:: Deaf People in History: Day 13 – Richard Cornett ::

People – Dr. Richard Orin Cornett – Father of Cued Speech – Communication Option for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Provided Deaf Students with Another Literacy Tool

From Jamie Berke,
Your Guide to Deafness.

Cued speech as it is known today, would not exist were it not for the efforts of one man, Dr. Richard Orin Cornett. Cornett passed away December 17, 2002.

Becoming Involved in the Deaf Community

In 1965, Dr. Cornett, previously a professor of math, physics, and electronics, had taken a position as a vice president for long-range planning at Gallaudet College (now University). Before coming to Gallaudet, he had worked at the U.S. Office of Education where he learned about the educational challenges facing deaf students.

Inventing Cued Speech

Dr. Cornett came up with the idea for cued speech in 1966 when he was frustrated by the low English language skills of deaf students. He felt there needed to be another way to help deaf students acquire reading skills by enabling them to understand spoken languge in a visual manner, and came up with cued speech, a system of handshapes near the mouth that represent spoken language.

After he developed cued speech, Dr. Cornett continued as a Research Professor and Director of Cued Speech Programs at Gallaudet, from 1975 to 1984. At Gallaudet, he held cued speech camps and family learning vacations. In addition, he also chaired a center for studies in language and communication at Gallaudet. Cornett Furthers Cued Speech

To promote cued speech, Cornett:

  • Co-authored the book “Cued Speech Handbook for Parents.”
  • Wrote the book “Cued Speech Resoruce Book for Parents of Deaf Children.”
  • Traveled internationally to explain and promote cued speech.
  • Wrote articles on cued speech and deaf education. A listing of his writings is available from the International Bibliography of Sign Language.
  • Adapted cued speech to multiple languages.

Recognition for Cornett’s Work

Cornett has been given several awards to honor him for his pioneering work in cued speech:

The New York League for the Hard of Hearing (now League for Hard of Hearing) gave him the Nitchie Award in Human Communications.
The National Council on Communication Disorders gave him a Distinguished Service Award.

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