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ALS and other Neurological Patients Find their Voices

Stephen Hawking (Image via Pixabay)
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Our voices contribute to our unique identities. For some who struggle with neurological conditions like ALS, their voices are undermined and spoken through computer devices. With a reflection of this, it is easy to consider that many individuals take their abilities to speak for granted.

According to Rupal Patel, a speech scientist, one out of five U.S. citizens use synthetic voices to communicate.

Frustration

With these limiting factors of speech, Patel has witnessed many frustrations from these voiceless individuals. In her Ted Talk, she mentions countless patients who refuse to use their computer devices because of the synthetic robotic voice designed to speak and represent them.

Voices - Stephen Hawking (Image via Pixabay)
Stephen Hawking (Image via Pixabay)

Stephen Hawking, the late renowned physicist and researcher, used his synthetic voice to communicate for the majority of his life. Patel mentions that many individuals share the same voice as Hawking, and on a large scale realized that these individuals are neglected of an opportunity of having their own unique voiceprint.

“The lack of individuation of an artificial voice disconnects one’s self from expressing their own personalities,” says Patel when discussing the importance in which our voices have on our identities.

Giving people back their voices

With this realization and passion, Patel made it her mission to help individuals with these limited vocal capabilities find their voices.

The lack of individuation of an artificial voice disconnects one’s self from expressing their own personalities.

Rupal Patel

With funding from the National Science Foundation, Patel was able to generate and develop VocaliD, a company that is bringing speaking machines to life. Powered by what Patel calls a “voice bank,” similarly compared to a blood bank but instead of blood they gather voices, VocaliD uses voice blending technology to create unique vocal personas for any device that turns text into speech.

With this progressive idea and leading technological advancements, Patel and the team behind VocaliD aim to create voices for over 10 million voiceless individuals around the world.

Filling the voice bank

But in order to fill these voice banks, VocaliD and Patel encourage people from around the world to become a vocal surrogate. With the technologies from VocaliD, you can donate your voice in the comfort of your own home.

Inspired by this movement and Patel’s ambition toward developing voices for these individuals, I registered my voice because I think it is vital to help those without a voice to find their own unique vocal identities.

Like donating blood to help those in need, you can do your part by donating your voice. Visit VocaliD to register and help give the gift of voice for those who deserve their own.

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