Apple has introduced two groundbreaking new features, Live Speech and Personal Voice, coming later this year. These exciting features, available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, aim to enhance speech accessibility and assist people who are unable to speak. In this blog post, we will summarise the main points of Live Speech and Personal Voice and explore their potential impact in the field of speech therapy.
Live Speech converts typed words into speech but it takes text-to-speech to a whole new level. It allows users to convert what they type into spoken words during phone calls, FaceTime conversations, and in-person interactions on their iPhone or iPad. It also allows users to save frequently used phrases so that they can participate in conversations with family, friends, and colleagues much more easily.
Personal Voice allows people at risk of losing their ability to speak, such as those with ALS/MND, to create a synthetic voice that resembles their own. Unlike existing voice banking systems, Personal Voice only requires a 15-minute audio recording session where users read randomized text prompts. Users will be able to create their synthesised voice on their own Apple device and seamlessly integrate it with Live Speech.
Implications for Speech Therapists:
Speech and language therapists who work in the area of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) will love these new Apple accessibility features. Personal Voice will make the voice banking process much easier as it can be done on an Apple device without any other tools in a much shorter time frame (15 minutes!).
It will become easier to support effective communication in everyday situations as individuals who need to use text to speech will be able to practise doing so during phone calls and FaceTime conversations etc.
Apple's new Live Speech and Personal Voice features truly represent a significant stride in advancing speech accessibility that will have positive implications in the field of speech and language therapy.