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Voice Banking at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

The Embedded Librarian Service at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust seeks to promote digital health literacy amongst local residents and part of that process is to provide a Voice Banking Volunteer for patients who wish to create a synthetic voice.

When a person is diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND), they may experience weakness in the muscles affecting the mouth, throat and tongue. This can make communicating more difficult.

To help with communication, some patients may choose to ‘bank’ their voice, whilst they are able to do so. This involves recording a set list of phrases, usually around 1600, with their own voice. This recording is then converted into a synthetic voice.

When the person is no longer able to use their own voice, they can use the synthetic voice in speech-generating communication devices to generate an infinite number of words and sentences.

The synthetic voice will not sound exactly like their voice, but it will sound similar.

 

The role of the Voice Banking Volunteer is to assist patients in setting up an account with an online voice banking provider, to trouble-shoot any technical issues with the equipment, to take them through the recording process and ensure that the recordings are suitable for banking.

Some patients need very little help and are able to record their phrases by themselves at home, but others may need more detailed assistance, particularly if their manual dexterity has also been affected by MND.

The Speech and Language Department, the Voice Banking Volunteer, and St Nicholas Hospice are working in partnership on this initiative, so most of the recording sessions are arranged at the Hospice.

A referral from Speech and Language is required before a patient can embark on voice banking.

 

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