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  • Speech & language

    Having a stammer, a quiet voice or no voice at all can make speaking on the phone a challenge, and being self-conscious can make the situation worse.

    Here you'll find tips to help you communicate with confidence, and BT products and services to make it easier to stay in touch.

  • What causes a speech impairment?

    Many people live with some kind of speech impairment. For example around 1% of the adult population has a stutter – that's about 459,000 adults in Britain.

    Read more about what causes a speech impairment
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      Some people have lived with a speech impairment since childhood. For some it may be genetic, others may develop an impairment following an injury or because of a medical condition, like a stroke. Damage to the nerves in the brain can cause weakness or paralysis of the speech muscles which impact on the functions that control speech.

      A speech impairment may make someone feel less confident when talking. But by following some simple tips or making a few changes, someone with a speech impairment can easily make their voice heard with other methods, like email or text.

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  • Identifying speech impairments

    If you know someone living with a speech impairment, it's important to understand what factors can affect their ability to speak and communicate with ease.

    Read more about identifying a speech impairment
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      These may include:

      • Certain situations, such as speaking on the telephone or in front of a group
      • Conversations including certain words, particular subjects or when being asked to give a particular response
      • Stressful situations like interviews or making a complaint
      • Health and emotions can impact a speech impairment, for instance if someone is ill, tired, stressed or excited
      • Worrying about how other people will respond
    • When talking to someone you know has a speech impairment, here are some tips to make them feel at ease, and enable better communication:

      • Try not to finish their sentences
      • Let them express themselves freely
      • Don't give them advice about how to speak
      • Listen and be patient
      • If you are having problems understanding someone, ask in a sensitive way if you can offer assistance in another way, such as writing things down.
      • Confirm your understanding by asking closed questions that require short answers.
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  • Text-to-speech, speaker phones and other handy products

    If you have difficulty speaking or being heard, there are lots of features on our phones that can help you. We've listed the most common ones below:

    Read more about phones to help with speech impairments
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      • Answer machine – to help you screen your calls by listening to who is calling and deciding whether you wish to speak with them directly or let them leave a message.
      • TextDirect and the Text Relay can help you keep in touch enabling conversations via a textphone – see the Text Relay website for more information at www.textrelay.org.uk
      • Speech amplification helps amplify a quiet voice so the person you are calling can hear you better.
      • SMS Text messaging will allow you to type and send text messages to peoples mobiles or landlines.
      • Handsfree phones with microphones help when using text to speech devices like a Lightwriter.
      • Caller Display lets you see the number of the person who is calling, so you can choose whether to answer.
      • Different ringtones for friends and family can identify the caller so you know whether it's someone you are happy speaking to

      See products to help with speech

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  • Simple tips to improve your speech

    Having a speech impairment doesn't mean you don't have a voice. Here are a few ways to enable better communication.

    Read more about tips to improve your speech
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      • If you know you're going to have a difficult conversation, think about how it might go, and what you might say.
      • Try out your conversations on friends and people you feel comfortable around.
      • When you're making a call or starting a conversation – think only about the words you want to say, not what people might be thinking.
      • Try to speak slowly. You will more likely be understood, and you won't get as stressed and anxious about the situation.
      • If you're really worried, explain to the other person you have need a little bit more time to tell them what you want. Most people will understand and be patient.
      • Be assertive and take control – you have the right to have your say

      Want more? We've got tips for making calling easier.

      Go to Making Calling Easier

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  • Getting Help

    There are many ways to get help with a speech impairment. Often talking to or meeting people with the same or similar issues can be an immense help.

    Read more about getting help
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      Where to get help and support

      The British Stammering Association has loads of useful tips on living with a stammer or stutter, such as information on speech therapy and support groups in your area. There's also lots of information for parents, teachers and employers.

    • Support from BT

      We've been actively helping people with impairments for years, but it always helps communication if we understand your needs and requirements, so make sure you tell us about your impairments so we can offer you the best service.

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  • Other ways to get information

    Information on most of BT services is now available online, so you can usually find out most things without the need to call us.

    Read more about other ways to get information
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      If you've signed up for online billing, you have access to your account 24/7, so you can check your balance, change your friends and family numbers and pay bills anytime you want.

      Read more about online billing

    • If you do need to get in touch, you can contact us in several different ways, which can help if you prefer not to speak on the telephone.

      Go to Help & Contact

    • We also have a host of other information about our products and service available in our download section.

      View downloads

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Tips for Making Calls Easier

There are lots of ways to make it easier to use your home phone – from simple tips to helpful phone accessories including:

Speaking on the phone

Making a call

Answering a call

Taking down messages

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