The author, who taught in colleges and universities for forty-seven years, suspects that students seldom (if ever!) read the "Introduction" to a textbook. Then why write one? Because readers are entitled to know what a book is about, and how its contents may relate to their interests. For some of you the "student" approach may truly be the most efficient: skip this and turn directly to those sections which meet your needs. Either the Table of Contents the profile for the Basic Cued Speech Proficiency Rating may be a sufficient guide. For others who prefer more information concerning how to use this manual -- read on!
Let's assume you know that Cued Speech is a system of hand positions, hand configurations, and hand movements which supplements information available from the lips of the speaker. You may also know that the system has been adapted to many different spoken languages and dialects all over the world, from French to Korean. Perhaps you didn't know that Cued Speech is a phonemic system, or you're not quite sure what phonemic implies.
Phonemes are not just any random speech sounds; they are the individual speech sounds in a given language or dialect which are meaningfully different from each other within that particular language or dialect. In American English, for example, there is a meaningful difference between the /ee/ sound in "heel" and the /i/ sound in "hill"; but in Spanish there is NO meaningful difference between /ee/ and /i/. Spanish speakers have a single phoneme which sounds slightly different to our ears from either /ee/ or /i/. Consequently, when the Spanish speaker says the English words "heel" and "hill" they sound exactly the same. As a matter of fact, American English has twenty-five different consonant phonemes and about fifteen (it varies with dialects) different vowel and diphthong phonemes. In Cued Speech these forty phonemes are efficiently assigned to various positions and shapes of the hand so that phonemes which look alike on the lips look different on the hands.
Unfortunately, these forty phonemes of ours do not correspond to the letters of the English alphabet with much predictable consistency. This is why a re-spelling system is used in many sections of the manual, and why the "Phonemic Spelling Guide" is introduced prior to any practice sessions.
The manual begins with a copy of the profile on which the results of a test for Basic Cued Speech Proficiency are reported. An explanation of the rating procedure follows the profile to aid those, who may have taken the test, to interpret test results and to decide which sections of the manual to practice first.
Subsequent sections follow specifically the Proficiency Goals (PG) and Error Factors (EF) of the profile. The sections can be practiced in the order rpresented -- provided the reader already has a solid introduction to the complete system of hand positions, configurations, and movements of Cued Speech. The author does not recommend attempting the practice sessions before completing the "Beginning Lessons in Cued Speech" tapes or some other reasonably comprehensive instructional program. Even the earliest practice sessions assume the reader "knows" the system, but now needs to develop accuracy and fluency of execution.
Although the pitfalls of English spelling are mentioned in many of the EF practice sessions, two additional units are included to help cope with special problems which the author has found to hinder the progress of many cuers. "Cued Speech and Amplification" points out the advantages of amplification and auditory training along with Cued Speech and also directs parents, teachers, and clinicians to monitor carefully the efficacy of hearing aids and other sources of hearing enhancement for the child. Not all hearing-impaired children shoud be subjected to amplification for indefinite periods. With judicial use and professional consultation the "Monthly Hearing Evaluation" should provide data for making realistic decisions about amplification.
"Nursery Rhyme Cue-Tips" constitutes one possible avenue for developing pragmatic fluency in cueing not only the language but also the essential "literature" of early childhood. "Practice with the 99 Most Common Spoken Words" and the extensive "Cue Practice with the 1000 Most Common Words" provide other resources for efficient development of fluency, as well as a wealth of structured practice materials for the several handshapes.
The final "Cued Speech Guide to America Pronunciations of Common Words" is a reference dictionary intended primarily for those who may forget the fact that words have different pronunciations depending upon contexts and dialect regions within the United States. Directions for cueing are provided in code for whichever pronunciation you may be using at the moment.
This is definitely not a "fun and games" book. It was intended for the parent or professional who has every reason to be serious and purposeful in his/her pursuit of the greatest possible proficiency with Cued Speech. The rewards of careful study and practice will be considerable. The joy will come with the realization that one has opened up the real world of spoken language to a hearing-impaired child. What greater fun can there be!