Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Choosing to be Wealthy During this Economic Downturn

Filed under: Motivation — by at 5:21 pm on Friday, March 27, 2009

“Middle Class Family Loses Everything” scream the headlines across the world.

Times are tough for many right now. People  are losing their jobs and their homes in record numbers. Uncertainty about what lies ahead looms.

Having lived through my parents’ struggle with the 18% mortgage interest rate in the mid-1980s and selling our home just before the bank foreclosed, I understand how stressing these times are for thousands of families.

But I take exception with statement that people “have lost everything”. They may have lost every possession, every thing. But they still have much. They still have their education, skills, knowledge, experience, expertise. They still have their grace, compassion, empathy and the capacity to love. Those things cannot be taken away or lost.

Stop reading for a moment and acknowledge all that you have right now: your heart is pumping blood, you are breathing, you have the ability to perceive and comprehend these words. What else do you have right now, in this moment? How wealthy do you feel, in this moment?

How you handle the next moment is your choice. You can choose to dwell on what you don’t have, on what is not going right in your life. Or you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again, using your wealth on hand. The choice is yours. Which do you choose?

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Flight and Hotel are Booked

Filed under: Blogging — by at 6:36 pm on Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chicago, here I come!

Last May, I announced my goal of attending SOBCon 09: Business School for Bloggers. I am going!

I'm a speaker SOBCon - Join me in Chicago, May 1-3, 2009 And…I am presenting! Even better, I will have the pleasure of presenting with my yet-to-meet-face-to-face friend Karen Putz. Our presentation will be on various aspects of web accessibility for bloggers. My portion will address the question, “How POUR is Your Blog?”

Please join us in Chicago for an amazing line up of speakers.

More details soon.

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Doctor Dismisses Hormones of a Woman with Cerebral Palsy

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 4:49 pm on Friday, March 20, 2009

After feeling dead-butt tired for more than three weeks and after the sad death of actress Natasha Richardson following a minor bump to the head, I figured it was time to go to the doctor to make sure this tiredness is nothing serious.

I decided to go to the local clinic. Not the ideal choice, but getting an appointment with my family doctor can take a week. Besides, I haven’t seen him since he told me that bones don’t hurt; that the deep, stabbing pain I was experiencing then was due to my cerebral palsy, not due to the medication Fosamax for osteoporosis. (Funny how the pain completely disappeared as soon as I stopped taking the medication!) And, getting into the Access Clinic at BC Women’s Hospital could take several weeks, if not months. The only choice was the walk-in clinic with whatever doctor is on call.

Darrell and I wait in the exam room, with the door wide open. There’s no way to close it with both of large wheelchairs in the room. Thankfully, a personal procedure wasn’t required…

The doctor comes in and begins asking questions, looking to Darrell for the answers; not even trying to understand my speech. He quickly decides to send me for blood work. Yes, that was my main goal.

While he is completing the form, I ask him what he is testing for. Thyroid, liver, and blood sugar. Great.

I then ask, “Are you testing my hormones too?”

He asks, “Why hormones,“ while giving me and my chair a long, hard glance

I fire back, “Why NOT hormones,” trying to suppress the urge to smack him.

“Well, because of your condition, you aren’t sexually active.” What?! Then he looks at Darrell and asks, “Are you girlfriend-boyfriend?”

Darrell promptly tells him that we are married. His eyes spin around in his head, then notes “married to a man who also has cp” on my chart.

What does it matter what I do in the bedroom? I still have frickin’  hormones, I am 42 and changes are happening. Test my hormonal levels, damn it!

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Cerebral Palsy and Menopause Does Not Exist According to Google

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 2:28 pm on Thursday, March 19, 2009

A few weeks ago, I purchased Dr. Christiane Northrup’s The Wisdom of Menopause, in preparation for “the change of life”. Flipping through the list of possible the symptoms, I came across:

  • Hot flashes. If they occur during the winter months, that will be one way to save on the hydro bill!
  • Insomnia. Needing to get up two or three times a night to pee doesn’t make for a restful and restorative night’s sleep.
  • Forgetfulness. Like, while making my breakfast, I reach in the dishwasher for a clean knife and put it beside the one I pulled out a moment ago? Doh! Is that forgetfulness or the result of being dead tired because I was up three times the night before?
  • Brain changes. Whoa! What?

Let’s read that again!

Our brain actually begin to change at perimenopause. Like the rising heat in our bodies, our brains also become fired up! Sparked by the hormonal changes that are typical during the menopausal transition, a switch goes on that signals changes in our temporal lobes, the brain region associated with enhanced intuition.… There is ample scientific evidence of the brain changes that begins to take place at perimenopause. (from p. 38)

For someone with cerebral palsy (i.e. brain damage), this is not  comforting news. I am still figuring out how my cerebral palsy works. I just discovered wearing a scarf on cold days reduces my gagging. All those early morning university classes, I thought that gaggy feeling was due to eating breakfast before a half-decent hour. I now discover it was probably because my neck and throat weren’t cozy warm. Now some hormones are going to mess up what I do know about handling my cp? Great!

And, for someone who had rare temporal lobe seizures as a young child – I’d have crying and screaming episodes during the night without waking up and ended up on phenobarbitol for several years, which is likely another contributing factor to my osteoporosis (but that is another story) – the fact that the temporal lobe is specifically mentioned is even less comforting. Will these temporal lobe changes reignite my seizures? I’d like to know what I could be in for.

So I did what most people would do as the starting point…I googled it. Googling cerebral palsy AND menopause AND temporal lobe resulted in no useful information; not even close. Broadening the search to cerebral palsy AND menopause resulted in vague, general information; nothing that was particularly useful and insightful without paying for a medical Journal subscription.

If Google doesn’t provide, at least, the starting point, what is a perimenopausal woman with cerebral palsy to do?

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WordPress vs Live Writer: The Image Smackdown

Filed under: Blog Accessibility,Blogging — by at 12:32 am on Thursday, March 12, 2009

WordPress versus Windows Live Writer In my blogging, I use both the blogging platform WordPress 2.7 and the offline editor Windows Live Writer 2009 for writing the posts. I have been amazed by how differently the two applications handle images. In fact, I have often wondered, usually late at night, which one is most accessible in terms of the images.

Today is the day to put the two applications in a byte-to-byte, no holds barred smackdown!

Round #1: Inserting an Image

The first step in inserting an image into a post is to identify the image.

In the Live Writer corner: the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + L opens the “Insert Picture” dialog box to choose the image from either my computer or from the web.

The Insert picture dialog box in Live Writer

In the WordPress corner: after some poking around, I found the keyboard shortcut Alt + Shift + M for inserting an image. This option is for an image that is already online.

The Insert/edit image dialog box in WordPress

If, however, the image needs to be uploaded, I must use the “Add an Image” button on the Upload/Insert toolbar:

WordPress Upload/Insert Media toolbar - First button is "Add an Image"

After some more poking around and reading Using Images in Posts, I could not find a way to activate the “Add an Image” button using the keyboard. Even by tabbing, I couldn’t reach the button.

According to the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0 – Working Draft, which applies to both WordPress and Live Writer, “Authors with a wide range of abilities must be able to operate the functions and components of the authoring tool user interface.” Unless I missed finding a way to access the “Add an Image” button using the keyboard, this function is not available to bloggers relying solely on the keyboard.

Round #2: Using the Interface

The next step in inserting images into a post is to set the positioning or alignment, and to enter the alternative text (alt) to benefit individuals using screen readers and to make it searchable by search engines.

Picture panel - advanced tab in Live write Writer In the Live Writer corner: a straightforward interface in a sidebar for manipulating images. After poking around for at least half an hour, I could not find a way to get from the main Writer window to Picture side panel using the keyboard. That doesn’t mean a way doesn’t exist; I simply didn’t find it. Once in the side panel, the settings are operable via the keyboard. However, switching between the three tabs – Picture, Advanced, and Effects – using the keyboard also remains a mystery.

Under the Advanced tab, the alt text can be entered. Advanced? Alternative text is crucial to accessibility. One penalty point!

In the WordPress corner: the dialog box is not straightforward:

Add an image dialog box in WordPress 2.7

I am presented with four text boxes (or fields) without a clear understanding of what they are for. The Title box is marked with a red asterisk, likely indicating a required field; yet a note under the Caption box says “Also used as alternate text for the image. The Title is required, but the Caption is the alt? One penalty!

William Lawrence kindly explained the four fields in a comment on WordPress 2.7: A Brief Accessibility Review:

When inserting an image with WordPress all that is required is the Title which then gets used for the title and alt attribute of the image element. This is kind of good, because it kind of meets ATAG requirements, however because the content in the title and alt attributes are duplicated, this is inappropriate as it duplicates the context of the content. In addition, if one does not change the title of the image from an improper file name, the meaning is lost.

When one adds caption text, this additional text is placed next to the image and alt attribute of the image, while the title attribute of the image remains the title, or filename, of the image. This is kind of okay because now the image element no longer has duplicate content for these attribute, however the alternative text for the image now repeats what duplicated in the content of the article: inappropriate and repetitive.

Meanwhile, the description text is used as content for Attachment post page if one chooses to publish each image as a separate attachment post. More information can be found on their Codex for Using Image and File Attachments.

I need a flow chart to follow that! Another penalty.

Tip for bloggers: Because these two applications and many others do use the filename for the default alt text, make the filename more descriptive (and use a hyphen or underscore between words) when originally saving the image on your computer. This may not be the ideal alt, but it might prompt you to then revise the text when inserting the image.

Round #3: Validating the Code

Besides being accessible to me – the blogger, the application must also output content that is accessible to the blog readers. One way of measuring the content’s accessibility is to see whether the published code validates using a tool such as the W3C Markup Validation Service

In the Live Writer corner: the published code –

<img title="Glenda’s avatar" style="border-right: 0px; border-top: 0px; display: inline; margin-left: 0px; border-left: 0px; margin-right: 0px; border-bottom: 0px" height="178" alt="Glenda’s avatar" src=" 102c1971.jpg" width="178"  align="left" border="0" />

– validates with no errors!

In the WordPress corner: the published code –

<div id="attachment_559" class="wp-caption alignleft" style="width: 188px"><img class="size-full wp-image-559" title="Glenda’s avatar" src=" 102c1971.jpg" alt="Cute chick!" width="178" height="178" /><p class="wp-caption-text">Cute chick!</p></div>

– validates with no errors!

Frankly, I am surprised by this round’s results. This round was the one that had me wondering late at night. I thought the deprecated elements (code no longer used) and the repetitiveness of the title (in Live Writer) and the Caption (in WordPress) would have been marked as errors.

Bonus Round: Additional features

Although not directly related to accessibility, having extras for manipulating images are quite handy. It saves having yet another application open and switching between the two. Glenda's avatar with the added features of photopaper and slightly tilted

In the Live Writer corner: a variety of borders and actions (i.e. rotate, crop and watermark) that can be applied to images to add interest.

In the WordPress corner: zilch! WordPress is down. Its a knockout!

In terms of the accessibility of using images in posts, the winner is…Windows Live Writer!

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