About the authors:

Jaan Pill is an elementary school teacher in Mississauga, Canada. He is founder of the Stuttering Association of Toronto (1988), and a co-founder of the Canadian Association for People Who Stutter (1991) and the International Stuttering Association (1995).

Benny Ravid is a software engineer. He is the chair and founder of AMBI, the Israel Stuttering Association. He is also ISA board member, head of the webmaster group of the ISA website and webmaster of AMBI website.

Stefan Hoffmann, 33, joined the self-help movement in Cologne, Germany in 1991. He became an ISA board member in 1998, dealing mainly with outreach matters in Latin America and Asia. He is currently located in Beijing, China.

Mark Irwin is a dentist in private practice in Adelaide Australia. He is a past president of the Australian Speak Easy Association (1995 -7) and has been a board member of the ISA since 1998. He currently serves as ISA chairman.

Martine De Vloed is an employee at a company in Ghent, Belgium. She is a co-founder and the past vice chair of the Belgian Stuttering Association, vzw BEST. She is also the past vice chair of the ISA (1998-2001) and is currently an ISA board member.

Mel Hoffman: Retired. Certified Public Accountant. Formerly director of taxes at Ampex Corporation. Member of the board of directors of the National Stuttering Association from 1983-1994, serving some of these years as either secretary or treasurer. Member of the ISA management committee, 1995-1998. Member of the ISA board of directors, 1998-2001, also serving as treasurer. Continuing as ISA treasurer until about December 31, 2001.

Thomas Krall is a teacher of mathematics, sports and music at a comprehensive school. He is currently on a sabbatical. Chair of a stuttering self-help group in Duesseldorf, Germany, 1989-1991. Chair of the German stuttering association, 1992-1993. Member of ISA management committee,1995-1998. Chair of ISA board of directors, 1998-2001.

International Stuttering Association

by Jaan Pill (Canada), jpill@interlog.com
Benny Ravid (Israel), bravid@runbox.com
Mark Irwin (Australia), mirwin@cobweb.com.au
Stefan Hoffmann (China), sthoff160@gmx.net
Martine De Vloed (Belgium), mart.devloed@belgacom.net
Thomas Krall (Germany) ThomasKrall@compuserve.com
Mel Hoffman (California, USA) Melhoffman@aol.com


Founded in 1995, the International Stuttering Association (ISA) is a not-for-profit, international umbrella association made up primarily of national self-help associations for people who stutter. This association seeks to provide a means whereby the voices of people who stutter can be heard at the international level.

Representatives of several national self-help associations had talked about setting up such an organization at a meeting in San Francisco in 1992 at the Third World Congress of People Who Stutter. Previous World Congresses were held in Kyoto, Japan in 1986 and in Cologne, Germany in 1989.

Discussions among national self-help associations in 1993 and a worldwide survey in 1994 led to creation of a draft version of the ISA constitution. This constitution was refined and ratified at the first ISA membership meeting in Linkõping, Sweden in July 1995, a day before the Fourth World Congress of People Who Stutter.

Further changes in the structure of ISA were agreed to at an ISA membership meeting at the Fifth World Congress in South Africa in July 1998.

The most recent version of the ISA constitution -- which you can find on the ISA website at www.stutterisa.org/ -- was ratified at an ISA membership meeting in July 2001 just before the Sixth World Congress of People Who Stutter in Ghent, Belgium.


The ISA vision is a world that understands stuttering.


ISA seeks to improve the conditions of all whose lives are affected by stuttering in all countries by among other things:

ISA has developed a number of guiding principles including the following:


Membership in ISA is possible only for national or international self-help organizations of people who stutter, not for individual persons with the exception of non-voting special categories such as Special Friends and Honorary Members. The following countries are currently represented in ISA:

The term Special Friends refers to individual memberships for people, from countries that are not yet members of ISA, who wish to assist in ISA outreach efforts in their respective countries. Among countries represented by ISA Special Friends are these:

The other category is that of Honorary Members. The term Honorary Members refers to individuals who have been given special membership in recognition of their work on behalf of people who stutter. The first honorary lifetime members of ISA are Jane Fraser of the Stuttering Foundation of America, and Judith Kuster of the Stuttering Home Page.

Members of the ISA board of directors, as well as the ISA advisory board, are listed on the ISA website, which also provides contact information for the ISA member associations. The chair of the ISA board of directors is Mark Irwin of Australia. The immediate past chair is Thomas Krall of Germany.

Current Projects

As Mark Irwin has recently outlined in a message on the ISA website, these are among current areas of interest:

Here are specific plans of the ISA:

Public Education

Public education is a key element in many ISA projects. In that context, ISA is a strong supporter of the IPATS project (International Project on Attitudes Toward Stuttering) initiated by Ken St. Louis of the USA. The project seeks to find out if there are differences in how stuttering is perceived in countries around the world. It also seeks to develop a survey instrument that will help us to find out whether public education campaigns are effective in changing public attitudes about stuttering.

Ken St. Louis has suggested it may be more effective to educate the public about what to "do" when speaking with stutterers, rather than focusing on just providing general information. For example, it's important to let non-stutterers know that it's not helpful to try to complete a sentence for a person who stutters. He also has suggested that having stutterers share their individual "stories" is another highly effective way to provide valuable public education about stuttering. A recent book by Ken St. Louis, Living with Stuttering, underlines the value of such stories.

ISA website

At a meeting in August 2000 in Nyborg, Denmark during the Third World Congress on Fluency Disorders organized by the International Fluency Association (IFA), the ISA board of directors decided to update the original ISA website. ISA owes thanks to Eddy Orlowsky of the Netherlands, who created the original ISA website following the ISA founding meeting in Sweden in 1995.

The goal of the new site, at www.stutterisa.org/, is to create a global self-help network for people who stutter and a meeting point for stuttering on the Internet.

Looking at the above goal and at the same time looking at our world, the ISA board concluded that the ISA website is in fact a place of dreams. For that reason, the ISA website features sky blue and white colors to give an impression of being in clouds or in a world of dreams.

The site is based on development guidelines which specify that it:

The ISA board also specified that the site should include an emphasized link to the Stuttering Home Page. Accordingly, there is a link to the latter site on the upper left corner on each page of the ISA website.

By way of meeting operational requirements

Currently the website features:

Two additional pages are in development:

The webmaster group will focus on collecting content for the site, web design, and implementation of the website. Currently three persons serve as volunteers on the webmaster group: Benny Ravid from Israel (Head of webmaster group), Zvika Hernik from Israel, and Mario D'hont from Belgium.

The group welcomes additional volunteers. Please contact Benny Ravid bravid@runbox.com for more information.

One Voice

One Voice, the ISA newsletter, offers a good overview of ISA activities and of its vision for the future. Recent issues are available on the ISA website.

Working groups

ISA working groups are active in several areas. For example, the ISA outreach working group seeks to establish contacts with people who stutter in countries of the world that are not yet members of ISA. The chair of this working group, Stefan Hoffmann sthoff160@gmx.net, has a particular interest in furthering contacts in these areas:

Here is a list of the chairs of the ISA's working groups:

By way of summary, we at ISA believe that as people who stutter, we all have a lot to learn from each other, no matter what language we may speak, and no matter where in the world we may live. Please contact Mark Irwin mirwin@cobweb.com.au if you wish to assist in the work of the International Stuttering Association or would like further information.


First posted September 14, 2001
Reformatted for judykuster.net June 13, 2023