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Message and Voice Banking

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Changes in your speech or loss of speech may occur with ALS. While there is no easy way to prepare for this prospect, Message Banking and Voice Banking are excellent options for preserving your unique sound and the identity it represents. Voice or Message Banking will enable you to later customize a Speech Generating Device (SGD) with your voice which can create a more personal communication experience for you and those you love.

Message and Voice Banking are free and can be done at home using your computer, tablet, smart phone or a voice recorder.  Banking  earlier in your diagnosis is preferable so if you run into any challenges or just find that you are putting it off, be certain to make an appointment with a speech therapist to assist you.

Message Banking

The simpler and quicker method  is called Message Banking and involves recording common expression in your own voice.  This method, unlike Voice Banking, captures your special cadence and delivery.  You can record greetings, laughter, your quintessential sayings, words of affection, a blessing, an expletive, pet praise, etc.  Everyone diagnosed with ALS should Message Bank as the time commitment is small and the result can be invaluable.

These recordings can be made easily using Message Banking, a free app available at the Windows Store.  This app provides suggested messages, push button recording, and a single press to download all of your labeled, MP3 recordings into a folder on your computer.  The MP3 format works on all speech generating devices or Text-To-Speech (TTS) apps that play audio files.

Message Banking Screenshot

Message Banking App Screenshot

 

AlphaCore  is a Text-To-Speech app specifically designed to quickly import Message Banking recordings and automatically set message buttons to play these recordings.   This eliminates the need to create labeled buttons on phrase pages for all of  your recordings and then upload each audio file to a message button.  The AlphaCore app is currently available for any tablet, computer  or SGD running Windows 8/10.

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“I Miss You” message button in AlphaCore Text-To-Speech app. Phone Phrase Page Screenshot.

 

In a quiet environment some built-in mics (like those in the Surface and the HP Pavilion Tablet) may be adequate for making good recordings without using an external mic.  You can always try this option first to decide if you need an external mic.  A quality, hands-free, USB mic like the Sennheiser PC36 can be used if required.

An alternative to using the Message Banking app, is to record using an iPhone or iPad with a high quality voice recorder app (e.g. “Voice Recorder HD” app for $1.99) or a handheld digital recorder (e.g. Zoom H1).   Messages should be recorded in either .Wav or .MP3 formats.   Also if not using the Message Banking app which provides suggested messages, be sure to record short, single message recordings.

Of course,  you will not be able to record every possible thing you might want to say, but you can use this method to record many meaningful phrases.  Anything not recorded can still be expressed using one of many synthesized voices provided by your  SGD or text-to-speech app on a tablet.

 watch-video             

 Click here to watch an  inspiring video about Message Banking.

 

Voice Banking

The second method, Voice Banking, requires the download of a program called ModelTalker.   This program extracts the sounds of your voice from an extensive speech sample that you are prompted to provide.   A hands-free USB mic is required (see above recommendation).  The program uses your speech samples to create a customized synthesized voice.  The company will send you a sample of the voice you created and, if satisfied, you can choose to  purchase it for $100 .    This voice can then be imported into an SGD and some text-to speech apps on a tablet. With your personal voice installed, a speech generating device will speak any message you enter using a voice that resembles your own.

Voice Banking requires a significant time commitment as you will be prompted to repeat 1600 sentences in order to provide ModelTalker with a large enough sample of your speech to accurately duplicate your voice.  This can take up to 16 hours and is best done over many 7 to 30-minute sessions when your voice is fresh and your energy level is high. Go to ModelTalker.com for downloads, tutorials and more information.

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Click Here to Download Message and Voice Banking Handout

12 Comments
  1. Hello there-

    I just can across an article on your work & app. My dad was recently diagnosed with an aggressive strain of ALS & I’ve been exploring Voice Banking. Your methods seem very viable do you have an IOS app? He had an iPhone & tablet an app on the go or while waiting would be perfect for him

    Looking forward to hearing from you,

    Maja Bosen

    • Hi Maja,
      The “Message Banking” App can be used on any desktop, laptop or tablet that runs Windows 8 or above. This app is designed to help people with message banking by suggesting messages, making it easy to add your own unique messages (by using the “+” symbol at the bottom of the page) and making certain you are recording in the right format. If your father does not have any Windows based systems, he can use a recording app on his iphone or iPad that records .wav files. For further suggestions, refer to the Message and Voice Banking handout under the “SLP Resources” tab on AmyandpALS.com. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

      • Amy,

        My Dad recorded several messages with Message Banking app. I purchased Alphacore. It says his messages will auto populate. However, it looks like I have to type in the exact sentence and then save it. Is this correct? If so, that will be a lot of work.

        Otherwise, the app is great.

        Sherry

        • Hi Sherry,

          You are right. All the messages that are suggested in Message Banking do auto-populate in AlphaCore. The messages people add to Message Banking (by hitting the “+” button) need to be added to AlphaCore.

          If your dad recorded many novel messages, there is a new option available from a company called Tobii/DynaVox that could save you time.

          Tobii/DynaVox has a new program feature that will auto-populate all messages to pages in their text-to-speech (TTS) program called Communicator. Here is a link. https://www.tobiidynavox.com/en-us/software/web-applications/message-banking-2/

          Their program requires you provide a “tag” on each recording to tell Communicator which page to put the message on. Then Communicator will add a labeled message button, programmed to play the recording, to the page you tagged.

          The Message Banking app recorded all your dad’s messages in the .wav format which is compatible with Communicator and other communication programs. Communicator is $699.00 but your dad’s insurance likely covers a speech generating device (SGD) with Communicator installed. An evaluation by a speech therapist is required in order to have insurance fund an SGD. More TTS programs are coming out with auto-population features so always consult with your speech therapist to learn about current options.
          Amy

      • I have used Model Talker on an older MacBook. I had some problems because of the browser they required. Also they claim to have it developed for use on an iPad. I went to the Apple Store yesterday and they could not get it to work with an external Mic which Model Talker requires. I bought a MacBook yesterday to replace the one I gave my Granddaughter. I was diagnosed eight years ago and am starting to lose my voice. Did your Dad serve in the Military?

        • Hi,
          ModelTalker voice banking can be done on a Windows or Mac computer but still not on iOS systems (as of 3/3/2018). It requires the Chrome browser if you are voice banking on your Mac. Perhaps you were trying to download ModelTalker into your Mac. That won’t work. The banking happens using the “online recorder” with Chrome if you are using a Mac. A representative from the company told me this is the preferred way to do voice banking with now with the Windows platform too.

          The synthesized speech you create by by doing voice banking with ModelTalker can be used on the Predictable text to speech app on an iOS system like an iPad. It is also compatible with insurance funded speech generating devices that used synthesized speech.

          So, in summary you cannot voice bank on an iOS device yet but you can use the personalized synthesized voice you created using ModelTalker on an iOS device.

          Yes, my dad served in WWII.

  2. I was diagnosed with als in December and took the time to message and voice bank since my voice is what is affected first. My question is how do I get this into an iPad friendly app? I have the message banking on my Windows computer. My voice is failing so I need to figure out what I’m going to do

    • Hi Kelly,
      Predictable is (as of July 2017) the only iPad app, that I know of, that will let you import both your banked messages and your banked voice.

    • This is from the Model Talker web site: https://www.modeltalker.org

      ModelTalker comes to the iPad
      The UK-based company Therapy Box is working with us to bring this new technology to the forefront! Implementing ModelTalker voices into usable solutions is a brand new and unexplored field that has wider implications than someone just being able to use an app to communicate. Predictable 4 and ChatAble 2 will be the first iOS apps to utilize ModelTalker voices for AAC, greatly influencing the lives of those with communication difficulties. For more information about Therapy Box and these apps, click on the icons below.

      There are links. I was diagnosed over eight years ago and it can be really scary. I am lucky that my faith has taken over. Do what you can for as long as you can and pray for grace. John

  3. My wife used ModelTalker from Sept-Nov 2016 to Voice-Bank her speech. It proved to be a God-send as she lost her ability to effectively speak within 6 months after her “voice” was delivered. We run it on Windows systems, but the installation documentation explains how to install it on Macs, Androids and other iOS devices.

  4. I installed the Message Banking app on my new Surface Book 2 running Windows 10 Pro. When I launched it, the splash screen came up for about ten seconds, then the app died. Tried several times with same results. I see that a couple other people had the same problem – see reviews on the MS Store page for the app.

    • Hi,
      Thanks for contacting me about this. I am sorry for the inconvenience. Microsoft released an update that caused problems with apps and prevented Message Banking from initiating. Our developers have identified the problem and are going to release the new code which fixes the problem next week. Message Banking should be opening again, as normal, by the end of the week.

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