Effects of the SpeechEasy

Qualitative results

Attending to the second speech signal, Using fluency techniques with the device, Increased confidence and carryover effects, effects of background noise and ability to hear oneself or others were some of the qualitative information collected from the participants through a questionnaire and interview. More than half the users cited the device not being helpful in a noisy environment, or during stressful situations. Half the subjects did find it helpful in asking a question of a stranger.

As in earlier studies, the test subjects reported the sense of confidence that wearing the device gave them, and they felt they experienced an “overall improvement of fluency”. The biggest improvement in fluency was noticed when using the telephone with the SpeechEasy.

Out of the eleven participants, four did take up the offer of a 60% price reduction and purchased the SpeechEasy. Three chose not to purchase, but reported they would have continued using it if it were free. Another three subjects also opted not to purchase, and did not wish to use it even if it were free. The last participant could not be contacted at this portion of the study and was not heard from. (The missing data for this subject was accounted for in the final results).
Like other studies, this study uses a small sample (11 subjects, one of whom did not complete).This study is beneficial in that it presents data “from the first Phase 1 clinical trial of the SpeechEasy under challenging, relatively natural conditions,” and includes self-report data.

Personal Experience

This article states that proper protocols for fitting the device include using it in the ear “opposite the one used when speaking on the telephone.” However, when this reviewer purchased the SpeechEasy, it was recommended to fit it for the ear the same as hand preference, so that the user could write with the dominant hand when speaking on the phone and taking notes. Therefore, being left-handed, it was fitted for the left ear. This fitting protocol, however, contradicts the protocol stated in this article.

Right ear preference?

Because SpeechEasy users report its most positive effects when using the phone, it is natural that fitting protocols would be geared to phone useage. But should this factor be the main determinant in ear choice? What about published accounts from numerous sources describing the right ear being prefereable for interpreting language sounds? The medical evidence for this phenomenon is well documented. References are not listed here but a Google search for “right ear preference language” will result in a plethora of information and articles supporting this, including from peer-reviewed medical journals.

It is strange that right-ear preference for language hearing is not mentioned in articles on the topic of the SpeechEasy and is not a factor when getting the device – the implication is it does not matter. If it is not a factor, why isn’t it? Why isn’t the fact at least addressed in any of the literature on the topic? This is one of the most compelling issues in the application of auditory feedback devices to the problem of stuttering, a factor that future investigation into the efficacy of the Speech-Easy and other AAF devices should probably explore, or at least address.

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