Background: As a result of a variety of disabilities, some people are unable to speak using their bodies alone. Some of these people use voice enabled augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices sometimes called VOCA’s. These consist of some form of input interface and generate synthetic speech. The user’s choice of voices is very limited, usually constrained to selecting one of a small set of installed ‘voices’. The result is that when a number of users get together it can be difficult to know who is speaking at any one time particularly if there are a number of people using the same voice.
Research: In general, manufacturers of VOCA’s do not develop their own computer voices but may choose to integrate some more advanced third party voices into their systems. This decision is based primarily on technical and commercial considerations. Up until now AAC users, who have the most personal engagement with this technology, have had little involvement in this process. The CreST Network would like to encourage AAC users and computer voice developers to work together.