“My name is Ray Mancini. I am a designer. I am also a stutterer.”
These words opened my Master’s Thesis presentation at Pratt Institute here in New York, and it was about as strong an admittance that I will ever make about who I am.
Stuttering affects 1% of the world’s population, including me, and there is no known cure. Therapies and treatments, often varying in approach, focus, and intensity, have deficiencies that offer room for improvement. My stutterer, which most often manifests itself as a block, is an ever present part of me that I have to deal with every second of each day, even though I’ve learned my techniques and tricks to minimize its effects.
My thesis, termed “The Redesigned Stutterer“, is the result of this research, and only the beginning of this hopefully long journey. It 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 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. The availability of video, high-speed online connections, and social media make community involvement and feedback instantaneous and far-reaching.
Through my own experimentation during thesis, 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.
I will be sharing my thesis with AIGA/NY at their Fresh Blood III showcase on June 5, 2012. With 5 minutes to present, it’ll will be an interesting balancing act between controlling my speech and conveying all I want to say. But I’ve done it before, and know I can do it again.
You can read more about my thesis here.
For those truly interested in delving in more fully, here is my thesis research book, in pdf format.
Please let me know your thoughts and comments, I’d love to hear from you all!