I guess I was living under a rock but I completely didn't know the courageous story of Roger Ebert. For everyone under there with me, here's the quick summary. After years of terrible health issues that left him stripped of much of his face and throat, he completely lost his ability to speak in 2006. His body is terribly weak, he's a sliver of the size he used to be, but nothing has slowed him down. He does the movie reviews he's famous for, but he's also returned to writing in a way that he'd left behind. He writes a prolific blog that has thousands of engaged readers. And until yesterday he was forced to handle speaking needs through post-it notes or computer generated read-outs in a blocky voice.
But yesterday a company called Cereproc gave him his voice back. They were able to take the audio tracks that Roger Ebert had recorded for movie studio DVD extras and stitch together a full framework of his voice. Now when he types into a computer, the output will be his own voice speaking to his wife or children. It may be a small change, but it makes a huge difference in enabling Ebert and his loved ones to feel like they're speaking to the real him. Yesterday he demo'd the difference between his computer voice "alex" and his revived personal voice, and its heartwarming to watch.
Ebert's history was told in this month's issue of Esquire, which I coincidentally read the morning before the story broke. It's magnificent. Read the article, read about the breakthrough that Cereproc enabled, and watch the video.