PG-1: EF-C

When first learning to cue, many people get in the habit of cueing the side vowel positions and the throat vowel positions too far away from the face. Although this quirk may not be as critical as masking the lips with cues, it does pose two potential problems: one for the viewer and one for the cuer.
  1. Cue positions far away from the lips are not as visually sharp and clear to the viewer as those closer to the lower face area. Human eyesight is subject to foveal vision. This means that we actually see adequately lighted objects much clearer at the center point of our vision than we do above, below, or on either side of the foveal ring. To demonstrate, concentrate your vision on one word in the center of this screen. While keeping your eyes focused on that word, notice that the printed words away from the center become slightly blurred -- and more blurred as you check further away from your point of visual concentration. When people are watching you speak-and-cue at close range (3 to 6 feet), they naturally focus on your lips. Your lips become the center of their foveal vision. Consequently, any subtle visual cues which are more than four to six inches from your lips are going to become slightly blurred -- unless you have huge hands and move them slowly! Cues at the side of the mouth or on the chin are not going to pose a problem because they are well within the primary range. Cues made far to the side or far down the chest cannot be seen as clearly because they fall outside the primary range of foveal vision. Any cues you make more than 3-4 inches to the right (or left) of your lower jaw or more than 4 inches below the point of your chin are going to be harder to see. In the interests of science you should also know that foveal vision doesn't work in very dim light such as moonlight: we see better at the sides than at the center of our vision! That's interesting, but most of us do most of our heavy cueing under lighting conditions where foveal vision does function. Keep those cue positions close in!
  2. The second problem is related to the eventual fluency of your Cued Speech. Moving your hand from the far right (or left) to throat, chin, or mouth positions takes extra time: time which you simply won't have when you cue at normal conversational speed. Making wide excursions to your upper chest or far out to the side will hinder your progress toward more fluent Cued Speech.Squelching this habit now will mean more efficient cueing later on.
So let's begin to do something to correct this. Watch yourself in a mirror as you cue-and-say this sentence with only one handshape:

"I tie my tie."

Cue-and-say the same sentence six or seven times, gradually increasing the speed each time. If your hand was too far out to the side, these side-throat-side excursions become awkward at faster rates of speed. If you held your hand too high for the side position, it may have passed across your chin. That can be confusing. If you held your hand too low it tends to pull the throat position too far down on your chest. This will also hamper rapid, precise cueing. It's a fact that some individuals with short necks find it necessary to cue the throat vowels in the upper chest area. This poses no real threat to clarity or fluency if the hand excursion is not too far down from the chin (more than 3-4 inches).

There are probably many good ways to determine just how far out the side position should be, or how far below the point of the chin the throat position should be. One good way is to watch yourself in a mirror and mentally measure the distance your hand moves from your mouth position to your chin position. Then use that same mental measurement as a guide for the distance from chin-to-throat and from throat-to-side. Think of your four cue positions as the corners of a slightly lopsided square -- which will probably shrink as your cueing speed increases.

Each of these short phrases below should be practiced while watching your cues in a mirror. Each phrase takes you around the cue positions for a quick check of relative distances between cues. Repeat them until you can cue tham rapidly and accurately.

"We do it." [4-m,1-c,5-t,5-s]
"See you later" [3-m,8-c,6-c,5-t,5-m]
"Dee may buy that." [1-m,5-c,5-t,4-s,5-t,2-t,5-s]
"By joyful." [4-m,7-c,5-t,5-s/d,6-s]
"Were you at home?" [6-m,8-c,5-t,5-s,3-s/f,5-s]
"He uses cues." [3-m,8-c,2-t,2-s,2-s,8-c,2-s]
"Did she lose it?" [1-t,1-s,6-m,6-c,2-t,5-s]
"See you later, alligator!" ...[5-t,6-s/d,7-c,5-t,5-m]

By now you should have the "feel" for smaller hand excursions to all four positions which you have confirmed in a mirror. Practice these other phrases and sentences for carry-over of your more efficient skills.

"Buy now -- pay later." "Same day service" "Out of sight -- out of mind"
"Every time I oil it" "Can you do that Hindu trick?" "Babies like toys"
"5 - 9 - 6 - 4 - 8" "Wait until daybreak" '1984" "Maybe you can do it."
"1997" "Say it out loud." "The time of your life" "You can come out now."
"The loved child has many names." "Our lights went out!" "Learn to play the game."
"I think I can...I think I can...I think I can!" "I thought I could....I thought I could...
I thought I could.....I thought I could!"

Yes, these last two practice sentences should get you in shape for an exciting cued rendition of the popular children's story about the little engine . Isn't the hearing-impaired child entitled to experience the slowing down and the speeding up of the train? Get to work. There are nursery rhymes to practice later on!

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