I am with you all the way on this, as my brother has battled a
stuttering problem his entire life! Having supportive people who care
is half the battle toward conquering this stressful malady!
I have answered your questions in the order listed. I believe you
will find some helpful information.
Is the company reputable?
You can never rely on a company's website to determine their
reputation! Since I could find nothing negative about the company,
itself, I tried to determine the reputation of the "Fluency Master"
device. The professor who holds the patent on the device has a very
good reputation. Maybe that is an answer in itself.
Ronald Webster holds a US patent on the "Fluency Master." I have
reproduced an article about the man and the product from the
"Ronald Webster, founder and Director of the Hollins Communications
Research Institute (HCRI), and Professor of Psychology (Emeritus),
Hollins University, leads a major research program on stuttering that
has produced a number of significant advancements in the treatment of
this difficult and much misunderstood problem. At the present time,
Dr. Webster and his colleagues are conducting research on the
relationships between sensory newly discovered feedback anomalies and
the disturbed speech motor activities in stuttering. Additional
research is in process that examines new methods by which direct
speech motor evaluations and speech motor training can be accomplished
over the internet."
"His extensive work on stuttering is based on the theory that
difficulties in the stutterer's reception of his own speech sounds is
the primary cause of stuttering. His research on stuttering therapy
has brought fluent speech to the majority of the 4,700 stutterers who
have undergone speech retraining at HCRI."
"The Precision Fluency Shaping Program, and more recently, the Hollins
Fluency System(TM), are stuttering therapies developed by Dr. Webster
at HCRI. The therapy programs have been the subject of articles
appearing in the New York Times, Newsweek, People, Parade, Sports
Illustrated, and numerous other publications. Dr. Webster's work has
also been featured several times on NBC's "Today" show, the "CBS
Morning News," ABC's "Good Morning America," ABC's "20/20" program,
and most recently, ABC's "Nightline" program.. Among the clients who
have participated in his therapy are Annie Glenn, wife of Ohio Senator
John Glenn; John Stossel of ABC's "20/20" program; and Arthur Blank,
co-founder of Home Depot."
"In addition to authoring the Precision Fluency Shaping Program, and
The Hollins Fluency System, Webster has written over three dozen
articles and book chapters dealing with stuttering that have appeared
in various publications, including the Journal of Speech and Hearing
Research, the Journal of Fluency Disorders, and the Journal of
Abnormal Psychology. Webster also serves as a consultant on the
application of learning principles to training, as well as a reviewer,
guest lecturer and researcher."
"He holds U.S. patents on the Voice Monitor, a special instrument for
measuring voice onset abruptness, and the * Fluency Master,* a tiny
instrument similar to a hearing aid that generates fluency in the
stutterer by modifying how the voice is heard."
"Webster has trained clinicians from Israel, Holland, Canada, England,
and the People's Republic of China in the conduct of stuttering
therapy. He has also been a consultant in the Middle East and Holland,
and has lectured in England, China, Belgium, and Canada. In 1983, he
was a member of a psychology exchange delegation to the People's
Republic of China and **was invited back to China in 1989 by Beijing
Medical University to present his findings on the Fluency Master
device.** He is also a member of the board of the International
Institute of Continuing Medical Education, a group that fosters the
international exchange of clinical information, and has traveled to
Asia several times in recent years as a consultant on these programs."
"Webster's research has been supported by grants from the National
Institutes of Mental Health, the National Institute of Child Health
and Human Development, the U.S. Department of Education, the J .M.
Milbank Foundation, Phillip Morris International, and the Arthur M.
Blank Family Foundation."
"Webster received a B.A. from the University of Maine and the M.A. and
Ph.D. at Louisiana State University. He joined the Hollins faculty in
1964 and retired from Hollins University in 2000. He is a licensed
"Webster is a member of the American Psychological Association, the
Southeastern Psychological Association, the Association for the
Advancement of Behavior Therapy, and Sigma Xi, the honorary scientific
research society. He is also listed in Who's Who in America. In 1995,
Dr. Webster received an award from the Virginia Psychological
Association for "Outstanding Contributions in the Application of
Is there any similar device for a significantly lower (or higher)
cost, and how do they compare?
Fluency Master - (You've already seen this site)
Price - ?? None listed on site, though you mentioned $3500, and a
reference in the last section of my answer mentions $2300-2500.
"The Fluency Master comes with a money-back, satisfaction guarantee.
People who purchase the Fluency Master are encouraged to use it in all
speaking situations, especially those in which stuttering is most
likely. If the results are not satisfactory during a trial period, the
device can be returned for a substantial refund. The refund does not
include the clinician's professional fee or the cost of a custom ear
Price - ???
However, in a further part of my answer below, the product price is
$4000-5000, which is significantly higher than the Fluency Master.
Digital Speech Aid
"the most advanced Digital Speech Aid for reduction, in some cases
complete elimination, of stuttering."
"DSA test results show an immediate improvement in speech fluency with
a gradual increase in the effectiveness of the device during the first
2 to 6 weeks of use. After this time the level of fluency seems to
level off. The results show no decrease in the fluency level over
time. Furthermore, the results show carry-over effect as the person
remains fluent or more fluent anywhere from 2 hours to 2 weeks
(depending on the person) after using the device. Overall, a
significant improvement in self-esteem and confidence has been
observed. People like DSA and say that it is relaxing. Click here to
read DSA users' testimonials."
Read more for further information about the product!
Price - ???
"Digital Recordings offers a *risk free program* for purchasing DSA.
For more details contact Digital Recordings directly."
Read "DSA (Digital Speech Aid) - a New Device to Decrease or Eliminate
Stuttering," by by Marek Roland-Mieszkowski, M.Sc., Ph.D., Digital
Recordings and Andrzej Czyzewski, Ph.D. and Bozena Kostek, Ph.D.,
Technical University of Gdansk, Poland. (1994)
Wireless Pocket Fluency System
Casa Futura Technologies
Read all about the device on the above site.
Trial Period offered
Some different products:
Stammer-Aid: Delayed Audio Feedback software for the PC
"Several hardware devices are available to aid those with a
stammer/stutter these are not cheap and may not be necessary or
appropriate for all."
"Stammer-Aid is a small computer program that runs on your windows PC
and uses your soundcard, microphone and headphones to allow you to try
'Delayed Audio Feedback'
Price - FREE DOWNLOAD!!
"The DAF/FAF Assistant is a software application that implements
Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF) and Frequency Altered Feedback (FAF)
techniques. The application can be used by people who stutter to
control their speech fluency, increase their confidence level and
develop the carryover fluency when the techniques are used on a
Features and download
Price - (29.95) FREE 7-day trial version
A few more devices listed by the Stuttering Foundation of America may
be found at http://www.stutteringhelp.org/electdev.htm
What are the Risks?
From what I have read, the only real risk is that no matter what the
device, it may not work for a particular individual. Placing high
hopes on the device alone, without practicing, can be devastating if
the product does not reduce the stuttering.
Read "The Use of Altered Speech Feedback in Stuttering Management," by
Greg Snyder (2002)
"Without a definitive treatment for developmental stuttering, the
field of speech-language pathology continues to serve the stuttering
population by offering as many valid and reliable treatments as
possible; however, it is ultimately the client's responsibility to
become informed of the various approaches towards stuttering
management, and pick specific treatments that best meets their needs.
"While the prosthetic implementation of ASF is compelling, research
already suggests that it is a stuttering management, not a stuttering
'cure' . With this in light, the inclusion of a prosthetic ASF
device into a stuttering management program becomes a private choice
that is determined by the personal values and treatment objectives of
each individual client."
For desperate people who might be willing to try anything, is any kind
of caution recommended?
The article "Straight Talk on Portable DAF - SpeechEasy & Fluency
Tim Mackesey, a Speech Language Pathologist, highlights some of the
limitations of both devices and the considerations a patient should
take into account before investing in the product. Mackasey does not
deny the allure of the "quick fix," but notes that certain limitations
should be brought to the forefront before a person falls for the
Because there are restrictions on quoting or reproducing the article,
you can read it in it's entirety at the following link:
What do independent practitioners in speech-disorder-related helping
professions say about it?
According to Rick Merson, Ph.D., Speech-Language Pathology Department
at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, in a reproduction
from a mailing list post dated Feb 27, 2003:
"The Fluency Master delivers a frequency-altered-feedback with a
slight delay. The FM's designed in the mid to late 90's do not have an
adjustment for alternative DAF's or FAF's . You take what you get. It
fits behind the ear with a microphone taped to the mastoid and an
earmold in your ear."
"If you respond to auditory feedback sidetone.....this can and in my
experience does work quite well for some patients. ( my experience
about 25-30% of PWS that I fit). I still have clients you use their FM
and they're going on 5 to 6 years."
FM is cheaper...est.. $2300-2500
easy to fit ... Fits behind ear, not in the ear
you can adjust the loudness.
Fits behind the ear and visible.......
Has only one pre-set DAF and FAF at present.
I'm not impressed with tech.support, contracts.
If DAF doesn't work for you don't do it.
If you are not willing to practice don't do
(On the same post, he also provides the pros and cons of the
"My experience.....of all the PWS I have assessed with the SpeechEasy
( 70 ), approximately 90% get stuttering reductions. That's only half
the story. In my practice only 33% are great candidates for the
SpeechEasy for I which I give a strong recommendation. Many choose to
buy one against my recommendations... "
It's in the ear or completely in the canal.
It is software driven and can be custom fit to individual sensory
needs with regards to DAF and FAF and GAIN. Acoustic parameters can be
The SE chip is excellent and the quality of the acoustic signal is the
best available in my opinion.
It is barely visible.....not invisible...but nicely hidden.
You get a 30 day trial with 90% refund.
It is very pricey! $4000 to 5000.
If you can't handle an in the ear device don't do it.
If DAF doesn't work for you don't do it.
If you are not willing to practice don't do it.
"Electronic Devices and Stuttering Treatment," developed by Judy
http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/TherapyWWW/dafjanus.html offers some
very useful information and links that you should find interesting!
"Lee Reeves, DVM, Chairman, NSA, reported (February 14, 2003, SID#4
listserv) that in 2002, the National Stuttering Association "conducted
a survey of it's membership in order to gather information on a
variety of topics. One of the questions asked about experiences with
treatments other than speech therapy including assistive devices."
"125 of the 710 respondents reported using a feedback or speech pacer
device such as DAF, masker, Fluency Master, Pacemaster, etc. Of those:
38 percent reported that their experience with the device was not at
44 percent said their experience was somewhat successful;
18 percent reported their experience was very successful."
If you have a PC, there is a place online where you can get software
that will sort of do what several of these products do so maybe check
out what they are like:
A trial PC version is available from DAF/FAF Assistant from
The bottom line(s) as far as I'm concerned is that:
these products are not a "cure" and should not be marketed as such
may be beneficial for some people who stutter
may be expensive, but some have a partial money-back guarantee
there need to be studies done to determine the long-term
Although these consumer comments about various devices are a bit
dated, I wanted to include the thread for you to read:
Some good Stuttering Treatment Links:
Some fantastic Stuttering treatment links and Chat sites: (don't
You are to be commended for going out of your way to find some
information for your friend. What a lucky gal she is! And I'm sure she
must be a special person or you wouldn't be doing this for her!
If I can be of further assistance, please don't hesitate to ask for
additional clarification. I will be more that happy to help if I can!
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