A range of apps and electronic fluency devices are available to help with stammering.
Apps are relatively cheap and easy to use. Electronic fluency devices can be very expensive — it's best to try an app out first and get advice from speech & language therapist before spending a lot of money.
Most apps and devices use a technology called Altered Auditory Feedback (AAF). With AAF, as you speak you hear your voice played back to you. It's a bit like hearing an echo on a phoneline.
AAF is based on the 'choral effect'. This is a phenomenon where many people who stammer find that they can produce fluent speech when they talk in unison with other people.
The app or device also plays your speech back to you with a slight time delay (Delayed Auditory Feedback, or DAF) and/or with a slight change in pitch (Frequency-shifted Auditory Feedback, or FAF).
Some apps and devices can also produce music, a hiss or buzz. When this is turned on, it masks your voice and can increase fluency. Background music was used by King George VI in the film The King's Speech, and Musharaf in the programme Educating Yorkshire.
Some apps help you experiment with other changes to your communication style. They can also look at a range of factors that might increase confidence around talking.
Do they help?
Some people find AAF helpful, others don't. Each person is likely to respond differently, depending on their degree of stammering. There's not much research on its effectiveness and results are mixed. You may decide to use AAF mainly for more challenging situations, such as giving a speech. You can also use it as part of speech therapy – for example, to practise techniques.
Read LeeAnn's article 'Using a fluency app helped with my confidence' to see what using one is like.
Also, read Dave's article 'Getting through my Father of the Bride speech' to see how a device helped him.
These apps can be used on a smartphone, tablet or computer and are generally free.
Apps installed on a smartphone may or may not work when using the phone. You can look at the app description and reviews, but ultimately you will need to test it on your phone. They usually work with a Bluetooth headset but this might add a further delay to the feedback.
Here's a list of apps (with links to their websites) which use Altered Auditory Feedback (AAF) or Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF) (see above for details). Please note: this list isn't comprehensive and the fact we've included them doesn't mean we endorse them.
AAF & DAF Apps
Speech4good (aimed at speech & language therapists as well as people who stammer).
Other Types of App
BeneTalk (for ages 8+)
This app uses speech tracking technology to monitor your speech and give feedback in real time to help you make changes.
As well ask using DAF, this app helps you practise reading aloud, and gives guided meditation and breathing exercises.
Before laying out the cash for an electronic fluency device, try using an app and get advice from a speech & language therapist first. See our Get Support section to find a therapist near you.
There are two main types of device:
- A Single-component device which fits in or around the ear, like a hearing aid.
- A Multi-component device, consisting of a box carried in the pocket, plus an earphone. The link from the box to the earset may be wireless, or through a wire. A wireless link makes the device less visible, more like a single component device.
Here are some examples of devices available to buy:
Speak for Less: In-ear devices with a money back guarantee option.
SpeechEasy: In-ear devices. The most established product on the market. Email SpeechEasy at email@example.com for more information. Listen to these podcasts from StutterTalk to learn more about this particular type of device.
VoiceAmp: The VA601i Fluency Enhancer is available in the UK. Wired and wireless options are available.
Casa Futura Technologies: A website about stammering which includes a catalogue of DAF and FAF devices.
Electroncic fluency devices are expensive. Below is some information on how you can get some help with the cost.
NHS funding for such devices is not generally available.
Disabled Students’ Allowances
If you’re a student you may be eligible to apply for a Disabled Student Allowance.
Access to Work grants
If you are working, or wanting to start work, you may be able to obtain funding though the Access to Work scheme. You or your employer may need to pay part of the cost. In addition to the usual Access to Work eligibility criteria, you'll need to have an assessment by a speech and language therapist, and to have used a fluency device for a trial period.
Alternatively, if you are in work and a device would make a big difference to the way you do your job, it may be worth asking your employer if they could provide financial support.
If you have difficulty getting funding from any of the above sources, please let the BSA know.