ReadSpeaker and Afasiförbundet have, in a unique collaboration, developed a slow and clear speech synthesis in Swedish.*
To be able to listen to a text on, for example, a computer or a tablet, a speech synthesizer is needed to transform text into speech. Speech synthesis is an important tool for people who have difficulty reading text, such as people with aphasia, visual impairment, acquired brain injury, ADHD, autism, dyslexia and language disorder developmental language disorder (DLD), etc. Speech synthesis traditionally builds on pre-recorded speech that is cut up into small parts and then put together again in different ways to form all possible words and sentences at a certain speaking rate. It is often possible to raise or lower the speed of the reading.
Many people with disabilities think that the speech synthesis that is available on the market speaks too fast. When synthetic speech is slowed down, the language rhythm and voice change and that the text becomes difficult to understand.
“Afasiförbudet made us aware of the problem and we developed a test website where people with different disabilities could state how slowly they would want the voice to speak for them to be able to understand the reading. We have now, with the help of AI technology, built a new speech synthesis where the voice is recorded at a slower pace from the start,” says Niclas Bergström, COO at ReadSpeaker.
Afasiförbundet now uses the speech synthesis on its website www.afasi.se.
“We hope that more people will realize that a large group of users need slower and clearer speech synthesis than what is offered today. The hope is that ReadSpeaker’s slow voice will set a new standard,” says Linda Bergfeldt, Head of Department at Afasiförbundet.
The project has received innovation support from the Post- och telestyrelsen, PTS (Swedish Post and Telecom Authority). In addition to Afasiförbundet, the following other Swedish organizations were involved in the project: Dyslexiförbundet (Swedish Dyslexia Association), Riksförbundet Attention (Swedish National Association Attention), Synskadades Riksförbund (Swedish National Association of the Visually Impaired), and Hjärnskadeförbundet Hjärnkraft (Swedish Brain Injury Association). Personskadeförbundet RTP (Swedish Personal Injury Association), and Autism- och Aspergerförbundet (Swedish Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome Federation) also supported the project.
*Currently only Swedish is supported and it is available for ReadSpeaker SaaS solutions.