About: The SpeechEasy device provides delayed auditory feedback (DAF) and frequency-shifting. The hearing aid-style device was introduced in 2001.

Evidence: SpeechEasy devices are effective for reading aloud and monologues in quiet speech clinics (Pollard, 2009; Stuart 2004, 2006; O’Donnell, 2008) but ineffective in stressful conversations (Pollard, 2009). Over time, the devices don’t train carryover fluency (Stuart, 2004, 2006). Some studies found that SpeechEasy devices lose effectiveness over time (Molt, 2006; Pollard, 2009) while other studies found no adaptation (Stuart, 2004, 2006). SpeechEasy devices have problems with background noise (Pollard, 2009). The frequency-shifting AAF used in SpeechEasy devices is not the same as pitch-shifting FAF and has never been proven effective. SpeechEasy devices are monaural, which is 25% less effective than binaural devices (Stuart, 1997. The specified maximum volume of 105 db (Stuart, 2003) has the potential of causing hearing loss in about five minutes ; however, an acoustical analysis found that 90 dB multitalker babble noise produced on 96 dB in the ear (Portnuff, 2012), which is safe for about thirty minutes.

References:

Molt, L. (2006). SpeechEasy AAF device long-term clinical trial: Usage patterns and satisfaction ratings. Poster presented at the annual convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Miami, FL. Quote is from Pollard, R., Ellis, J., Finan, D., & Ramig, P. (2009). Effects of the SpeechEasy on objective and perceived aspects of stuttering: a 6-month, phase I clinical trial in naturalistic environments. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 52, 516-533.

O’Donnell, J., Armson, J., & Kiefte, M. (2008). The effectiveness of SpeechEasy during situations of daily living. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 33, 99-119.

Pollard, R., Ellis, J., Finan, D., & Ramig, P. (2009). Effects of the SpeechEasy on objective and perceived aspects of stuttering: a 6-month, phase I clinical trial in naturalistic environments. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 52, 516-533.

Portnuff, C. 2012. Report of Acoustical Analysis. Private correspondance.

Stuart, A., Kalinowski, J., & Rastatter, M. (1997). Effect of monaural and binaural altered auditory feedback on stuttering frequency. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 111, 2237-2241.

Stuart, A., Xia, S., Jiang, Y., Jiang, T., Kalinowski, J., & Rastatter, M. (2003) Self-contained in-the-ear device to deliver altered auditory feedback: applications for stuttering. Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 31, 233-237.

Stuart, A., Kalinowski, J., Rastatter, M., Saltuklaroglu, T., & Dayalu, V. (2004). Investigations of the impact of altered auditory feedback in-the-ear devices on the speech of people who stutter: initial fitting and 4-month follow-up. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 39:1, 93–113. Stuart, A., Kalinowski, J., Saltuklaroglu, T., & Guntupalli, V. (2006). Investigations of the impact of altered auditory feedback in-the-ear devices on the speech of people who stutter: One-year follow-up, Disability and Rehabilitation, 1-9.

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