While a communication device addresses the “functional” side of communication, losing one’s natural speaking voice can be emotionally difficult as well. Voice banking and message banking allow users to have a unique, personalized voice files that mimic their natural speaking voice.
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Voice banking is a way for pALS to create a synthesized or “computerized” version of their natural speaking voice. The benefit to voice banking is that a pALS can use their personal synthesized voice with their AAC device, thus their AAC voice sounds very similar to their physical voice. Voice banking can be done several ways with various software. Access to voice banking can be done with free software, while others have a fee.
Acapela and Model Talker are speech synthesis software packages developed for people who are losing or who have already lost their ability to speak. It allows people who use a Speech Generating Device (SGD) to communicate with a unique personal synthetic voice that is representative of their own voice.
Message banking is a way of recording everyday phrases with their own voice. When a pALS uses a communication device, a synthesized computer voice will “speak” the sentence that is typed. Some may choose to “bank” some often used phrases and store them on their AAC device. Phrases like “I love you”, “I’m proud of you”, and other personal phrases are often “banked” for future use. These phrases are recorded when the pALS still has the ability to speak.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible for Team Gleason funding of Acapela and/or Model Talker?
A: Anyone living in the USA that has been officially diagnosed with ALS.
How many phrases do I need to record?
A: With both systems, generally, the more phrases recorded the better the quality of synthetic voice. Acapela requires a minimum of 350 phrases, but allows for 1600 phrases. Model Talker recommends 400 phrases as the minimum, suggests at least 800, and allows for 1600 phrases.
How do I get started voice banking with Acapela?
A: To get started, go to https://mov.acapela-group.com/start-now
- Fill out the application. For the field “purpose of usage”, select “medical”.
- Upon clicking Medical, some additional fields will appear. Complete these fields.
- For the field “request for funding”, select “Team Gleason”
- Team Gleason will be notified of your request. Team Gleason will be contacting all clients before approving the request by email and/or phone. Note: If you do not respond to Team Gleason’s request for contact within 14 days, your request for funding will be denied and you will need to reapply.
- Once the request is approved, you will receive an email with your login credentials.
- Log in to your account, click the “Record” tab, and download the Acapela software to get started with voice banking.
How do I get started voice banking with ModelTalker?
What do I need to start voice banking?
A: A computer, an internet connection, a quiet place, and time. It is also suggested that an external microphone is utilized, as the quality will be better than using the built-in computer microphone.
Team Gleason already paid for me to complete voice banking with one system. Can I still apply for funding assistance with the other system?
I have already lost my voice, can I still voice or message bank?
A: At this time, neither Acapela nor Model Talker support the creation of a synthesized voice from past recordings. In this situation, some individuals choose to have a relative or friend record the phrases for them. Team Gleason is willing to cover the cost for a proxy synthetic voice.
Please note: Voice banking is most successful when your speech is clear and easily understood. We recommend that you check with a speech language pathologist to make sure you are a good candidate before enrolling in a voice banking program. It is important to understand that the process of voice banking will take several hours of your time and energy over several days or even weeks.