WASHINGTON - This year, for the first time, Cued Speech for the deaf and hard-of-hearing was integrated into the Inauguration Day events -- all thanks to an Illinois man.
During President Joe Biden’s inaugural address, what could be seen being performed next to Biden was Cued Language Transliteration. Benjamin Lachman of Northbrook helped make it possible.
"It's been so awesome because all we want is equal access. We don't want to take anything away from anyone. We just want to be at the same table," said Lachman, who is part of the Government Liaison for the National Cued Speech Association.
Lachman’s family opened one of the first Cued Speech schools in the country, in suburban Wheeling. He has met with then-Senator Kamala Harris and even worked with Chicago rapper Twista to get the word out.
Unlike sign language, Cued Speech uses hand positions and shapes near the mouth to signal speech and sounds. Eight to 10 percent of those who are deaf and hard-of-hearing use it.
Wednesday’s inauguration was very exciting for students at Illinois School for the Deaf.
"And I know there are a lot of kids around the country who are really excited about this," Lachman said. "One of them even said, ‘I can be president.’"
At future events, Lachman wants everyone to have access to Cued Speech, just like they do sign language.