“Forcing” Cued Speech on Students?

Many of you in the cueing community know about the furor over the Illinois School for the Deaf in Jacksonville, IL. For those of you who don’t, here’s a rundown: in 2011, the Illinois School for the Deaf started a pilot program that utilized Cued English in a bilingual program. Over the next two or so years, it expanded the program to other classes.

At some point last year, the school sent out a letter to parents that offered a Cued Speech track for interested parties. In part, this is where the confusion and controversy has been coming from. Some Deaf people have taken up arms against the use of Cued Speech in ISD; others worry that it’s being used to replace ASL.

A common allegation is that Cued Speech is being “forced” on students– in some cases, against their parents’ wills. The thing is, if you know anything about IEPs (Individualized Education Program), you know how unlikely that is. Each student’s IEP is determined based on what the parents choose, ideally with the kid’s input as well. The school cannot legally deviate from that IEP.

In other words, if the student’s IEP specifies that he be taught using ASL, then ASL is what he will get. Same for Cued Speech, Signed English, Visual Phonics, whatever.  Schools are legally mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004) to provide the best services that they can in order to provide an accessible education to their students.  This IEP is revisited every year for every student and they can change it however they want, whenever they want.  This is true of ISD as much as anybody else.

5 thoughts on ““Forcing” Cued Speech on Students?

  1. Do you have many people who are choosing to switch to an entirely Cued Speech track? Are you finding better success with one over the other?


    • I don’t know much about what’s going on with ISD specifically beyond what I’ve written here; last I heard, there is a pretty strong media blackout on the school due to the controversy. Most of what I’ve seen directly out of ISD– i.e., from parents of current students and staff who actually work there– has been very positive. My understanding is that most/all of the students still use ASL, but some chose Cued Speech for some of their classes, so I do not think there is an “entirely Cued Speech” track there.

      Let me ask another friend if he can comment and answer your questions; he should have more specifics.


    • So I asked around and from what I hear, there are at least 40 students who have Cued Language accommodations added to their IEP. I would think it’s been at least fairly successful as the ISD has expanded the program over the past few years.


  2. There was Rally at ISD on August 16. This Rally did impacted many parents & students. Their IEP wasn’t well documented or follow through. There will be several due process filed. So yes, students were forced to use cued speech.


    • I would want to see proof of that. Most of the negative things I’ve heard from ISD has been second-hand (“A friend of a friend…”). First-hand experience has been either positive or neutral.


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