Cue-Reading for Transliterators

One thing I have noticed among cued language transliterators: either they can cue very well expressively, but they struggle with receptive cueing (cuereading). Or, they struggle to cue, but they can cueread very well. I’ve encountered the former more often, and that lack of cuereading ability has always bothered me. I don’t blame my transliterators for this, by the way–  they do not get enough real-world practice with just one cuer (who often voices for herself).

However, as Cued Speech becomes more widespread, there definitely needs to be a set standard for transliterators being able to fluently cue both expressively and receptively. Right now, I would consider a transliterator who can comfortably do both worth her weight in gold, just because those kinds of transliterators are so, so rare.

I have had quite a few embarrassing situations where I was cueing a word correctly, but not pronouncing it correctly, and the transliterator struggled to voice for me. Often I’d switch over to sign language because that was what the transliterator knew, but that’s really not an ideal solution for several reasons.

First, you can’t assume that either the client or the transliterator will know sign language. Many deaf cuers and cued language transliterators do know at least a moderate amount of sign, but it cannot be a given. Second, even if the deaf cuer voices for himself, sometimes the transliterator may still need to voice for him because of a strong accent, a speech disability, or a mild illness that affects his ability to be understood clearly (like a cold). Third, some situations may call for the client to tell the transliterator something without voicing: perhaps an aside during a meeting or lecture.

Fundamentally, it’s an interpreter/transliterator’s responsibility to be able to communicate both ways in their chosen mode. I have always liked how so many sign language interpreting agencies and programs stress this, and I hope to see the same expectations in cued language transliteration programs as they expand.