I came across Thomas Kehoe's feedback on the chapter on Speech Easy. Thomas is selling a similar device. I love the way he has taken apart that chapter. Having read stuff from him in the past, I have little doubt that his arguments are sound. And if so, that's highly embarrassing for Guitar
The most damaging allegation is that "seventeen pages about the SpeechEasy device, written by a SpeechEasy dealer." That's what you call conflict of interests.
So be aware if you have or want to buy their book.
By Thomas D. Kehoe (Boulder, CO USA)
This review is of one chapter, not the entire book. Different chapters were written by different authors, so the rest of the book may be better.
Chapter 16 is seventeen pages about the SpeechEasy device, written by a SpeechEasy dealer. In it we learn, for example, the interest rate at which they can finance your purchase. (My company makes the SmallTalk device, which competes with the SpeechEasy device.)
Pages 316-317 and page 249 (written by Barry Guitar) refer to a study “showing benefits of SpeechEasy use for…telephone calls.” But the study (Zimmerman, 1997) used my company’s devices, not SpeechEasy devices!
Page 312 says that SpeechEasy includes FAF technology proven to “increase fluency for many who stutter.” This is not true. SpeechEasy includes frequency-shifting; FAF is pitch-shifting. The studies referred to are of pitch-shifting FAF. No studies have investigated whether frequency-shifting alone has an effect on stuttering.
Page 312 says that “Prior to the introduction of the SpeechEasy, DAF…machines were quite large and required cables and headphones.” In reality, at least four companies had miniaturized DAF devices on the market before SpeechEasy, at least one of which (my company) had wireless hearing aid technology.
Page 314 says that DAF never results in carryover fluency and that over time the effectiveness “wears off,” with a reference to the “Speech Easy Training Manual, 2006.” Yet page 318 refers to a study finding that use of my company’s DAF devices over a 3-month period resulted in carryover fluency and did not result in “wearing off” of effectiveness. In other words, the authors state facts about the SpeechEasy device as generalizations about all AAF devices.
The same page says regarding SpeechEasy’s lack of carryover fluency that “long-term, longitudinal research could potentially disprove this” lack of carryover fluency and that this is an open question “until research provides clearer answers.” But Stuart (2004, 2006) found no carryover fluency and Pollard (2009) found no carryover in high-stress conversations and minimal carryover in low-stress conversations. When two long-term, longitudinal studies find the same answer, it’s not an open question.
Pages 317-318 report a 2004 survey of SpeechEasy customers finding that 80% of SpeechEasy customers were satisfied with the device. This is misleading. Of the approximately 5750 customers who tried the device, 45% bought and kept the device past the 30-day return period. These customers were then surveyed. 19% of these customers returned the surveys. Of the customers who returned the surveys, 80% were satisfied. Counting all the customers who tried the device, the survey suggests that the satisfaction rate was between 7% and 35%.
Page 318 describes a study of SpeechEasy devices (O’Donnell, 2008) without mentioning that two of the seven subjects were receiving speech therapy at the same time that they were using the SpeechEasy device, making the results attributable to either the speech therapy or the device (or both).
Three times (pages 318, 325, and 326) the authors reference their own study (Pollard, 2009) without saying what their study found. Here’s what their study found. In reading aloud (low stress), the SpeechEasy devices reduced stuttering 58%; in conversations with someone the subjects knew (medium stress), the devices reduced stuttering 15%; and in conversations with strangers (high stress) the devices reduced stuttering 2%. Is it possible that the authors didn’t want readers to learn how (in)effective their device is?
This advertisement, I mean chapter, is a disingenuous, self-contradictory confusion of claims touting the SpeechEasy device, using studies finding other devices to be effective and ignoring research finding the SpeechEasy device to be ineffective.