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rcharlton

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I'm not sure if I have limb onset or bulbar ALS - I had symptoms of both early on.

Complicating matters is the fact that I was born tongue tied - ie. my lingual frenulum is abnormally short and restricts mobility of the tongue tip - and had a speech impediment until I was 16 - I made the same sound for "th" and "s".

Anyway - I've always had a somewhat slurred speech - and it's been an effort to talk for some time - especially above noise or to the hearing impaired; however, I could always get the words out - until last Sunday. I was on the phone with a friend - and there were a couple of words that I could not enunciate or get out - my friend was subject to long silences on the phone while I worked on getting the words out. A pretty scary moment.

Coincident with this - two days earlier my fiance received an e-mail from a colleague suffering from ALS for over three years who now uses a voice box. One of her big regrets is that she did not record her own voice for use with the voice box before she lost the use of her speech.

I'm going to follow up on Al's referral to the Toront Rehabilition Clinic to see if they can give me some advice on voice banking.

Has anyone out there done any voice banking? What is the process like?

Thanks.

Richard
 

Al

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Hi Richard. They gave me 4 options for voice banking. From free to about $50. Then you get about 14 pages of suggestions of things that you may want to bank. I haven't started yet as I am not having speech problems yet. Your OT should have no trouble getting you into TRC. I worked with Stephen Tse a very nice fellow, patient and kind. Good luck.
 

rcharlton

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So I called the Toronto Rehab clinic about voice banking (thanks for the tip Al).

So there is no real magic to the process. It's merely a question of recording WAV files on your computer through a microphone. These sound files can then be used as in a speaking device. I was given a couple of questionnaires to direct my sound bites.

I also researched Voice Banking on the net and came across a program call Model Talker - which will actually synthesize an electronic voice based samples of your own voice.

I contacted the developer and here is what they told me:

"Thank you for your inquiry. Current development efforts on ModelTalker
are awaiting a grant funding decision; however, a functional alpha
version is still available from our research partner at
http://www.asel.udel.edu/speech/. Please let me know if I can assist you
in any way. There is a full tutorial included with the alpha system. We
ask that you begin by recording a few sentences and upload them so we
can look them over and make any suggestions / changes before you spend
the time to record the entire inventory. And we would always appreciate
any feedback you could provide us. We have a number of improvements
planned but user comments help us to better prioritize any new features
we would like to implement."

I've downloaded the program and let you know how it goes. The download was free.

There are a few key phrases that I want to make sure I record with my own voice - such as:

"Take a picture - it will last longer"
"I've got ALS - what's your excuse?" I should make this into a T-Shirt
"You're barking on thin ice" my father's favourite mixed metaphor
"Oops - sorry for the drool - I'm just happy to see you"
"I know you are but what am I?" the ultimate come back
"Do you want some fries with that shake"

Richard
 

COlisa

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Messages
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Hi RIchard,
Any luck with the voice banking?

My husband met with speech path today & she had never heard of it.

Did you get a usable result using ModelTalker?

Any info you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Lisa
 

rcharlton

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Hi Lisa,

I still have not finished completing the inventory.

INVtool is the actual voice banking software for model talker. It's amazing. You can add your own words and phrases. It gives you feedback on pitch, loudness and pronunciation - much better than recording through window recorder. Even if you don't plan to use modeltalker I'd recommend using INV tool to do voice banking.

It takes about 15 to 20 hours to complete the word inventory - and I only do 10 minutes at a time. I'm about halfway through the list.

I have to finish soon though cause my speech is deteriorating.

I'll keep you posted.

Richard
 

MtPockets

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You said invatool is the software for the actual "model talker". I have no idea about any of this. What is a model talker? Is it like a typewriter? Big, small, heavy, light, works on your computer, portable, how long batteries last if it uses them.
Any clues about type of microphone to use to get realistic sound transfer? How much does all that cost?

Thanks for the info

God Bless
Capt. AL
 

John1

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MtPockets said:
You said invatool is the software for the actual "model talker". I have no idea about any of this. What is a model talker? Is it like a typewriter? Big, small, heavy, light, works on your computer, portable, how long batteries last if it uses them....
http://www.modeltalker.com/mt.php
 

MtPockets

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Thanks John for the link.

Does anyone else use a different machine? Are there many different kinds.
Thanks

God Bless
Capt. AL
 

Pearl

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This is a question that I contacted the speech augmentation rep at the Emory Clinic about for my friend. This is part of a reply I received and I thought it might be helpful to someone:


"There is a program called etriloquist we use all te time, that allows either saved phrases you just type in and use the computer voice, OR you can voice bank as you asked about. You have to of course record the phrases individually so it takes a while, but is very easy. Etriloquist comes with 14 folders with 227 pre-recorded phrases. These actually came from a survey of our GAALS patients so are appropriate.

NOTE: Make sure the patient hears the “AT&T VOICES” before they make a voice banking decision. For the 1st time ever (only happened 1 year ago) they digitized human voices. Over 95% of my patients (who would never use a regular computer voice) hear the AT&T voices and then see no reason to go to the trouble of recording their own – they are THAT good!"
 

MarciaA

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My sister recorded over 400 words and phrases a couple weeks ago. She got a headset with an attached microphone and recorded them just on her computer at home. Here's a question I have and a concern Kathy (my sister) has...once she's using the computer to talk, how easy will it be to communicate? I'm sure it won't be as spontaneous as it is now, but how much of that will be lost?

Marcia
 

rcharlton

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Pearl said:
NOTE: Make sure the patient hears the “AT&T VOICES” before they make a voice banking decision. For the 1st time ever (only happened 1 year ago) they digitized human voices. Over 95% of my patients (who would never use a regular computer voice) hear the AT&T voices and then see no reason to go to the trouble of recording their own – they are THAT good!"
Thanks Pearl - but I can't ever imagine being happy about having someone else's voice.

Stephen Hamwking is British - and he says he hates having to speak with an American Accent through his machine.

The goal of Modeltalker is to synthesize speech based on your own voice - so you are not limited to an inventory.

The voice banking tool for Modeltaker is InvTool. Even if you don't plan on using Modeltalker I would URGE you to use InvTool to do your voice banking. You can add words to the inventory - it gives you feedback on pitch, loudness and pronunciation - it autosaves your recording and goes immediately to the next word on the list.
 

rcharlton

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City
Toronto
So I finally finished recording the inventory of phrases. It took me over a year - but I could devote only so much time every now and then. There was some degradation of my voice from when I started but it was still good enough.

There are about 1600 phrases and I would think you would need to dedicate a good 2 weeks of 1 or 2 hours a day.

But it is worth it. From those recorded phrases the Speech Research Laboratory
A.I. duPont Hospital for Children and the University of Delaware synthesized a voice based on my recorded phrases - and it sounds amazing. Far better than I expected. It still sounds a bit electronic - but it sounds better than any other voice synthesizer I've heard such as the one Stephen Heywood had - and best of all it sounds like ME!

So now I can write anything (even if the words were not in my recorded vocabulary) - and it will be converted into speech using my voice.

I was almost in tears when I first heard it and I can't express what it means to know that, whatever happens to me, I will be able to communicate with my own voice.

The whole process and software are FREE and just requires some time commitment on your part.

I am forever indebted to everyone at the Speech Research Laboratory
A.I. duPont Hospital for Children and the University of Delaware

I would urge all PALS to do this now before it is too late.

http://www.asel.udel.edu/speech/ModelTalker.html
 

CindyM

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Thanks everyone for some great advice. Rich, I'm especially interested in what else is on your list or pre-recorded phrases- other than the normal requests for food, assistance with daily tasks, and the like. I was LOL at your first ideas! Cindy
 

MarciaA

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This is probably a stupid question, but now that you have everything recorded, how do you use it? Does a normal laptop suffice...do you need one with a touch screen...or do you need a different piece of technology altogether?

Marcia
 

georgia

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We are also using Emory so we got the same idea. Since he is already losing speech to do it NOW but the site is down to download http://etriloquist.com/ I will look into the other.
 
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