This week we reached out to Matthew Hollis, Communications Aids Coordinator at the MND Association, to discuss voice banking technology and using The Voice Keeper
What is your experience with voice banking technology?
I started in my role in 2015 and at that time voice banking was not very well known. There were a few suppliers but little exposure or knowledge amongst professionals so it is amazing to see how things have changed since then, both in terms of availability and technological progress.
The MND Association supports people with MND in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and encourages all to undertake voice banking. We provide loan equipment to assist people to do voice banking, financial assistance to help with the costs of creating a voice and general advice or knowledge to support people to successfully voicebank.
What are some of the barriers for individuals when it comes to voice banking?
The voice banking process can be daunting if individuals do not know much about it. It can also be intimidating if patients have to create their new voice using a computer as people within the community tend to be more familiar with tablets but less so with laptops or PCs. Voice banking used to be prohibitively expensive and quite exclusive, but as more services have joined the market, the prices have become more competitive and the technology has significantly improved.
The process of creating a digital version of your voice is generally straightforward but what happens afterwards can be complicated – the process of then installing the voice on a communication aid can confuse some people, particularly with the different operating systems (Windows, Android, iOS, Mac OS etc.). In my opinion, a good voice banking provider needs to make it really clear what the whole process involves at all times.
The biggest gap in the market at the moment is around the equipment needed to do voice banking – I have been saying for a few years now that if voice banking services could offer the chance to create a digital voice without the need for a computer or a headset microphone then this could significantly change the voice banking industry for better!
What was your experience with The Voice Keeper?
I used the desktop version and found it very quick and easy to use as no microphone calibration test was needed so it was simple enough to get going. It was also really helpful to hear how the digital voice develops as you record more sentences. I have not tried the iOS app yet (I had hoped to do it in March but now do not have access to an iPad during the COVID-19 lockdown) but if it’s as easy as it looks in the video on your website, then it’s something that people will definitely need to be made aware of!