Illinois School for the Deaf has been participating in a pilot program for the last three years that has students utilize Cued Speech as part of their education model. The Illinois School for the Deaf mission statement says, “providing an accessible ASL, English, bilingual communication environment, respecting all forms of communication for deaf and hard of hearing individuals” There have been numerous people responding to Cued Speech being utilized in the school setting. Many are worried about Cued Speech being a part of ISD and one spoke up via a vlog on Facebook, “Our goal is to remove cued speech to protect children’s rights.” Tamera Gaudet
Adrean Clark, the Community Coordinator of ASL Write, shared a few examples of situations that were not appearing favorable for the student. The lack of use of Cued Speech is “not being punished” but Adrean welcomes us to focus on the targeted issue at hand, that it is “not ASL”, it encourages speech use. The one video example Adrean focuses on emphasizes two boys responding to the teacher, one is finger spelling, the other is verbally responding. Why is lack of access being allowed by the teacher but rather being responded to and acknowledged. Adrean said, “Some people think that my video was anti-Cued Speech. That’s not true. It was anti-audism and anti-linguicism.” Has the incorporation of Cued Speech given teachers permission to ignore the need of other students?
Aaron from “Aaron Cues” emphasizes that he believes that the reality of the “crisis” going on at the Illinois School for the Deaf is really “within the minds of a select few who truly believe Cued Speech presents a danger to their core beliefs.” he goes on to explain that Cued speech is the break down of phonemes into constants. Later he brings up how Cued Speech is emphasized not to be replacing ASL but rather an addition.
There was a petition that was placed on Change.org to request that Dr. Janice Smith-Warshaw. “The undersigned demanded that Illinois School for the Deaf develop and facilitate the resignation of Dr. Janice Smith-Warshaw, the Superintendent of the school, because she has failed within a broad field of academic and interdisciplinary inquiry to focus on four objectives.” The petition had 442 supporters before it came to light that Janice was not the Superintendent that approved the incorporation of Cued Speech. Jason Tozier (JT) shared that there are families and children who are being harassed at the school for the deaf which has led to concern by the community as a whole. He also mentioned that there will be a committee set up to focus on getting Cued Speech out of ISD.
Students are being allowed to use and utilize American Sign Language (ASL) as part of their daily activities. However they are required to utilize Cued Speech in the classroom which is the cause for concern. Students go to school to learn and the question still lies; if they are unable to understand the form of communication used, isn’t it a possibility that students will be unintentionally hindered?