Eight-year-old Leo True-Frost has cerebral palsy, which means he's never been able to fully articulate words. Instead, he uses a computer-generated voice created by a software that's not only robotic, but also closer to the sound frequency of a 40-year-old man. Speech scientist Rupal Patel knew that this could cause somewhat of an identity crisis in a young boy, so she worked to create True-Frost a voice of his very own. In a profile conducted by NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, we watch True-Frost joke and communicate via a speech system on a computer.
"We've really had to try and make him comfortable using that in public and not being ashamed about it," says True-Frost's mother, Cora True-Frost. One element that makes his speech method more conspicuous is the dissonance between the sound of the computer's voice and True-Frost's age. This is where Patel comes in. The scientist worked to combine the sounds True-Frost is able to make with a donor voice from a child close to his age. She used one of 19,000 donor voices from both children and adults across the world who contribute to what's called the "Human Voice Bank." Scientists put together True-Frost's unique voice from this voice bank. It's totally unique to him, and will help him articulate his thoughts exactly how he means them. When the voice was finally installed, his heartwarming reaction says more than words ever could.