Miriam I. Redleaf, M.D. will be presented with a Miracle Achievement Award in May for her promotion of cued speech, an alternative form of communication used for the hearing-impaired, by Wheeling’s Alexander Graham Bell Montessori School in Wheeling and the Alternative Education for the Hearing Impaired (AEHI).
The award will be presented at the group’s May 17 gala at the Chicago Hilton.
UIC otologist/neurotologist Miriam Redleaf underwrote and helped coordinate a training session at which 45 Ethiopian students, teachers of the deaf, and family members learned cued speech of the country’s Amharic language.
The session, conducted in February, took place in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa. Dr. Redleaf’s daughter, Zenebesh, is a fluent speaker of Amharic and helped writer of the text, Thomas Shull, co-develop the workbook used for the session. She also shepherded the first day of training, Dr. Redleaf added.
Cued speech is based on phonemics, in which the spoken word is aligned with hand symbols positioned around the face to communicate syllables. Cued speech “allows the speaker to show the listener everything that’s happening beyond the lips,” Dr. Redleaf said.
“It’s very easy for an individual to learn the symbols and apply the cues of cued speech” to language, she added.
Cued speech is used as an alternative or supplement for those who cannot hear a spoken language or who experience delays in learning language skills, she said. Amharic is particularly adaptable to cued speech because it is based not in letters like English but in symbols. The February training was conducted by two teachers (who are also being honored at the May gala) who were able to quickly pick up Amharic cued speech – with the help of Zenebesh – and deliver the weeklong session.
Dr. Redleaf is scheduled to return to Ethiopia this summer to plan expansion of the training program at the Addis Ababa school and/or to other schools for the deaf.
For more information on cued speech, visit https://www.facebook.com/cuedspeech