Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Your Accessibility Conscience

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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Bootstrapping Goes Only So Far, Some Pricey Expenses Are Worth It

Filed under: 4-Hour Workday — by Glenda at 12:57 pm on Friday, March 28, 2014

Canadian cash

Being an extremely small business owner, I constantly have an eye on the expenses. Whenever possible, I avoid spending because, even though business expenses are tax deductible, there needs to be an income from which to deduct it.

Every tax season is a cause for angst; not because of the process, but rather which software do I use? The familiar and trusted yet pricey one? Or, the cheap unknown?

With last year being abysmal on the financial front, in addition to the personal front, I decided to go with the cheap option – as in 1/10th price cheap. I was nearly all the way through both my husband’s and mine taxes when I encountered an error. After attempting everything I could think of, the error could not be corrected, which meant that I could not get to the “Print & File” step.

Frustration mounted. Chocolate was inhaled.

Nothing worked.

After a moment of hesitation on my part, my husband went down two blocks to our office supply store and returned with the familiar and trusted software (and takeout for supper).

Within two hours, I had the software installed, registered, and updated; I had the data from last year’s returns transferred into this year’s; and, I had completed, reviewed and filed both of our taxes. More than a month early.

The lesson learned here is that, even though keeping an eye on the financials is always necessary, sometimes the more expensive option is worth it. Using the right tools is key to making the most of the 4-Hour Workday; there is no time to waste on subpar tools.

Next year there will be no angst. The familiar and trusted software will be purchased without hesitation. My sanity and time are worth it.

What is one business tool you splurge on because it is worth it? Feel free to share in the comments below.


Please join me on this 4-Hour Workday journey.

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

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The Climb to Becoming a Motivational Speaker: Filled with Challenges Not Expected

Filed under: Motivation — by Glenda at 7:08 pm on Monday, March 24, 2014

Glenda zipping above the downtown traffic

Four years ago, on a beautiful spring day much like today, I stepped way beyond my comfort zone and ziplined above downtown Vancouver traffic. That moment has since had a ripple effect in my life.

Most unexpectedly (or, perhaps not so much if I am truly honest about it), that “stare fear in the face” moment led me to shift from consulting on web accessibility – a safe, almost expected career choice given my set of circumstances – to embracing “My Second Most Unlikely Career Choice”, that being a motivational speaker.

However, not only has the scared spitless moment had an effect, but the tower of stairs and the necessary climb have also become symbolic. Much like speaking to an audience, much effort and sweat was needed to get to that “fun, exhilarating” moment.

The tower of stairs up to the zip line

Since making the decision to become a motivational speaker, I have faced the toughest – emotionally and health wise – year (so far) of my adult life.

I have dealt with the illness and subsequent loss of my furbaby Faith. The gut-wrenching decision that I had to make and be present for, back on May 22nd, still haunts me. I have since discovered that grief is an extremely lonely place and needing to defend my grief, on occasion, only adds to my pain. In all honesty, I have faced several dark moments in which I felt like I was barely hanging on. I’d begin trying to claw my way back, only to lose my grip again.

Then came my Buddy boy. i can’t say for sure if I was completely ready for another furbaby at that point, but it was what the Universe had in store for me. I must have had selective amnesia from having Faith since she was 5-6 weeks old because I had totally forgotten how much work young kitties are. I have never seen a kitty decimate plants the way the Budmeister went after my spider plants and ficus tree. Darrell and I were constantly up righting the six-foot Robert Plant and cleaning up potting soil. How can one cute, adorable, affectionate kitty wreak such havoc, I do not know.

The third blow was when I went back to bed on December 14th, sick. At some point the bronchitis morphed into sinusitis. I am still not fully back to myself, even after three rounds of antibiotics and two rounds with the nebulizer, in which I was forced to face my lingering fear of the mask – a fear instilled as a child when facing the black rubber gas mask in the operating rooms. With the nebulizer, it was difficult to breathe normally while I was in panicked tears. After two rounds of three times a day for ten days, I eventually conquered my fear of that clear plastic mask, but I hope I never need to don another medicinal mask again.

I have never been sick for this long. My ears are still plugged and I am having trouble hearing. I have no energy, even with the iron pills that I started taking a  year ago.

It is difficult to be motivational when one doesn’t even feel motivated.

Back when I was discussing my career shift with business consultant and coach Charlie Gilkey, he did say that there would be challenges along the way. What an understatement that has proven to be! I did not expect these kinds of challenges. The metaphorical tower of stairs to becoming a professional speaker feels way, way taller and far more difficult than the 81 stairs I climbed four years ago.

After the last fifteen months, which ranks way up there on the “This Sucks the Big One” Scale with the year my parents separated and divorced, challenges like explaining to event organizers how someone with a significant speech impairment can deliver a presentation of high value, getting to the venues and up on stage, and having the right words to deliver the best message that I can will be a cakewalk.

Looking back, climbing those 81 stairs with support from my lifelong friend Karen and my cousin Craig, yet another realization came to mind: as a young child, I became known as the “I’ll do it myself” girl, always preferring to do things myself, in the name of independence, rather than have others help me. Somewhere along the line that independence became perceived or interpreted as a preference for working alone. Perhaps, there was some truth in that. I always dreaded group projects in school for fear I would end up doing more than my share of the work; and, that often proved to be the case.

Karen, Glenda and Craig climbing the tower together

However, now I am feeling an urge to change that. Without Karen and Craig, I wouldn’t have stepped out of my comfort zone to have experienced the zipline. It saddens me that I could be missing out on those experiences in my work life. 

i am looking around and witnessing other people, other friends, collaborating on exciting projects with others. I would like to experience that, too; working together, each contributing our own abilities and talents, n order to reach new, exhilarating heights together.

Perhaps it is now time to find opportunities to work together, to face my fears in the face and to go for it anyway. By doing so, I wonder where I might find myself four years hence.

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

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“We’re Ain’t Gonna Take It Any More”: Communication Access Now, No More Social Injustice

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 6:35 pm on Wednesday, March 12, 2014

We’re not gonna take it
No, we ain’t gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it anymore

We’ve got the right to choose and
There ain’t no way we’ll lose it
This is our life, this is our song

~ Lyrics from Twisted Sisters’ “We’re Not Gonna Take It”

Individuals with communication disabilities, which affect how we speak or understand what others are saying, typically experience inequality in employment, healthcare and numerous other situations on a daily basis. We are often treated as if we are hearing or cognitively impaired, which is not necessarily the case, and we are regularly discounted,  devalued or, even, dismissed.

Access to effective communication is a social justice issue, where social justice is defined as "… promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity." Social justice exists when "all people share a common humanity and therefore have a right to equitable treatment, support for their human rights, and a fair allocation of community resources." In conditions of social justice, people are not “discriminated against, nor their welfare and well-being constrained or prejudiced on the basis of gender, sexuality, religion, political affiliations, age, race, belief, disability, location, social class, socioeconomic circumstances, or other characteristic of background or group membership" (Quoted from What is Social Justice?)

Glenda using her iPadAs an individual with a significant speech impairment, I have experienced inequitable treatment in countless ways. The most impactful have been in the areas of employment and healthcare.

It still irks a back corner of my mind that I am unemployed and surviving on social assistance because I couldn’t find an employer willing to look beyond my jerky movements and difficult-to-understand speech to give my abilities and skills a chance. Actually, it sucks the chocolate chip right out of my cookie that after five years at high school and seven years at university, working hard to keep up (and sometimes surpass) my classmates and friends, only to watch them land jobs with decent salaries, Christmas bonuses and pension plans while I’m still stuck on social assistance, labeled as unemployable. I have no doubt that my speech impairment played a huge role in acquiring that employment status, but proving it is a different matter. After all, that would have been social injustice. Discrimination, which is illegal.

Glenda Watson Hyatt speaking at Open Web Camp IV

Thankfully, i have found other ways to put my skills, talents and passion to use, in service of others. With perseverance and current technology, I have found a way to become a motivational speaker to share my message with audiences. (I love the irony here!)

I remain confident that my rightful compensation will eventually find its way into my bank account. And, after all of these years of un- and under-employment, that will be one juicy Christmas bonus when it finally does come.

Being self employed, I have been fortunate to surround myself with people who believe in me and who know I am capable and have much to offer. For example, in the next few weeks, I have a couple of podcast interviews. These solopreneurs are willing to give me and the technology a shot in order to share my experience, my story with their audiences.

Unfortunately, I do not have that same latitude in surrounding myself with people who believe in me when it comes to my healthcare. Oftentimes I need to deal with healthcare professionals as they come; I have very little choice. And, frankly, these “professionals” have no clue when it comes to interacting with an individual with a speech impairment or, for that matter, any disability. (Again, the irony.)

As one example (of many): on one trip to the Emergency Room when I had badly injured my foot, the nurse indicated that my husband Darrell had to go back to the waiting room because there wasn’t enough space for both of our wheelchairs.

Darrell explained that I needed him for communication purposes. But, once he relayed how the injury occurred and other necessary medical details, he was told to leave. The nurse assured him that she would come get him if he was needed. None of the other patients’ companions were forced to leave.

In that moment I wondered what were my patient’s rights. Patients who are Deaf wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) be denied access to an interpreter. Non-English speaking patients requiring a translator would definitely not be denied one; that would hit the news for sure.

Yet, I, with a significant speech impairment, was denied my means of communication. Darrell did hand me my iPad before leaving, just in case, but I wasn’t sure I could coherently type because I was in so much pain.

In this instance, I was suffering from only an injured foot. What if it had been serious or, even, life threatening? Would I have been still denied my means of communication? When my well-being or life is at stake, that is social injustice!

This needs to stop. Now. People’s well-being and lives are at stake.

Communication Access symbol symbol contains two faces, one talking, both watching and a two-way arrow indicating an exchange or interactionFor this reason and many others, Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) is launching a 2.5-year national project Communication Access Now (CAN) to promote communication accessibility for people who have speech and language disabilities.

How can you become involved?

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

If you are in Vancouver, BC, on Monday, March 17th, please join us for the Communication Access Now event – an information session and a rallying of the people. To be held at the Creekside Community Recreation Centre, 1:00-3:00pm.

“We’re not gonna take it anymore.”

Our voices will be heard. Our voices need to be heard.


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

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Synthesized Voices: Not Unique Sounding, Until Now

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 4:22 pm on Monday, February 24, 2014

Glebnda using a synthesized voice to deliver a motivational speech

Imagine hearing a voice before seeing the individual.

Chances are you can ascertain much information about the person from the voice which is as unique as a fingerprint: the person’s rough age, usually the gender and ethnicity, as well as the individual’s emotional state and more.

Individuals can be recognized by the sound of their voice.

However, for the the hundreds of thousands of individuals with speech impairments who rely on devices to communicate, this unique sound does not exist. Rather, they rely on a limited number of synthesized voices to be their voice.

The synthesized voice used by a world-renowned astrophysicist might be the exact same voice used by a 6-year-old boy entering elementary school or, sadly, even by a 6-year-old girl. These robot-sounding voices lack uniqueness, individuality and personality.

Individuals with speech impairments who rely on communication devices cannot be recognized by the sound of their voice.

Canadian speech scientist Rupal Patel took issue with this lack of unique-sounding voices in this often-ignored segmented of the population and did something about it!

Patel, an associate professor of speech language pathology and audiology at Northeastern University in Boston, “has developed technology and algorithms that mix the voice of a speech-impaired person with that of a healthy "speech donor.” (from CBC Technology & News)

Very briefly, she takes the voice (which might be as little as a few sounds) from an individual with impaired speech (the recipient) and mixes it with the sounds of a voice donor to create a customized, synthetic voice. Her 6-year-old daughter describes it as “mixing colours to paint voices.” Only the recipient receives this voice; no one else will ever have the same synthesized voice.

Watch her TED talk where Rupal’s explains her exciting project:

(Unfortunately this video is not captioned. For more information in text format, read Everything you need to know about donating your voice: Why you should help The Human Voicebank Initiative.)

For someone who relies on a synthesized voice – the same one as heard over the PA system at the Honolulu airport – when I deliver presentations, using my own, unique voice would be beyond unbelievable! Actually, merely thinking about it brings tears to my eyes.

For more information about the project and to become a voice donor or a voice recipient, visit the website VocalIiD.org. If you have been blessed to have an understandable voice, I’d like to challenge you to become a voice donor and potentially change someone’s life.


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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