Hollins Communications Research Institute, based in Roanoke, Virginia, is a premier organization dedicated to treatment and research of speech impediment disorders, specifically stuttering. Until now, patients at the facility had to regularly come in to receive objective analysis of their speech using desktop computers. To increase compliance with therapy and to help people assess their own speech on the go, an iPhone application was created which can listen to and provide objective feedback to the patient and clinicians back at the facility.
The iPhone device was programmed at HCRI with a sophisticated voice monitoring system that evaluates and scores speech behaviors taught during stuttering therapy. When clients use the device during training in outside situations, such as in a shopping mall, restaurant or business setting, fluency measurements for each utterance are displayed on the iPhone screen. Having this data immediately available to stuttering therapy program participants makes speech practice more effective and helps improve the speed with which fluency results are achieved.
In addition, the iPhone records every speech sample in an onboard file for later transmission to HCRI. This information enables the institute’s therapists to provide more detailed and precise training to clients, as they learn to apply new speech capabilities in everyday situations.
The iPhone has exceeded expectations during trials with stuttering therapy participants, according to HCRI Founder and President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D. Client scores in outside trials were similar to those made in the clinical environment, indicating that quality transfer of fluency skills was being attained.
Webster added that client responses during the trials, which were completed last week, have been extremely positive. He attributes the device’s strong appeal to the fact that the iPhone is a practical and fun piece of technology to use for the advancement of stuttering treatment outcomes .