2020 Conference: Gareth Walkom

Gareth Walkom: Ghent, Flanders, Belgium

Virtual Reality: The upcoming modern tool for stuttering

Virtual reality (VR) has been becoming more accessible as technology improves. With VR, limitless virtual environments and scenarios can be created, fully immersing the user into the lifelike experience. Different from a real scenario, virtual scenarios can be safely controlled and stopped at any time, creating an ideal tool to practice lifelike scenarios. One of the many areas a tool like this can benefit is stuttering.

In this presentation, I’ll be highlighting how VR is already being used in stuttering, including my bachelor’s and master’s work on this, which attracted media attention, such as the BBC back in 2017, and across the world.
The future of VR for people who stutter, speech pathologists, and researchers, has the potential to be an outstanding tool. A tool that can benefit you during times such as COVID-19. A tool to connect the community.

Gareth Walkom, a person who stutters, is leading the way in utilizing how people who stutter and speech pathologists can benefit by using virtual reality as a tool. Working on this topic since 2015, Gareth has designed, developed, and tested various applications, giving positive results. From creating the first application in his bachelor’s degree, Gareth then went on to further develop his application into his master’s degree, where he utilized eye-tracking within VR. Measuring eye behaviors such as blinks, eye closures, and fixations, it soon caught the public’s attention. Since then, Gareth’s work has featured on the BBC, Independent, Guardian, and various TV and podcasts.