Speech synthesis has come a long way since its early days of monotone voices and mispronounced words. Today’s synthetic voices, utilized in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, have appropriate inflection, a variety of accents, and excellent pronunciation. Combined with using recordings from voice actors, a speech-generating device today has a very human feel to it. With these advancements, is it worthwhile to pursue “voice banking” – recording a patient’s own voice, creating a “bank” of words and phrases – for use in an AAC device? Here are some common questions and answers about voice banking.
Q: Which patients is voice banking appropriate for?
A: Voice banking is most appropriate for patients with a known degenerative impairment, such as ALS, Parkinson’s Disease or Primary Progressive Aphasia. It can also be useful for patients whose impairments fluctuate, such as some vocal disorders.
Q: When should we start voice banking?
A: Ideally, the sooner the better, giving your patient as much time as possible to add to their voice bank. However, as long as your patient has verbal skills, it’s not too late to start. Keep in mind that the concept of voice banking can be an emotional subject for some patients and families, and may trigger feelings of loss and grief for those who are dealing with a degenerative condition. Patients who were recently diagnosed may not be psychologically ready for this step, so be prepared to take it slowly and refer to a counselor.
Q: So, where do I start?
A: While estimates of the average adult’s vocabulary vary widely, it’s safe to say that you and your patient likely will not have the time and energy to record every word and phrase your patient may want to use. Instead, start with the most important vocabulary. This can be identified by your patient and their family, but common ideas are: names and nicknames of family members/loved ones; “catch phrases” – favorite sayings and jokes used frequently; meaningful phrases such as “I love you” and “I’m sorry;” conversational words and phrases that will be used regularly; and, for bilingual patients, words/phrases in a second language that may be more difficult for an AAC device to capture.
Q: What equipment do we need to get started? How do we actually do it?
A: Speech-generating devices such as Lingraphica’s make it very easy to begin voice banking. No special equipment is needed. When making or editing an icon, simply choose the “Record a Voice” option. The device will prompt you to set a recording time and begin recording. When you’ve finished, you can review the recording, and then it will automatically be saved to that icon.
Q: So, back to the initial question: is it worth it?
A: In a word: yes. As anyone who has ever replayed a voicemail message over and over again can tell you, the voice of a loved one is a powerful thing. Patients can also feel more confident and connected using a device that truly is their own voice. Today’s technologies make a great substitute for one’s own voice, the real thing is still the only real thing.
If you'd like to try a free, no-obligation device trial with a Lingraphica AAC device, please call us at 888-274-2742 or click the button below. Our Clinical Consultants can provide more information about voice banking on a Lingraphica device.