Note From Speechie Apps: When I was asked to review the Fluently app by Balbus Speech, I knew my minimal experience with fluency could never do it justice. Thankfully, I also knew Evan Sherman would be perfect for the job, and I was beyond thrilled when he agreed to do it! Before you check out the review, head over to his website I Stutter, So What? and follow him on Twitter to show him some love. If you have any interest in fluency whatsoever, he will be a great resource for you! Without further ado, here are his thoughts on Fluently!
Fluently: An App for Stuttering
A Review by Evan Sherman MS, CF-SLP from http://www.IStutterSoWhat.com
Summary: To use Fluently, you speak into the microphone of your iPhone. When the app senses a disruption at the onset of speech, the green button automatically changes to red. The company calls this the “Speech Light”. This app is best used in a quiet room with no background noise, so the button doesn’t respond to any other noise but your speech. This App includes a sliding algorithm (see line below speech button), so you can set the sensitivity of the Speech Light. This is as simple as a finger swipe to the left or right. The more you slide the algorithm to the left, the more sensitive the Speech Light is supposed to be. The more you slide the algorithm to the right, the less sensitive the light.
How I Use It: This is one of the simplest Apps I have ever seen. 1. Open the App. 2. Set the algorithm. 3. Start talking.
– This App is very simple. As stated above it is just a three step process to open it and use it.
– It’s the first of its kind. I don’t believe there are any other apps out there that specifically target stuttering for the patient, other than DAF (delayed auditory feedback) apps. There are several therapy tool apps meant for data collection for the speech language pathologist. This is the first of its kind for the actual patient.
Firstly, I have significant concerns regarding functionality. In fact, when I moved the algorithm all the way to the left, the speech light was so sensitive I could barely use the app. I could be in the quietest room in my house and slightest sound would set off the Speech Light. Sometimes it seemed like the light was just activating randomly with no noise at all. This became annoying at times. I am a fairly controlled person who stutters, and that Speech Light just kept on going off, even during my most fluent sentences. My fiance’ (who doesn’t stutter) even tried it with sensitivity set to highest. She set off the speech light every time she talked. The Speech Light is very inconsistent and this needs to be improved.
Another problem is that in the user guide it states that this App is best used in a quiet room with no background noise. This makes me question whether the developer really researched stuttering before creating this App. Stuttering is exacerbated by anxiety and stressful situations. Being alone in a room is about the least anxiety-triggering situation one could come up with. Most people who stutter have a significant decrease in disfluencies when they are alone. Some people actually do not stutter at all when they are alone. The developer needs to determine what the actual purpose is of the App.
This user guide states that this app is meant only for light onsets (easy onsets). Basically, if the app senses a hard onset, then the Speech Light activates. There are other therapy techniques, which people who stutter utilize including light contacts, voluntary stuttering and preparatory sets, none of which are addressed.
Suggestions: 1. Improve the Speech Light. Its activation is extremely inconsistent. I explained this above.
2. A cheaper purchase price. $9.99 is a high price for the function of the app.
3. Add more functions. Maybe an automatic log to keep track of how many times the speech light is activated with a feature to collect data for the speech language pathologist.
4. More functional use. Most people don’t stutter when they are alone. I do think this is a good therapy tool though. Clients can practice east onsets with single words given to them for homework from their therapist. Single words would be best, because the Speech Light is way too inconsistent to tolerate full sentences.
5. This APP is purely fluency shaping. Therapists are quickly moving away from fluency shaping and are mostly focusing on stuttering modification approaches.
Disclosure: Balbus Speech provided a free copy of this app for review. Neither Evan Sherman nor myself was compensated in any way for the review, and Balbus Speech was aware that the review would be discussing the app’s strengths and weaknesses.