BBI CHAT Alum With Cerebral Palsy Finally Finds His Voice

February 16, 2017

Leo True-Frost on NBC Nightly News

Leo True-Frost on NBC Nightly News

Recently, Leo True-Frost, an alum of the BBI CHAT Program (Communication Hope through Assistive Technology), was featured in a profile by NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. Eight-year-old Leo has cerebral palsy, which makes it difficult for him to fully articulate words. Thus, he uses a computer-generated voice to communicate with family and friends. However, computerized voices are not individualized to the user and can cause the user to lose part of their identity. Leo’s computer-generated voice, for example, has a frequency similar to a 40-year-old man, not an eight-year-old. 

"We've really had to try and make him comfortable using [the device with its premade voice] in public and not being ashamed about it," says True-Frost's mother, Cora True-Frost.

Speech Scientist Rupal Patel is trying to remedy this issue by giving Leo and others their own unique voices. By combining the sounds Leo naturally makes with that of a donor voice of someone similar in age, Patel is able to create an individualized voice for Leo that is close to his own. 

Leo now has a new unique voice that allows him to articulate his thoughts in his very own, unique voice – and his heartwarming reaction shows just how important that is to him.

To watch the full profile about Leo and his family, visit NBC Nightly News Video "How a Speech Scientist is Helping a Child Speak, Using Others' Words"