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Teaching Language to Our Children

Meet our President

President Noble with Dr. Cornett

Eileen Noble

I Found Out To Late!

Teaching Complete Lanuage To Our Children

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I Found Out Too Late!

I am the mom of a beautiful funny teenager who happens to be Deaf. Jessie was my first child. I didn't know what to expect, but at 6 months of age, when I called her name and she didn't respond, I thought she was just very involved with her toys. Jessie was my first child so I had no comparison as to what I should expect for a child at a childís various stages. When she went to sleep one day, I banged on pots and pans over her beautiful little sleeping body and she did not stir. Something was wrong and I was scared.

The next day I called children's Hospitalís Audiologist department. I met Sarah Delano; she was nice and tried to tell me not to worry. They gave Jessie several tests, all of which were all necessary to diagnose her hearing and the degree of hearing loss for Jessie. I was always reassured that she would be fine, don't worry, I was told; they reassured me there's so much they can do these days. Her tests took about 8 months.

I received a phone call from Sarah telling me in a kind voice but flat out, Jessie is deaf, and there's nothing that can be done to fix it! I was in shock, I knew she had a loss but I definitely wasn't prepared to hear those words over the phone about my sweet little baby. I made an appointment to fit her with hearing aids right away; at this point, she was already 16 months old.

A woman by the name of Connie started to come to the house to teach Jessie total communication. I was told the oral method which seems to be easiest for the hearing parents, but not for the child. It is good for deaf children to be able to read lips but it isnít enough. They need to be able to say what they want and get their feelings out and to be understood. When a child lip-reads, they are only getting about 33% of what they see on the lips, thatís not enough.

Sign language is important to deaf children because they are deaf and need to be able to communicate and socialize with other deaf people who sign. If they only sign than they are only able to communicate with deaf people. Let's be realistic they need the best of both worlds.

I was not told about cued speech, the people that do know have not allowed the parents of deaf children access to this technique, which would greatly improve the futures of our children. The knowledge held by these people is affecting many lives in a negative way. Deaf people have a right to know all of their options. I feel my daughter has been cheated all these years of an equal opportunity with her education, unnecessarily! We all want the best for our children and with holding helpful knowledge has never benefited the greater good of anyone.

Today I'm 34 and I am now in school to be an interpreter for the deaf. Part of the curriculum includes a class called cued speech. I went to class not knowing what I was taking, now all of these years later I am just finding out that cued speech is a literacy tool for deaf children to visually see the English language as hearing children hear the English language.

There is a way to teach deaf children how words sound, not just how the words are spelled. With cued speech there is a tool or a technique that can be used to help our children to learn and internalize the English language. Jessie's problem area has always been reading and writing the English language and I feel if I had known about Cued Speech I could have given my daughter a better chance to increase her understanding of the English language and increased her chances at whatever she chooses to do in life.

99.9% of the books in the United States, are written in English, so are job applications, resumes, DMV forms, hospital admittance forms, and so many crucial things in life. If there is a simple tool or technique or method that's been proven to work, give it to them.

Give our deaf children a fair chance at a successful future and a decent living wage? If you are a hearing person and cannot read or write this will cause you problems in having a good paying job and a successful future. If you are a deaf person you not only have difficulties finding employment, but if cannot read or write, you will also have a greater difficulty finding a good paying job and a successful future.

Most illiterate hearing people at least are given the opportunity to learn to read and write. In contrast, the deaf children here in Pennsylvania, are not given the same opportunity. If we want our children to be their best and do their best, we must make it possible. I pray for a change for all the blossoming beautiful smart deaf children to get their fair shot at a successful future.

We must guard the civil rights of all citizens whatever their background, any oppression is an attack on our civilization and our rights as citizens of the United States of America.

Eileen C Noble

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Teaching Complete Language to Our Children

Dr. Orin Cornett came to Gallaudet University in 1965; he assumed deaf students would be excellent readers, because other forms of diversion like movies, concerts, most plays, and uncaptioned television, were inaccessible to them. With this premise, Dr. Cornett was startled by data showing that the average high school graduate who was deaf read at a third or fourth grade level. On reflection, he realized this shouldn't have come as a great surprise. Since writing in its most basic form is a way of recording what is said, it stands to reason that being able to understand what people say would make it much easier to understand what they write.

A hearing child knows the spoken language well before he or she starts to read. Dr. Cornett set out to design a method by which a child without normal hearing could easily acquire knowledge of the spoken language as a foundation for reading. In 1966 Dr. Cornett invented Cued Speech to hopefully eliminate the problem or at least alleviate the difficult task of finding an effective way to reach and teach our children the English language. "This strategy addresses the very problems highlighted in unlocking the curriculum." The child can learn English clearly without having to hear it.

Cued Speech is not a language in itself; it is simply a tool or method, one, which is intended to be utilized with other effective tools. The major reason for the use of Cued Speech is so that we give our deaf children the same opportunity that our hearing children have. The gift is reading, and hence, the access to the language in books, in the classroom textbooks, and in life, that they have not been afforded in the past. We want our children to be comfortable in a highly literacy-based society.

Cued Speech consists of eight hand shapes and four hand placements around the face, which combine with the shape of the speaker's mouth to render a visually complete and unambiguous representation of what is being said.

This contrasts with speech reading alone, in which only 3O%-40% of the spoken English is actually visible and the rest must be guessed using contextual clues, Consider the incredible list of about sixty words such as, "met, mitt, mutt, bit, bet, but, bed, pit, pet, mid," they all lip-read the same.

Try standing in front of the mirror and mouth, "I Love you" vs. "olive juice". Even Mama and Papa look the same. For hearing parents, learning the cued speech language is not acquiring a new language; it is simply adopting a visually distinct way of expressing the language that we already know. In this respect, it is more like studying typing or shorthand.

Cueing is phonemically based, meaning that you cue the sounds that comprise the words, not how the words are spelled. For instance, to show: Do you have a brother, one would cue the sounds: doo yoo ha-vu b-ru-thur. Accents are cued the way they are spoken.

Studies show that the cued English language allows children who are deaf to internalize English in the same way as hearing children and therefore read at the same level as their hearing peers.

To use Sign Language alone or lip reading alone, is not giving our deaf children complete language skills. Try to imagine sitting down with your first grade hearing child, opening a book and expecting her to read the words without the assistance of letting her know how those letters sound or don't sound to make the word. This is what is being expected of our deaf children.

They are taught Sign Language, given speech and then they are not being taught how to make it all come together. Without the knowledge of cueing any word they come upon, that they haven't learned the sign for, has no meaning to them. The word isn't in their mind.

Hearing children have heard the word spoken, so it's recognizable to them when they see it in a book. We are only allowing our deaf children to learn the word externally. Cueing puts the language in their minds. The tool is here; it's been here for 35 years, yet there is nothing being taught to our children. Cueing makes a world of difference in the success of their future.

Legislation needs to be implemented so that somehow parents must be told when their child is diagnosed deaf, about ALL of the tools that can help their child succeed, not just some, ALL! This information must be available to everyone dealing with deaf children from the day of diagnosis, Audiologist, ENT doctors, schools, and most importantly parents, must have all of the options told to them. All Children deserve the best education we can give them. Our deaf kids are missing a big part of that without the knowledge of cueing the English language!

We need someone to have the responsibility of making this information available to the public. There must be cued transliterators available to teach these children. It is their equal right to a fair and complete education. Cued Speech is not a fad that doesn't work; cueing is a proven method that shows remarkable results with those children that are using it.

Why is it that some deaf children are given this effective method of learning English and have proven that they are able to read way above their hearing peers, while others are struggling in the literacy department of their educational institution, simply because no one is using Cued Speech? There is no good reason. I beg of you please think about this, and put yourself in the position of that deaf child, or that deaf parent who has no access to this literacy tool!

We would appreciate any feedback from you. We are trying to promote awareness and make a difference in some very important lives, just as important as everyone else.

Eileen C Noble
P.O. Box 100241
Pittsburgh, Pa.15233

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