SA invention soothes stuttering

first_imgThe credit card-sized VoiceAmp 601 Fluency EnhancerTamara O’ReillySouth African inventor Alan Falck has patented a remarkable new device that can help people overcome stuttering. The credit card-sized VoiceAmp 601 Fluency Enhancer uses the soothing effects of choral sounds to allow stutterers speak more fluently.A socially debilitating condition, stuttering occurs when the normal flow of speech is disrupted with pauses, frequent repetitions or a prolongation of the first syllable of words. Speaking before a group of people or talking on the telephone tends to make it more severe. More than 1% of the South African population are stutterers, while 5% stutter at some time and recover spontaneously during childhood.“It is not known what causes stuttering, but what we do know is that it is a complex interplay of a combination of factors like genetics, family dynamics and child development,” says Dina Lilian, speech therapist at the Donald Gordon Medical Centre in Johannesburg.There is no cure for stuttering. But for 70 years it has been known that situations where a phenomenon called choral accompaniment occurs – such as singing, reciting poetry or speaking alone – often improve fluency.Knowing that hearing one’s own voice can also cause a person to speak effortlessly, Falck, the managing director of VoiceAmp, invented the device in collaboration with research teams at the University of the Witwatersrand and other South African universities. It is now being successfully marketed across the world.Falck is no stranger to inventions; he has been known to be creative with his hands from the age of eight, when he started making solar panels. His interest in speech aids began when his grandfather lost his ability to speak clearly; Falck invented a device that amplified his grandfather’s vocal chords.How it worksThe VoiceAmp 601 is based on an electronic reproduction of choral accompaniment, where the device receives the user’s voice signal via a microphone. This signal is then processed by the device and altered to produce a choral voice. The choral voice is then played back to the user via an earpiece, which unlocks the stuttering effect and allows the user to speak with little or no interruption.Settings for three different background noise levels can be programmed to simulate noisy to quiet backgrounds at the flick of a switch.“This device helps mainly those with a severe stutter and is best used in conjunction with speech therapy,” says Lilian. “For those who have benefited it really does make a remarkable difference to their lives.”Useful linksVoiceAmpSpeakeasylast_img read more

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Win tickets to the Confederations Cup!

first_img15 April 2009Get out your phone and stand to win tickets to the Confederations Cup for yourself and three friends: SMS ‘FLAG’ to 41929 (R2 per SMS) or go to mobile website www.flythesouthafricanflag.mobi to enter.The competition is part of “Fly the Flag for Football”, a national campaign to build public support and excitement leading up to the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup and 2010 World Cup.The 2010 National Communication Partnership, a partnership of organisations involved in communicating about the soccer mega-events being hosted by South Africa, aims to distribute over 47-million South African flags through various campaigns by the time the World Cup kicks off in June 2010.“Our national Flag is a powerful symbol of unity and pride, and we would like to play our part by encouraging South Africans to proudly fly the flag as the eyes of the world are upon us,” Margaret Dingalo of the International Marketing Council of South Africa said ahead of the launch of the campaign last week.“The 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup is starting in less than 100 days, and excitement is building,” Dingalo said. “We need to help drive enthusiasm and patriotism, garnering support among South Africans for Bafana Bafana and the event as a whole.”Colourful face-painted figures wearing South African flag t-shirts and makarapas, the football fan hat that is unique to South Africa, handed out free flags at tollgates, garages and airports across the country over the Easter long weekend.For South African football great Mark Fish, the campaign’s official spokesman, the Confederations Cup and World Cup are about more than football, representing “the opportunity of a lifetime, for South Africa and Africa as a whole.“Let us raise our flags in unity, joining together to make the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup and 2010 Fifa World Cup joyful, unforgettable events,” Fish said. “Fly your flag and show the world the warmth and spirit of South Africa.”Members of the 2010 National Communication Partnership include the International Marketing Council of SA, South African Tourism, the 2010 Fifa World Cup Local Organising Committee, the Department of Arts and Culture, South African Airways, Proudly South African, and several other private sector and civil society groups.SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

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