What is Cue Camp Virginia?
Held annually over the Columbus Day weekend, Cue Camp Virginia (CCVA) is an unforgettable learning weekend for families, friends, educators, and hearing health professionals who want to learn the Cued Speech system and/or find out more about Cued Speech and its many applications.
In the tranquility of the Williamsburg, VA, 4-H Center on the James River, participants learn and improve Cued Speech skills; learn about raising, educating and communicating with a deaf or hard-of-hearing child; and share the experiences of other families and professionals. CCVA offers adult Cued Speech classes at four levels: Beginner, Beyond-the-Basics, Advanced, and Transliterator levels. The Beginning Cued Speech (Cued American English) is offered in ASL. New this year, Beginning Cued Spanish will be taught to Spanish speakers who want to use Spanish as the language of the home with their deaf or hard-of-hearing children.
Children’s classes and childcare are offered throughout the duration of all adult classes. Children are grouped by age and participate in exciting activities that offer opportunities to make life-long friends and meet inspiring role models. Two levels of Cued Speech are taught to participants in the children’s groups. Experienced childcare providers and high ratios of volunteers within the groups ensure that children are well taken care of while parents concentrate on their classes.
CCVA is run by the Northern Virginia Cued Speech Association (NVCSA) and is sponsored by NVCSA fund-raising, a grant from the National Cued Speech Association (NCSA) and donations from various corporate and community entities. CCVA is organized and staffed by over 50 volunteers!
Why are Cued Speech and Cue Camp Virginia important for families?
In 1966, R. Orin Cornett, Ph.D., an engineer serving as Vice President for Long Range Planning at Gallaudet College (now Gallaudet University), invented Cued Speech to address the problem of low literacy rates among signing deaf students. Dr. Cornett determined that these students had no way to access the complete range of sounds (phonemes) needed to acquire phonemic awareness and the complete language baserequired for advanced reading comprehension and literacy.
In the United States, the language of academic literacy is American English. However - contrary to common assumptions - American Sign Language (ASL) is not the same language as spoken/written American English. Dr. Cornett observed that ASL does not parallel American English grammar and does not have a written or spoken form. As a result, many signing Gallaudet students were expected to read, comprehend, and write in a language they had never been given the tools to fully access. Dr. Cornett invented Cued Speech to address this problem.
Cued Speech is a simple and finite system that provides clear, unambiguous, unique, 100% visual representation of each phoneme of a spoken language. (At Cue Camp Virginia we teach Cued American English, but Cued Speech has been adapted for 70+ different languages.) A family that cues to a deaf child can provide complete access to the language spoken by the family, regardless of the degree of the child’s hearing loss.
Research has shown that the family provides the most influential language model in the child’s early life. Full access to the language used in the home also contributes greatly to self-esteem, to a sense of belonging, and to the development of age-appropriate social skills. Because over 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents, most of these parents are not equipped to serve as language models in ASL. However, with the use of Cued Speech, they can quickly become effective models of the language already used at home.
When the language of the home is a spoken language, early cueing has been proven to provide a deaf child with the most complete comprehension and fluency in that language. Phonemic awareness and language comprehension are essential to a child's ability to read and write at the level of hearing peers. With use of Cued Speech, a deaf or hard-of-hearing child can reach his/her full academic potential, even as school subjects become more and more complex. Cueing teachers and/or use of Cued Language transliterators (CLTs) in classrooms can ensure clear and unambiguous access to academic material (as well as social interactions and auditory environmental stimuli), enabling the student to focus on internalizing the information instead of expending energy trying to figure out what was said.
At Cue Camp Virginia, families and professionals have the opportunity to learn the entire system of Cued English in one weekend, without the distractions of everyday life. Participants can gain confidence and be supported by others who are on the same journey. They also see first-hand the successes of families and professionals who have been using Cued Speech for many years. Camp provides attendees an opportunity to learn about the many benefits of Cued Speech, to learn how to advocate for Cued Speech as a way to meet a child’s academic needs, and to receive educational and moral support for their efforts as they implement Cued Speech in their family or professional life.