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Chapter 5. Advances in Computer Speech S... > PERSONAL VOICES FOR ASSISTIVE TECHNO...

PERSONAL VOICES FOR ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY

In terms of intelligibility, naturalness, and technical considerations, it is clear that data-based synthesis represents the current best available technology. Despite these clear advantages, users of SGDs have, based on anecdotal evidence, tended to use older rule-based CSS technology for their voices. Partly, this usage pattern may reflect nothing more than the prevalence of those older systems in SGDs that were on the market until quite recently. Further, clinicians who prescribe SGDs for clients were guided by published studies that indicated high intelligibility for some of the rule-based systems, perhaps leading them to recommend the use of those systems over newer technology that has not been so extensively studied. Finally, one can speculate that in the absence of a voice that is truly personal, users of SGDs may prefer to use a somewhat artificial-sounding voice to one that sounds more distinctly like some other real person.

It was with several of these possibilities in mind that we undertook the ModelTalker project with the intent of making high quality personalized voices available to users of SGDs. The goal of the ModelTalker project has been to develop not only CSS software, but more importantly, to develop the software and procedures needed to automate the creation of personal voices. This would allow current users of SGDs to select from a potentially large array of "donated" voices so that each individual could have a personal voice that was not used by other augmented communicators. Moreover, people diagnosed with neuro-As discussed above degenerative diseases such as ALS would be able to record or "bank" their own voice and from those recordings create a personal synthetic voice that was recognizably their own.


  

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