Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Your Accessibility Conscience

Will the Legal System Accommodate or Discriminate

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 7:29 pm on Friday, April 24, 2009

This morning found me up until 2am, finishing my free ebook “How POUR is Your Blog?” that I will launch next Friday afternoon at sOBCon09 Biz School for Bloggers. All that is left to do is to add the alternative text for all of the images. Yes, like with websites and blogs, ebooks should provide alternative text for all images to benefit individuals using screen readers.

Tomorrow I pack. Everything needs to fit into my one bag and laptop case for purely logistically reasons – nothing more will fit onto my scooter! Then I need to put the finishing touches on my PowerPoint presentation and copy it onto a couple of flash drives…just in case! I should then be almost ready to go by the time the taxi arrives at 6:45am Wednesday morning.

Today, on the way home from my pre-trip haircut, I picked up the mail. There was a white windowed envelope — those always make me nervous — from the Ministry of Attorney General – Sheriff Services, with my maiden name peering through the window.

I’ve been summons for juror duty! Now? Are you kidding me?!

As soon as I return home from Chicago, I need to begin preparing a presentation for the BC Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA) Symposium in Whistler on May 27th. Then the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards, for which I have been nominated, are June 3rd. I had scheduled a 24-hour holiday for June 4th!

Now I suppose to fit in jury duty?

Reading through the information, I could probably have myself disqualified based on the Jury Act, “Section 3(1) A person is disqualified from serving as a juror who is…(m) subject to a mental or physical infirmity incompatible with the discharge of the duties of a juror…” (Subject to physical infirmity incompatible with…? What?) But that would be the easy way out, which is definitely not my style!

Instead, I will appear at the courthouse “on Monday the 1st June, 2009 at the hour of 09:15 o’clock in the fore noon…” After all, it is my civil duty!

I’ll see how they deal with me. Will the legal system accommodate or discriminate? Stay tuned!

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You are Cuter Than GPS

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 1:01 pm on Wednesday, April 22, 2009

One aspect of my marriage that I truly cherish is the way Darrell and I work together as a team. We accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we work within or around them. What one struggles with, the other one can do with relative ease.

When we are out and about, Darrell is our voice. He is the one who speaks with sales people, hotel staff and other such people. He is translator for me, when needed. And he typical pays – he is better at manipulating debit cards and cash.

Because he has absolutely no sense of direction – he dreams of a global positioning system (GPS) mounted on his wheelchair – I am the navigator, finding our way in unknown places. I lead and Darrell follows right behind. Oh, the places I have led him…!

Last year, while we were in Las Vegas, I was searching for yet another relatively inexpensive place to eat in one of the many hotels that are larger than some cities. Navigating indoors can be harrowing with masses of people not watching where they’re walking, slot machines flashing and ringing, and my eyes stinging from cigarette smoke.

I found an appropriate eatery like I knew exactly where I was going. Darrell came up beside in his wheelchair and said with admiration in his voice,  “You’re cuter than GPS!” My heart melted. The frazzled feeling immediately vaporized.

That is what we do for each other.

Now, I am preparing for my trip to Chicago. I leave in one week today – yikes! But I am making this trip solo; Darrell isn’t coming. This trip I will be pulling double duty as the navigator and the voice.

I am busy preparing printed notes: for assistance to get to the washroom on the plane, for help in using the train, for checking in at the hotel, for requesting an accessible taxi. Its not that I haven’t traveled this way before, but I have become comfortable with having my other team member, my partner, my husband beside me. Isn’t that what marriage is all about?

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Words Shape Our Reality

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 7:21 pm on Thursday, April 16, 2009

Author, Blogger and Speaker Glenda Watson Hyatt - Your Accessibility ConscienceWith appearances at several face-to-face events lined up for the near future, I desperately needed new business cards. The do-it-myself ones weren’t cutting it any more.

Great! But what do I put on a business card? Who am I? What do I do?

The tagline was easy; it is a phrase that blogger Chris Garrett used when he kindly wrote a Linkedln recommendation. “Your Accessibility Conscience” fits me so perfectly and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the right time to use it as my tagline.

But what do I do? Author, blogger and – lists are best in threes. But what was the third thing? The first thing that came to mind was “speaker”, but that felt so ironic. Having grown up as one who said as little as possible because of my difficult-to-understand speech caused by cerebral palsy, how could I call myself a speaker? Besides, I don’t actually talk when I make these presentations. It is the voice of NeoSpeech’s Kate that does the speaking via my laptop. Isn’t calling myself a speaker misleading advertising?

So far this year, I have done two presentations, I am presenting at SOBcon 09: Biz School for Bloggers in two weeks, and I have two more on my calendar – and who knows what else will pop up before the year’s end. If I am not a speaker, then what am I?

My friend Joanna Young offered these words of wisdom:

The beauty of it is you'll grow into the roles now. Writing, words, can shape our reality.

Her words rung true. Early in my life, a medical professional had labeled me as functionally non-verbal. I lived up to those words for many, many years.

In recent years, I have been slowly emerging from my cocoon of silence by doing presentations. In doing so, I have replaced non-verbal with speech impaired – a word, a label I have chosen myself to define what I am. Perhaps the next step in this journey is to become a speaker, to make that word my reality.

In designing this business card, I envisioned a card that was bold and confident; that stood out amongst a pile of business cards. I figure it is now or never to make my business seriously go somewhere.

So, why not take the same approach with the labels I use to define myself? I am a speaker. How I do speak is what makes me stand out.

Yes, I am a speaker! That’s my final answer. Business cards go to the printers tomorrow!

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Consider All Disabilities When Making Facebook Accessible

Filed under: Blog Accessibility — by Glenda at 4:16 pm on Tuesday, April 7, 2009

This morning the technological blog TechCrunch announced that Facebook is committed to making the social networking site accessible to individuals with visual impairments. Facebook with work with the American Federation for the Blind.

While I applaud Facebook’s commitment to making the extremely popular site accessible to those particular users, what sucks the chocolate chip of my cookie is that the web accessibility issues facing those with visual impairments get most of the public attention and media coverage. Look at most of the web accessibility lawsuits, for example:

– and the press coverage that followed. These lawsuits centered around vision access issues, and, oftentimes, were backed by associations for those who are bind. 

What about the rest of us with disabilities?

According to stats from the AFB, 21.2 million Americans have reported experiencing vision loss. Yet, According to the U.S. Department of Labour, more than 50 million Americans with disabilities. And that is only in the United States! Why are more than half of us ignored by the press when reporting on web accessibility initiatives?

Some obstacles that the rest of us with disabilities face on the web include:

  • Flickering or flashing designs can cause seizures in people with certain neurological disorders.
  • Without captioning, people with hearing impairments cannot appreciate multimedia content such as on-line newscasts, movies, and lectures.
  • For individuals with little or no hand control, using a mouse can be very difficult. Being required to "click" on a tiny area to access information can be an obstacle.
  • Inconsistent page layout and poor information design can be disorienting and confusing to any user, particularly to individuals with cognitive impairments
  • And the list continues.

Facebook, when retrofitting the site,  please consider all of us with disabilities so that we all may connect with family, friends and colleagues.

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When Speech Impairment and Text-to-Speech Software Collide

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 11:19 am on Monday, April 6, 2009

Today I am busily working on my presentation entitled “How POUR is Your Blog” for SOBCon 09: Biz School for Bloggers. It is a long, tedious process.

One step in the process into convert my typed text into synthesized speech. I use the TextAloud software and the voice of Kate. For the most part, Kate is amazing – for a computerized voice.

But, there are times when I need to kate-ize the text. For example, for the past tense of “read”, I change the text to “red”. Recently I discovered “refreshable” needed to be “refrshble”; otherwise, Kate spoke it as “refreeshable”.

This morning Kate stumbled on “navigable”. With my speech impairment, I repeatedly said the word aloud, trying to determine the correct pronunciation. Kate just couldn’t get it!

I began laughing so hard at the ridiculousness of the situation that I couldn’t hear what Kate was saying anyway.

If Kate mangles a few words during my presentation, you’ll understand why.

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