Towards Personalized Synthesized Voices for Individuals with Vocal Disabilities: Voice Banking and Reconstruction

Christophe Veaux, Junichi Yamagishi, Simon King

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

When individuals lose the ability to produce their own speech,
due to degenerative diseases such as motor neurone disease
(MND) or Parkinson’s, they lose not only a functional means of
communication but also a display of their individual and group
identity. In order to build personalized synthetic voices, attempts
have been made to capture the voice before it is lost, using a
process known as voice banking. But, for some patients, the
speech deterioration frequently coincides or quickly follows
diagnosis. Using HMM-based speech synthesis, it is now
possible to build personalized synthetic voices with minimal data
recordings and even disordered speech. The power of this
approach is that it is possible to use the patient’s recordings to
adapt existing voice models pre-trained on many speakers. When
the speech has begun to deteriorate, the adapted voice model can
be further modified in order to compensate for the disordered
characteristics found in the patient’s speech. The University of
Edinburgh has initiated a project for voice banking and
reconstruction based on this speech synthesis technology. At the
current stage of the project, more than fifteen patients with MND
have already been recorded and five of them have been delivered
a reconstructed voice. In this paper, we present an overview of
the project as well as subjective assessments of the reconstructed
voices and feedback from patients and their families.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSLPAT 2013, 4th Workshop on Speech and Language Processing for Assistive Technologies
PublisherISCA
Pages107-111
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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