May Breisacher from Ernst & Young, LLP, UK shares with us –
Ever wondered what it’s like not to be able to say something? Everyone is watching you expectantly but the word or sound just won’t come out? Maybe people then start talking over you to fill the silence, or worse, start to laugh. Or ever wondered what it’s like not to be able to say your name or introduce a colleague?
These are some of the many challenges people who stammer experience on a day to day basis. About 1% of the adult population is impacted by stammering – and there’s a huge spectrum of severity. People who stammer are quite resourceful in dealing with challenges they encounter.
So, in the lead up to International Stammering Awareness Day, the EY Stammering Network (Ernst & Young LLP, UK) is running interactive “mock stammering” meetings in our London offices to give people a hands on experience of what it can feel like to be a person who stammers.
How to get involved
Using a mock meeting setting with participants choosing a topic for discussion, participants are given prompt cards with instructions of how to speak. These draw on some of the techniques PWS use for fluency, e.g. replacing difficult words, rephrasing sentences, pauses, speed, prolongations etc. An instruction can be to avoid using the word ‘the’ or words with an ‘r’ in it. The discussion then starts and participants voice their opinions with the prompt they’re given.
Feedback from having run these meetings last year, actively show the challenges that people who stammer can encounter in meetings. Even someone who may be familiar with a topic struggled to present their opinion. The meetings also give participants an opportunity to learn about stammering (what it is and what it isn’t), and ask questions. The sessions include personal stories of stammering in the workplace, and give hints and tips of how to support someone who stammers.
‘I’ve realised how little I actually knew about stammering as I reflected on my knowledge prior to this workshop. Following this brief, interactive session, I have a much deeper appreciation for individuals with a stammer and feel better equipped to support them. This is a session I would absolutely recommend to others!’
‘The session left me with a feeling of admiration for those who stutter. In trying to understand and experience the thoughts of a person who stutters, it highlighted to me that difficulties an individual may have may not always be apparent’.
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