Apple launched two amazing new accessibility features this year called Personal Voice and Live Speech. They allow users to not only create and securely store a replica of their voice but also to allow iPhone to speak for them. Today Apple has shared the moving story of a disability advocate and physician who has found himself using the feature along with a new video that he narrates with is own Personal Voice called “The Lost Voice”.
Apple shared the experience of New Zealander Tristram Ingham in a Newsroom post today. Ingham is a physician, academic researcher, and disability community leader. And as it happens suffers from facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) – “which causes progressive muscle degeneration starting in the face, shoulders, and arms, and can ultimately lead to the inability to speak, feed oneself, or in some cases, blink the eyes.”
Ingham started using a wheelchair in 2013 and more recently has become aware of “changes in his voice.”
“I find that by the end of a long day, just bringing up my voice gets a bit harder,” he says, recounting a recent, frustrating incident: “I had to give a conference presentation just last month, and it turned out that, on the day, I wasn’t able to deliver it because of my breathing. So I had to get someone else to present for me, even though I had written it.”
“I’m very aware on a professional level that using my voice is getting harder. I am aware that when I get more fatigued, I get quieter, harder to understand,” he says, noting the cognitive dissonance of a progressive condition. “But on a human level, I put that out of my mind, because what can one do about it?”
Fortunately, with iOS 17, it’s now possible to perform voice banking with the feature Personal Voice as well as use by typing with iPhone.
Ingham sees the ability for anyone with a speaking disability to use Personal Voice as a preserving both autonomy and self-determination.
And for International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Ingham used his own Personal Voice with iPhone to narrate the new children’s book “The Lost Voice” along with the new Apple video of the same name:
Describing the process to set up Personal Voice, Ingham said:
“It was really straightforward, I was quite relieved,” he says, remarking on the voice coming from his iPhone: “I’m really pleased to hear it in my voice with my style of speaking, rather than an American voice, or an Australian voice or a U.K. voice.”
The other iOS 17 feature that pairs with Personal Voice is called Live Speech which allows users to type to communicate using their Personal Voice through their iPhone.
While his professional work is important, Ingham notes the priority of being able to communicate with his voice with friends and family:
“I’ve got three grandchildren,” he says. “I love to read them bedtime stories. They come and stay the night quite often, and they love stories about sea creatures, tsunamis, things like that. And I just want to be able to ensure that I can keep doing that into the future.”
Check out Tristram Ingham’s full story here.
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