English and Japanese

The STACHA is a device which enables wearers to experience the symptoms of stuttering. When a person with this disorder stutters, a distinguishing feature is an overactive usage of the muscles in the throat. This collar-like device has been developed to enable wearers to experience a realistic sensation of stuttering, by sending a faint current of electricity into the throat area, which constricts the muscles and re-creates a stuttering condition, making it difficult to properly pronounce. Because persons who have difficulty with pronunciation will tend to stammer when among larger groups of people, under consideration is a feature to have the device use voice recognition to pick up sounds and measure audio levels - thereby allowing it to, for example, apply greater stimulus to the throat in accordance with the surrounding audio levels. Also under consideration are plans to incorporate the device in educational environments.

Stuttering is a type of speech disorder in which the ability to utter speech is disrupted, preventing fluent vocalizing. Persons who suffer from these symptoms claim difficulty in communicating smoothly with others("I am unable to say my own name," "I cannot order food at a restaurant," "I cannot greet others, or make a phone call," etc.), and feel it is difficult to live a normal life. Stutterers may feel insecure or afraid of speaking to others, and are known to suffer from extremely high rates of social anxiety disorders and depression. Many adult stutterers suffer from secondary issues such as depression and social anxiety disorders, and so their difficulties can hardly be limited to a simple diagnosis of the speech impediment "stuttering."

On the basis of the experiences of concerned team members and interviews with stutterers, we have established two issues which this device will solve. The first is that by experiencing the symptoms of stuttering, we can spread awareness of this issue, thereby reducing instances of childhood bullying - which will lead to reduced insecurity and inferiority complexes, and prevent such conditions from taking hold into adult stuttering. The second is, that by having family members and people in the workplace gain a greater understanding of stuttering(adult stuttering is said to be a lifelong condition), we can help create a society that can thrive together with this condition. There is no established clear-cut treatment for stuttering, and its causes remain unknown. In other words, when a patient continues to stutter into adulthood, he or she will have to live with this condition for the remainder of their life. The goals we have set for this device are: to create a society in which stutterers become accepted, and can live normal lives, without the need to use stuttering as an escape hatch; ultimately our objective is for the world to stop recognizing stuttering as a disability, and reduce the numbers of stutterers who suffer from psychogenic issues. 1% of the total population are stutterers, and it is said that there are more than 1.2 million in Japan, 3 million in the U.S., and over 70 million worldwide. As can be understood from the aforementioned statistics, this device harbors the potential to solve many of the issues which burden many people all over the world.


STACHAは吃音障害体験デバイスです。吃音者がどもる時、喉の筋肉が過剰に働くという特徴があります。首輪型デバイスを装着し、喉の部分に微弱な電流を流し筋肉を収縮させることで発音が困難な状況を再現し、リアルな吃音の体験が出来るように開発しています。難発性の場合人数が増えるほど吃りやすくなる傾向があるため、音声認識で音を拾ってレベル感知し、音のレベルに合わせて喉に与える刺激を強くする等の仕組みも検討しており、教育に導入することを想定しています。

吃音症とは、言葉を話そうとするとつかえてしまい、流暢な発声ができない言語障害の一種です。発症すると「自分の名前が言えない、店で注文ができない、挨拶が出来ない、電話がかけられない」など、人と円滑にコミュニケーションがとれないことで、多くの当事者が生きづらさを感じます。吃音者は、人と話すことそのものに不安や恐れを抱き、社交不安障害やうつ病を発症する率が極めて高いことが知られています。また、多くの成人吃音者はうつ病や社交不安障害などの二次障害を抱えることが多く、その生きづらさは単に「どもる」という言語症状そのものにとどまりません。

チームメンバーの当事者による経験や、周囲の吃音者に対するインタビューに基づき、このデバイスが解決する問題を2つ設定しました。1つ目が、吃音を体験することで認知が広がり、子供時代の虐めが減ることで吃音症への劣等感を減らし、成人吃音への定着を防ぐ。2つ目が、一生残ると言われている成人吃音者が職場や家族から吃音を理解されることで、吃音と共に生きていける理解のある社会を実現することです。吃音は明確な治療法が確立されておらず、発症原因も不明のままです。つまり成人しても吃音が残った場合、彼らは吃音と共に生きていかなくてはいけません。社会に吃音者が受け入れられることで、吃音を逃げ道にすることなく生きていき、最終的には吃音症は障害であるという世界認識を無くし、心因性吃音者の数を減らすことを本デバイスのゴールに設定しています。 また、吃音者は全人口の1%存在しており、日本で120万人、アメリカで300万人、世界で7000万人以上もの吃音者がいると言われています。上記の数字からも分かる通り、本デバイスは世界中の多くの人達が抱えている問題を解決する可能性を秘めています。