Haroon’s Nuvoic blog

Haroon’s Nuvoic blog

One of our participants, Haroon Sahir, wrote the following piece about his experience of the project, testing the Voiceitt app and donating speech recordings through Voiceitt Ensemble: 

A photo of Haroon, a middle-aged Asian man with glasses, short hair, a short beard and moustache, sitting in a wheelchair in front of a computer desk. On the desk is a monitor, keyboard with keyguard and a large joystick.

It was just about the end of Lockdown when my main carer Leanne came back from her Covid-19 break. Before this I was just having three hours care a week during the ‘dark days of London Lockdown.’ When Leanne returned we were having telephone conversations with staff from the St Joseph’s centre in Hendon, London. We were trying to figure out on how to install Microsoft Teams onto my decade-old adapted I.T. equipment because nearly everyone was doing Zoom calls on their computers, mobiles or iPads and I wasn’t able to do this during lockdowns!’ Staff asked, after they noticed I was having speech impairment problems over the telephone, if I would be interested in taking part in a speech project. I said ‘yes’ and this led to the introduction to Geena, a technologist on the project, via e-mail.

We carried on by using the trusted and my best form of communication, which is email! There were lots of email exchanges between Geena from the Karten Network, St Joseph’s and me before I first met Geena with support from Leanne, travelling by London public bus to the St Joseph centre. That was start of the Voiceitt project for me. We did Zoom calls using Leanne’s mobile, using iPads to do my voice recordings, and Leanne videoed me using my speech recordings on the iPad in the gym and at the centre. During Geena’s home visits we set up my computer with Zoom and a microphone and she interviewed me and videoed me doing the Voiceitt recordings on my computer. Geena is coming again to try to set up our old 37″ TV in my bedroom, so I don’t have to use the awkward old Toshiba television remote control!

The most valuable and interesting thing about working on the Voiceitt project I did some 1729 Voiceitt recordings for Voiceitt Ensemble. When recording on Ensemble I felt I was working on my fourth unofficial internet job and more importantly in my opinion I was doing speech therapy independently without the help from a human speech therapist. In the future Voiceitt could be used as a science fiction version to speech therapy?

Two toy robots are holding a tin can telephone as if one is using it to talk to the other.

The interesting or funny thing was when I was doing the Voiceitt recordings at several night times my 77 year old mother came from her bedroom into my bedroom to see why I was talking to myself! Eventually Voiceitt Ensemble said “It has run out of sentences to record in this dataset”! I was the first person to complete all the phrases. I missed doing the recordings and hearing my speech back through the speaker/microphone which was one of the gadgets provided by the Voiceitt project and ordered by Geena via the internet!  

*After this was written, the team released new sentences and Haroon has been busy recording again! You can also check out Haroon’s sports writing on Facebook. If you want to support inclusive speech recognition by donating non-standard speech recordings with Voiceitt Ensemble, please email Liz at liz@karten-network.org.uk