European League of Stuttering Associations

ELSA, Zülpicher Str. 58 D-50674 Köln, Germany
Tel. +49 221 139 1106    fax + 49 221 139 1370
ELSA, 31 Grosvenor Road, Jesmond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE2 2RL, Great Britain
Tel. +44 191 281 8003    fax+44 191 281 8003

ELSA publications

ELSA Leaflet 2001

Obtain copies of this leaflet by contacting ELSA


Possibly the first recorded case of stuttering was mentioned in the Old Testament - Exodus Chapter 4, Verse 10, when Moses pleaded, '"O Lord, I'm just not a good speaker. I have never been, and I'm not now, even after you have spoken to me, for I have a speech impediment." Since biblical times many people, other great leaders included, have had the same problem: King George VI, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Somerset Maugham, Lewis Carroll, Marilyn Monroe. In total, one per cent of the population of the world have the same problem as Moses had. Often incapable of saying what they want to say, there is only a chance that they may say what they can. This lack of fluency leads not only to an inability to communicate effectively, but also a reluctance to communicate at all for fear of failure. In other words, for some people who stutter there can be total isolation.

For an affliction which affects such a large number throughout the world, very few people seem to know, or want to know, about the anguish of people who stutter. Numerous clinical therapies exist for the person who stutters able to access therapy, yet despite decades of research an established cure for stuttering is still not available. However, practical programmes of self-help have been successfully used and can form a cornerstone by which the symptoms of stuttering can be substantially reduced. It is now clear that, for the person who stutters to benefit from self-help, it needs to be easily and widely accessible to all at minimal cost.


The EUROPEAN LEAGUE OF STUTTERING ASSOCIATIONS (ELSA) was set up in 1990 by 12 countries to promote a greater knowledge and understanding of stuttering and to bring together, as a top umbrella organisation, the national stuttering associations and self-help organisations of Europe. Some countries, including many in Europe, have independent non-governmental organisations (NGO's), usually charitable or voluntary, which do try to improve conditions for people who stutter through various methods such as:

  • providing impartial advice and information to all sectors of the community on stuttering therapy.promoting a greater understanding of stuttering among the general publicholding workshops, seminars, conferences etc. on all aspects of stuttering.supporting local self-help groups.providing a social network to bring people who stutter together for discussion and self-therapy.producing informative newsletters and magazines on all aspects of stuttering and therapy.
  • providing lines of communication to combat the isolation felt by many people who stutter.

In effect the national stuttering associations and self-help organisations in Europe, over the past twenty years or so, have independently and without major funding sought to improve the conditions for people disabled or disadvantaged by stuttering.

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