MESSAGE BANKING & VOICE BANKING
Message banking is the process of recording phrases, messages and vocabulary for the purpose of incorporating the digitised recordings into an AAC system if the person requires such a system due to permanent or temporary reduction or loss of intelligible speech. John Costello, the founder and pioneer of Message Banking has differentiated the terms “Message Banking” and “Voice Banking”.
Voice Banking (also called Voice Building) refers to the process of recording natural voice which is then synthesised into a computerised version of the unique voice. Once the synthesised voice has been produced and installed, messages are produced by converting text-to-speech. In our AAAC devices we currently achieve this using commercial speech synthesis software such as Nuance (RealSpeak) and Acapela. The datasets underlying the high quality commercial voices is extensive and produced by professionals in recording studios. Voice-building software is available which permits a smaller datasets of the target voice to be recorded. The result is likely to be personalised, although not as high quality as the professional synthesized voices. ModelTalker is an example of this type of Voice-building software for VoiceBanking. At present many hours of recording is required, but there are projects underway around the world using donor voices as a basis, which aim to make available a process requiring shorter recording sessions of the target voice. Zyteq is unable to assist with the process of Voice Building to produce a speech synthesizer of your voice.
Zyteq is offering services for Message Banking. Here is an outline of the process.
An individual who is diagnosed with a condition which affects speech, may desire to preserve his or her messages and unique expressions.
It is ideal to start the process of Message Banking well before speech begins to change. Sometimes change may occur more rapidly than anticipated and the optimum recording opportunity may pass. It is quite likely that there is no contact with a Speech Pathologist at this stage, so the individual or case manager or other representative is welcome to contact Zyteq directly. If a Speech Pathologist is available to assist, this would be helpful as the process moves towards integrating the messages to a Speech Generating Device or AAC system. Speech Pathologists have expertise in communication and language, so even if speech is not the focus of therapy, meetings with Speech Pathologists are routinely used to set up and implement Speech Generating Devices or AAC systems.
Zyteq offers a microphone kit and guide to recording messages for Message Banking. At this point it might also be useful to understand how the messages can be used in the future. In Zyteq’s product range we offer several tablet computer systems with software which would be suitable AAC systems to integrate the banked messages. Information can be provided about these systems and demo software supplied (and download instructions supplied). The kit may be purchased from Zyteq directly, or some organisations such as MND associations or Speech Pathology departments may own suitable microphones for borrowing, for recording messages.
Once a microphone and guide is obtained a phone or Skype or face-to-face consultation may take place with one of our Speech Pathologists/Assistive Technology Consultants.
Once recordings have been made the question always stands – what do we do with the recordings? This is where Zyteq is offering some new services to assist with the transition to AAC device.
There are several options:
The recordings files can be forwarded to Zyteq for storage, and we can also supply instructions as to how to download and store these privately. Zyteq will provide secure confidential storage and back-up of the recordings until they are required.
At this point or at some future point the individual recordings will need to be renamed with a meaningful label and categorised. The categorisation will be important so that the vocabulary can be organised into pages or groups according to usage. Zyteq offers a technical service providing the data entry. The categorisation will require input from the owner of the messages or someone who knows the person very well.
The next step is to integrate the digitised messages into the AAC software. A sample page can be provided at this point. A screen shot of the sample page can be supplied. This can only be used by the owner of the recordings if their software trial period has not expired, or if there is a second or alternative computer to install a fresh copy of the software for a new trial period.
The full integration of all the messages into the software requires purchase of the software license. In Australia the AAC devices are generally funded by government agencies to eligible clients. The timing for the need for the device and the integration of the recordings will be individual and dependent on many factors. We propose two scenarios:
1. If the device is not yet required but the owner of the banked messages would like to go ahead with organising the messages and integrating them into the software sooner rather than later – then the software can be purchased now (and we can negotiate with the funding agencies to supply the device when needed with the software installed but not licensed, for the difference in the price), and the relevant page set or grid set with the Message Banking integrated installed on the AAC device when it is obtained.
2. If the device is required now or soon, and the process or trialling equipment (See Guided Evaluation) is well underway, Zyteq can integrate and install the banked messages directly onto the AAC device ready for supply, as a personalised page set.
Zyteq offers services from the start to completion of this process, and for individual stages of the process.
This is a new service. Please contact Zyteq to discuss and request a quotation.
Pricing for Zyteq to assist with Message Banking services can be found at this link to the products section of the website.