Donate your voice to charity
The Atlantic - 12/18/2014
An estimated eight out of every 1,000 Americans, or 2.5 million people, are severely speech-impaired due to a variety of conditions: head injuries, congenital disorders like cerebral palsy, or degenerative diseases like Hawking’s ALS. Many of them rely on text-to-speech machines, typing words that are then vocalized electronically. They sound like computers. And because computers are manufactured in batches of more than one, they also sound like each other.
In August 2002, Rupal Patel, a speech-science professor at Northeastern University, was at a speech-technology conference in Odese, Denmark to present the results of her latest research. People with dramatic speech impairment, she had found, were still able to control the melody of their voices (also called the “prosody” of a voice, or its pitch, tempo, and volume) even when they couldn’t form words; as a result, many people forewent their communication devices when talking to those closest to them, relying on inflection to help convey meaning.