2 posts tagged “health and technology”

Communicating with ALS: From devices to voice banking

Posted 7 months ago by

 

Difficulty with speech and communication is a frustrating reality for many living with ALS. From apps to devices and voice banking, communication is a popular topic (as in over 35k conversations) on PatientsLikeMe, so we took a closer look into some of the options out there for pALS.

Tablets: Windows vs. iPad vs. Android

Trouble with typing or hand weakness? Amy, an augmentative communication specialist at Forbes Norris ALS Research and Treatment Center, recommends Windows (8 or 10) and Android tablets:

  • Windows devices have USB ports which makes them the most compatible with accessories like a mouse, joystick, eye tracking or head tracking device.
  • Androids may be compatible with these accessories as well, but often require a USB adapter. Adaptors are specific to the Android port and are inexpensive and easy to find online if you search for “USB adapter” and the make and model of your Android device.
  • iPads don’t offer these accessory options that use a pointer because their screens don’t display a mouse cursor. They do offer switch scanning access methods (a system by which a series of choices are highlighted and can be selected by hitting/activating a switch) for people who can’t use their hands on a screen or external keyboard. Some pALS find scanning too slow compared to cursor movers like a mouse or eye tracking.

Text-to-speech apps:

If you have difficulty speaking, there are many app options that convert text to speech:

Want to know more about communication devices? Check out Amy’s tips for paying for your tablethands-free options and message and voice banking.

Voice banking:

Many people with ALS who experience problems with speech, voice, and communication choose to preserve their voice for future use.

How does voice banking work?

Voice banking is a process that allows a person to record a set list of phrases with their own voice, while they still have the ability to do so. The recording is then converted to create a personal synthetic voice.

When the person is no longer able to use their own voice, they can use the synthetic voice in speech-generating communication devices to make an infinite number of words and sentences. The “new” voice isn’t a perfect replica of the person’s natural speech, but it will bear some resemblance.

Want to bank your voice?

Check out these options:

ModelTalker: A software designed for people who are losing or who have already lost their ability to speak. It allows people who use a Speech Generating Device (SGD) to communicate with a unique personal synthetic voice that sounds similar to their own voice.

Message Banking: An app that enables you to record and save messages in your own voice that can later be imported into a Speech Generating Device (SGD) or several tablet communication apps.

VocaliD: A platform that creates unique vocal identities for any device that turns text into speech. From just a three-second sample of sound that you make, the app can match you with a speaker from its voice bank and blend your vocal sounds with their recordings. Check out this moving video to see how voice banking changed the life of one man living with ALS and gave his family a piece of something they thought they had lost forever.

How much does it cost? Recording and banking your voice is free with programs like VocaliDMessage Banking or ModelTalker. With VocaliD, you only pay to download and use your synthesized voice. Pricing starts at $1,199.

When should you bank your voice? VocaliD recommends that you bank your voice sooner rather than later. With two options from VocaliD, you can bank your voice no matter where you are in your speech loss:

  • BeSpoke Voice: For people with speech impairment who are able to record three seconds of sound.
  • Vocal Legacy: For people who want to preserve their voice for the future and are able to record several hours of speech.

Have you banked your voice? Do you use a synthesized voice? Join PatientsLikeMe today to share your experience.

 

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Enter the Healthy New Year Video Challenge

Posted January 20th, 2012 by

Did you make a health-related New Year’s resolution?  And are you using technology—such as a smartphone app or website—to achieve your goal?  Create a short video about it, and you could win prizes ranging from $250 to $2,000 if your video is selected as one of the best!

Learn More About the Healthy New Year Video Challenge

Sponsored by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and conducted via Challenge.gov, the Healthy New Year Video Challenge invites you to create a compelling video (2 minutes or less) about a New Year’s resolution for improving your health or that of a loved one, and how you will use technology to achieve your resolution.

“In order to empower individuals to be more active partners in their health, they need access to their information and tools they can use,” said Farzad Mostashari, M.D., Sc.M., national coordinator for health information technology.  “We are excited to harness the creativity of ordinary Americans to help promote the positive impact of the myriad health information technology tools and services on health and health care.”

For PatientsLikeMe members, you’re already using technology (meaning, our online health community!) to monitor and improve your health.  Here are some sample resolutions involving PatientsLikeMe that might make for a great video submission:

  • Enter my complete health data at PatientsLikeMe so that I can spot correlations and patterns on my profile charts.
  • Find out what PatientsLikeMe members with the same condition(s) are doing about a symptom that’s frustrating me.
  • Chart my daily moods using PatientsLikeMe’s InstantMe survey to see what factors are affecting my mental health.
  • Add my Lab and Test results at PatientsLikeMe so that I – and others like me – can learn from them.

How Do Health and Technology Intersect in Your 2012 New Year's Resolutions?

All video submissions are due on Friday, February 16th, at 5:00 p.m. EST, so start brainstorming.  The idea is to inspire, motivate and educate others in a unique way, as all winning videos will be featured at HeathIT.gov.  For more details and contest guidelines, visit the contest website.

New to Health 2.0? Join the 125,000+ others at PatientsLikeMe to find information and support from those just like you – and begin monitoring your health with a host of tools and measurements. Cheers to health and technology in 2012!