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My Thesis Research Book in PDF form (Spread Layout)
THE REDESIGNED STUTTERER :
APPLYING DESIGN METHODOLOGIES TO STUTTERING
My name is Ray Mancini. I am a designer. I am also a stutterer.
Stuttering affects 1% of the world's population, and there is no known cure. Therapies and treatments, often varying in approach, focus, and intensity, have deficiencies that offer room for improvement.
My thesis demonstrates how Design Thinking can be used create a new process of observation and experimentation to improve the lives of stutterers. This self-created process, termed The Redesigned Stutterer, allows stutterers to observe and analyze their speech in a chosen stuttering situation and prototype possible experiments to improve their fluency in a rapid time frame. The resulting insights could supplement more traditional forms of therapy and create a more holistic and robust approach towards fluency. By using a feedback loop to continuously re-examine and analyze progress, stutterers can make adjustments and new inferences when applicable.
Through my own experimentation, which consisted of videotaping myself stuttering in a repeatable situation and adhering to the process, I found my proposed ideology to show great promise. I gained a deeper understanding of my own stuttering, as well as new approaches to utilize as I seek improved fluency. Furthermore, fellow stutterers could utilize this process themselves or within online communities - brainstorming ideas, receiving support, and sharing knowledge.
About two years ago, I had been frustrated with my own traditional therapy, and began to videotape myself to understand and possibly improve my fluency. I started a blog and shared it with friends. When I began thesis, I realized that what I was engaging in was very similar to the processes I use as a designer. Could design thinking offer a new way to facilitate improvement for stutterers? I began to research the methods of top design thinkers, like IDEO's Tim Brown and the University of Toronto's Roger Martin. By combining this research with my own stuttering experiences, I created a process I call The Redesigned Stutterer.
This three stage, nine step iterative process allows stutterers to observe their speech, using video, in a specific stuttering situation…¬brainstorm with peers through blogs and social media,…and quickly prototype experiments to improve their fluency. It is a way to gain control over something that is often uncontrollable.
I. Evaluate the stutter
II. Observe the situation
III. Brainstorm ideas
IV. Define the experiment
V. Prototype the experiment
VI. Observe the results
CODIFY & MASTER
VII. Configure a new technique.
VIII. Experience & master
IX.Repeat & refine.
My first test of this process came from an unlikely event - my thesis-in-progress presentation. During my final class rehearsal before this important milestone, I sadly realized that it was unlikely I would be completely fluent for my presentation. A classmate, who had been observing me all along, suggested that for every time I blocked, I make a mark on a piece of paper for all to see. With this solution, the presentation was a success. I stuttered less, gained some control over my speech, and the presentation became a real-time case study for the audience.
After that milestone, I embarked on an experiment to improve my fluency using my process.
In Discovery, Stage 1, the goal is to observe a specific stuttering situation, and brainstorm ideas with a group of peers on how to improve it. I videotaped myself making short phone calls to stores, asking two simple questions, and noting some consistent data points and thoughts. I even scored them.
In Experimentation, Stage 2, the goal is to take one strong idea from Discovery and observe it in action over time. I again videotaped myself making the same calls, but used a slower rate of speaking, and shared the results.
In the final stage, I found that this slower rate had merit, and tested it by making more elaborate phone calls. This time, though, I had only moderate success due to other variables, which could be improved by repeating the process. Overall, I gained new insight and control into my stuttering, and discovered new technique to continue using and evaluating.
Bringing Design and Stuttering Together
I strongly think that a stutterer can learn to act as a design thinker, by analyzing and observing himself, brainstorming ideas either alone or with a community of peers, and identifying experiments that can be prototyped and further refined to improve their particular situation. Through the iterative processes of Design Thinking, changes can be attempted, and if successful, made into lasting habits.
Contrary to how it may sound, I am not attempting to create a new system of therapy. What I am proposing is a system of evaluation, experimentation, and discussion to help stutterers bring new insight into their stuttering in an exploratory and possibly successful way. Only the stutterer himself really knows every variable and nuance of his stutter and its effects. This new system will allow the stutterer to discover these observable variables and use these insights to achieve his own goals. Alone, with a group of fellow stutterers, or as a way to augment his current therapy, this process can become a framework for achieving tangible results.
I believe that by applying Design Thinking to stuttering, I am creating a unique new approach towards improving the lives of stutterers. Furthermore, this ideology will add to both the stuttering and design communities, which rarely intersect. The stuttering community is exposed to design methodology and a process that could be of great value, while the design community is given further validation that Design Thinking can be affect an almost seemingly unrelated area of need.
A Community of Redesigned Stutterers
I seek to teach other stutterers to follow my lead and learn to advocate for themselves. Stutterers can learn to use the process of The Redesigned Stutterer, and with the present-day advances in connective technologies, form an open community around this idea. This community would resemble the early days of Wikipedia.com, with the common goals of sharing information and assisting others in creating their own successful experiments. This community involvement from others is essential to my process. Aside from providing alternate views and ideas a various points in the process, a community would provide support, something vitality important to stutterers who are trying to improve their fluency. Even ten years ago, a community of adult stutterers would be a Herculean task to assemble. Now, thanks to the internet and social media, I now belong to three such online communities with over 200+ members each who eagering share and support each other in real time.
For Further Academic Investigation
Looking ahead, this community and its pool of information could be used by academics, including speech language pathologists, to gain invaluable insight about the stuttering community. The data available from videotaped experiments along with the subjective analysis of stutterers an peers could be studied and utilized to create educational and research opportunities. Through these academic initiatives and increased exposure to the habits and behaviors of stutterers, stutterers could be affected on a greater scale in ways unimaginable at this moment. Ideally, mainstream opinion could eventually be swayed and a more tolerant understanding and acceptance of stutterers could be achieved.
While The Redesigned Stutterer has vast potential, there are many questions to consider going forward. 1. How will stutterers be attracted to this process and this potential community, versus the countless other available methods and groups that are out there?
2. How can this community grow over time?
3. What would the proper online technology and functionality be to facilitate sharing and growth in this community?
4. Is there a way to standardize and track observational results so that comparisons and analysis can be made, while still keeping it open-ended to allow for unique situations, behaviors, and goals?
5. Stutterers are often affected by the whims of their mood, environmental changes, times of days, or disruptive acts out of their control. How can the process take into account the day-to-day changes that may happen to a stutterer, and still keep the results of any experiments consistent with the previous ones?
6. What specific ways can this community be used by academics?
7. What long terms affects could be achieved by educating stutterers and their supportive community in the ways of design and design processes?
ADDITIONAL ITEMS THAT LINK OFFSITE
1. PrattGradComD : Ray Mancini - an overview of my original May 2012 thesis.
2. The Redesigned Stutterer Experiment - Videotaped Phone Calls
3. Presentation Display Boards PDF - Boards from the final presentation