Technology for People who Stutter
Individuals who stutter may or may not wish to have assistance with modifying their speech. For those who do, a variety of technologies are available. This article summarizes some of the latest options.
Speech therapy for people who stutter often involves delayed audio feedback (DAF) or frequency-altered auditory feedback (FAF). DAF is based on a discovery that when some stutterers hear their voices in headphones delayed a fraction of a second, they speak more slowly and fluently. With FAF, a user hears the pitch of his or her voice shifted higher or lower. These strategies may be used separately or in combination.
While some of these technologies can be acquired and used independently, their effectiveness will usually be significantly enhanced if used while working with a speech-language pathologist.
SpeechEasy is similar in appearance to a hearing aid. However, rather than amplifying sound, SpeechEasy alters sounds that go through the device to provide both DAF and FAF. FluencyCoach is a free software program by the same manufacturer that provides similar therapy via computer.
SpeechMonitor is another free software program that lets individuals try using DAF/FAF before committing to an expensive device such as the SpeechEasy.
Some iOS apps are emerging to help users with therapeutic exercises or track their progress. These include FluencyTracker, which places significant emphasis on allowing users to also track their feelings about their progress, and DAF Assistant, which can be used to "control speech fluency, slow down speech rate, increase confidence level and develop good speaking habits."
The Speech Assistant is a telephone adapter system that enables a user to communicate over a phone line with their own source of synthesized speech, or Speech Assistant's basic AAC software. Messages can be typed into the system's PC-based text-to-speech program, or can be generated by a separate AAC speech generating device. Messages are sent over the standard phone line by way of an included audio cable and interface connector. Both sides of the conversation are heard by the caller through the included headphones. The system allows persons with speech difficulties to make and receive telephone calls privately and quietly without a third party.
A list of blogs, podcasts, Facebook pages, videos, and online radio shows focused on stuttering is listed on the Minnesota State University website.
Some of the product information in this article is provided by AbleData, an assistive technology information service provided by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). Neither the Department nor ICF Macro, which operates AbleData, has examined, reviewed, or tested any product, device, or resource contained in AbleData or referred to in this Fact Sheet. The Department and ICF Macro make no endorsement, representation, or warranty express or implied as to any product, device, or other information set forth in AbleData. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Department, NIDRR, or ICF Macro.