BUSINESS | Start-up Spotlight
Stuttering therapy meets digitalization How a German company is changing the therapeutic landscape
Speechagain is helping people who stutter with an entirely new online speech therapy concept.
Speechagain is very involved in raising public awareness of stuttering and its personal implications. They are always looking for people who stutter themselves and want to test their therapy or for people willing to share their personal stories. Just reach out to: email@example.com or go to their website: www.speechagain.com.
20 | HEIMAT abroad | SPRING 2019
Today, stuttering affects more than 80 million people worldwide – regardless of language, geography, or ethnicity. In the US, almost 4 million people are deeply affected by this huge impediment to conversation. Blockages and interruptions can occur in every communication experience and the avoidance of social settings is an often-observed consequence. Therapy sessions cost between $100-$150 per hour and are usually not covered by health insurances. These financial strains in addition to the time-consuming nature of an in-person therapy lead to an overwhelmingly large percentage of people who stutter having no access to an evidence-based therapy method. Speechagain, a German-founded company, set out to solve this problem by changing the way therapy is delivered. In order to do so, it developed the first solely online stuttering therapy which is based on a proven therapy method. Thanks to its cloud-based nature, the personal software is accessible anywhere and anytime, diminishing the need for long drives to a therapist. Speechagain’s patented technology is based on specialized speech recognition and feedback algorithms. This enables the software to evaluate the user’s exercise and give real time feedback – simplifying and mimicking the work of a therapist. As Johanna Joch, Speechagain’s US-General Manager explains it: “It was about time that stuttering therapy could profit from digitalization and get a true remake. For that, we collected a library of sound characteristics with real speakers as a basis for artificial intelligence processing. The AI is now able to guide the user towards the correct way of getting into a word. In easy words: You see the word or sentence, you say it into the microphone and instantly see your voice curve. The feedback will then tell you what you can improve on and help you monitor your progress. We started this company to support every person to speak and be heard – clearly and effortlessly.” The Speechagain platform provides interactive speech exercises, practice sequences of everyday situations, and theoretical knowledge about stuttering to affected individuals. People who stutter can practice with simulations of difficult in-person communications and learn to slowly overwrite negative or even traumatic situations with positive, more fluent ones.