For many with ALS/MND, losing their voice is closely connected with loss of self and identity. Intonation conveys meaning and personality. Fortunately, there are ways to record your voice easily so that you can continue to communicate with those you love in your own voice and maintain your sense of individuality. These messages can be transferred into any speech generating device and many apps.
The Message Banking App, created by Amy Roman of the Forbes Norris ALS Clinic in San Francisco, is a free, online tool that guides people with ALS to preserve their voice through an easy process. As a speech therapist and augmentative alternative communication (ACC) specialist for 16 years, Amy realized that many people were not recording their voices even after being introduced to the idea. To make the process less confusing and overwhelming, she created Message Banking to help people make decisions like what to record and what's the best equipment to use.
The simpler and quicker method is called Message Banking and involves recording common expression in your own voice. This method, unlike Voice Banking, captures your special cadence and delivery. You can record greetings, laughter, your quintessential sayings, words of affection, a blessing, an expletive, pet praise, etc. Everyone diagnosed with ALS should Message Bank as the time commitment is small and the result can be invaluable.
These recordings can be made easily using Message Banking, a free app available at the Windows Store. This app provides suggested messages, push button recording, and a single press to download all of your labeled, MP3 recordings into a folder on your computer. The MP3 format works on all speech generating devices or Text-To-Speech (TTS) apps that play audio files.
The Message Banking App guides you through every step of the message banking process and provides useful and meaningful message suggestions collected from people with ALS, caregivers and speech therapists.
The Message Banking App is free, fast and simple so everyone diagnosed with a condition that might affect their future ability to speak should use it! The Message Banking App provides you with prompts for common phrases (e.g. “How are you doing?”) as well as messages that people using alternative communication have found useful (e.g. “I have something to add to what we are talking about.”). We also encourage you to bank your special laughter, words of affection, gratitude and praise, pet commands, sports cheers and other phrases that are unique to you.
Only a short time commitment of a less than an hour is required to record your voice using the Message Banking App but the benefits can be truly invaluable. Of course you will not be able to record everything you will ever want say, but you can use the Message Banking App to record many meaningful phrases with your unique delivery. Phrases that you didn’t record can still be expressed using one of many synthesized voices provided by speech generating devices or “text-to-speech” tablet apps such as AlphaCore Communicator for Windows.
“Message Banking can be confusing and even overwhelming,” notes Amy “The developers at Clever Monkey and I created this app to help people through every step of the message banking process. We even provide message suggestions that people with ALS, caregivers and speech therapists have found to be useful and meaningful.
Not everyone with ALS loses their ability to speak. However, Amy recommends message banking for everyone who has ALS. She emphasizes, “The time and effort to bank your messages with the Message Banking app is minimal, but the benefit can be invaluable to you and those who love you.”
Amy Roman, M.S., CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist
Augmentative Communication Specialist
Forbes Norris ALS Research and Treatment Center
Amy maintains the website AmyandpALS.com that offers practical solutions for the everyday challenges of living with ALS. For more information on voice and message banking, visit http://amyandpals.com/message-voice-banking.