British Stammering Association

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British Stammering Association
British Stammering Association large logo.gif
Abbreviation BSA
Motto Our vision: A world that understands stammering
Formation 1978
Legal status Registered charity, and company limited by guarantee[nb 1]
Purpose People who stammer
Headquarters London
Region served
United Kingdom
Chief Executive
Norbert Lieckfeldt[1]
Main organ
Speaking Out[2]
Affiliations European League of Stuttering Associations
6 (Full-time equivalent 4)[3]

The British Stammering Association (BSA), a charity since 1978, is a national membership organisation in the United Kingdom for adults and children who stammer, their friends and families, speech and language therapists and other professionals. Based in London, it is run by people who stammer. BSA promotes awareness of stammering, offers advice, information and support to all whose lives are affected by stammering, initiates and supports research into stammering and identifies and promotes effective therapies.[4] It describes stammering as a neurological issue and estimates that about 700,000 people in the UK have a stammer.[5]


The Association's chief executive is Norbert Lieckfeldt[1] and the Chair is Tim Fell.[6]


In September 2010, the Association announced that Ed Balls, who was then a Labour MP and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, had become a patron of the Association. BSA chief executive Norbert Lieckfeldt paid tribute to him for having been very public in his declaration that he too knows what it's like to stammer and has at times struggled with his speech.[5][7][8][9][10]

David Mitchell, author of Black Swan Green, a novel about a 13-year-old boy who has a stammer, is also a patron of the Association.[11][12][13] BSA's other patrons are Sir Andrew Bowden MBE, Dame Margaret Drabble DBE,[14] John McAllion,[15] Nicholas Parsons LL.D. OBE, Arwel Richards[16] and Baroness Whitaker.[17][18]

International links[edit]

The British Stammering Association is a member of the European League of Stuttering Associations[19] and the International Stuttering Association.[20] At its World Congress in Brazil, the International Fluency Association awarded the IFA Consumer Award of Distinction 2009 to the British Stammering Association.


The Association's Scottish branch, BSA Scotland, was founded in 2004 as a focus for Scottish campaigns, events and support services as well as to engage with the Scottish Parliament.[21]

Advice, information and support[edit]

The Association operates a helpline and offers information packs for parents of children under 5, primary and secondary school children, teenagers, adults who stammer, speech and language therapists, teachers and employers. It can also signpost callers to their local NHS Speech and Language Therapy Service.

Research and publications[edit]

Between 2004 and 2005 the Association published a research journal, Stammering Research,[22] which was edited by Professor Peter Howell of University College London.[23] In 2010 the Association produced research showing that children with signs of stammering are more likely to overcome the problem if they receive help before they reach school age.[24]

The Association produces an information pack.[25] To increase understanding in schools of stammering, the Association has produced an online resource for all teachers and school support staff in England and Scotland. It includes guidance on how to identify children who stammer and strategies on how to support them in both primary and secondary schools.[26]

The Association publishes a magazine, Speaking Out,[2] now published exclusively online. The spring 2011 issue included an article in which BSA member Richard Oerton recalled his own experiences with King George VI's speech therapist Lionel Logue who is featured in the film The King's Speech.[27] An interview with Neil Swain, voice coach for the film, was published in the summer 2011 issue.[28] The spring/summer 2012 issue included an interview with the actor Charles Edwards, who played George VI in the West End stage version of the film.[29]


The Association has campaigned for several years to eradicate misleading advertising claims made by stammering treatment providers. Some claim, for example, that they can "cure" stammering − but it is not possible to "cure" a stammer, in the accepted medical sense of the word.[30] Accordingly, the BSA believes such claims not only give false hope to those who stammer − but also give people who don't stammer the false impression that stammering can easily be rectified. Respectable healthcare companies carry out independent trials on large numbers of people, over long periods of time, before claiming any benefit for their products or services. The campaign has been conducted by, firstly, encouraging treatment providers who are making doubtful claims to provide supporting data and, if they cannot do so, to moderate those claims; and, secondly, in cases where the treatment provider has not co-operated, the Association has reported their advertisements to the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA),[31] who have investigated the claims and, if they prove to be unsupportable, have instructed them to remove the offending advertisement and amend any future claims. As from 1 March 2011, the ASA, and thus the Association, have also been able to act against misleading claims made in editorial copy on websites.[32] Following a complaint by the Association, on 13 July 2011 the Advertising Standards Authority issued an adjudication against a website which said: "Discover how to stop stuttering with stammering cure that works".[33]

BSA's chief executive Norbert Lieckfeldt, who describes stammering as "the hidden disability",[34] said the charity had received calls from members who said people were asking them about their stammer for the first time, because of The King's Speech. The film had created a "good opportunity" for people to talk about stammering. He said: “Suddenly it has become a thing that can be talked about, which is very important for us...For those people who are engaged in conversations about it, their situation will have changed for the better.”[35][36]

However, the Association criticised comedian Lenny Henry for his opening sketch for the 2011 Comic Relief, during which he spoofed the film and grew impatient with Colin Firth's portrayal of King George VI as he stammered over his speech.[37] The Sun reported that the British Stammering Association had branded the sketch as "a gross and disgusting gleefulness at pointing out someone else's misfortune".[38][39]

In 2007 the Association's then Chair, Leys Geddes, strongly protested to the YouTube website about their classifying, as comedy, videos showing people struggling to speak, including three which he said appeared to be "malicious and stereotypical".[40][41] YouTube replied that the videos did not violate its terms of use. Geddes has now posted his own video on YouTube, arguing for greater understanding for those who stammer.

Speaking in support of the Association's stance, Labour MP Kate Hoey said: "For many people, particularly youngsters, stammering is not a joke – we need to ensure that help and support is given as early as possible and, most of all, we need to educate the public to understand the impact it has on people for the whole of their lives".[40]

In May 2012, the Association criticised a headline and story on the front page of The Sun mocking newly appointed England football manager Roy Hodgson's rhotacism.[42]

Commenting on the media coverage of Ed Balls' stumbling over his response in the House of Commons on 5 December 2012 to the Autumn Statement by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Norbert Lieckfeldt said: "The experience of a lifetime of stammering gives an edge to a personality, something to rub against, and I'd prefer that over smooth glibness any day. This is also the advice we at the British Stammering Association would give to anyone who stammers who is considering a career in politics".[5]

Employers Stammering Network[edit]

To mark International Stammering Awareness Day on 22 October 2012, the Association announced the forthcoming launch of the Employers Stammering Network, an alliance between employers and the BSA, which aims to create a culture where people who stammer can achieve their full potential.[43] The network was launched on 9 May 2013 with a reception in the House of Commons hosted by Ed Balls MP.[44] As of August 2015, 14 UK employers have signed up to the BSA's Employers Stammering Network.[3] They include Accenture, the Civil Service,[45] DHL,[46] EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young),[47] The Royal Bank of Scotland and Royal Dutch Shell.[3]

See also[edit]

Other organisations on stammering/stuttering[edit]


United Kingdom[edit]

United States[edit]



  1. ^ "The British Stammering Association is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England No. 4297778. Its registered office is 15 Old Ford Road, London E2 9PJ. It is a charity registered in England and Wales (no. 1089967), and in Scotland (no. SC038866). Prior to incorporation, the association was first registered as a charity in 1978.""Company and charity details". Disclaimer and Legal. British Stammering Association. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 


  1. ^ a b "Norbert Lieckfeldt, BSA Chief Executive". About BSA. British Stammering Association. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Speaking Out". British Stammering Association. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d "British Stammering Association: Financial Statements 31 December 2014" (PDF). British Stammering Association. 5 September 2015. Retrieved 26 May 2016. 
  4. ^ "About BSA". British Stammering Association. Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Norbert Lieckfeldt (7 December 2012). "Comment: Stammering MPs are better than glib ones". Retrieved 8 December 2012. 
  6. ^ "Tim Fell, Chair of Trustees". About BSA. Brirish Stammering Association. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  7. ^ "Ed Balls MP becomes BSA patron". Speaking Out. British Stammering Association: 4. Winter 2010. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  8. ^ Mary Riddell (23 January 2010). "Ed Balls: People who stammer avoid certain situations, but in my job you can't". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  9. ^ "I've battled a stammer all my life, reveals Schools Secretary Ed Balls". Daily Mail. 21 October 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  10. ^ Chris Bond (24 May 2013). "What's cooking for Labour? Ed Balls reveals recipe for Party to rise again". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "Black Swan Green revisited". Speaking Out. British Stammering Association. 1 March 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  12. ^ "The Blagger's Guide To: David Mitchell". The Independent on Sunday. London. 17 February 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  13. ^ "David Mitchell – Keynote speech online!". Nederlandse Stottervereniging Demosthenes – The Netherlands Association for People Who Stutter. 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  14. ^ Margaret Drabble (6 December 2012). "The Tories who jeered Ed Balls's Autumn Statement stammer are as bad as playground bullies". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  15. ^ "Stammerers voice opinions". BBC News. 4 October 2003. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  16. ^ "Pembrey man and patron of British Stammering Association to host stammering support group". Llanelli Star. 22 October 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  17. ^ Register of Lords' interests: as on 16 July 2004, p.274. The Stationery Office. 2004. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  18. ^ "About The British Stammering Association". British Stammering Association. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  19. ^ "ELSA members". European League of Stuttering Associations. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  20. ^ "National member associations". International Stuttering Association. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  21. ^ "'Shout it to the top!': People who stammer find their voices in the Scottish Parliament" (PDF). The Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee Disability Inquiry. July 2005. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  22. ^ "Electronic Journal of the British Stammering Association". Division of Psychology and Language Sciences. UCL. 2005. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  23. ^ "Stammering Research" (PDF). Stammering Research. 1 (3). September 2004. ISSN 1742-5867. 
  24. ^ "Brain disorder is key to a stammer". Daily Mail. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2011. 
  25. ^ "Get an Information Pack". Help + information. British Stammering Association. Retrieved 20 March 2015. 
  26. ^ Alison Whyte (17 January 2011). "The King's Speech means stammerers understood". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  27. ^ Richard Oerton (1 March 2011). "Remembering Lionel Logue". Speaking Out. British Stammering Association. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  28. ^ Allan Tyrer & Neil Swain (1 June 2011). "The King's Voice". Speaking Out. British Stammering Association. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  29. ^ "The King's Speech on stage". Speaking Out. British Stammering Association. Spring–Summer 2012. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  30. ^ "Is there a cure for stammering?". British Stammering Association. April 2006. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  31. ^ John Plunkett (9 December 2009). "'Cure stuttering' site rapped for misleading claims". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  32. ^ Leys Geddes (July 2011). "Misleading treatment claims". What We Do. British Stammering Association. Retrieved 6 January 2017. 
  33. ^ "ASA Adjudication on Stammering Cure". Advertising Standards Authority. 13 July 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2011. 
  34. ^ Keith Austin (9 January 2011). "Stammering: lost for words". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  35. ^ "The King's Speech is 'squashing urban myths about stammering'". About Access. 2 March 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2011. 
  36. ^ Emma Midgley (12 January 2011). "Reading is centre of excellence in stammering treatment". BBC Berkshire. Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  37. ^ Norbert Lieckfeldt; BSA chief executive (April 2011). "No relief for children who stammer on Red Nose Day". British Stammering Association. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  38. ^ Ryan Love (2011). "Lenny Henry criticised for 'Speech' spoof". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  39. ^ "Lenny Henry's stammer joke is blasted". The Sun. 21 March 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  40. ^ a b Sarah Boseley (25 September 2007). "Anger at YouTube stammer clips". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  41. ^ Denise Winterman (27 September 2007). "'You become a self-editing machine'". BBC News. Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  42. ^ Jeremy Laurence (3 May 2012). "Hodgson won't care, but this could severely affect children". The Independent. Retrieved 6 May 2012. 
  43. ^ Iain Wilkie (22 October 2012). "Why stammering didn't hold back my career at E&Y". City A.M. London. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  44. ^ Norbert Lieckfeldt (Spring 2013). "Unlocking talent – The Employers Stammering Network". Speaking Out. British Stammering Association: 17. 
  45. ^ "Employers Stammering Network (ESN)". British Stammering Association. Retrieved 26 May 2016. 
  46. ^ "Leading UK employers step up to support workers who stammer" (PDF) (Press release). British Stammering Association. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 7 November 2013. 
  47. ^ Iain Wilkie, senior partner at Ernst & Young (9 May 2013). Senior partner on living with a stammer (Radio). London: BBC Radio 5 Live. 

External links[edit]