Herb Goldberg (1922-2005):  Living a Fluent Life Style



Herb Goldberg was a trailblazer in helping people who stutter and I consider him to be my mentor.  Stuttering made is childhood and young adulthood tough.  Herb decided he should not marry because of his stuttering…but then he met Betty.  They married and had a son, Alan, and a daughter, Barbara. 


Herb chose an occupation that did not require much talking.  Despite his stuttering, Herb and Betty had a successful TV repair shop.  He worked in the back room and Betty served the customers.  Later he was successful in car wash operations.     .


Herb first found help for his stuttering in 1970 in the Adult Stuttering Program at Northwestern University.  He had some success there but told me several times how humiliated he was when he was “forced“ by his student clinician to do voluntary stuttering in a grocery store when he wasn’t ready.  A fundamental of my therapy approach, thanks to Herb, is “Don’t ask your client to do anything you won’t do.”


Despite his personal as professional success, Herb was miserable until 1978 Herb when he learned of an electronic device that reduced stuttering, the Edinburgh Masker.  He tried it and it helped his stuttering so he went to Scotland to learn more about it.  Eager to help other stutterers, he established for not-for-profit Foundation for Fluency and began distributing the masker in the US.


Herb and the masker were met with great disapproval from speech-language pathologists.  I remember him causing quite a stir in the ASHA convention exhibits area. Despite controversy and the animosity directed at him, Herb knew how much the masker had helped him and its potential to help others; so he never backed down. Herb essentially overcame his stuttering through using the masker partly because he had the guts it took to wear the noisy, cumbersome device.  Wearing the masker, there was no option but to acknowledge one’s stuttering.


The masker helped other people as well.  It was sold for no profit. Included with the masker was Herb’s eagerness to share his wisdom about using the device and also about living with the stuttering condition.  He gave many maskers to people who could not afford to buy them and those which were sold came with a no-questions-asked money-back refund policy.  Herb stressed that the masker was a supplement to professional speech therapy and counseling and never marketed it as a miracle cure for stuttering.


While best know for his work with the masker, Herb was also active in stuttering self help.  He joined with NU in founding the Greater Chicagoland Self-Educational Group for People Who Stutter.  Over the years he helped other groups form.  He also helped organize many meetings of the National Council on Stuttering.  


Despite the disdain he experienced early on, ASHA honored Herb by tapping him to be in the first group of consumer advisors.  He was also honored by the National Stuttering Association when he was inducted into the Stuttering Hall of Fame.  Mike Hughes of Speak Easy, Inc., Canada's registered charitable organization for people who stutter, wrote a short biography of Herb which is include here, too.


Herb wrote at least a dozen provocative essays about dealing with stuttering.  The masker is no longer available, but the essays hold wisdom for providers and recipients of stuttering therapy and for wearers of more recent devices, such as the SpeechEasy®. I am posting these documents so Herb will continue to help people who stutter.



                                                                                    Connie Dugan

Herb receiving Stuttering Hall of Fame Award
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