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Investigation of the use of Voice Amp with adults who stutter
VA is a device that alters auditory feedback, that is, it changes how the speaker hears their own voice while they are talking. VA returns the speakers' voice with a slight delay and with an alteration in the pitch. These changes have been found to help some people who stammer to speak more fluently. Devices like VA have been available for some time but there has been little research into how useful they are in people’s every-day lives.
This study explored the experiences of using VA in every day life with a small number of volunteers. Participants provided information on their daily use of the device; they recorded occasional conversations with colleagues, family or friends and noted changes they perceived in their speaking. Participants also spoke, on the phone, with the lead researcher at regular intervals so that their level of stuttering could be assessed and any issues that arose in their use of the device could be discussed. Some people who wished to participate in the study did not find VA as helpful in increasing their fluency as they had hoped for and so did not continue with the trial.
The data analysis is not yet complete but early results show that VA can be helpful in daily life in those who experienced increased fluency during the initial assessment of their speaking while wearing the device. Two participants found it helpful when using the phone at work and during more formal work meetings. Two others who work in noisy environments found the device more difficult to use. One of these abandoned the device after a couple of weeks whilst the other experimented with getting the best effects from VA in the different settings where she works.
The results from this study will add to what is already known about the Altered Auditory Feedback devices and so should help people who are considering using VA and their SLTs weigh up the likely benefits and costs. We hope to clarify some of the factors that need to be considered when deciding whether or not to use VA. The experiences of these participants may help others optimise the benefits that the device can offer.