Renowned film critic Roger Ebert hasn't been able to speak for the past four years, but that doesn't mean he's been silent.
The Chicago-based author still pens film reviews, posts updates on his online journal, and offers his picks for the Academy Awards, as he did on Tuesday's "Oprah Winfrey Show," using a computer-generated voice that sounds remarkably similar to his own.
Until recently, Ebert communicated with hand signals and monotone text-to-speech software.
When Ebert sat down for an interview for Esquire magazine's March issue that chronicled his life since he lost his voice to thyroid cancer, he said he had used an English voice with his text-to-speech software, which he named "Lawrence." But "Lawrence" had a tendency towards odd phrasing and Ebert ultimately settled for something more generically American.
At the time of the interview, he was still waiting on a Scottish company called CereProc to create a text-to-speech voice that would sound more like him.
Last Friday, during the taping of Winfrey's show, Ebert took the new voice for a test run as his wife of 18 years, Chaz Ebert, sat beside him.
(new voice begins about 5:45 mark)
When his voice flowed through the speakers, Chaz Ebert was moved to tears. "I think it's incredible," she said. "It's incredible that that's your voice." The last time she heard a sound similar to her husband's voice was July, 2006, she said.