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New personalised voice service for MND

SpeakUnique is a new service which offers personalised synthetic voices for use in communication aids.

Posted : 03/06/2020

MND Scotland is providing funding for people with MND in Scotland to access a new service, which offers personalised synthetic voices for use in communication aids.

Some people with MND lose the ability to speak and need to use an aid to communicate. However, many communication aids, such as an iPad or eye gaze machine, come preinstalled with synthetic voices which sound generic.

'SpeakUnique' gives people with MND, and anyone one else who needs it, the opportunity to create a personalised synthetic voice so they can sound more like themselves. For the first time in Scotland a wide range of Scottish (and other) accents will be able available for use across various communications devices – and can be built all from the comfort of your own home.

The service was developed at the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND research at the University of Edinburgh. Euan MacDonald, who founded the centre, lost his voice as a result of MND. He came up with the idea when he realised he didn’t want his children to remember him by a voice that wasn’t his own.

SpeakUnique offers several options depending on how, or if, a person’s speech is affected:

  • Voice Build: if someone’s speech has not been affected, they can record their voice now for use later. Using this recording, a replica of their own voice would be created if needed.

  • Voice Design: if someone has lost their speech entirely, a unique bespoke voice can be created from a large bank of Scottish (and other) regional accents, ages and gender.

  • Voice Repair: if someone is already experiencing speech difficulties, such as slowness or slurring, this can be repaired in their synthetic voice. This means it will sound more like their healthy voice before speech symptoms developed.

An option is also available for people without a medical diagnosis to record and save their voice, just in case something was to happen to their speech in the future.

To find out more visit www.speakunique.co.uk and remember we’ll cover the costs for anyone with MND in Scotland, all you have to do is let the team know you have MND. 

A special thanks to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Edinburgh for their generosity in providing funding so people with MND in Scotland can access this service. 

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“We are delighted to be able to offer funding so that people with MND in Scotland can access this unique service for free, giving those who need it a voice more like their own.”

Craig Stockton | Chief Executive

Craig Stockton | Chief Executive

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