What is Message Banking and Voice Banking?

What is Message Banking and Voice Banking?

Recently there has been a significant focus in the media on how technology can be used to support a person who has a progressive, medically caused communication disorder. This focus has shone a welcome public light on both the practical and psychological impacts of living with a communication difficulty. The following information aims to provide information on how message and voice banking can help with these factors and how a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) can help.

SLTs are health and social care professionals who work with people of all ages across a wide spectrum of communication difficulties. SLTs help people to maximise their present communication success and, when necessary, to plan ahead for potential future communication deterioration. 

Planning ahead is a consideration for any person who may experience a future reduction in their speech clarity or lose their ability to speak.  A progressive neurological condition, such as Motor Neurone Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Multiple System Atrophy or Parkinson’s disease, can affect the muscles used for speech and as a result speech clarity can reduce over time to a point where it becomes difficult to understand. People who have a head and neck cancer may also need to plan ahead if they will have a permanent change to their speech anatomy as a result of a surgery.


An SLT is a key person to help people in this planning process.

  • They can provide information and support for each person to choose the most appropriate form of communication aid.
  • Message banking and voice banking are two different ways to record speech for potential use on an electronic communication system.
  • An SLT will support the person to consider message or voice banking while speech is still clear.
  • These recordings help to preserve the person’s unique pattern of communication and can then be used as part of an appropriate electronic communication system.

Message Banking

Message banking involves making a list of personally meaningful phrases, sentences, and ways of saying things and then making voice recordings of those phrases while speech quality is clear enough to be easily understood. These recordings can then be uploaded into an electronic communication system and played out during a conversation.

When played, they will sound exactly as recorded. The aim is not to record every possible word or sentence but to capture utterances that reflect the person’s personality. People often choose to record terms of endearment, sarcastic or humorous comments, greetings, names of loved ones or pets. Message banking is free and just needs a good quality voice recorder, which an SLT can advise on.

Voice Banking

Voice Banking involves recording an inventory of speech which can then be processed by computer software to form a digital representation of a person’s voice.
Voice Banking is publicly available in different formats through a number of online companies. Typically, these companies require the user to read aloud some scripted sentences. The company then creates a digital version of the user’s voice which can be purchased as a download.
The cost varies across companies.  Recording needs to be done while speech clarity is very good. The final electronic version will not sound exactly like natural speech as it will be computerised.

Voice Repair

For people who have already have a mild to moderate speech deterioration, there are some options for a variation of voice banking known as voice repair which involves blending their current speech with file recordings from another speaker to smooth out the clarity.

Voice banking by proxy

For people whose speech quality has already significantly deteriorated, they can nominate a friend or relative with a similar accent to make recordings on their behalf, known as voice banking by proxy.

A Speech and Language Therapist will work with a person to support message and voice banking in many ways including:

  • Explaining the processes
  • Providing information on voice banking companies and costs involved, helping to determine which option is most suitable based on current speech quality, energy, and comfort with technology
  • Giving tips on selecting phrases for message banking and facilitating access to the necessary equipment.
  • They will also help people to explore communication technology options that are compatible with their banked speech recordings and advise on public funding routes for this technology. Message and voice banking can be used on some but not all electronic communication systems

It is important to note that some people decide that they do not wish to make any speech recordings. This will not impact on their future options for communication aids.
All electronic systems have in-built generic synthesised voices that can be selected and used alongside or instead of a person’s own recordings.

There are three main ways to access support around managing a communication difficulty, including advice on message and voice banking:

  • Contact your local SLT team in a local HSE primary care centre
  • Contact an SLT within a specialised centre in an acute hospital
  • Contact a specialised assistive technology service


The Irish Message Banking Toolkit

Learn more & access practical resources