Hearing aids and stuttering

SpeechEasy stuttering aids.

I’ve stuttered all my life. It used to be incapacitating. When I was in my early twenties a speech therapist told me in his thirty years helping stutterers, he’d had one client who stuttered worse than me. My stuttering lessened over time and for years generally has been a minor annoyance and not a handicap. Until recently, that is. In the past several months, my stuttering got worse and I was baffled as to why. All my normal ways of dealing with it weren’t working.

I had a physical a few weeks ago and mentioned to the doctor that my wife was saying either I don’t hear what she’s saying or I’m ignoring her. He grinned and said, when you get your hearing aid, you’ll hear her much better! I got the feeling he’d had this conversation many times before.

As it turns out I have 30% hearing loss in the higher ranges, where female voices are. The hearing aid absolutely helps. What I was not expecting was that my stuttering lessened instantaneously after I put the hearing aids on for the first time. My stuttering is back to being a minor annoyance.

There is a hearing aid-like device called SpeechEasy for stutterers. I think my new hearing aids essentially do what SpeechEasy does.

SpeechEasy is similar in appearance to a hearing aid. However, rather than amplifying sound, SpeechEasy alters sounds that go through the device so that you hear your voice at a slight time delay and at a different pitch. The purpose of the delay and pitch change is to recreate a natural phenomenon known as the “choral effect.” The choral effect occurs when your stutter is dramatically reduced or even eliminated when you speak or sing in unison with others. This choral effect has been well documented for decades and SpeechEasy utilizes it in a small, wearable device that can be used in everyday life.