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The WhisperPhone Story

Here’s how it happened…
My wife (Jennifer) told me about a homemade reading tool she had seen in our son’s (Austin) first grade classroom. She said that by using plumbing pipe, the teacher had constructed what looked like a small, hand-held “phone”.

When we met with his teacher for conferences, she told us how her students use their “phone” during their “read aloud” time, for taking spelling tests, and checking math facts aloud. Our son said, “I like the phone, but the books are really big and, when I want to turn the page or raise my hand to ask a question, I have to put my phone down.”

As any good parent would do, we jumped in to address our son’s complaint. So, after tearing apart an old headset, I took the headband to Home Depot and worked with someone there to build the plumbing-pipe version of this “phone”. Then we added the headband by binding the “phone” and headband together with a hose clamp and….the hands-free WhisperPhone concept was born!

Jeff Waffensmith led the design team for WhisperPhone…way to go Jeff! Among many large companies, Jeff had recently worked with Plantronics, a leading headphone manufacturer. As such, we had a “head” start on the design and engineering of WhisperPhone. After several months of meetings, test fittings, and laughs with teachers and kids, we launched WhisperPhone!

We recently created a larger WhisperPhone to also help older students and adults with learning to read, spell, learning a new language, finding their singing voice, and more…we hope you enjoy our site and the WhisperPhone as much as we enjoyed making it a reality!

- Steve Swain & Jeff Waffensmith


"My students are kindergarteners who are considered 'at risk' in early literacy development (not special ed). They learn differently and need lots of physical involvement plus repetition. I had another "sound phone" over the years, but these are great because they allow the child to use other parts of their body while using oral/aural skills at the same time - excellent help for kinesthetic learners who are 5 and 6 years old!"
K. Jyl Barnabee, Title I Early Literacy Intervention
Howard Early Childhood Center/AHISD

"…In early literacy, phonemic and phonological awareness are key to reading readiness. Research has proven these skills to be essential building blocks. Add this to the importance of multi-sensory instruction and the kinesthetic learning styles of most young children, and you see the need for truly active learning. Children who have difficulty attending/focusing even to their own voices can be successful in hearing parts of words, sounds in words, and sequences of sounds when wearing a WhisperPhone."
K. Jyl Barnabee, Title I Early Literacy Intervention
Howard Early Childhood Center/AHISD

"Just a note to say I LOVE the WHISPER PHONES!! I teach intervention groups for struggling learners and have found that the children who can "sub vocalize" and hear themselves reading are so much more fluent and their comprehension about the story is much stronger. I had used hand-held whisper phones made from PVC pipes in the past, but the headsets remove all the movement and distraction that happened while the children were holding onto the PVC sets. To eliminate distractions and add their voice made such an improvement in their reading. Thank you! I have just used the phones with another 2nd grade group and asked the children how they liked reading with them. One boy replied, "when I was reading and it didn't make sense, then I could hear it and go back and reread it". We have worked hard on using that strategy, but not until he could read without the distractions and hear what he was reading, did it "click"."
Ann Fry - Westside Elementary

"My experience with the WhisperPhone has been outstanding! It has greatly benefited my students during Independent Reading activities. I have several students who are auditory learners and thus need to hear the information to make it meaningful. Your product allows them to read aloud without disrupting other students. This enables each student in my class to have a pleasant & productive reading experience each day. THANK YOU!"
Nicole Brown - Pace Secondary School

"Thank you so much for your extremely prompt service. I had the whisper phone in my classroom in less than 48 hours after ordering online. It is working terrific with my fourth grade student. I am also using a smaller one with a kindergarten student. They work well to control excess talking - makes the student more aware of their voice level and frequency of outbursts. Thanks!"
Pat Weigand Special Ed teacher - Wood County WV

"This is a wonderful learning tool! I went into the store searching for something to help my son hear sounds better to assist him in being a successful reader. The WhisperPhone works great. He is in a reading class with 3 other children so I purchased additional WhisperPhones for the school to use. All the children having a WhisperPhone will make all of them more successful!"
Lisa - Parent North Carolina

"I know my little boy with developmental apraxia loves using the whisper phone. He has it at home. He was very animated in talking about using it and has had it for a few weeks. If anything it is getting him more animated and engaging in conversation. "
Lily Rothman

"I just received my whisper phones yesterday and gave them to my class to use for the first time today. They loved them! I teach a group of middle schoolers a phonics-based program and for the first time they could actually hear the differences they were making between the vowel sounds!" Thank you SO much!
Trish M. - Middle school remedial reading teacher

"I use the Whisperphone with great success in my Discovery Multiplication™ workshops, during the skip-counting activities. My students find that it helps them stay focused and makes it easier to memorize their math facts. What a great tool for fact retention! It’s simple, yet very effective."
Susan Jarema, Googol Learning

"I was fortunate to be introduced to your new product at the Carbo Reading Conference in Orlando, Florida this summer. I purchased 12 of them and now I wish I had the money to purchase more as my students are crazy about them. Even my gifted students want to use them during their silent reading time. My principal liked them so well he ordered some for students who need to read aloud to use during the state testing."
Brenda Stafford, – Teacher
Tuscarawas, Ohio

"They're Great!! I just used the WhisperPhone for the first time, yesterday, with one of my struggling students. This student is using the Wilson Reading System. The change was remarkable! On his first attempt to read a word ( without WhisperPhone), he read the three syllables and then incorrectly read the word he added sounds because he wasonly using a visual cue). After putting on the WhisperPhone, he read the three syllables and then read the word correctly because he not only had the visual cue, but now had an auditory cue."
Elaine Idenden – Special Education Teacher
Belleville, NJ

"Once in a while, a product comes along that changes everything."
Hugh M. – President, Canadian Education Company

"Because I have had extensive training in working with adults who have learning disabilities and Attention Deficit Disorders, I can see that this product has terrific potential for that audience."
Janie C.

"We received the Whisperphones a few days ago and LOVE them. We have older children adopted from China and they are a big help in learning to pronounce English words."
Sandra Beecher
Okinawa, Japan

"The children are so excited about working on letter sounds, practicing reading, and counting when I get out WhisperPhones!"
Wanda J. – Teacher

"THANK YOU, I was amazed at your service!!!! Wow, my husband and I thought this was a thing of the past. You will go far."
Kay C. – Parent

"WhisperPhones help focus attention on the task of independent reading. I also think the flexible design to offer right or left ear use is great."
Karen L. – Teacher

"I personally love WhisperPhone. It has helped me a lot with preparing to take my GED test. I have always had a problem with not being able to comprehend what I read, but now, thanks to my wonderful GED teachers and the adult version WhisperPhone. I am ready to take the GED test. WhisperPhone has been a great help for my reading comprehension. For the first time, I have confidence that I will pass the GED test, receive my Arkansas High School Diploma, and better myself. Thank you so much for designing this wonderful device."
Barbara M. – Student, Age 38

"Recently, a fifth grade teacher let me borrow a WhisperPhone to use in my speech therapy room. My students loved talking in it!
Jan L. - SLP

"WhisperPhones are cool and keep my strugglers reading just a little longer…which is key!"
Joyce F. – Teacher

"My intervention students all feel like we are now rock stars with our WhisperPhones. Thank you for sending me an adult-size WhisperPhone. It’s great for demonstration purposes and is motivating for the students.
Joyce F. – Teacher

"I bought a couple of WhisperPhones at the ASHA convention and everyone wants more. How do I order more?"
Jean N. – SLP-CCC

"I found your product because Dr. Rasinski mentions whisper phones in his book, "The Fluent Reader"
Janean G.

"Your product looks incredible!!"
Robyn B.

"Thank you for your prompt delivery. I am so very anxious to share your WhisperPhone with "
Kay C. – Parent

"Thank you very much for WhisperPhone. My students are enjoying it!"
Marla W. – Teacher

"My second grade students enjoy using them! Some of my students that need to talk themselves through everything that do are using them and I’m happier because they can whisper to themselves!! They like, as do I, having them as a hands-free set. The kids think they look like rock stars they see on stage!"
Jody L. – Grade 2 Teacher

"I have really enjoyed your WhisperPhone. I am in the process of ordering more for next year."
Rhonda F. – Teacher

"We were in Baumholder Germany last school year teaching on a military base and one of our teachers made an order to your company. Now that we are teaching in Japan, my wife needed some for her K classroom. Good products "
Scott F. – International teacher

"WhisperPhone is perfect for self-monitoring or self-correction..."
2004 ASHA Conference Attendee

Last Updated: 20 Aug 2008 08:03:54 PDT home  |  about  |  terms  |  contact
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