The user reads the text that appears on the scrolling line, situated in the upper window of the user’s interface, into the computer microphone. A longer scrolling line just underneath shows the entire volume of text so that the user is able to regulate his or her breathing, Pauses should only take place when three dots appear in the upper window.
The three dots in the text serve not only to allow the user to take a breath but also to teach the user to use pauses to make sense of the text at any stage. Using pauses to make sense enables the person to be understood and also to create rapport (non-verbal interaction).
The aim of the training is for you to learn to speak fluently at any speed. A dysfluency is immediately followed by red vertical lines on the audiogram and in the car animation, where the car runs into obstacles for as long as a disturbance in the continuity of speech takes place.
If episodes of dysfluency take place too often – more than twice in five seconds – the program will automatically switch you over to an easier level of training as related to speed of utterance and duration of small breaks between words (micropauses).
The buttons in the right hand column allow you to choose your desired rate of speech. For convenience, each level contains the vocal patterns of the speech said ‘correctly’. These patterns have been recorded by professional actors and you can choose either a man’s or a woman’s voice. It is also possible to enter your own choice of text into the scrolling line.
Because a user may not be successful immediately, DAF and FAF effects have been added to the fluency training. They may be activated by pressing the buttons ‘DAF’ and ‘FAF’ at the user’s interface.
The DAF effect is a relatively well-known technological means for slowing down and thereby correcting stuttered speech and may be found in several portable devices and software. The reason for delaying the feedback of a person’s own speech via the use of headphones comes from the way areas of the brain work in synchronisation. One principle is that a person will always hear what he or she says and in DAF technology, speech is forced to slow down involuntarily. Another is that it is not possible to say one thing for any length of time while hearing another. As feedback is delivered through the headphones with a slight delay, the technology assists in matching the speed of speech to the reproduction of the person’s own voice. Speech is slowed down mainly due to the prolongation of vowels.
Headphones are necessary for fluency training. Speech is fed back to the speaker through the headphones with a slight delay and it is this that helps the person to slow down and speak fluently. It is also possible to choose an appropriate speed for the scrolling line with the help of the buttons in the right hand column. The biofeedback mechanism confirms fluency by the absence of the red vertical lines in the audiogram diagram and the absence of obstacles in the way of the animated car.
FAF - effect
It is also possible to use FAF technology (frequency altered feedback) whereby speech returned though the headphones is shifted in pitch. FAF technology was developed by a group of researchers in the Dept. of Psychology in University College, London. The FAF effect enables the person to hear his or her own voice shifted in pitch through the headphones. A frequency shift up or down of half an octave is considered to be the optimum amount to create fluency.
In fluency training the FAF effect is connected to the speed of the scrolling line, which in turn is set by using the appropriate buttons. The slower the speed of the scrolling line, the lower the tone of the shifted voice as heard through the headphones. Contrastingly, a fast speed of the scrolling line is associated with a higher vocal tone.
The user is recommended to start from between levels 20 – 15 (using the right hand column of buttons) although in the case of severe stuttering it is better to start from level 22. During a session, it is recommended that the user should pass through all levels in sequence beginning from between 22 – 15 until the 6th, either reading the standard text (which is downloaded into the scrolling line automatically) or the equivalent volume any desired text.
The button “Text” allows the user to print any text that is on the scrolling lines. It is also possible to enter different, preferred text into the scrolling line using the button labelled “Test”. It is imperative that the three dots are placed in new text to indicate where pauses for ‘sense’ should occur.
Fluency training requires 20-25 minutes practice each day.