Genius Hour Project

By: Jasmine R. Norton

Genius Hour Topic

For my topic, I was interested in seeing what technology is available to help students with speech disorders. There are a variety of students that have speech disorders and it gives them a disadvantage in the classroom. This topic is important to K12 education. There are a lot of students who suffer from speech disorders. They are not able to get the specialized education that they need because they can not ask questions as freely as the other students because they are too self-conscious or they physically can not.

Research

I started doing this research by finding pages on twitter to follow that would direct me to websites about speech disorders. Then I communicated with my classmates who had topics similar to mine and we shared information. I also did some of my own extensive research using UGA's library database. So much information was available to me that I had to decide what I wanted to focus on the most for this project.

Twitter has been a helpful resource in helping me find more information about my project. I search “speech disorders” and I am able to see a lot of tweets about this. This is helpful because it directed me to users and websites aboutspeech disorders. Here are a few of the users I follow: @slpllu_ , @SAC_OAC, @lotsofmany, @disabilityscoop. There are quite a few websites that talk about technology that can help students with speech disorders, such as: asha.org, nidcd.nih.gov, nlm.nih.gov and atcoalition.org.

Technology

I learned about Speech Generating Devices (SGD’s). I think it is really interesting how people can use computers to be able to communicate with others. I also learned about augmentative or alternative communication (AAC). The most basic AAC devices are non-electronic communication boards. The choices can be represented by real items, pictures of items, and symbols for items. This is another way that students with speech disabilities can communicate with other people.
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The last important thing that I learned about was SpeechEasy. In my research I found a device that helps people who stutter. It is called “SpeechEasy”. SpeechEasy is a combination of proven technology and techniques which can be used to reduce stuttering. Worn in one ear and similar in appearance to a hearing aid, SpeechEasy has helped thousands increase their ability to communicate effectively and confidently. SpeechEasy is similar in appearance to a hearing aid. However, rather than amplifying sound, SpeechEasy alters sounds that go through the device so that you hear your voice at a slight time delay and at a different pitch. The purpose of the delay and pitch change is to recreate a natural phenomenon known as the “choral effect.” The choral effect occurs when your stutter is dramatically reduced or even eliminated when you speak or sing in unison with others. This choral effect has been well documented for decades and SpeechEasy utilizes it in a small, wearable device that can be used in everyday life.
SpeechEasy Revisited
I think that these devices are a great idea for student that have severe speech disorders. Using these devices give them the opportunity to have a voice. Literally and metaphorically. Communication is something that makes life a lot more simple. It is a frustrating thing to not be able to express yourself. With SGD’s and AAC’s, these students are able to experience life in its fullest. They are able to experience joy. All of this is a result of them gaining a voice.

Reflection

Before, I did this research, I had not idea that there was so many different kinds of technology to help people with speech disabilities. I was pleasantly surprised to see the different devices that could be used to produce speech. I think that it is such a good thing that there are all the options for people. However, I think that more should be done as far as awareness for these devices. Another thing that is an issue is the cost. Most of these devices are pretty expensive. Therefore, only people who can afford these devices will be able to benefit from them. I wish that was not the case. I wish that these devices were more affordable and accessible to everyone who needs them.

Although, I learned so much, there is still a lot to learn. I want to learn more about these devices and I want to see how well they really work. I also want to see the pros and cons of these devices. I also want to learn about the psychological effects that having speech disabilities has on a student. I think it would be interesting to see the way that speech disabilities impacts how students function in classroom settings. This would be a great expansion of this subject and a more in depth way to look at this topic.