Stay Informed

Speech Communication Aids – New Technology

Posted on 24/01/2019

Millions of people across the world are non-verbal or have incoherent speech and supplying them with speech communication aids is a way to ease their hardships and give them a voice again. Although these aids offer the chance for individuals to develop relationships, be independent and pursue their aspirations, most devices use the same augmented voice and can sometimes make people feel as though they do not have an identity of their own.

The most familiar version of the voice is that of our late patron, Professor Stephen Hawking, but it is not just his voice. This voice has been used by the developers of speech communication aids the world over and is the voice of millions of girls, boys, men and women. However, a new technology is emerging in the world of AAC that aims to combat this issue through the creation of bespoke voices for each individual communication device.

At the moment, speech communication aids have no way of creating lifelike sounding voices, and identifiers such as accents, enunciation and eloquence are near impossible to achieve with the robotic voice. But a researcher known as Patel aims to change this, by creating the worlds first ever ‘voice bank’. This online platform allows anyone with an internet connection to ‘donate’ their voice, by recording themselves reading aloud on the VocaliD Voicebank which is programmes with stories which capture a range of sounds in the English language.

Patel then uses these ‘donations’ to create a new voice for a client, which aims to combine their own voice with the vocabulary supplied in the voicebank. This enables relatives of clients to donate their voices, in order to obtain the closest version of their own voice as possible. Although the scheme has not been spread out yet, Patel hopes that it will enable those with speech communication aids to have a better sense of identity, boosting their self-esteem and enabling them to flourish.

For more information about the speech communication aids that we can supply, call our team on 01691 624 222.