HCRI News and Happenings

This year has been exhilarating for our nonprofit institute. In addition to treating a growing number of stuttering therapy clients, our team at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) has been hard at work testing a new service offering and developing more treatment innovations that advance fluency outcomes. Following is an overview of HCRI news and activities.


New Therapy Release

In August, we launched a new “high definition” version of our stuttering therapy program. This new release elevates HCRI treatment to an unprecedented level of precision and ease with which fluency can be learned. For details, click here: Hollins Fluency System III.

Pilot Training Program for Parents of Children who Stutter

parentschildTo address growing demand, we are testing a new service designed to teach parents of young children who stutter how to effectively work with their sons and daughters to promote fluent speech.

This training initiative involves a series of individualized sessions with parents and kids at HCRI. Over two and a half days, we impart specialized speech techniques and exercises that parents can put into practice with their children when they return home. Then, we follow-up with the parents to monitor progress. More testing and refining will continue over the coming months and into 2017.

Remote-Access Therapy Testing

remotetherapyTrials continue to determine the viability of offering remote-access, quality-controlled alumni refresher programs via the web using an iPad, computer or late-model iPhone. The use of Bluetooth headsets with these devices facilitates instruction, speech measurement and fluency progress.

Current findings show great promise. Our goal is to be able to offer refreshers – and ultimately the HCRI stuttering therapy program – to anyone, anywhere who has a device and internet connection.

Multi-Dimensional, Automated Speech Measurement

stuttering speech measurementOur team is developing new technology that automates the measurement of speech at a level of detail that enables us to better examine how stuttering is physically differentiated from fluent speech.

As we develop this new system, we will evaluate how well we can use objectively extracted acoustic features to assist in improving the diagnosis and treatment of stuttering. Our early work is encouraging. We are continuing our efforts to reach the stage where practical clinical benefits can be achieved.


At HCRI, we continue to push forward advancing stuttering treatment and helping people from across the U.S. and worldwide achieve their full potential in life through fluency. It is a privilege and a pleasure to serve our clients and alumni on an ongoing basis.

We are always here for you and encourage you to reach out if you need assistance, have questions or want to connect for any reason. Contact us at info@stuttering.org or 855-236-7032.

HCRI Stuttering Therapy – Client Survey Results

At HCRI, we are committed to staying in contact with our stuttering therapy participants once they return home. This includes phone and email contact with clinicians, as well as providing a host of post-therapy practice tools to support long-term fluency.

Recently we surveyed our alumni to determine their perspectives about the impact of HCRI stuttering therapy participation on their lives. The feedback we received from the survey is highlighted in the infographic below.

Infographic - 2016 Alumni Survey Results - Border




Dr. Ron Webster’s Pioneering Work in Stuttering

A Career Dedicated to Helping People Who Stutter Achieve Fluency

Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D.

Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., Founder and President of Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) observed stuttering for the first time when he was a graduate student at Louisiana State University. One of his professors stuttered. Webster was moved by this impressive man’s courage to face students and lecture each day, despite having a speech disorder.

After graduate school, Webster began a multi-dimensional career as a research scientist, psychology professor and clinical psychologist. At the same time, he pursued his keen interest in the study of speech. Webster conducted research on speech development and collaborated with speech experts from across the country.

This work led him to a passionate concern about stuttering and the realization that no effective treatment existed to help people with the disorder. Webster set out to change that. The year was 1966. He began a life-long mission to investigate stuttering using empirical science and learn everything he could about the difficult-to-treat and misunderstood condition.

His intensive research revealed remarkable findings, which countered broadly accepted assumptions that stuttering was grounded in emotional or mental issues. Instead, Webster’s work demonstrated that stuttering is physically derived, with specific, distorted speech-muscle activities and patterns that give rise to stuttering.

WSLS News Segment - Dr. Ron Webster
WSLS-TV reporter interviews Dr. Ron Webster about his pioneering work in stuttering and the science-based stuttering therapy program at his nonprofit Hollins Communications Research Institute.

Once he quantitatively defined speech-muscle “events” that cause stuttering, Webster’s research efforts turned to identifying ways to alter these events to enable fluent speech.

Webster’s work was groundbreaking. The outcomes led to his developing the first systematic, behavioral stuttering therapy program. He founded nonprofit Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) in 1972 to continue his research and administer effective, science-based stuttering therapy.

HCRI’s 12-day stuttering treatment program teaches individuals how to replace faulty speech muscle movements that cause stuttering with new muscle events that generate fluent speech. Research shows 93% of program participants achieve fluency by the end of treatment. Follow-up studies reveal 70% to 75% retain fluent speech when evaluated one and two years post therapy. ​These outcomes stand in contrast to traditional speech therapies and devices that may only produce fluency results in approximately 25% of cases.

Webster and his HCRI team continually enhance the Institute’s quality-controlled therapy program, based on the latest research findings and technology. To make fluency acquisition easier and long lasting for clients, they have:

  • Increased the specificity of treatment protocols
  • Invented electronic speech measurement systems for use in therapy
  • Integrated the use of computers into the therapy process
  • Developed a 500-hour HCRI clinician certification program
  • Incorporated quality controls into treatment
  • Created a sophisticated “therapist in your pocket” app

These ongoing advancements raise the bar on stuttering treatment excellence. U.S. patents have been awarded to Webster for some of these stuttering therapy innovations. 

Since HCRI opened its doors, more than 6,500 people from across the U.S. and 50 countries have come to the Virginia-based treatment center.​ Clients include broadcaster John Stossel of Fox News; Annie Glenn, wife of Senator and Astronaut John Glenn; as well as athletes, teachers, engineers, students, doctors, military personnel, business professionals, police officers, actors, a Supreme Court nominee and even royalty.

Dr. Webster and the HCRI team continue to push forward with their commitment to transforming lives through fluency. This includes testing the feasibility of online therapy delivery to increase accessibility, as well as partnering with the National Institutes of Health on a pioneering study that confirmed a genetic link to stuttering.

For more information about HCRI stuttering therapy, please visit www.stuttering.org. Contact HCRI at 855-236-7032 or info@stuttering.org.


HCRI’s Inaugural 5K Race Filled with Enthusiam and Friendly Competition

Alumni of the Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) stuttering therapy program, along with Roanoke-area runners, participated in the nonprofit center’s first 5K Race and 1-Mile Fun Walk – Stride to Cure Stuttering – on Saturday, April 30, 2016.

StridetoCureStuttering1temp1The event was held on the beautiful Roanoke River Greenway in Downtown Roanoke, Virginia. Stride to Cure Stuttering helped raise much-needed funds to support HCRI’s ongoing work in stuttering research and treatment innovation.

The Institute was founded in 1972 by Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D. to investigate stuttering and develop new therapy approaches for the difficult-to-treat speech disorder. Today, HCRI is a leader in science-based stuttering treatment and has helped thousands of people who stutter from across the U.S. and 50 countries.

Donations raised from Stride to Cure Stuttering will further HCRI’s important work of making life-changing stuttering therapy  more accessible and continuing research to find a cure for stuttering.

The race director and organizer was Courtney Stackhouse who also serves as a stuttering therapy clinician at HCRI. Forty-two competitors ran in the inaugural race, along with numerous others who participated in the event’s 1-Mile Fun Walk to help HCRI.

Following are the racers who clocked the fastest times for the 5K run.

  • Jonathan Seidel – 16:33.28
  • Joel Hanlon – 17:50.81
  • Colin Munsey – 17:58.32


HCRI Stride to Cure StutteringHCRI Stride to Cure Stuttering

HCRI Stride to Cure StutteringHCRI Stride to Cure StutteringHCRI Stride to Cure StutteringHCRI Stride to Cure Stuttering




HCRI Expanding Clinical Team, Seeks SLP Applicants

December 8, 2015,  Roanoke, Virginia – Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI ), a nonprofit center dedicated to stuttering research and innovative therapy delivery, is seeking a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) to join the Institute’s clinical team.

HCRI is hiring an SLPInterested persons who meet the required qualifications listed below may apply by clicking here to send an email. Type “Clinician Applicant” in the email subject line and include a resume, cover letter, three job references and salary requirements.

Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) – Clinician

Job Type:
Permanent, Full-time Position

Roanoke, Virginia
[Relocation not provided]

Career Level:
Experienced SLP, Non-manager
[Stuttering specialty not required. Extensive training will be provided.]

Commensurate with experience.
Excellent benefits package and work environment


Founded in 1972 by Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) has grown into a world-leading center for the investigation and treatment of stuttering, which affects 66 million people globally. The nonprofit Institute is unique from other stuttering centers in that work focuses on developing scientifically based treatment methods and learning technologies, in addition to administering therapy programs.

HCRI pioneered the concept of physically based treatment for stuttering more than 40 years ago and has continued to enhance the therapy program over the years. New research findings, advanced electronics and computers have been incorporated into the behavioral treatment process to enhance the ease of learning and retaining fluent speech.

More than 6,400 persons from across the U.S. and 50 countries have participated in HCRI’s stuttering therapy program. Ninety-three percent of clients achieve fluency by the end of treatment. Follow-up studies show 70 to 75% retain fluency for the long term. These stuttering therapy success rates are among the highest in the industry. To learn more, visit www.stuttering.org.


As a member of the HCRI team in Roanoke, Virginia, the full-time SLP clinician will have a direct impact on the lives of people who stutter. Through the delivery of HCRI’s proprietary stuttering therapy program, he/she will help clients acquire skills to speak fluently so they may experience the joy and opportunity that come with fluency.

The clinician will participate in a comprehensive, 500-hour clinician training program once hired to ensure confident, precise and measured delivery of HCRI stuttering therapy.  

Clinician responsibilities encompass the following:

Therapy Delivery:

The clinician provides therapy administration to a diverse group of adult men and women, as well as some youth ages 11 and older, who have a life-long stuttering condition. HCRI’s behavioral stuttering treatment is performed in a group setting with ten clients at a time for 12 consecutive days. There are up to 13 therapy programs annually, along with five or more refresher training courses.

Through the administration of HCRI’s standardized stuttering treatment, the clinician will help clients learn how to replace faulty speech muscle movements that cause stuttering with new behaviors that enable fluency.

He/she will work collaboratively with other HCRI clinicians and staff to serve clients, as well as use a variety of technological tools to ensure precision, quality controlled therapy delivery.

Post-Therapy Support:

The clinician will provide post-therapy phone follow-up with clients to help ensure long-term fluency outcomes. For former clients who need fluency help, the clinician will conduct five-day refresher training classes during the year. Responsibilities also include helping to organize and lead sessions for HCRI’s annual client reunion, as well as conduct other fluency workshops as needed.

Other Responsibilities:

The clinician will provide input to the HCRI team to help advance client services and grow the Institute’s therapy program. He/she will also be required to attend staff meetings, document client services, and marshal other projects as needed.


  • Master’s degree – Speech Language Pathologist
  • Behavioral therapy experience
  • Highly motivated to consistently achieve standards of excellence
  • Positive, high-energy attitude and work style
  • Passionate about helping make a difference in people’s lives
  • Willing to work some weekends and occasional evenings
  • Proven ability to work collaboratively in team environment to achieve successful client outcomes


Inquiries are encouraged from qualified individuals who want to be part of HCRI’s team of compassionate, hardworking employees. To apply, please send an email with the following to admin@stuttering.org and type “Clinician Applicant” in the subject line.  (No phone calls please.)

  • Resume
  • Cover letter explaining behavioral therapy experience and reason(s) for interest in HCRI’s clinician position
  • Salary requirements
  • Names and contact information for three references

As an EOE employer, HCRI welcomes all qualified applicants regardless of race, age, gender, religion, education, nationality, ethnicity, family circumstance, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and physical or mental ability.

HCRI is a drug and alcohol-free workplace

HCRI Stuttering Therapy on ABC Prime Time Show


The finale of the ABC series Astronaut Wives Club gave viewers a dramatic summary of the evolving personal and professional journeys experienced by the seven wives of the Mercury astronauts. The setting took place during a crucial era in U.S. history where the Cold War, gender attitudes and the country’s “space race” were intersecting. The show was based on the book by the same name, written by Lily Kopp

One of the wives showcased in the series was that of Annie Glenn, the impressive wife of astronaut and Senator John Glenn. Annie had a severe stutter and then came to Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) for advanced stuttering therapy. She calls her experience at HCRI a life changer. As a result, Annie has been a long-time advocate of HCRI stuttering therapy and serves as a role model for people who stutter across the country.

Actress Azure Parsons played Annie. As each episode unfolded, Azure effectively depicted the multitude of communication challenges Annie faced because of her stuttering. In the season finale, Annie was interviewed and asked about the transformation of her speech. With eloquent, fluent speech, she attributed her ability to speak without stuttering to participating in the intensive stuttering therapy program at HCRI. As she has said many times in real life, on the show Annie’s character described her treatment as “life changing.”

At the end of the episode, Annie is shown speaking at a speech and hearing conference. She shared her personal experience going from stuttering to fluent speech – and advocated on behalf of people who stutter.  To watch the final episode, click here.

At HCRI, we are privileged to have helped Annie on her path to fluency. She and John are cherished friends and supporters of the Institute. We deeply appreciate all they have done to advance stuttering treatment and our mission to help people around the world achieve fluent speech.

For more information, contact HCRI by calling toll-free 855-236-7032 or sending an email.

HCRI Alumna Annie Glenn Portrayed in ABC TV’s “Astronaut Wives Club”


One of Hollins Communications Research Institute’s early stuttering therapy clients is Annie Glenn, the accomplished wife of astronaut and Senator John Glenn. Annie has been a long-time advocate and supporter of HCRI stuttering therapy.  She serves as a role model for people who stutter across the country. She is pictured here with husband John during a visit to HCRI.

Her life, along with the lives of other astronaut wives, will be showcased in ABC’s new series, “Astronaut Wives Club,” which debuts on June 18 at 8 p.m. EST.

The show is based on the book by the same name, written by Lily Koppel. The book and series focus on seven women, including Annie, who were key players behind some of the biggest events in American history. Actress Azure Parsons plays Annie.

For more information about Astronaut Wives, visit https://abc.go.com/shows/the-astronaut-wives-club.

To learn abut HCRI stuttering therapy, click here: 12-day HCRI Stuttering Therapy Program.

Now When You Shop Online, You Can Support HCRI

Now, every purchase you make from online retailer Amazon can help support HCRI. Through the AmazonSmile Foundation, a portion of your Amazon purchases – made any time of the year – will be donated to our 501 (c) (3) charitable organization.

This program helps augment funding from annual donations and helps cover the cost of therapy scholarships, operations and research, it is another way for individuals help the Institute advance our mission to help people who stutter.

Program Overview

Amamazon1azonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support HCRI every time you shop, at no cost to you.

When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, product selection and shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that AmazonSmile will donate one half of one percent of your purchase price to HCRI. While that does not sound like a lot, the amount from all purchases from alumni can add up over time and be quite meaningful to HCRI.

How Do I Shop at AmazonSmile? 

To shop at AmazonSmile, simply go to smile.amazon.com from the web browser on your computer or mobile device. You may want to bookmark the page to make it even easier to return and shop for any type of item you want to buy.

How Do I Ensure HCRI Receives Donations?

Step 1: Go to smile.amazon.com.

Step 2: Sign in using your normal Amazon.com login. If you don’t have an Amazon account, simply click on the “create an account” link and follow the steps.

Step 3: When you sign in at smile.amazon.com for the first time, you will have the opportunity to select your charitable organization. Search for “Hollins Communications Research Institute” and click to make the Institute your charity of choice.

Step 4: Go shopping! You have completed the process and are ready to make purchases. Please remember to go to smile.amazon.com whenever you want to buy on Amazon.

Please note that shopping through the regular Amazon.com website will not provide donations to HCRI. You need to use the smile.amazon.com link from now on.

HCRI Alumna Shannon Armes Featured in Toastmasters Book

A new book about the oratory accomplishments of members of Toastmasters International features Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) stuttering therapy alumna Shannon Armes. Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of helping members improve their communication, public speaking and leadership skills.

The book,Voices Bold and True, written by John Steinbach and published by Beacon Publishing, highlights stories of courage, growth, and friendship in public speaking among Toastmasters International members. Following is Armes’s excerpt.

Shannon Armes, CC, ALB

“My Toastmasters experience in 2012 is very memorable. My family and friends were in the audience at the area, division and district international speech contests that spring. I also remember the standing ovation and tears in the eyes of people at the area contest following my speech. Reflecting on such an experience encourages me to continue sharing my unique story along my Toastmasters journey. By doing so, I hope to inspire fellow stutterers to face each day with courage and determination in spite of disfluency.”

Disfluency—defined as ‘interruption in the flow or rhythm of speech’—is not a word that most people may be familiar with. But for a stutterer like Shannon Armes, it’s a constant presence.

“Imagine not being able to answer your phone, introduce yourself, order a meal at your favorite restaurant or read a bed time story to your child. Imagine the need to support your family, but not getting beyond a job interview for lack of effective communication. These are simple, everyday occurrences the average individual takes for granted. But for a stutterer, such situations bring about anxiety, fear and embarrassment,and are often avoided in a variety of creative ways.”

Stuttering is hereditary in Shannon’s family: her grandmother, an uncle, and other members of her extended family have the affliction. She has had to deal with it all her life. In 2009, she took part in a unique speech therapy program that gave her specific skills to improve her fluency. “I am grateful for the intensive stuttering treatment program at HCRI (Hollins Communications Research Institute) in Roanoke, VA.

I spent over 100 hours over 12 days acquiring the ability to replace faulty speech muscle behaviors that cause stuttering with new muscle activities that generate fluent speech. HCRI’s stuttering therapy was hard work and has made a remarkable difference in my ability to communicate. But I have to be vigilant with regular practice so the skills I learned will become habitual. So I decided to join Toastmasters. It gives me the opportunity to practice those skills and improve my fluency in a supportive and encouraging environment, while also working on my communication and leadership abilities.”

She found out about Toastmasters from a fellow stutterer who was a member. “He shared with me how helpful it was for him and encouraged me to find out more about it. So I went online and looked up Toastmasters. I found a club in my area, visited a few times, and loved it. I’ve been a member of Motivators Toastmasters now for 5 years.”

Shannon may have her challenges on the Toastmasters communication track, but that has not deterred her from taking an active part in the leadership track. She has served as her club’s sergeant at arms, secretary, and VP of education. She is currently club president, as well as an area governor. She enjoyed her term as sergeant at arms, “because you’re often the first point of contact for guests at club meetings. Introducing myself was always difficult for me, so sergeant at arms was the first officer position I volunteered for.”

She also valued her role as VPE: “I enjoyed working closely with club members to help them achieve their specific goals while also striving to achieve the club’s Distinguished Club Plan.” She sees the role of VPE extending beyond the club. “I encourage individuals to take on leadership and speaking opportunities outside of the club. Doing so is a great way to learn more about Toastmasters and network with others who have valuable experience and knowledge from which to learn. It is important not only to the success of your club, but to the Toastmasters organization overall. One club’s success has a direct impact on the area, the division, and the district in which it is in.”

Shannon has a special appreciation for two aspects of Toastmasters. “…I am very enthusiastic and passionate about Toastmasters and what the organization has to offer. No matter your age or where you are in your career or your personal life, everyone has something to gain from Toastmasters. I take every opportunity I have to share my unique story and what Toastmasters has done for me.”

“It’s a very emotional subject for me. As a stutterer, I face daily challenges the average individual can never understand. Toastmasters is the perfect environment I need to step outside of my comfort zone and practice the skills I learned at HCRI. The simplest way I can put it: The Toastmasters organization has given me my voice again, both personally and professionally. That’s the biggest takeaway I can share with someone else.”

Shannon is looking forward to continuing her progress and someday achieving the highest educational designation, the Distinguished Toastmaster, or DTM. “Of course, I’m looking forward to becoming a DTM, but that will come in time. I’m taking my Toastmasters journey to fluency one speech and one leadership role at a time. I’m taking it all in and loving it as I go.”

To contact author John Steinbach and/or purchase his book, send an email tovoicesboldandtrue@gmail.com.

HCRI Stuttering Therapy Highlighted in American Psychological Association Magazine

The July/August 2014 issue of Monitor on Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA), features coverage on the inhibiting condition of stuttering, which is one of mankind’s most challenging disorders to treat.

There are three million people in the U.S. and 66 million people worldwide who stutter. The condition is characterized by involuntary sound repetitions, difficulty speaking initial sounds of words, prolongation of syllables and words, and/or facial contortions during attempts to speak. Symptoms range from mild-to-severe and may not be present all the time.  Constraining the free flow of daily communication, stuttering serves as a barrier to people reaching their full potential in life. The disorder can erode self confidence, hinder social interaction, and limit people educationally and professionally.

The APA article focuses on the latest approaches that help people who stutter gain mastery over their symptoms and associated anxiety. Highlighted is the scientifically based, behavioral stuttering therapy program at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI – https://www.stuttering.org).  HCRI was founded by Dr. Ron Webster in 1972 to investigate stuttering through scientific discovery and treatment innovation. Since that time, Virginia-based HCRI, a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, has become a leader in stuttering research and the development of innovative therapy approaches.

“Our early research demonstrated that stuttering is a physical condition caused by abnormal speech-muscle contractions that occur when people try to speak,” Webster aid. “By teaching people who stutter how to systematically retrain the way their speech muscles behave, they gain control over the way they talk and fluency happens.”

HCRI’s intensive, 12-day behavioral treatment involves helping participants learn how to replace faulty speech muscle movements that cause their stuttering with new muscle behaviors that generate fluent speech. Precise, tested therapy protocols, advanced technology, quantitative speech measurement, and computerized feedback make fluency skills easier to learn and sustain over time.

Ninety-three percent of HCRI therapy participants achieve fluency in 12 days. Follow-up studies reveal that 70-75 percent maintain fluent speech for the long term. The nonprofit center provides all clients with post-therapy support and practice tools that further solidify their fluency training.

HCRI clinicians have treated more than 6,300 people from across the U.S. and 47 other countries. Clients come from all walks of life and include broadcaster John Stossel of Fox News; Annie Glenn, wife of Senator and Astronaut John Glenn; as well as athletes, teachers, engineers, students, doctors, military personnel, a supreme court nominee, business professionals, police officers, actors, and even royalty.

For more information, visit https://www.stuttering.org or contact HCRI at 855-236-7032 or info@stuttering.org.