Acapela Group and AssistiveWare are proud to unveil the world’s first genuine, natural-sounding children's voices now available in Proloquo2Go, designed to provide a voice to over 74,000 children and teens in England who cannot speak for themselves .
The voices of British children Harry and Rosie were recorded by and for children. Users can select the authentic boy or girl as their preferred Text to Speech voice to speak a want, need or thought using symbol-based communication or typing with word-prediction. The voices are included in the Proloquo2Go App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch through a new free update released today on the App Store. After December 2012, these new voices will be available for licensing to other developers to utilize in their apps and communication devices, allowing even more children to access programs with voices that resemble their own.
'These new voices will further transform the lives of children who cannot speak and the lives of those around them,' said Anna Reeves, National AAC Coordinator for England. 'It may be the very first time that families hear their own children speak with a child’s voice – you can’t put a price on that.'
'This groundbreaking project is the first of its kind in the industry,' said Lars-Erik Larsson, CEO of Acapela Group. 'With over 2,500 hours of research, recording, processing and development, the new children’s voices are a fulfilling result and a reflection of our longtime leadership in this field.'
Proloquo2Go already provides a voice to tens of thousands of users around the world. In addition to the new children’s voices, the new 2.0 version also includes enhanced customization tools, new research-based vocabularies, a total of seven new voices and an improved user-interface.
'We have already received positive feedback from children and their parents that the unique voice offering in Proloquo2Go makes a positive difference in how they communicate,' said David Niemeijer, founder and CEO of AssistiveWare. 'Often, we hear that the cognitive and emotional skills of children are finally understood because prior to using Proloquo2Go, the child may have never been able to verbalize or express his or her thoughts. We are excited that those phrases will finally resemble the child’s own voice.'
About 60% of the Proloquo2Go user base is 11-years-old or younger, yet prior to these new voices, children could only select adult voices or artificially emulated children’s voices. This was one of the primary motivators for creating the child voices – to have a product that more accurately represents its users.
The collaboration between Acapela Group and AssistiveWare dates back to 2003 when AssistiveWare was the first company to build a Mac product using the natural-sounding Acapela voices. Both companies share a strong dedication to the assistive technology market and were natural partners to tackle the challenges of developing children’s voices designed for people who cannot speak. Acapela Group brought decades of experience in building natural-sounding Text to Speech voices. AssistiveWare brought its experience in working with people with speech-impairments though its BETT 2011 award-winning Proloquo2Go augmentative and alternative communication app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
The Proloquo2Go App is available for 129.99 GBP from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at itunes.com/apps/proloquo2go. The update to version 2.0, including the new British children's voices, is free to existing users.
For videos that include: a behind the scenes look at the project, how Text to Speech works, some short interviews, and the impact Proloquo2Go and these new voices have on Ruby, a 6-year-old girl from Bristol visit: assistiveware.com/british-childrens-voices.
 September 2011 Report by Communication Matters
Founded in 2000, AssistiveWare has established itself as the worldwide leader in innovative assistive technology software for Mac OS X and iOS. AssistiveWare works in close collaboration with end users and professionals to offer a portfolio of award-winning solutions for individuals with physical, vision, communication, and reading impairments. In 2002, AssistiveWare was the first company to deliver universal access to Mac OS X with the KeyStrokes on-screen keyboard. Always innovating, AssistiveWare was also the first company to release a full-featured Augmentative and Alternative Communication solution for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch – the award-winning app, Proloquo2Go. Recently AssistiveWare released Pictello, an exciting multilingual visual story telling app for iOS.
About Acapela Group
Acapela Group (acapela-group.com) invents speech solutions that bring content to life through giving it a voice in up to 30 languages. More than 60 resounding synthetic, yet natural sounding voices as well as new, authentic British children’s voices are ready to vocalize written content into a pleasant audio result. Acapela Group's repertoire includes producing a wide-ranging library of voices including voices that have: accents or specific dialect attributes, singing or storytelling ability, different moods and emphasis, voices for all ages and all languages and recognizable characters or celebrities. Each audio selection is authentic sounding, unique and original, presenting a distinct personality that perfectly matches different contexts. More than just simple vocalization of texts, Acapela Group aims to add a subtle layer of intelligence and significantly enrich audio dimension by offering more meaning and intent to each voice.