Giving the Gift of Voice – Guest Post by undergraduate student Hannah Plumlee

When I become a Speech Language Pathologist, my ultimate goal will be to use my talents and knowledge to help clients communicate effectively with those around them. Although I am far from ready or able to help people in a therapy context at this point in my CSD journey, I still have the desire to start making a difference now. While in CSD 250 with Mrs. Baker, I watched a TED Talk that featured a company called VocaliD. In 2014, Dr. Rupal Patel established VocaliD with the mission to create a program that would give every individual a unique voice, regardless of their vocal ability. The day I heard about the organization I knew I had to be a part of it. VocaliD gives donors the unique opportunity to bless someone with one of their greatest personal gifts- their own voice. The concept is pretty simple: a potential donor goes online and submits an audition of themselves reading a prompt. Within a few days, VocaliD will respond and give the green light to begin recording sentences for The Human Voicebank. These sentences can be stories, facts, articles from science magazines, or any other category the donor may choose from. People who are interested in purchasing a custom voice will submit audio recordings that are ran against thousands of samples from VocaliD donors. When a match is found, these voices are blended and the custom voice can be purchased and downloaded for everyday use. VocaliD also offers a service to customers who know they will lose their voice in the future but are still able to record samples now.

Largely, VocaliD relies on volunteers who are able and willing to take the time to record their voice online. It generally takes 2-3 hours of recordings to create a digital voice, but it’s suggested that donors break it up into sessions of 15-20 minutes so their best voice can be used. When I signed up for this project, I immediately felt like I was a part of something far bigger than myself. Being involved has been a huge blessing in my life and I recommend this opportunity to each and every person I know. There is even a Facebook group for VocaliD Voicebank contributors to share stories of encouragement with one another! I can’t wait for the day when I receive an email telling me my recordings have been used to give another young woman a voice.

If you want to know more about VocaliD and participate like Hannah did, you can find more details here.

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