Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Your Accessibility Conscience

Can’t Stop Me: Rock n Roll Singers Provide a Roadmap for My Motivational Speaking Career

Filed under: Motivation — by Glenda at 2:51 pm on Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rod Stewart in concert at GM Place Stadium, Vancouver, August at 2009Over the years, various songs have been anthems or theme songs for my life. These tunes either mark milestones or help me navigate something I am going through.

My current theme song is Rod Stewart’s Can’t Stop Me.

Why does Rod’s song about how he got started in his singing career bring me to tears as I launch my motivational speaking career?

Back in my early years at university, I spent my second summer semester “learning how to use the microfilm and the microfiche in the library just in case I needed to use that technology to research a paper” – yes, I am that old! And, really, there wasn’t much else to do during simmer semesters atop Burnaby Mountain.

Actually, I was searching for anything and everything I could find about Rod Stewart, who I had fallen in love with during the 1989 American Music Awards. Yes, i was also a late bloomer! My excuse: I was raised on country music.

Print outs of magazine articles with post-it notes neatly attached

I spent a small fortune on printing that summer. I also neatly typed each article reference on post-it notes; obviously I had more “free” time back then. I even wrote to his record company, requesting 8×10 glossies.

But I digress.

I became fascinated with his career, particularly how he got started; how Long John Baldry discovered Rod while he was playing harmonica in a train station late one night (not seeing Long John perform while he was living in the area is one of my few regrets), and how, by fluke, a radio disc jockey played Side B and Maggie May launched Rod into stardom:

I was singing in the pubs
Was singing in the clubs
Then along came Maggie May

~ Lyrics from Rod Stewart’s Can’t Stop Me

Around the same time I also had a subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. Grabbing a newly-arrived issue and a cold can of Coke and heading to the spot just above the football practice field was one of my few opportunities to read something other than boring university textbooks. I was intrigued with the behind-the-scenes side of the music industry; how the formation of bands was rather fluid and intertwined was fascinating.  

At that time, my fantasy was to become a rocker chick with a searing electric guitar, but, sadly, this white gimp chick has no rhythm. My somewhat-more-realistic dream job was some kind of clerical or office position at the Little Mountain Studios – a local studio where big names like Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams and many others came to record. I was devastated when the studio suddenly closed; that dream died before I had the opportunity to even pursue it.

I am the kind of concert-goer, when I can afford to go, who enjoys arriving early to watch the last minute set up. And then, afterwards, while I am waiting for the crowd to thin out before I head toward the exit, I watch how quickly the roadies dismantle the lighting and stage:

Now the seats are all empty
Let the roadies take the stage
Pack it up and tear it down
They’re the first to come and last to leave
Working for that minimum wage
They’ll set it up in another town

~ Lyrics from Jackson Browne’s The Load Out / Stay

Ever since beginning to entertain the thought of exploring the possibility of becoming a professional speaker, I have felt an affinity with the careers of singers. Those who have paid their dues by playing the smoky backrooms and who have worked their way up, until they finally got  their lucky start. Not like many of the performers today who gain, what seems like, instant fame.

As I see it, the singer and the speaker does the same thing: move, touch, motivate, inspire, educate, rally, entertain. The only difference is one puts the words to music.

The careers of these old rock n rollers – and country singers, too – have kindly provided me with the roadmap for my speaking career. I am willing (and have been doing) to speak to those groups in small, back rooms, in exchange for “a token of our appreciation”. Those gigs are affording me the opportunities to find my voice as a motivational speaker.

The way I present using a text-to-speech app on my iPad and my “uniqueness in movement” (particularly when I am nervous) doesn’t really fit the image of what a motivational speaker looks like. I totally relate to Rod’s beginnings:

"We can’t sign you, son
‘Cause you don’t fit in the mould.
It’s your hair and your nose and your clothes."
I said, "Thank you gentlemen
For this opportunity.
Now move on down the road."

In time, with enough practice, enough massaging of my message, enough confidence in finding my stage presence, my Long John Baldry or my Maggie May will come along.

They can’t stop me now
The world is waiting
It’s my turn to stand out in the crowd
They can’t stop me now
The tide is turning
I’m gonna make you proud

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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An iPad and Proloquo4Text for Delivering Acoustic Presentations: The Review

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 4:42 pm on Friday, June 13, 2014

Glenda delivering a presentation using the Proloquo4Text app on her iPad In May, I had the opportunity to deliver two presentations. In both instances, I used the text-to-speech Proloquo4Text app on my iPad.

And, wow! That was much easier, much less cumbersome than using the old way in PowerPoint.

The first presentation,  titled “From Speech Impairment to Motivational Speaker: How I Got From There to Here”, was based on much I have written here on my blog. Creating this presentation looked like:

  • Writing: 5.25 hours (not including the time my friend Karen spent editing)
  • Creating the  PowerPoint with only photos: 2 hours
  • Importing into Proloquo4Text: .5 hour
  • Tweaking and practicing: 2.75 hours

The total time for creating this “acoustic” presentation was a mere 9.5 hours for a 25-30 minute presentation. The old way took 50+ hours to create a presentation of roughly the same length. By the time I was ready to go with my iPad, I was in tears; tears of joy!

I felt (and still feel) a huge weight has been lifted off of me. I no longer need to spend an inordinate amount of time on the mind-numbing process of creating my presentations in PowerPoint. Rather I can now focus on what I love doing: writing and developing my message, my story, that I wish to share with my audiences.

For the first presentation, I created a basic PowerPoint with photos, like many speakers do. As a reminder to myself when to advance the slides, I changed the background colour (to green) of the applicable text blocks (on the left). This visual cue worked great.

Screen shot of Proloquo4Text on the iPad

The one challenge that I found was when I attempted a "tap and hold" to speak a text block, the text was not reliably spoken. In those moments, I would then do a “tap” to have the text appear in the text pad (the blue area of the right), tap “play” and then “delete” once it was done speaking that chunk of text. I don’t know whether that bug was because my hold wasn’t long enough or wasn’t steady enough, or whether it was the user, the iPad, the app or a combination thereof. But it is not a big enough challenge to dissuade me and I am confident there will be a fix or workaround in the near future.

My second presentation was totally “acoustic”. Just me and my iPad. No PowerPoint. No wifi. No curtain to hide behind.

Even though I was nervous, which is normal for nearly every professional speaker, this is all feeling so right. Speaking is what I am meant to do at this point in my life.

Now that I know the technology works in this kind of situation and I have more flexibility and choice than I did with the way I used PowerPoint, I am more ready than ever to put myself out there as a motivational speaker; to call myself a professional speaker.

If you have an audience looking for a unique motivational message, I am now scheduling for summer and early fall.

From significant speech impairment to motivational speaker…what a ride this is!


For more of information about my speaking, please visit my speaker site.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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Communication Access: The Last Frontier in Accessibility

Filed under: General, Work — by Glenda at 2:09 pm on Friday, May 2, 2014

Communication Access symbol symbol contains two faces, one talking, both watching and a two-way arrow indicating an exchange or interaction

One morning, many moons ago…back in high school, while I was wheeling past the school office on my way to class, the boys’ guidance counsellor happened to be in the hallway and asked, “Glenda, would you rather be able to walk or to talk?”

Some people might find that question insensitive or even offensive. I found it sincere and genuinely interested.

I am puzzled by society’s obsession with the ability to walk. That not being able to move about upright on one’s own two feet makes you less of a person, less worthy or valuable. And it is something that needs fixing or curing.

But the inability to clearly communicate verbally is far more disabling. For some reason, which I still do not understand, the majority of society links the ability to speak with the ability to hear and to understand. When encountering someone who has troubles speaking or who they assume do not understand, they automatically begin talking louder and slower, and even use hand gestures as if an impromptu game of Charades had broken out.

Not being able to speak clearly causes much frustration, misunderstanding and isolation. It means the daily interactions people have with others without even thinking about it becomes an ordeal. Little things like making a hair appointment, ordering an iced mocha latte with skim milk, or talking with one’s doctor in private becomes an ordeal, if not impossible. It also means missed opportunities when it comes to socializing, making friends, and finding jobs. This negatively impacts one’s self-esteem and self-confidence, leading to further social isolation.

To the counsellor’s question, I immediately uttered “talk” and continued, unfazed, on my way to class.

Nearly thirty-five years later, the last frontier in accessibility is finally being addressed: communication access.

Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) has launched a 2.5-year national project Communication Access Now (CAN) to promote communication accessibility for people who have speech and language disabilities.

If that isn’t fantastic enough, I am excited to share that I am now the Social Media Coordinator for this national awareness campaign; a project very dear to my heart for obvious reasons. I am now tweeting and facebooking (that is a word, right?) on behalf of Communication Access Now. I get to help get the message out, using communication tools I love! How perfect.

How can you become involved?

Check out the education and resources about making goods and services accessible to people with communication disabilities. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Please join us in this awareness campaign. Together, we can conquer this final frontier in accessibility.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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An Easter Bouquet for You

Filed under: Motivation — by Glenda at 12:35 pm on Saturday, April 19, 2014

Picked especially for you from our first Photo Wheel of the season…

Vibrant pink rhododendrons

A group of red tulips under tall trees

White and yellow daffodils under the trees

Red tulips and purple pansies

Daffodils close up

Pink frilly rhododendrons

Purple flowers

Wishing you a blessed Easter!

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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An iPad and Proloquo4Text Creates an Acoustic Method for Delivering Presentations

Filed under: Motivation — by Glenda at 3:23 pm on Monday, April 14, 2014

Glenda using her iPadEver since buying my original iPad and, even more so, since my iPad Air, I have wondered if I could use the device to deliver a presentation.

Other people have been asking me if I use my iPad while delivering presentations.

Thanks to the fairly newly released app Proloquo4Text (P4T) – a solely text-based communication app – I think I can finally answer, ”Yes!”

With this app, I can enter text as phrases, sentences or paragraphs and, then, with one tap, my iPad will speak that text.

Screen shot of Proloquo4Text app

Unfortunately, the voice of Kate – the synthesized voice that I use in all of my presentations and feels like my voice – is not (yet?) available in the P4T app. But that isn’t really a big deal, right?

However, the good news is the text is easy to edit and to rearrange, which means that making changes right before “going on stage” is possible. I can even skip “speaking” a block of text while presenting. I definitely do not have that flexibility with the current method of using PowerPoint. With using PowerPoint, once it is saved to the USB drive, no other changes can be made. It is what it is. There is no flexibility while I deliver it.

And, with the P4T app open, I can type a comment or respond to a question, which creates further opportunity for spontaneity.

There are a few drawbacks, however. Because an extended tap can cause one block of text to be spoken, it would be relatively easy to “speak” a wrong block, particularly when I am nervous and my hands are more jerky than usual.

Also, I wouldn’t, necessarily, need PowerPoint, which I find redirects eyeballs off of me and onto the large screen. I find that is one way – perhaps a sneaky way – to deal with the jitters of being in front of an audience.

It does mean that if I have access to PowerPoint at the event, I can still use it to show photos and such. But I no longer need to spend hours on creating the captions, animations and timings, unless I choose to create my presentation in that way.

I now have a choice!

I can choose between my pared down, “acoustic” method using only my iPad with my nifty new Bluetooth speaker, which will be ideal for smaller venues or my full blown “rock n roll” method using PowerPoint with the scrolling captions and layered images, which is likely best for longer, more in-depth topics.

As this “acoustic” method has recently formulated in my mind, I have yet to test it in a living lab. I would gratefully welcome the opportunity to deliver a 5-, 10- or 15-minute presentation if you have an audience that might be open to a motivational message, but possibly a not quite perfected delivery method.


For more of information about how I deliver motivational presentations with a synthesized voice, please visit my speaker site.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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