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Technology Restores Cancer Survivor Roger Ebert's "Voice"

By HERWriter Guide
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He can’t eat, drink water or speak a word, but film critic Roger Ebert has regained his voice. The public will hear him "talk" this week in a rare public appearance as he gives his 2010 Oscar predictions.

Multiple cancer surgeries have left the longtime radio and television personality unable to speak. Thanks to modern technology and extensive voice recordings of movie reviews, Ebert can now “talk” again in his own voice, which he’s nicknamed “Roger, Jr.”

Ebert said in his Chicago Sun Times blog that he worked with Scottish firm CereProc to tap into past voice recordings. The company developed unique software that enables Ebert to “speak” again in his own voice. Ebert said, “ I'd recorded commentary tracks for some movies on DVD...CereProc didn't need to hear me speaking a specific word in order for my "voice" to say it. They needed lots of words to determine the general idea of how I might say a word...and early this February, sent me the files for a beta version of my voice. I played it for Chaz (his wife), and she said, yes, she could tell it was me. For one thing it knew exactly how I said "I."

Ebert’s restored "voice" debuts publicly when he gives Oscar predictions on the Oprah Winfrey Show March 2. Ebert blogged, “Roger Jr.needs to be smoother in tone and steadier in pacing, but the little rascal is good. To hear him coming from my own computer made me ridiculously happy."

The new “voice” will have many uses in the future. Ebert says it will give him the ability to “talk” with family members, including his grandchildren, and do an occasional guest appearance on radio and television shows. Roger Ebert is also speaking on behalf of every cancer survivor who, like him, has had to overcome major obstacles for the ‘new normal” that comes with cancer.

Roger Ebert’s Blog: http://tinyurl.com/y8vfh32
Esquire Profile: http://tinyurl.com/yfq66sj
EmpowHER Profile: http://tinyurl.com/ydbx5sj

About the author: Pat Elliott is a journalist and blogger who has written about health issues for more than 20 years. She is also a cancer survivor who coaches people on how to manage their transition and take control of their new future.

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HERWriter Guide

Update - Roger Ebert's new voice, “Roger Jr.” was heard publicly for the first time today, nearly four years after Ebert lost his ability to speak. A clip of Ebert and his wife Chaz hearing the new voice was shown during the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Ebert also gave his Oscar picks:

While most of the segment was focused on Roger Ebert, Oprah Winfrey also acknowledged the strong support his wife has provided, saying, “You are incredible, and you make me proud. .... This woman refused to let (Ebert) die.”

More: http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/2078718,roger-ebert-oprah-oscars-030210.article

March 2, 2010 - 3:36pm
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