Acapela Lets ALS Patients Create TTS with Their Own Voices

Speech technology provider Acapela Group is launching the My-Own-Voice service, allowing users diagnosed with speech or language disorders (resulting from ALS or other conditions, such as aphasia, dysarthria, or apraxia) to capture the essence of their voices before losing it. This invention will enable users to keep using their own voice to power their text-to-speech applications rather than having to use a standard anonymous, synthetic voice.

Text-to-speech literally transforms any written input into an audio result. It means that 'my-own-voice', based on the recordings of a corpus of various texts, will be capable of speaking any text, as any synthetic voice can do.

"For decades we have been creating synthetic voices used by visually impaired users. Accessibility issues are very important to Acapela, and we work hard to make communication much easier for people with sight, speech, and cognitive disabilities," said Lars-Erik Larsson, CEO of Acapela Group, in a statement. 'We know that once diagnosed the user doesn't have much time to capture the essence of their voice before losing it. Our goal was to develop the most convenient service for them to use, while ensuring that all the sounds we need to create a synthetic version of their voice could be recorded. My-own-voice is a first step for us in the field of speech impairment. We look forward to developing further innovative solutions to help improve the lives of users."

To allow individuals to capture their own voices, the first challenge was to create a new process to enable recordings to be made by non-professional speakers, without help from Acapela linguists, but with the support of the user's speech therapist. 

Eric and Garmt have both been diagnosed with ALS. They have decided to create their own synthetic voices and have participated as pioneers on the first  'my-own-voice' experiences. See Videos, user testimonies, voice samples, and useful links here: http://www.acapela-group.com/meet-eric-and-garmt-my-own-voice-users/  

Today, the my-own-voice Web site is ready to record, fully guiding the user and the speech therapist through the full process, based on everyday materials and adapted to those without specific knowledge of speech technology.My-own-voice will be free to create at an initial stage. A charge will be made only if the user is happy and comfortable with the synthetic voice and wants personal unlimited use (Android or Windows versions).

Acapela Group is supporting Project MinE with a donation of 5 percent of My-Own-Voice revenue to help them reach their objective to map the full DNA profiles of 15,000 people with ALS, to perform comparative analyses on the resulting data, understand the genetic basis of ALS, and better fight this neuromuscular disease.

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