Young Welsh voices created for children and young people 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 Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan, has announced.
Children and young people in Wales have until now only been able to choose between High Tech Communication Aids with English and Scottish accents, and adult version Welsh language voices.
But Welsh Government funding will give children and young people a voice that represents their Welsh identity and sounds more like other children their age.
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, and equivalent teenage versions.
Launching the Synthesised Welsh Voices project at the National Centre for Electronic Assistive Technology (EAT) Wales at Rookwood Hospital, in Llandaff, Julie 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.
“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.”
Minister for Education and Welsh Language Jeremy Miles added:
“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.
“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.”
Dr Jeffrey Morris, Head of the National Centre for Electronic Assistive Technology, said:
“This development removes another barrier to communication for children in Wales who rely upon high technology to give them a voice. We’re very grateful to the Welsh Government – without them this important milestone would not have been possible.”
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.”