Fluency Tracker iPhone app
Stephen Paterson reviews the Fluency Tracker application for iPhone (or iPod touch / iPad).
Fluency Tracker is as described by the developers "an application designed for individuals who stutter and parents of children who stutter. Fluency Tracker will complement the services provided by speech therapists by offering clients a tool they can use to track their progress towards a more fluent speech, positive feelings about speech, and a decrease in avoidance behaviours that are associated with stuttering".
For a time now I've been looking for a system that I could use to track my speech behaviours on a daily or weekly basis. In the past I've used diaries, and while a diary is very useful I wanted something better, something maybe with a chart or graph that I could see at a glance how my speech pattern has been over the past week, month etc. When I saw that this application was available on the iPhone it caught my attention straight away. I always have my mobile phone with me so it would make sense to have an application that could track my speech behaviour as I encountered each situation and especially if I had a bad experience. When using a different system, i.e. a diary, I may forget some aspects of the experience.
When the application is launched, the first screen you see gives you five buttons. The interface isn't anything spectacular, it's a basic layout. On further investigation of the app I don't see a need to have this screen, if any of the five buttons are pressed all the options appear on the bottom of the screen anyway in a much tidier way and a lot of applications use this layout. The 'home screen' of the app could have a nice graphic, a short note on what the app does or, if they developed it more, it could have an option to set up a profile of the person using it for a more personal touch.
At the bottom right of the home screen there's a button you press for information on the app. I have a couple of problems with this information: the font is too big and the line spacing is too far apart. A simple font type and closer line spacing would be more easy on the eye.
Counting the moments
Inputting your information is quite easy, I can't see any simpler way of doing it. If I want to add a 'Disfluent' moment I press the relevant button and then press +1 to increase the counter, there's a minus symbol if I want to minus the total by 1. The screen tells you how many disfluent moments you've had today and also gives the amount for yesterday which is good to know so you can keep a track of it. There is an option to include where the disfluent moment was and also with whom.
If I want to add an 'Avoidance' moment the options and layout are the same as adding a disfluent moment.
A third option lets you track feelings. As any person who stammers knows, you have a whole mix of different feelings, some positive and some negative. The app includes 39 positive feelings and 44 negative feelings which is an impressive list. Testing how many feelings of each I could select the app crashed a couple of times - it's not a big problem and it's something I'm sure is easily fixed in an update.
Moving on, the next option is an 'Event Counter'. When you press 'start timer' the clock begins and as you block or have a disfluent moment you press the +1 button. It tells you on the screen how many disfluent moments you have a minute, this number is an average. You can also input where it was and with whom. The Event Counter can be used in most situations, whether you are talking to one person or a group or even on the telephone - but you are unable to use it if you are talking on the iPhone, you would need to use another phone.
The fifth and final option is 'Profile'. This part of the application lets you see a summary of the disfluent moments, avoidance behaviours, feelings about your speech and event counter. Under each of these you have two options to view the information: 1) where and with whom and 2) a graph. This is useful for going back over a period of time and seeing how your speech is progressing.
Overall I like this application but I feel it could do with some minor amendments. It would be great to have an option to email the data and perhaps analyse it with a spreadsheet programme. The application is a little overpriced in my opinion at £6.49. Most applications on the App Store are on average between 59p and £3.50. It would be great to see more apps like this on the App Store.
Even though I have my iPhone with me all the time, there were times when I forgot to record my disfluent moments and avoidance behaviours. When I did use the app I didn't notice any major changes in the number of times I had a disfluent moment. I'm quite comfortable with my stammer and I found it useful that the app made me think more about my stammer, reminding me to use the techniques that I learned in speech therapy. If any readers want to contact me about the app, my email is email@example.com
From Speaking Out Summer 2010, pages 10-11
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