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Yorkshire Accents Wanted To Replace ‘Generic’ Speech Aid Voice

March 4, 2021

A man whose speech aid makes him sound “American” is looking for volunteers to help him speak in his native Yorkshire accent.

Richie Cottingham, who has cerebral palsy, says his speaking aid’s generic voice does not represent his identity.

“I want to sound like my family and friends,” he said.

The 26-year-old, who lives near Howden, East Yorkshire, wants to blend recordings of two local men to create a new voice.

“When I’m with my friends our voices sound the same because we all use the same communication aids,” Mr Cottingham said.

“I would love to have my own voice.

“I dislike my voice because it sounds like I’m American.

Being able to talk in his own voice would be “awesome”, he said.

Speech and language therapist Jennifer Benson said they hoped to find two men in their early 20s with East Yorkshire accents to help them “create an entirely new [voice]” that would be installed on Mr Cottingham’s communication aid.

“Richie has cerebral palsy and has never been able to speak and never had a voice of his own,” she said.

“I feel like having a voice to call his own could be a really, really great thing for Richie.

“I feel that it will give him an enhanced sense of identity due to having that regional accent, which could also give him an enhanced sense of belonging to his own community and his place in the world.”

She said a revamped communication aid using a tailor-made voice for Mr Cottingham would help him to “fully participate in conversations”.

Mr Cottingham said the voice donors “would be helping me a lot”.

“I would be very happy with a new voice,” he added.

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