Welsh language and regional accented voices created for children who rely on technology to communicate
Children and young people in Wales who rely on technology to communicate now have access to young Welsh-accented voices and Welsh language versions.
The announcement by Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan follows concern that children and young people in Wales have until now only been able to choose between High Tech Communication Aids with English and Scottish accents.
Welsh language versions have been able for some time, but only with adult voices. Welsh Government funding now offers children and young people a voice that represents their Welsh identity that sounds more like other children their age.
Greater sense of identity
In total, 16 Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) voices have been developed. These include North and South Wales-accented voices in English and Welsh for boys and girls, as well as equivalent teenage versions.
Launching the Synthesised Welsh Voices project at the National Centre for Electronic Assistive Technology (EAT) Wales at Rookwood Hospital, in Llandaff, Ms Morgan said: “Children and young people who use high tech AAC in Wales should not face a barrier to sounding like their friends and peers. Whilst Welsh children using AAC are already able to speak Welsh, this is not through the means of an appropriate voice for their age. “
She added: “I am delighted these new Welsh language and Welsh accented voices will help give them more options and a greater sense of Welsh identity. This will also help support their mental wellbeing.”
The missing puzzle piece
Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles shared: “The project aims to support children with speech, language and communication needs, including those with Additional Learning Needs, by raising learners’ confidence when expressing themselves.”
He said: “The Welsh language belongs to us all and it is vitally important that all our children and young people are able to communicate in the language of their choice.”
Rebecca Meyrick, the mother of centre patient Lina, said: “These voices are so needed for young people and their families. Having a voice that matches their Welsh identity will make a big difference. It’s the missing puzzle piece.”
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