Lythe School pupil passes adult exam with flying colours

Eve Winter has become the first child to sit a Cued Speech exam
Eve Winter has become the first child to sit a Cued Speech exam

Lythe School pupil, Eve Winter, has become the first child ever to sit a Cued Speech exam, and she’s done amazingly well.

Eve, 11, took the Cued Speech level one exam on June 26 and received her results from Cate Calder at Cued Speech UK who said: “Eve not only passed every section of the exam with flying colours, she is easily within the top 5% of all candidates that have successfully taken this exam over the years due to the extremely high levels of skill and accuracy that she demonstrated throughout.”

Eve Winter and Alfie Blackwell of Lythe School

Eve Winter and Alfie Blackwell of Lythe School

Nikki Summers, deaf inclusion worker, said “I honestly can't say how proud I am of her.”

Cued Speech is a way of making spoken language visible for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Eve explained further: “lip reading without Cued Speech is only 33% accurate, with Cued Speech it’s 98%”.

Unlike British Sign Language (BSL), which is a language in its own right, Cued Speech is a way of making spoken English visible using a series of easily identifiable hand gestures. So while BSL has only one word for dinosaur, with Cued Speech the reader can understand the word stegosaurus.

Eve, 11, took it upon herself to learn to use the language to enable her to better communicate with pupil, Alfie Blackwell, 8.

Alfie Blackwell, Nikki Summers and Eve Winter of Lythe School

Alfie Blackwell, Nikki Summers and Eve Winter of Lythe School

Alfie suffers from Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD), which causes a profound loss of hearing. It’s a complex condition which causes Alfie’s hearing to fluctuate, he can literally hear one minute and not the next. As Mrs Summers, explained; “You can’t rely on it”.

Mrs Summers and her colleague Carly Simpson, also a deaf inclusion worker, set up a Sign & Cue club in September 2018. Eve, who enjoys freestyle dancing, practiced at the club, but continued her learning at home. Mrs Simpson said: “it’s really encouraging that Eve has done so well”

Alfie’s mum, Sarah Blackwell, said “We use Cued Speech alongside British Sign Language BSL, to incorporate the full English Language for Alfie. We are the first to use this system in North Yorkshire and would encourage anyone to do the same. If anyone wants to know more they can get in touch with us or the Cued Speech association. “

When asked why she chose to learn Cued Speech Eve replied “because I want to help deaf children when I grow up, it’s a good idea to learn earlier rather than later.”

Eve and Alfie using Cued Speech

Eve and Alfie using Cued Speech

Sarah continued: “The children and teachers at Alfie’s school have done incredibly well at learning Cued Speech and Sign Language. There are quite a few children who have done fantastic and gained a lot of fluency in both.

“It fabulous news that Eve Winter has taken her Cued Speech Exam, we are so proud. Eve and some other children at Lythe have supported and encouraged Alfie, showing such a passion for learning Cued Speech and BSL they will always be such a special part of Alfie’s childhood.”

Alfie, an energetic young man, keen to join in with everything, said he is pleased that Eve can talk to him: “I like it when Eve reads stories to me, it makes me really happy” he smiled.

And what does mum, Lisa Winter, think of her daughter’s achievement? She’s clearly very proud as she sums up what everyone else is thinking: “She’s amazing”.