Fluency Enhancing Devices

Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center has certified SpeechEasy providers who work with Janus Developmental Group, Inc. to dispense the SpeechEasy device. This device uses delayed auditory feedback and frequency altered feedback to enhance fluent speech production. Below you'll find the answers to many questions commonly asked about the SpeechEasy. You may also want to refer to the SpeechEasy website at  www.speecheasy.com. 

How does the SpeechEasy Device help people who stutter? 
What is altered auditory feedback? 
Will it work for me? 
Does insurance cover this?
What models are available?
Are there other fluency enhancing devices?

How does the SpeechEasy Device help people who stutter? 
The device uses auditory altered feedback to create the choral effect, or the perception that one is speaking in unison with others. Choral speaking has long been a method used in therapy to increase fluency or decrease stuttering.

What is altered auditory feedback? 
The technology employed by the SpeachEasy Device uses two types of altered auditory feedback. One is delayed auditory feedback: a delay in the auditory signal picked up by the device, much like the delay heard on a overseas phone connection. The other is frequency altered feedback: changing the pitch of the voice to either a higher or lower frequency. When the delay and frequency are altered, the choral effect is created. This allows the speaker wearing the device to feel as though s/he is speaking in unison with someone else (choral speech). For an unknown reason, almost all people who stutter are fluent when they speak in unison with others.

Will it work for me?
The typical evaluation is completed in 3 hours. The SLP will assess speech abilities, discuss the device and how it works, try the device with with you to determine best placement (which ear) and settings. Then you would wear the demo device into the community for about 45 - 60 minute trial to see how it works in real life situations. After that, you will meet with the clinician who will reassess your speech and discuss your experiences with the device and whether or not the device is appropriate for you. Recommendation of the device is based on the results of the evaluation and your achievement of certain objective and subjective measures; specifically, at least a 50% reduction in the frequency of stuttering, realistic expectations, and ability to tolerate the device.

Does insurance cover this?
The device is not typically covered by private insurance nor by Medicaid/ Medicare. Charges for our services, such as the evaluation, can be billed to insurance. We are Medicare/Medicaid certified and we participate with many private plans. The Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (BVR) has approved coverage for the device and this may be an option if the client is 16 years or older. Additionally, we have a sliding fee scale that applies to our service fees, but not to the cost of the device. Acceptance for the sliding fee scale is based on demonstration of financial need. Click here to download a copy of the application.

What models are available?
On August 1, 2007 a new model of the Speech Easy Device became available. This model has some considerable improvements with respect to hearing and noise. The original device is a custom fit device that fits into the ear like a hearing aid -- snuggly. This can create an occlusion effect, much like an ear plug, and can diminish hearing in that ear slightly. The new model, called the Comfort Fit, uses an open fit mold in the ear and the device itself sits atop and behind the ear. The decrease in occlusion effect has positively changed hearing and noise as well. This is probably more easily explained in conversation. Other models include behind the ear, in the ear, and completely in the canal. While this gives you an overview of the device, the evaluation, costs and payment options, you may want to look at the website (speecheasy.com) for more detailed information. Also, on the website, there is a button to click for Janus to send you a free information packet.

Other Fluency Enhancing Devices

Several devices exist to assist a person who stutters in producing fluent speech. Among these are delayed auditory feedback and/or masking machines, such as The Facilitator, the Fluency Master, Pocket Fluency, and the SpeechEasy. You can find more detailed information about these devices on the following websites: