A tale of Ella

We have received a post from our friend Michael and we happily share it with you all. Enjoy it!

My name is Michael Bayus. I am totally blind and have been from birth. I am a Concert Organist and Church Musician working in the Sarasota area of Florida in the USA.

I use NVDA as my Screen Reader, and, of late my voice of choice is Ella. I don’t remember when I first heard Ella, it was probably around the beginning of 2013 when she was first released. I “fell in love” with her voice the first time I heard her, and I wished that there was a way I could have her reading for me.

The Infovox software was not possible for me, as I am a Church Musician on a small income, and Infovox was not something that I could afford. When the Addon for NVDA came out Ella was more within my reach.

I didn’t want a “Childs” voice, however, but I do like the voice I hear to be youthful. I surmised that If there was a way I could lower the pitch and frequency of the voice, I could make her sound “more grown up”. And, because I know something about how a Human voice works, I new that in addition to changing pitch and frequency, I would have to simulate in some way, the spreading of formants, and vocal tract elongation.

Well, I took the plunge, and bought the Addon package that includes Ella.

The first thing I did, was to lower the pitch of the voice from it’s default “32” setting in NVDA’s pitch scale in the Voice Menu, to “5”.

I found, to my gob-smacked astonishment, and my absolute delight that it worked. Not only did the pitch of her voice go down, but her formant dispersion spread was wider, and her vocal tract was lengthened.

I found the result to be so satisfactory and the illusion to be so believable that I no longer use any other of my voices. In fact, I have uninstalled all of them and now it’s Ella all the way.

She is now my new very best best friend.

It occurs to me, that this tip could be useful to any young girl who uses Ella to speak with her AAC device. And she could have the Ella voice follow her in to adulthood.

To that end, I am passing along a couple of audio files. One is Ella as she sounds originally, and the other is a grown up Ella.

Before you listen, allow me to make a small disclaimer. I don’t know who the young girl who recorded her voice for Ella is, so therefore, I just made it up about her having a dog, living with her brother Josh, and liking History in school. The grown up Ella, is entirely made up out of my imagination.

Happy listening, and I would like to know what you all think.

Little Girl Ella:


Grown-up Ella:

My thanks to Acapela Group for kindly posting this for me.

If there is a way that all of you could communicate with Acapela Group to tell me what you think, I would invite you to do so.

Also, you could friend me on Facebook.

I’m Michael Bayus who is blind, and I live in Sarasota Florida.