Scottish-accented speech device to help youngsters

Children in Scotland with communication difficulties will soon be heard again, thanks to new synthesised Scottish-accented children’s voices being made available.

Andrew and Mairi are the names of the new Scottish child computer voices
Andrew and Mairi are the names of the new Scottish child computer voices

Around 330,000 people in the UK need communication tools to help them speak, due to a variety of diseases and illnesses, from dyslexia, to motor neurone disease, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) tools are used to supplement and improve limited communication skills – however, until now there hasn’t been youth voices available for children with a Scottish accent.

The new voices have been developed by Edinburgh-based Text-to-Speech specialist CereProc for CALL Scotland, a research and service unit based in the University of Edinburgh which is primarily funded by the Scottish Government and helps children and young people to overcome disability and barriers to learning.

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Paul Nisbet, director of CALL Scotland, said: “We are very excited about the release of Andrew and Mairi, the new Scottish child computer voices, which are now available from our Scottish Voice website alongside Heather and Stuart, CereProc’s adult voices, and Ceitidh, the Scottish Gaelic voice.

As of March 2018, access to communication equipment and support is a legal right for any person who has lost their voice or has difficulty speaking.