A fairly recent member of our team, presses a valve on his neck to speak, in a manner reminiscent of how I am sure I remember Jack Hawkins talking on Parkinson years and years ago.
I would never presume to ask him about it, but I have consulted the interwebs today.
He must have a tracheo-esophageal puncture (or tracheoesophageal puncture); a surgically created hole between the trachea (windpipe) and the esophagus (the tubal pathway between the throat and the stomach) suggesting he has had a total laryngectomy, a surgery where the larynx (voice box) is removed.
To speak with a TEP, you take a deep breath and then cover the stoma so that when you exhale, the air that would normally come out of the stoma is shunted through a little prosthesis (a TEP valve). The air goes through the one-way valve of the prosthesis, then up your esophagus, where muscle vibrations help to produce voice. You can either cover your stoma with your finger when speaking, or you can get a "hands-free" tracheostoma valve.Would you be brave enough to socialise down the boozer competing to answer questions if you had a TEP? Me neither.