Jacqueline Evans supported her mum to bank her voice with PSPA and SpeakUnique earlier this year. Here Jacqueline talks us through how she found out about the PSPA funding and the voice banking process.
“I had been noticing mum was using her hands slightly differently for a while. It was how she was doing up things like buttons and laces that I noticed first. Then the backwards falls came. There were a lot and some of them really quite nasty.
Our local hospital was investigating these symptoms for around 12 months, but they just didn’t seem to know what was wrong. Following a brain scan mum was referred to a neurologist at the Walton Hospital in March 2020.
As soon as mum walked into the consultant’s room, he knew exactly what was wrong with mum. That was when she was diagnosed with CBD. I’d never heard of it before, neither have many, as I have found during our almost three years’ experience of the condition.
At the appointment, the consultant suggested I got in touch with PSPA. I am so glad I did, they have been so helpful. In an experience where you constantly have to repeat what CBD is, how the symptoms affect mum and what her needs are, it nice to speak to people who understand. I have rung the Helpline a number of times. They are great and I don’t know what I would do without them.
As soon as I got in touch with PSPA, I signed up to everything on offer. And it was in one of the newsletters I receive regularly, that I first read about the PSPA Voice Banking Funding last year.
Mum has Botox injections in her left arm, to help relax the muscles, and at one of these appointments I asked the consultant about voice banking. He said it would be worthwhile to do, even if mum doesn’t ever use it.
I then spoke to mum’s OT, Jack, and he helped to set the whole thing up in April this year. He supported our application to PSPA and came around to show us how to use the system once we’d been approved. The whole process for applying for the voice banking was pretty easy and quick.
Since mum wasn’t experiencing any problems with her speech at the time, we were able to use the voice build service, which is a synthetic replica of mum’s voice. For this service, mum had to bank a minimum of 150 sentences. We did this in around three or four sessions, lasting a couple of hours each.
Mum choose to read from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Jack, mum’s OT, did come back to help mum with her recordings as she found some of the pronunciations difficult. Jack helped with this by telling her when she should breathe and break.
I think we banked mum’s voice at a good time as her speech has started to become a bit more laboured now, and she gets tired quite easily.
Mum’s recorded voice came back from SpeakUnique quite quickly. At first, they send you a sample to listen to and if you are happy, they finish the voice and send the completed recordings to you. They did ask if we wanted to add an accent to mum’s voice but I thought it sounded pretty good and like her already, so we left it as it was.
We’ve not practiced with the app yet, but it’s really reassuring that mum’s banked voice is there, ready, if and when she needs it. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who was considering banking their voice.”