Friday, December 12, 2014

Donate Your Voice

It has been quiet around here this week. Why? Because I had been putting my "voice" elsewhere.

Did you know you could donate your voice? Your actual spoken voice? The one you use to be heard at demonstrations, strikes and rallies? The one you use to yell at the kids, shout at the reckless driver, scream out for help? The one you use to connect with friends? The one you speak quietly with in the early hours of the morning, whisper softly with at night, and connect with tenderly to your loved ones? The one you use for authority, for credibility, for presence? The one you sometimes choose not to use and instead decide to sit down with in silent meditation?

Did you know you could give it to someone who doesn't have one? Someone with severe speech disorder, without much of an ability to formulate thoughts into words? Someone with great ideas and many needs who is unable to reach maximum potential? Someone who cannot call for help or ask for assistance? Someone who is frustrated with the eternal quietness.

I didn't; until recently.

I heard it on the radio! It was a rerun of a segment from March. I was lucky to have a second chance to hear it. "How Do You Construct A Voice?" the segment was called. And it got me listening, thinking, and talking. I had been wanting to get involved in something bigger than my immediate and extended family. So I did. I donated my voice and became a surrogate talker.

Dear Ranya,
Thank you for your interest in becoming a voice donor. We need every voice – both young and old - to capture the texture and richness of the human voice!
Together, we can change lives!
The VocaliD Team

And with that I  set up my online account and my virtual recording studio. All I needed was a laptop with a microphone, and a voice. In the early hours of the morning when everyone is sleeping and the sun is beginning to rise, I log in and read words and sentences from the screen. Average, everyday words and sentences like hello and goodbye, sorry and please, how are you, and it's good to see you, and what have you been doing. And less used one like "this is an emergency," and "this tiramisu is to die for." One after one they flash on a screen that highlights what is called the period table of speech. Once all the lights on the table are shining bright, my role would be done: I would have read all the sentences and contributed fully to the Human Voicebank. Once the team receives all my input, the magic happens: speech analysts and technology combine my voice with that of others to create "personalized vocal personas" for those who need them.

I still have a ways to go on this project. It might take me another week, or it might take me more. It all depends on how many mornings I spend on it. I am not eager to complete it as quickly as possible. I am more bent on enjoying the opportunity to be part of a global community working towards a greater good. Changing lives happens at home; I am grateful this home is one helping with the change.

VocaliD is an organization working to help the millions of people who use computerized devices to communicate in unique voice. It is dedicated to making synthetic voices more humam . To learn more about them, visit their website

No comments:

Post a Comment