Give a hoot! Share your voice!

That doesn't sound catchy now that I've written out, but moving on! Now you can help someone unable to speak by giving them your voice... sorta... FOR SCIENCE!

Read on for more information, or if you really want to skip all the reading, basically a new effort is underway by two speech scientists to help those who cannot speak and/or are limited in their ability to do so for one reason or another and require the use of devices to speak for them.

This new project, and I'm stealing this directly from their website, "extracts acoustic properties from a target talker's disordered speech (whatever sounds they can still produce) and applies these features to a synthetic voice that was created from a surrogate voice donor who is similar in age, size, gender, etc. The result is a synthetic voice that contains as much of the vocal identity of the target talker as possible yet the speech clarity of the surrogate talker. It's a simple idea that could make a powerful impact on the lives of those who rely on synthetic voices to express themselves."

So for all intents and purposes, you're donating your voice, along with countless others, to help someone who can't speak at all or much/well but giving them a way to do so that is unique to them. Basically, and I'm really oversimplifying things here, they're getting their "own" voice.

This sounds amazing, no pun intended (given the subject matter).

If you decide to "donate your voice", you'll be required to record yourself talking for between 2-3 hours and by talking I mean reading/repeating short sentences that cover all the potential sounds and combinations thereof that occur in our given language.


Additional information for donors can be found here and those interested in signing up to help out can do so here. Helping out is not limited to donating your voice. Options are also included for developers/programmers, speech-language pathologists, financial supporters and so on and so forth.

Additional information can be found on the site itself, whose main link is here.

How To Donate Your Voice To Someone Who Can't Speak

Here's a good deed you can do without parting with a single thing. Synthetic voices for people who have lost the ability to speak only come in generic types—think of Stephen Hawking's voice—but one fascinating project wants to build custom voices for each person. To do that they need your help: specifically, a recording of your voice.

VocalID is the brainchild of two speech scientists, who are turning their research into a much larger project. Voice is intensely personal and, like a prosthetic leg or arm, it makes sense it should be customized to each person.

Here's how it works—and don't worry, this does not mean someone will be walking around with the same voice as you out there:

After recording a couple hours of audio in, say, a quiet room with an iPhone, you send it to VocalID, where a program called ModelTalker chops it up into the basic units of speech that can be recombined as novel words and sentences. In that same step, characteristics of the patient's voice—based on what limited sounds they can make—are blended in to the donor's to create a whole new one. You can listen to how it works out on VocalID's website.

VocalID is still in its beginning stages, and they're looking for help from everyone including voice donors, financial support, and programmers. A priority is making voice donation even easier, cutting down recording time, especially for kids. But as it stands already, your voice is just about the easiest thing to donate. [New Scientist]


Top image: Sergey Nevins/Shutterstock