Many of us will experience a cancer diagnosis, directly or indirectly, at some point in our lives. Whether it is ourselves, a family member, or someone in our community, cancer affects us all.

According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 1,806,950 people in the US will be diagnosed with cancer in 2020. Of those, 63,000+ will be head and neck cancer (HNC). HNC's impact on speaking, swallowing, and overall quality of life are profound. The incident rate, or the number of new cases, of HNC across races, is similar. However, Black men and women are getting diagnosed at a more advanced stage in their cancer. This increases the likelihood that they will experience loss of speech and shortened life expectancies. Research suggests that the reasons for late-stage diagnosis are often due to a lack of access to early diagnosis and medical interventions.

The good news is that you can improve these statistics with regular check-ups and early interventions, including surgery.

Treatment for head & neck cancer may result in loss of speech — thanks to technological advances in voice preservation and voicebanking, this doesn't have to mean loss of voice identity.

Imagine a world without those powerful Black voices that surround us? Your role models, parents, and icons — their voice is more than a sound, it is a deeply personal and unique part of who they are. Vocal identity, or the uniqueness of our distinct voice, is deeply connected to the roots of who we are and where we come from. Voicebanking, also known as voice preservation, does more than just provide a person with the ability to speak in a familiar voice. It allows them to stay connected to where they come from.

Once someone has completed voicebanking, if needed, they will have the ability to purchase a preview and a Vocal Legacy voice from VocaliD. Our Vocal Legacy clients have told us that voicebanking was incredibly powerful for them and their loved ones.

Today, individuals can retain their vocal identity so that if they need a device to speak, the words spoken will sound like them, not someone else. It is the simple act of recording (or "banking") ones voice by reading aloud stories on VocaliD’s online studio. The recordings are then used to train the AI voice and the result is a Vocal Legacy voice. This acts as a voice prosthesis that can be used with the MyVocaliD mobile app or another assistive device.

Absolutely! Voicebanking with VocaliD is easy and free — and it is a profound way to shape how your community is heard. Whether you are at risk or not, consider voicebanking as a way to protect and preserve your voice for the future.

It really is simple. All you need is a computer, headset microphone, a quiet room, and a few hours. (If you don't have access to these things, reach out to your local community center, health clinic, or church — they may be able to provide Covid-safe access at their location so that you can preserve your voice with voicebanking.) At your own pace, you will record a total of around 2k sentences. You don't need to record it all in one session, in fact you shouldn't because you want your voice and energy to be strong all the way through your recordings. The better the recordings, the higher quality the AI voice will be!

We understand that you may need help navigating this process and we want you to know that we are just an email away: hello@vocalid.ai

You can also choose to participate in VocaliD's crowdsourced Human Voicebank Initiative. By sharing your voice, we can offer an individual living with speech loss an AI voice that they can identify with. These voices are made by carefully blending recordings from different voice sharing community members to create a new, unique voice for that individual.

We recognize that not everyone has the same access to the items needed to voicebank or voice share. (a quiet room to record, desktop or laptop computer with wifi access, and an over-the-ear headset with microphone) We don't believe that access should keep an individual from preserving their voice. You can help! Are you a neighborhood center, church, or organization that can help bring voice preservation to your community by providing public access to a quiet space and voicebanking equipment?

Make sure that your family, friends, and community members know the risks of head and neck cancer, the symptoms to look out for, and that they are getting regular check-ups. And while you are taking care of your community, don't forget to look after yourself. Make sure to schedule your check-ups too! Please click the social share buttons right below the flier and share it with your friends and followers on social media. You can also download it and print it out to share on local community boards.

For those with access to the needed equipment and a quiet space to record — voicebanking and voice sharing are safe at-home processes. If you are using a community space to do your recordings, for sanitary purposes, please consider purchasing an affordable gaming-type headset with an attached microphone for your personal use.


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Voicebanking and Veteran's Month


By Michele J Martin

We are grateful for the sacrifices that our veterans have made for us. That’s why we have designated the entire month of November - Veteran's Month.

Each day 4.6 veterans are diagnosed with head and neck cancer. Some will lose their ability to speak. 50% of all cancer patients will experience feelings of depression and social isolation from the treatments and life changes post surgery. Our technology can help ease the transition and improve quality of life.

What does VocaliD do?

Through the combination of voicebanking and our AI-powered voice technology, we help individuals facing speech loss to maintain their social connections, self-identity, and autonomy.

To learn more about how VocaliD helps individuals, watch the voicebanking journey of Lonnie Blanchard, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force:

What is Voicebanking?

Voicebanking is the process of recording one’s speech prior to voice loss. An individual will use our website to record themselves reading sentences from pre-loaded stories. These recordings are then used to create a digital voice that sounds like them.

Individuals can also choose to contribute their voice recordings to someone who didn't have the opportunity to voicebank for themselves prior to voice loss. Whatever the reason, these people rely on the generosity of anonymous voicebank contributors whose voices are then used to build them unique vocal identities. To date, over 27k English-speaking volunteers from around their world have banked their voice for individuals in need. You can become a voicebank contributor too. It is easy, learn more here: Human Voicebank

What is Voice Synthesis?

Once we have the voicebank recordings we use our state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms and our speech and audio engineering expertise to build a unique AI voice the recipient. This voice will allow them to speak in their own voice, or a voice crafted especially for them, on a speech generating device such as a mobile phone or tablet.

What to expect with Veteran's Month?

Stay tuned each week for a new related blog post and make sure you are following our social media accounts, where we will be curating topically focused informative content for those interested in voicebanking, veterans health, and head and neck cancer. In addition, keep a watch out for other Veteran’s Day announcements this month! On social media be sure to follow along with (and use) #bankyourvoice and #voicedriveforvets to help drive awareness!

Here is how YOU can help:

  • If you are a physician or clinician caring for veterans with head and neck cancer, we want to talk to you about voicebanking and how it can help your clients and your practice.
  • Want to host a community or company voice drive for veterans? Email us at hello@vocalid.ai to learn how easy it can be.
  • Don’t have a computer or quiet area in your home and looking for a place to voicebank? We have a network of clinics who support the mission and offer dedicated times and spaces for voicebanking. If you are in the Boston area you visit the Speech Preservation Clinic at Northeastern University Monday - Friday. Learn more and make an appointment here: Bouve Colleg of Health Sciences — Voice Preservation Clinic
  • Are you a veteran (or have a loved one who is) and want to help us spread the word about voicebanking for vets on your website or at your local VA hospital or VFW, we’d love to hear from you!
  • Together we can help those with speech loss be heard in their own voice

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