Every person who stutters has a unique story. One that embodies their own individual struggles, and successes. Recently, we were fortunate enough to connect with Keenan Tully, a 21-year-old race car driver who proves that having a stutter doesn’t need to stop you from pursuing your dreams.
Keenan first noticed his stutter when he was 4 years old. As he struggled with gaining weight, he found his confidence decreasing and his stutter increasing. As a child he often hid himself from people, not allowing many interactions and limiting conversation. Avoidance became his norm. What conversations he did have were full of adaptations, changing what he was going to say halfway through a sentence to avoid stuttering.
Suddenly, when Keenan turned 16, his life changed. An offer to race in the U.S. brought opportunity and motivation. Keenan knew that in order to progress his racing career he needed to improve his self-confidence. When someone on the other side of the world noticed his budding potential, Keenan knew he needed to believe in himself too. He made great strides in his physical health. This step was monumental in gaining confidence and beginning to accept himself.
Now, when thinking about his relationship with his stutter, Keenan notes how important it was for him to accept himself in order to live his life truly to the fullest.
To others who struggle with stuttering;
“Try not to hide it. I hid it for a long time, it forced me to stay inside. Embrace it as part of who you are and you can even teach others acceptance.”
Keenan’s words reign true. Once he began to embrace his stutter, he was able to empower others through sharing his story. In doing so, he has joined a community of people who stutter and advocates all over the world. Here at Speechagain, we are honored to share his story and pass along his message of acceptance.
Keenan x Speechagain
For Keenan, the thought of speech therapy was always daunting. His hesitation towards treatment stopped him from ever trying a traditional stuttering therapy. Our recent partnership has allowed Keenan to gain access to the Speechagain program. He has been taking control of his speech on his own terms. He especially loves the modern gamification of the program and admires the fact that he can practice his speech anytime, anywhere. We are so glad to see that Speechagain is positively impacting Keenan and so many others like him.
Speech therapy should be individually tailored towards every unique individual, and with Speechagain, it can be.Our Interview with Authority Magazine
We were so honored to be featured in the Authority Magazine series, “Big Ideas That Might Change the World”. We believe that as a digital tool that’s affordable and accessible, Speechagain will change the world for those who stutter. A sneak peek of the article below:
As part of the series “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Mallory Stempfley.
Mallory is a certified Speech-Language Pathologist and the first United States-based employee of Speechagain. Being with the company since the start, she has held many responsibilities including marketing, sales, customer service, business development, etc. Mallory’s passion is empowering others and Speechagain has allowed her to do just that on a broad scale. She believes in the growth of digital health and is excited to modernize the speech therapy world! When she’s not working, she is a certified yoga instructor for both pediatrics and adults.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thanks so much for having me! This specific career path came about in an interesting way. During graduate school, while getting my degree in Speech-Language Pathology, I was fortunate enough to have an incredible professor who taught the stuttering course, igniting my passion for speech therapy and stuttering. Around this same time, I was also assigned an internship at the Ohio Virtual Academy, providing teletherapy to students (before it was the “new norm”). These two experiences of stuttering combined with teletherapy led me on my path to Speechagain, a digital tool for people who stutter.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
There have definitely been many interesting stories working for a start-up! One of the best stories occurred when I was hired, as I was the first United States-based employee. With me being the only native English speaker, I “starred” in all the Speechagain videos during my second week working for the company. This experience was terrifying but also incredibly fun to be part of something bigger than myself and really collaborate with the team from the start.
Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
Sure! In short, Speechagain is a digital tool for people who stutter and for speech-language pathologists to use with their own clients who stutter. Our technology uses voice recognition and artificial intelligence to provide instant, personalized feedback for the users. We’re also very proud that our training tool is patented! Our mission is to empower those who stutter to be their most confident selves!
How do you think this might change the world?
Although stuttering has not been represented in the media until recently, there are over 70 million people worldwide who stutter! Out of these 70 million, we’ve found that 80% are not receiving any kind of speech therapy due to lack of resources, financial difficulties, or time constraints. Our digital stuttering tool is affordable, accessible, and can be used anytime, anywhere. This provides a lot of people who stutter a way to receive speech training, which was not available previously.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
As a speech-language pathologist myself, one of the questions people ask me is if I’m okay with Speechagain essentially “taking my job” from me. My answer to this is that a personal approach is always needed for stuttering. Stuttering involves training your voice, but there are also many more secondary and emotional components that go into speech therapy. For this reason, we always provide our users the option to supplement the program with a Speechagain therapist, meeting with them virtually to discuss techniques, social situations, and personal goals. The “human connection” is always needed to some degree.
Check out the full interview to read all the informative answers, such as career advice, stuttering advocacy, and health-tech knowledge.