counterpart of the neutral vowel, the schwa. This vowel is a legitimate phoneme of American English, with at least one minimal pair.
The vowel u~ (as written in Funeemik Spelling) should be cued at the throat, as it is in French. Authors and producers of materials on Cued Speech should add this phoneme to the Cued Speech charts.
Many Americans also use the same expressions with the vowel suppressed, keeping the mouth completely closed and saying: mmmm hmmmm and hmmmm mmmm. These non-vocalic expressions can be cued at the side, but the forward motions must be reduced to flicks, else vowels would be indicated.
National Cued Speech Association, Inc.
The National Cued Speech Association was organized and incorporated 1982. Priorities and activities of the Association include: (1) awareness and education through publications, exhibits, and conferences; (2) quality assurance through certification standards for instructors and interpreters/transliterators; and (3) service through information and support to persons with speech, hearing, and language needs, their families at associates, and the professionals who serve them.
Officers of the Association: Barbara Caldwell, President; Osmond Crosby, Vice President; Marshall Dietz, Treasurer; Catherine Quenin, Secretary.
Board of Directors: Linda Balderson and Amy Hurowitz, Northeast Karey L. Guzman, Rocky Mountain; Sandy Mosetick, Great Lakes; Barbara Lee, Gulf Coast; Geralyn O'Neil Wild, New England; Carl Mauro, Mid-Atlantic; Connie Wilcken Rubsamen, West; Kay Jamal, Midwest; Marianne S. Flanagan & Joan Booth, Canada; Joan Rupert Alison Turner, Earl Fleetwood, Charles G. McIntosh, Directors at Large; Pamela Beck, Immediate Past President.
© 1994 The National Cued Speech Association, copyright owner of this document, allows single copies to be made for personal use, or multiple copies for classroom use. This consent does not extend to other kinds of copying for general distribution, for advertising or promotional purposes, for creating new collective works, or for resale. Inquiries should be addressed to the National Cued Speech Association, Inc., P.O. Box 31345, Raleigh, N.C. 27622.
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