Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

What Children with Cerebral Palsy Truly Need

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 11:44 am on Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Reader's Question

A few weeks ago, Karen Putz asked this question, “For a child growing up with CP today, what are some things that we are still behind on doing for kids? What are some changes that could be made?”

Glenda's Response

Great question, Karen!

There have been so many advances in equipment and wheelchairs since I was a child. And, the relatively new field of assistive technologies has opened so many doors, particularly for children with more severe cerebral palsy. With technology, they can communicate, play music, use the computer, turn on lights and open doors, literally.

(With these advances, my cap has yet to come into being. A cap that would read thoughts and transfer them to the computer screen. Imagine how many minds, trapped within uncooperative bodies, that would unlock. One day, perhaps.)

In my opinion, what many of these children need is for the adults and decision-makers in their lives to look beyond the equipment catalogs and policy manuals and to develop solutions that work for the individual child. No two children with cerebral palsy are the same, so why are the solutions?

These children need to opportunity to reach their full potential, whatever that potential may be. As with any child, the early years are critical for maximizing development. But, when a young boy is seen only four times this year by the school district’s physical therapist – mainly to adjust his seating, not for actual therapy – because her caseload is overflowing and when the government refuses to pay for therapy outside of school unless it’s for post-op recovery, that is not acceptable. This child is not being given the opportunity to reach his full potential, unless his parents make further sacrifices to find alternative therapy for their son.

Another mother is left teaching her older son with severe cerebral palsy how to read because, last I heard, his special education teacher had not bothered to find a teaching method suitable for her child. For this particular teacher, his job was merely a paycheque. School for this child and his classmates is day care, rather than a stimulating learning environment. Their potential goes untapped.

A British father, frustrated by the lack of appropriate schooling opportunities for his daughter and worn down from fighting the system, banded together with other parents in similar situations to start their own school where their children learned and grew. Now, as their children reach adulthood and ready to transition to the next step in their life’s journey, the parents are left to battle the system to get services needed so these young people can continue growing. As the father said to me, a lot of energy is wasted in getting appropriate services, which detracts from family life and other commitments.

Imagine if these battles weren’t necessary and there was a cohesive and concentrated effort to provide children with cp with they truly needed to reach they full potential. Imagine what these kids could accomplish!

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Calling all Artists: Accessibility 100 Needs a Logo!

Filed under: Accessibility 100 — by at 9:21 pm on Monday, April 28, 2008

Preparations are under way for launching Accessibility 100 – a series of 100 easy-to-implement, free and inexpensive tips for improving accessibility for people with disabilities – very shortly. Because I am eager to launch the series – I wrote the first post today – I likely won’t wait until the National Access Awareness Week, which is the first week of June in Canada.

However, I realized today that an important element is missing. The series needs a logo! A graphic used to indicate a post is part of the series. Silly me for overlooking such a detail!

So…grab your digital crayons or paints and design:

  • An original graphic 150 x 150 pixels, preferably in .jpg format,
  • With “Accessibility 100” clearly legible in the graphic,
  • Reflecting the inclusive goal of the Accessibility 100 series to provide tips on how to make various aspects of society (communications, customer service, employment, gatherings, business and many more) accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities, and
  • Email to by May 9, 2008 midnight Pacific time.

The winner will receive an autographed copy of I’ll Do It Myself. How the winning logo will be decided is yet to be determined and may depend on the submissions. If there is one I absolutely love, then I will deem that the winner. If that decision isn’t as easy, I will post them (or a selected few) on the blog for feedback from my valued readers. Although, I retain the option of not awarding a prize if there is not a suitable submission.

Have I missed an important detail? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Let your creative juices flow….

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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When People Stare

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 9:45 pm on Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Piercing cat eyes
(Photo credit: Marcel Hol)

Yesterday my friend and blogger extraordinaire Liz Strauss posed the question: What do you do when people are looking at you?”

Being in a wheelchair with an obvious physical disability, people look most times I head out my front door. People look because we are curious. We notice that which is different. I admit my head whipped around when passing a guy, wearing a business suit and carrying a briefcase, had a green spiky haircut. In a way, looking acknowledges one’s existence.

However, there is a point when a look becomes a stare. Mind you, not all stares are bad. In wonder, we stare at babies. In awe, we stare at the stars. In admiration, we stare at a person’s face.

Other times, staring can be intrusive, reduce dignity, and inflict shame. Stares “reinforce the strongly held notion that being different is somehow shameful, that being different is some how at odds with universal human experience.” (from Staring Back)

Eli Clare, poet and activist, eloquently shares her experience:

Gawking, gaping, staring: I ca*n’t say when it first happened. When first a pair of eyes caught me, held me in their vice grip, tore skin from muscle, muscle from bone. Those eyes always shouted, “freak, retard, cripple,” demanding an answer for tremoring hands, a tomboy’s bold and unsteady gait. It started young, wherever I encountered humans. Gawking, gaping, staring seeped into my bones, became the marrow. I spent thirty years, shutting it out, slamming the door. Thirty years, and now I am looking for lovers and teachers to hold all my complexities and contradictions gently, honestly, appreciatively.

What can you do when people stare?

  • Take a deep breath and lift your head high. You have nothing to feel ashamed about.
  • Look them straight in the eye and smile. When a smile begins creeping across their face, they become aware of their inappropriate behaviour. Occasionally this works beautifully and a connection is made without a word being uttered.
  • Use my Mom’s line, “Take a photo. It’ll last longer.” With my speech, I haven’t used this strategy myself. Imagining the potential response makes me smile, though.

How do you feel when people look at you? When they stare? What do you tell children when they are hurt by others staring?

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Accessibility 100: Tips for Improving Accessibility for People with Disabilities

Filed under: Accessibility 100,Living with a disability — by at 10:47 pm on Sunday, April 13, 2008

Inspired by Chris Brogan’s Social Media 100 and Becky McCray’s Small Biz 100 series – 100 useful and practical blog posts on their area of expertise, I am excited to announce that I will soon be launching Accessibility 100!

Accessibility 100 is a series of 100 easy-to-implement tips for improving accessibility for people with disabilities. To show that improving access for people with disabilities, this series will focus on the free and inexpensive tips that anyone can use. (The future Accessibility 200 series will provide tips that involve more effort and more cost.)

My plan is to launch Accessibility 100 during National Access Awareness Week in Canada, the first week of June – if I can wait that long!

Blog posts in the works include:

  • 10 Tips for Communicating with People with Disabilities
  • 5 Ways to Improve the Accessibility of Blogs
  • 9 Tips for Making Your Writing Accessible
  • Tips for Making Job Interviews Accessible
  • Tips for Making Job Postings Accessible
  • 3 Tips for Increasing Your Attitude’s Accessibility

Other ideas in the post hopper are:

  • How to make locations more accessible
  • How to use distance working to accommodate
  • Simple customer accommodations

To ensure I cover a wide range of topics, I’d love to hear from you. What ideas do you have for the Accessibility 100 series? What would you like to know how to make accessible? What questions do you have about accessibility? Feel free to leave your questions, ideas and comments. Let’s make this a group project!

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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My Life’s Soundtrack

Filed under: Motivation — by at 2:17 pm on Saturday, April 5, 2008

Thursday’s post invited readers to ask me questions, to ask anything. (Questions are still welcomed!) AnneShirley asked, “I know you must have down moments. What do you do to cheer yourself up?”

Thanks for your question, AnneShirley. Yes, like anyone, I do have my down moments – when I feel frustrated or when life becomes overwhelming. In those moments, I often turn to music to relieve frustration, to inspire and to reenergize.

The following five songs have become my life’s soundtrack:

1. Never Give Up On Dream by my fav Rod Stewart who wrote the song as a tribute to Canadian Terry Fox during his Marathon of Hope. I’ve been known to play the song repeatedly to get back into the head space I needed to be in.

2. Sweet Surrender by John Denver – I won my gold medal riding to this one.

(This video also includes Take Me Home, Country Roads, which always reminds me of a family friend Chris who was taken from us way too young by a drunk driver. He was only sixteen. We still miss you, Chris.)

3. Tina Turner’s Simply the Best – who isn’t reenergized after this one?!

4. Elvis Presley’s I Did It My Way is very much how I live my life. I find it analogous to I’ll Do It Myself.

5. Peter O’Toole’s The Impossible Dream saw me through writing, editing and self-publishing my autobiography when that dream seemed impossible. (The video’s audio isn’t the greatest quality.)

What is playing on your life’s soundtrack?

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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