This technique uses the body’s natural tissues as the new voice source and requires you to swallow small amounts of air into your oesophagus before expelling it into the pharyngo-esophageal segment (throat), which will vibrate to produce sound.
Air is trapped in the mouth and then swallowed using your tongue. The column of swallowed air is then pushed back into the upper oesophagus causes the food pipe to vibrate, generating the sound. The sound is further modified by the tongue and lips to create words. Among the three different options for voice rehabilitation, oesophageal speech is the oldest method and also the most difficult to learn.
The advantages of oesophageal speech are that it is a non-surgical and hands-free method. However, less than 1 in 5 trying to learn the technique will be able to communicate effectively – oesophageal speakers typically speak in short sentences that can be hard to understand.
- Non-surgical method.
- Hands-free speech.
- Takes a comparatively long time to learn with intensive therapy needed.
- Low success rate – few learn to communicate well.
- Short sentences – voice quality varies and can be difficult to understand.
Alternative speech methods
An alternative method to oesophageal speech is speaking with a voice prosthesis. This method is easier to learn and creates the most natural sounding, fluent, and comprehensible voice.
Speaking with a voice prosthesis is the most common method used today following total laryngectomy. It is also considered to be the most successful of the three methods for voice rehabilitation – creating the most natural sounding and fluent voice.