Cueing in the Middle East: Cued Persian Developed in Iran

by Sarah Segal In one of the largest cities in Western Asia, Cued Speech is slowly but surely garnering the attention of scholars, deaf education professionals, and parents of deaf children. Guita Movallali (/gi’ ta mo væl læ’ li/) of Tehran, the capital of Iran, says that she developed Persian Cued Speech to help deaf Iranians “learn better and have full access to language in order to live a more meaningful life.”

Movallali first discovered Cued Speech as a Ph.D. student studying Psychology and Education of Exceptional Children at Tehran University. She immediately became curious and under the guidance of her Psychology of Deaf Individuals professor, Dr. Saeed Hassan-Zadeh, researched Cued Speech for her Ph.D. dissertation.

Her discoveries about the benefits of using Cued Speech with deaf children motivated her to adapt Cued Speech to the Persian language. “As a Ph.D. student, I was very interested [in] deaf education and I starved to do something to help deaf children of my country,” she said. “One of my professors encouraged me to work on Cued Speech. I searched a lot and [became] convinced that Cued Speech can be a great communication system in Iran [as] help for deaf children.”

Persian is the lingua franca in multiple countries in Western Asia, and motivated to have a broad reach in the Middle East, Movallali developed Persian Cued Speech. Movallali’s journey as a Cued Speech advocate officially began with her launch of the first Persian Cued Speech Foundation in 2011, a nonprofit organization that promotes literacy in deaf children. Of its importance, she said, “I think we need a center to promote the effective use of Persian Cued Speech for Persian-speaking deaf individuals—a center [that] can be in touch with other Cued Speech foundations all over the world. [With] such a center, we can encourage audiologists, speech language pathologists, parents, and teachers of the deaf to use this system.”

Movallali says that the mission of the Persian Cued Speech Foundation is to “promote the use of Persian Cued Speech for communication, language development and literacy [and] between deaf/hard of hearing populations. We try to raise awareness of Cued Speech and its applications and provide information about it for all who are interested to help Persian-language speaking deaf individuals.”

With the aid of an enormous amount of teaching resources from NCSA, Movallali teaches large workshops around the country to train teachers and administrators Cued Speech. Her primary focus is on the impoverished population of deaf children who lack resources for cochlear implants and other assistive technologies. Because the poor represent the majority of the deaf population, she has begun to facilitate an extremely advantageous educational boost in communication, language and literacy for deaf people.

Movallali has high hopes that her efforts will go far and that others will support her in her mission to spread the word about Cued Speech throughout Iran and the world. “I hope Persian Cued Speech help[s] deaf children [greatly]. I have founded this association but cannot go on without other’s generosity and aids. I hope they would lend me a hand so that together we could improve the lives of our deaf children.”

Learn more about her organization by visiting her Web site at www.cuedspeech.ir.

To contact Guita Movallali directly, e-mail her at r.gmovallali@gmail.com.

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