VOICES FOR THE VOICELESS

A cool new interactive ad campaign asks you to lend your voice to the speech-impaired

We often take the sound of our voices for granted. They’re part of who we are. But millions of people around the world who rely on digital devices to speak don’t have a voice that is uniquely theirs.

An endearing new animated spin on the classic tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears illustrates the difficulty for the speech-impaired of finding voices that suit them. The online advertisement—for a startup called VocaliD that crafts custom, life-like voices for speaking machines—follows a young, speech-impaired girl named Goldivox as she searches for a voice that’s just right.

The interactive version of the story that’s being promoted online unfolds in fairy tale-like fashion, but with a small twist. Readers have to speak the words aloud into a microphone to keep the story going, and help Goldivox find her voice.

“Goldivox is one part fairy tale we all know and one part a story that many of us never imagined,” said Rupal Patel, a speech scientist and founder of VocaliD. “As we understand Goldivox’s need to find a voice that fits, we discover that each one of us has the power to share voice.”

The marketing push—created by Saatchi & Saatchi, New York—encourages people to lend their voices to a crowdsourced project called the Human Voicebank, which records human voices. Contributors read a series of short phrases and sentences aloud, which contain all the sounds and sound combinations in the language they speak. The recordings are then used to convert text into personalized, digital voices on text-to-speech devices that people with voicelessness rely on to communicate.

In the last year, more than 12,000 people from 110 countries contributed more than 4.57 million sentences on the online platform, the company said.

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