Graduate Asis Patel introduces his app and website for helping people reflect upon their stammer.
I have always stammered and it has had a huge effect on my life. Others don’t realise that it is much more than just a speech problem. I have just finished a degree in Design for Industry at Northumbria University and in my final year we were set the brief to research and design something that would be of benefit to an area of our choice. Naturally, I wanted to explore a personal issue and design something that could help people who stammer.
I found out as much as I could for my research, speaking to people who stammer and therapists and I read around the subject. I wanted to explore the hidden world of stammering, find out why we may be scared and what stops us from embracing it. This led me to devise ‘Speech Bubble’.
Speech Bubble is a tool to help people positively reflect on their stammer. Going through a process of answering a series of questions, users generate their own personalised Speech Bubble, a cartoon character which acts as a visual representation of their stammer. This takes the stammer out of their mind and onto the screen, making it easier to talk about it. There will be an optional online community, providing a safe place for users to gather together and share their experiences through their Speech Bubbles and help each other build a ‘to do list’.
The design is based on the ‘Stammer Hexagon’ by John C. Harrison, a model which suggests that stammering isn’t just about speech and is more about the person as a whole: it consists of physiological responses such as behaviours, emotions, perceptions, beliefs and intentions as well. Speech Bubble encapsulates all of these and by making ‘reflections’, users can see their character develop over time, allowing them to understand their stammer and themselves better. The reflection process helps them think about their speech as well as the contributing factors such as their emotions and confidence. Overall, it allows people who stammer to positively re-think how they can achieve their ambitions and not let their stammer hold them back.
I found the project an enjoyable way for me to understand what stammering is and I hope it can help others learn about their own stammer. Plus, I got a first class for my project!
Speech Bubble will be a free app and website for non-smartphone users and I hope to get it out soon. If you would like to know more, or can help or suggest ways to take it forward, please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Speaking Out, Summer/Autumn 2014, p3