Here you can find answers to some of the most common questions about the Speak:Unique Voicebank Research Project.
Q: Why are you only recording Scottish accents?
A: We are in the early phases of the project, and are concentrating on native Scottish accents in the first phase. We are collecting samples of all the main accent groups within Scotland. We aim to later roll the project out to the rest of the UK and widen our range of accents to include immigrant groups.
Q: I don’t like the thought of someone else speaking in my voice through a communication aid.
A: We will never use individual voices. All voices are merged to form a “base paint”, on top of which the patient’s “individual colour” is added. Within the “base paint”, your voice will not be identifiable. Read the details about how the voice building process works.
Q: Why do you need to record many voices with each accent?
A: We are aiming to record at least 20 males and 20 females with each regional accent. The voices are then combined digitally to amass all the voice features we need to provide bespoke voices for individuals.
Q: What if I make a mistake while I’m reading?
A: This is not a problem. You can stop, go back and read the sentence again. You can request a break or a drink of water whenever you need one.
Q: Are you able to reimburse my travel or parking expenses?
A: We regret that, as this is a University research project, we are not able to reimburse your expenses.
Q: I have a neurological condition but my speech is not affected. Can I record my voice in case I develop difficulties in the future?
A: The Voicebank is still a research project and we are as yet unable to provide a voicebanking service for patients. Selected individuals are helping us to refine our technology but we are not actively recruiting at present. Please check back here for further updates on our progress, or sign up to our mailing list.
Q: I have a neurological condition and my speech is already affected. Can you provide me with ‘my own voice’ for use in a communication aid?
A: We regret that we are unable to provide personalised synthetic voices for patients at present. Selected individuals are helping us to refine our technology but we are not actively recruiting at present. Please check back here for further updates on our progress, or sign up to our mailing list.
Q: How can I obtain a communication aid?
A: If you have concerns about your speech and would like to know more about communication aids, please speak to your GP about a referral to your local speech and language therapist, who will be able to discuss the options with you.
You might also find the Communication Matters website helpful.
Q: What makes this Voicebanking project different from commercial options that are already available (e.g. ModelTalker)
A: Other organisations and companies do currently offer voicebanking and personalised synthetic voices for patients. These services typically require several hours of voice-recording. Our bespoke technology means that we only require the individual to record a minimum of 100 sentences, which takes about 20 minutes.
In addition, using our unique bank of donor voices, we are able to ‘repair’ voices that are already mildly-moderately impaired at the time of recording. We are still refining this process through our clinical pilot, but we will not be launching it as a service until it is optimised. Thank you for your understanding.