Barnsley Hospital’s Assistive Technology team have played a major role in assisting Jason Liversidge, who was recently featured on BBC’s ‘Inside Out’ programme for having a bespoke synthetic voice developed on his behalf.
Jason said: “Barnsley Assistive Technology has, in one word, been amazing.
“Right from the start of my involvement with them, communication has been easy and prompt. No questions have been ignored and where visits have been requested they have attended.
“I have to say, given my needs and requests, nothing has been too much effort. Even requests never asked before have been met as a challenge.”
Barnsley Hospital’s Service lead Simon Judge commented: “Jason is one of our clients and it is great to see him using this cutting edge speech synthesis technology on the equipment we provided.
“We have worked with Jason on his communication, enabling better access to his computer and controlling equipment in his house. Jason can do all this through using his eye movements.
“Our job is to work with people like Jason and help them be as independent as possible and thanks to support from NHS England since last year we have been able to provide our services across Yorkshire and Humber. Everyone we work with is different and has different requirements and expectations of technology and we are always happy to see it being used to its full as Jason clearly is.”
The 41-year-old, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2013, knows one day he will lose the ability to talk but is very keen to retain his Yorkshire accent, thus the tones of over 20 men have been developed by specialists at the Anne Rowling Clinic in Edinburgh to act as a synthetic voice.
Jason continued: “Regarding my voice, Barnsley Assistive Technology have provided me with a device capable of working with my bespoke voice.
“My voice has been created by using my original voice; however it was in the early stages of deterioration, so donor voices were used to repair it, and 21 donors in total were used. A video of me doing a speech was used as a bench mark to get the voice just right.
“There are, as with any research projects, issues but I am working with the Anne Rowling clinic to improve my voice.
“The voice to me is priceless for several reasons; your voice is like your fingerprint, and there may be similar ones but never one exactly the same. It’s vitally important to me that my family hear me and not a programmed one, especially my two little girls. Any other voice would be alien to a 3 and 5 year old.
“Another reason is I don’t want to hear someone else’s voice. Overall my experience of all the processes has been a great one, I feel very lucky to be one of very few that has got their own voice.”