Father with motor neurone disease to keep Yorkshire accent as he loses speech

Jason Liversidge smiles as he hears his voice for the first time, as the 41-year-old father who has motor neurone disease will be able to keep his Yorkshire accent despite the fact he is losing the ability to speak. PIC: PA

Jason Liversidge smiles as he hears his voice for the first time, as the 41-year-old father who has motor neurone disease will be able to keep his Yorkshire accent despite the fact he is losing the ability to speak. PIC: PA

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A 41-year-old father with motor neurone disease will be able to keep his Yorkshire accent despite the fact he is losing the ability to speak.

Experts have, for the first time, been able to use technology to create an accented voice, basing it on a similar system to that used by Professor Stephen Hawking.

Jason Liversidge, from Scarborough in North Yorkshire, was diagnosed with in 2014 and is slowly losing the ability to speak as his condition progresses.

But instead of giving him a computer-generated voice, specialists have created a voice with a Yorkshire accent for Mr Liversidge.

They have used recordings of his original voice from a speech he gave at his sister’s wedding, plus those of Yorkshire men who have donated their voices, including Jason’s best friend, Phil White.

Donor voices were needed because Mr Liversidge’s speech is already slurred.

Speaking to BBC Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, Mr Liversidge said he was hoping to keep his voice to communicate with his children, Poppy and Lilly, and wife, Liz.

He said: “I’d quite like to keep a form of identity.

“I just don’t want to be a programmed voice on a computer. But also for the kids and Liz, [I want them] to hear my voice rather [than] a computer one.”

After hearing his new voice, he said: “That’s pretty good. It’s instantly recognisable. It sounds really good. I know it’s me.”

The new voice was developed at a centre in Edinburgh funded by Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

Dr Phillipa Rewaj, a speech and language therapist at the Anne Rowling Clinic, said: “Your voice is identifiable to other people as your face is. It’s very unique to you. So to be able to preserve that is really important for people.”

BBC Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire is on Monday at 7.30pm.

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