Manuscripts

MSS 216
Cornett, R. Orin (Richard Orin), 1913-2002
The R. Orin Cornett Cued Speech Papers, 1966-1984

Gallaudet University Archives

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 216
Creator: Cornett, R. Orin (Richard Orin), 1913-2002
Title: The R. Orin Cornett Cued Speech Papers, 1966-1984
Quantity: 25 boxes (13 linear feet)
Abstract: Papers and recordings of Dr. R. Orin Cornett, Gallaudet professor, vice president for planning, and inventor of the Cued Speech system. Includes correspondence, instructional materials, student work, reports, and educational recordings (such as phonograph records, audiotapes, videotapes, and film strips).
Note: This document last updated February 2017.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information: Donated to the Archives by R. Orin Cornett, 1989.
Processed By: Christopher Shea, February 2017.
Processing Note: Original collection included three filmstrip projectors, ca. 1966, in working order, which have been added to the Archives collection. These are used with the 8mm film loops in box 25.
Conditions on Use and Access: This collection is open to the public with no restrictions. See, however, the description of series 1.

Related Material in the Archives

Digital Media
• R. Orin Cornett Memorial Cued Speech Collection. http://gaislandora.wrlc.org/islandora/object/cuedspeech%3A1

Photographs
• Various photographs of R. Orin Cornett. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Portraits

Vertical Files
• Cornett, R. Orin. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Biographical
• Football - Drum. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Gallaudetiana

Biographical Sketch

Born in Driftwood, Oklahoma, in 1913, R. Orin Cornett studied mathematics and physics at Oklahoma Baptist University, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Texas. He taught at Oklahoma Baptist, Pennsylvania State, and Harvard before coming to Washington, DC, in 1959 to take a position at the Department of Education.

In 1965, Dr. Cornett was hired by Gallaudet as vice president for long-range planning. This was his first exposure to the deaf community. He was surprised to discover that deaf students often had poor reading test scores, since he believed that written language should naturally be easier for the deaf to learn. He soon learned about the difficulty and unreliability of speechreading, and the way it created challenges for deaf children to learn language as naturally as their hearing peers do.

Seeking a way to make language acquisition easier for the deaf, Dr. Cornett developed the system of Cued Speech over the course of three months. He first tested it with a high school friend, Mary Elsie Henegar, who had a deaf child, Leah Henegar. Leah became the first child to learn English through Cued Speech. Her success encouraged Dr. Cornett to begin teaching Cued Speech through workshops for parents and educators of the deaf, beginning in 1967.

Cued Speech, unlike ASL or other sign languages, is not a language. It is a method of making speechreading easier by using hand signs around the mouth to distinguish sounds that are difficult to read from the lips alone. It has the advantages of being relatively quick to learn compared to sign languages, and more accurate than speechreading alone. Since it is based on sounds, not words or letters, it can be easily used to support any spoken language, and by the end of his career Dr. Cornett had seen Cued Speech adapted to over 50 languages and dialects.

In 1975, Dr. Cornett quit his position as vice president of planning to focus full-time on Cued Speech. He became a research professor and director of Gallaudet's Cued Speech Programs, teaching classes and holding regular workshops on Cued Speech, as well as writing extensively and traveling to seminars and conventions to talk about his work. In 1981, he became chairman of the Center for Studies in Language and Communication at Gallaudet.

Cued Speech received a great deal of interest in the 1970s, including mainstream media attention. However, after the early 1980s, interest in Cued Speech began to drop off. It received criticism from both sides of the deaf education debate: manualists saw it as just another form of oralism, and strict oralists objected to any system that involved use of the hands. While Cued Speech is still taught and used today, including through video courses offered by Gallaudet, it has not gained widespread acceptance and lags behind pure oral, pure manual, and mixed methods of deaf education.

One other notable contribution Dr. Cornett made at Gallaudet was the introduction of a bass drum at football games to alert players when the ball was hiked. The drum became a symbol of Gallaudet football until it was retired in 2005.

Dr. Cornett retired in 1984, and was made professor emeritus by Gallaudet. Even in retirement, he continued to work to promote Cued Speech. In 1992, he published The Cued Speech Resource Book for Parents of Deaf Children, with a revised edition coming in 2001. He passed away in 2002.

Scope and Content

This collection includes extensive material covering Dr. Cornett's work on developing and promoting Cued Speech between 1967 and the early 1980s. The bulk is Dr. Cornett's correspondence, as well as essays and papers he wrote on various aspects of Cued Speech.

Also included is some Cued Speech teaching material, including word and phoneme lists, audiotapes, videotapes, and film loops, and even phonograph records. There is also material from Cued Speech workshops, in particular the original 1967 training project and various family workshops held in the 1970s and 1980s.

Series Descriptions
Series 1. Cued Speech teaching materials, 1967-1982
Boxes 1-2
Of major interest is a collection of Dr. Cornett's papers, articles, and essays on Cued Speech, from its origination to the late 1970s. Also included are worksheets and charts used for Cued Speech teaching, testimonial letters from parents and others, information packets and brochures, and a collection of teaching materials for Cued Speech in Spanish.
Note that this series also includes a file of assessments and audiograms of Cued Speech students. This file is covered by legislation governing the release of private medical records, and is closed to access.

Series 2. Clippings, 1967-1980
Boxes 2-3
A collection of newspaper and magazine clippings, mostly from mainstream media sources, explaining and promoting Cued Speech.

Series 3. Training project records, 1967
Boxes 4-5
Records from the first Cued Speech training workshop, where dozens of teachers of the deaf came to Gallaudet to learn Cued Speech and take it back to their institutions. Bulk is correspondence with attendees as well as application forms and lists of attendees, but also includes some schedules and agendas, a final report on the project, and texts of presentations by Merv Garretson and William Stokoe.

Series 4. Other workshop records, 1968-1980
Boxes 6-7
From 1972 on, Dr. Cornett held regular Cued Speech workshops at Gallaudet where families could come and learn Cued Speech together. These were eventually so popular, with hundreds of attendees, that he had to hold multiple family workshops a year. This series also includes records of training workshops held elsewhere in the country.

Series 5. Cued Speech reading file, 1971-1981
Boxes 7-12
A collection of Dr. Cornett's extensive correspondence on Cued Speech, arranged chronologically. Most is with parents and teachers who were using Cued Speech, offering suggestions, advice, and clarifications. Includes outgoing correspondence only. Also includes some correspondence from Mary Henegar and Elizabeth "Betsy" Kipila, who worked with Dr. Cornett on his Cued Speech projects. Note that there is some overlap between files in the early 1979 letters, and correspondence from the first half of 1980 is missing.

Series 6. Other correspondence, 1966-1979
Boxes 12-17
Another collection of Dr. Cornett's correspondence, this one arranged alphabetically by the correspondent's surname. Unlike series 5, this series mixes incoming and outgoing correspondence, but most is still related to Cued Speech.

Some correspondents receive individual files, particularly Mary Haney of the New York School for the Deaf, an early adopter and strong proponent of Cued Speech. Also includes a file requests received from parents and educators for copies of Cued Speech handbooks.

Series 7. June Dixon correspondence and reports, 1973-1981
Boxes 17-18
In the United Kingdom, Cued Speech was primarily promoted by June Dixon, principal of the KIDS National Centre for Cued Speech. KIDS is a nonprofit charity that assists disabled children of all types. This series includes Ms. Dixon's correspondence, mostly with Dr. Cornett, as well as reports and articles on the National Centre's work and a manual of Cued Speech written by Ms. Dixon.

Series 8. Autocuer reports and papers, 1972-1977
Boxes 18-20
One of the drawbacks of Cued Speech is that it is no help in speechreading someone who does not know it. Dr. Cornett hoped to design an "Autocuer," a device similar to a hearing aid that would receive spoken sounds and turn them into tactile or visual cues without the speaker needing to know Cued Speech. While a table-mounted prototype was developed, attempts to miniaturize the Autocuer to make it wearable were not successful. This series includes progress reports on the development of the Autocuer, as well as proposals and feasibility studies.

Series 9. Class materials, 1972-1984
Boxes 20-22
Dr. Cornett regularly taught classes on Cued Speech at the undergraduate and graduate level at Gallaudet. He also taught at other institutions, such as Maryland's Montgomery College. The bulk of this series is student examinations and papers, with some outlines and syllabi. It also includes some independent study work by students, which included producing Cued Speech phoneme lists for other languages.

Series 10. Planning materials, 1972-1977
Box 22
A small assortment of materials from Dr. Cornett's other position as vice president of planning, including a copy of the 1972 Gallaudet College master plan and some books and reports on academic planning.

Series 11. Recordings, undated
Boxes 23-25
Includes 78 rpm phonograph record and audiocassette of basic Cued Speech lessons, along with instruction sheets, as well as a collection of reel-to-reel tapes with Cued Speech lessons in English and other languages. Also present are some early videotapes of Cued Speech teaching, and a collection of "Artistic Cued Speech" video recordings produced by Jay Diamant of MSSD, showing students cueing popular songs.
This series also includes a set of 8mm film loops that were produced for Cued Speech instruction at the 1967 teaching project; a similar set was given to each attendee at the project.

Table
BoxFolderTitleYear(s)
1 1 Activity reports from Office of Cued Speech Programs 1979-1982
1 2 Assessents and audiograms for Cued Speech students (closed file) 1971-1978
1 3 Cued Speech brochures Undated
1 4 Cued Speech charts and notation Undated
1 5 Cued Speech exercises Undated
1 6 Cued Speech information packets Undated
1 7 Cued Speech word lists Undated
1 8 Essays on phonetics and International Teaching Alphabet Undated
1 9 Instructions for use of Peabody Language Development Kit Undated
1 10 Leah Henegar vocabulary list 1967
1 11 List of Cued Speech language adaptations 1980
1 12 Lists of articles on Cued Speech 1973-1976
1 13 Lists of Cued Speech materials available Undated
1 14 Lists of schools using Cued Speech 1971-1978
1 15 Notes and teaching materials for Spanish Cued Speech 1976-1980
1 16 Notes and teaching materials for Spanish Cued Speech 1976-1980
2 1 Papers and essays on Cued Speech 1967-1978
2 2 Papers and essays on Cued Speech 1967-1978
2 3 Papers and essays on Cued Speech 1967-1978
2 4 Proposal for education project 1980
2 5 Proposal to Spencer Foundation 1978
2 6 Testimonials 1969-1971
2 7 Testimonials 1969-1971
2 8 Transcription exercise lists Undated
2 9 Clippings on Cued Speech 1967-1978
2 10 Clippings on Cued Speech 1977-1978
3 1 Clippings on Cued Speech 1978
3 2 Clippings on Cued Speech 1978
3 3 Clippings on Cued Speech 1978
3 4 Clippings on Cued Speech 1978
3 5 Clippings on Cued Speech 1979
3 6 Clippings on Cued Speech 1980
4 1 Application forms for participants in training project 1967
4 2 Application forms for participants in training project 1967
4 3 Applications for alternates in training project 1967
4 4 Auditor applications for training project 1967
4 5 Correspondence on films for training project 1967
4 6 Correspondence on screening committee for training project 1967
4 7 Discussion group reports from training project 1967
4 8 Form letters to training project participants 1967
4 9 Letters of response to training project 1967
4 10 Letters of response to training project 1967
4 11 Lists of participants for training project 1967
5 1 Merv Garretson speech for training project 1967
5 2 Outlines and other materials for training project 1967
5 3 Participant lists and sign-up correspondence for training project 1967
5 4 Progress reports and final report on training project 1967
5 5 Rejected applications for training project 1967
5 6 Schedules and programs for training project 1967
5 7 William Stokoe paper for training project 1967
5 8 Descriptions of schools targeted for Cued Speech education Undated
5 9 Final report from Cued Speech parent training program 1972
5 10 Final report from Cued Speech parent training program 1972
5 11 Instructor pay forms for Cued Speech workshops 1968-1969
6 1 Notes and drafts for final report on parent training program 1972
6 2 Notes and drafts for final report on parent training program 1972
6 3 Other Cued Speech workshop materials 1978-1979
6 4 Records from Family Cued Speech Program workshop 1978
6 5 Records from Family Cued Speech Program workshop, California 1978
6 6 Records from Family Cued Speech Program workshop, Kansas 1978
6 7 Records from Family Cued Speech Program workshops 1979
6 8 Records from Cued Speech workshop, Feb 1980 1980
6 9 Records from Family Cued Speech Program workshop, June 1980 1980
7 1 Records from Family Cued Speech Program workshop, August 1980 1980
7 2 Records from Family Cued Speech Program workshop, August 1980 1980
7 3 Records from Family Cued Speech Program workshop, August 1980 1980
7 4 Records from Family Cued Speech Program workshop, Sacramento 1980
7 5 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Jan-May 1971 1971
7 6 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Jun-Dec 1971 1971
7 7 Correspondence on Cued Speech, 1972 1972
8 1 Correspondence on Cued Speech, 1973 1973
8 2 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Jan-Jun 1974 1974
8 3 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Jul-Dec 1974 1974
8 4 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Oct 1974-Jul 1975 1974-1975
8 5 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Aug-Dec 1975 1975
9 1 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Jan-Apr 1976 1976
9 2 Correspondence on Cued Speech, May-Jun 1976 1976
9 3 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Jul-Sep 1976 1976
9 4 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Oct-Dec 1976 1976
9 5 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Jan-Mar 1977 1977
9 6 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Apr-Jun 1977 1977
10 1 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Jul-Sep 1977 1977
10 2 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Oct-Dec 1977 1977
10 3 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Jan-Mar 1978 1978
10 4 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Apr-Aug 1978 1978
10 5 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Sep-Dec 1978 1978
10 6 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Jan-Apr 1979 1979
11 1 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Jan-Mar 1979 1979
11 2 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Apr-May 1979 1979
11 3 Correspondence on Cued Speech, May-Oct 1979 1979
11 4 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Oct-Dec 1979 1979
11 5 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Jul-Aug 1980 1980
11 6 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Sep-Dec 1980 1980
11 7 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Jan-Apr 1981 1981
11 8 Correspondence on Cued Speech, May-Jun 1981 1981
12 1 Correspondence on Cued Speech, Sep-Dec 1981 1981
12 2 Correspondence with Gallaudet on Cued Speech, 1977-1981 1977-1981
12 3 Correspondence: A 1968-1975
12 4 Correspondence: A 1969-1975
12 5 Correspondence: B 1967-1975
12 6 Correspondence: B 1967-1975
12 7 Correspondence: B 1966-1975
12 8 Correspondence: C 1967-1975
13 1 Correspondence: C 1967-1975
13 2 Correspondence: D 1967-1975
13 3 Correspondence: D 1968-1975
13 4 Correspondence: E 1967-1974
13 5 Correspondence: E 1969-1978
13 6 Correspondence: F 1968-1978
13 7 Correspondence: G 1967-1976
13 8 Correspondence: G 1967-1976
14 1 Correspondence: H 1968-1972
14 2 Correspondence: H 1967-1972
14 3 Correspondence: H 1967-1975
14 4 Correspondence: I 1969-1975
14 5 Correspondence: J 1967-1976
14 6 Correspondence: K 1967-1975
14 7 Correspondence: L 1968-1978
14 8 Correspondence: M 1967-1975
15 1 Correspondence: M 1966-1976
15 2 Correspondence: M 1966-1975
15 3 Correspondence: N 1968-1973
15 4 Correspondence: N 1967-1973
15 5 Correspondence: O 1966-1977
15 6 Correspondence: P 1967-1978
15 7 Correspondence: P 1967-1980
15 8 Correspondence: Q 1970-1972
15 9 Correspondence: R 1967-1981
15 10 Correspondence: R 1966-1978
15 11 Correspondence: S 1967-1975
16 1 Correspondence: S 1968-1979
16 2 Correspondence: S 1968-1972
16 3 Correspondence: S 1968-1975
16 4 Correspondence: T 1967-1975
16 5 Correspondence: U-V 1968-1975
16 6 Correspondence: W 1968-1974
16 7 Correspondence: W 1966-1975
16 8 Correspondence: Y-Z 1967-1974
16 9 Correspondence with Mary Haney 1967
16 10 Correspondence with Mary Haney 1967-1975
17 1 Correspondence with Mary Haney 1967-1977
17 2 Correspondence with Martin Hanopol 1979
17 3 Outline for lecture by Dr. Hess Undated
17 4 Correspondence with Ralph Hoag 1967
17 5 Correspondence and paper for Gallaudet symposium 1974-1975
17 6 Requests for Cued Speech handbooks 1971
17 7 Correspondence and articles from National Centre for Cued Speech 1980
17 8 June Dixon articles and essays 1973-1974
17 9 June Dixon correspondence 1973-1975
17 10 June Dixon correspondence 1975-1979
18 1 June Dixon correspondence 1981
18 2 June Dixon correspondence and photos 1981
18 3 June Dixon manual of Cued Speech Undated
18 4 Reports and articles on KIDS National Centre for Cued Speech 1974-1975
18 5 Reports and articles on KIDS National Centre for Cued Speech 1974-1975
18 6 Reports and articles on KIDS National Centre for Cued Speech 1976-1977
18 7 Reports and articles on KIDS National Centre for Cued Speech 1977-1979
18 8 Final report on Autocuer 1975
18 9 Papers on design of Autocuer 1975-1977
19 1 Progress reports on Autocuer 1973-1974
19 2 Progress reports on Autocuer 1974
19 3 Progress reports on Autocuer 1974-1975
19 4 Proposal for Autocuer feasibility study Undated
20 1 Proposal for development of Autocuer 1972
20 2 Student paper from Theory and Use of Cued Speech 1977
20 3 Student work and tests from Theory and Use of Cued Speech 1977-1980
20 4 Student papers and class materials from Theory and Use of Cued Speech 1978
20 5 Student papers and exams from Theory and Use of Cued Speech 1978
20 6 Student papers and exams from Theory and Use of Cued Speech 1978-1979
20 7 Student papers and exams from Theory and Use of Cued Speech 1979
20 8 Student papers from Theory and Use of Cued Speech 1979
20 9 Student papers and exams from Theory and Use of Cued Speech 1979
20 10 Student papers and exams from Theory and Use of Cued Speech 1979-1980
20 11 Student papers and exams from Theory and Use of Cued Speech 1980
20 12 Class materials from Cued Speech: Theory and Applications 1981
21 1 Class materials from Cued Speech: Theory and Applications 1982
21 2 Class materials from Cued Speech: Theory and Applications 1982
21 3 Class materials from Cued Speech: Theory and Applications 1983
21 4 Class materials from Cued Speech: Theory and Applications 1983
21 5 Class materials from Cued Speech: Theory and Applications 1984
21 6 Class materials from Cued Speech: Theory and Applications 1984
22 1 Class materials from Introduction to Deafness and Communication 1978-1979
22 2 Class materials from Use of Cued Speech in the Classroom 1981-1982
22 3 Cued Speech test results from SimCom course 1975-1976
22 4 Cued Speech test results from SimCom course 1976-1978
22 5 Materials for Tate Curriculum ESL training 1981
22 6 Student work from Cued Speech independent study 1974-1983
22 7 Gallaudet College master plan 1972
22 8 Books and reports on college planning 1972-1977
23 1 Instructions for Cued Speech record Undated
23   Beginning Lessons in Cued Speech records (x2) Undated
24   Beginning Lessons in Cued Speech audiocassette Undated
24 1 Instructions for audiocassette lessons Undated
24 2 Descriptions of audio and video tape contents Undated
24   Reel-to-reel audiotapes (x27) Undated
24   Video tapes (x7) Undated
25   Video tapes (x6) Undated
25   8mm film loops of Cued Speech lessons (x32) Undated