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Voice Banking Offers Career Development, Research Opportunities to UMD Students

University of Minnesota Duluth students Jaclyn Friese and Claire Barnes use voice banking technology to record the voices of ALS patients for future use.

University of Minnesota Duluth students Jaclyn Friese and Claire Barnes work on a project that uses voice banking technology to record the voices of ALS patients for future use.

At the University of Minnesota Duluth, undergraduate students have a new opportunity to explore career paths in speech and language science and contribute to research in the field.

In a project called "voice banking," students are working with UMD faculty in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program to record the voices of patients with ALS (amyotriphic lateral sclerosis) for future use.

In the early stages of the disease, individuals with ALS experience significant and often rapid decline in their ability to speak. The voice banking project, overseen by Jolene Hyppa-Martin, speech-language pathologist and UMD assistant professor, records ALS patients saying hundreds of words and phrases which are preserved in a database that they can access later using an iPad or a speech generating device.

Students participating in the project get firsthand experience working in a speech-related field and also learn how to interact with patients and their families, who often find voice banking an emotional process, though ultimately rewarding.

The technology, available at UMD and the Twin Cities Campus, is still relatively new and in the early stages of development. Hyppa-Martin and her students hope to perfect a system that ultimately bypasses the standard procedure of using a sound proof booth while making the recordings. They hope that their research will make it easier for patients to access voice banking technology in other settings, including their homes.

Read more about voice banking in a recent UMD news article and the Star Tribune.

Photo credit: Brett Groehler

Erin Dennis

Erin Dennis

Erin is assistant communications director for the Office of the Vice President for Research and senior editor of Inquiry. 

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