Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Using Common Sense Improves Washroom Accessibility

Filed under: Accessibility 100 — by at 8:41 pm on Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Accessibility 100Following my misadventure with Batman’s bathroom, I’d like to share this story. Prior to boarding the bus to Whistler, I decided to use the washroom – one I had used a few times previously and would rated as “adequately accessible”.

Wheelchair washroom stall without a doorMuch to my horror, I discovered the wheelchair washroom stall didn’t have a door. All of the other stalls had a door, but the accessible stall was doorless. It would save trying to close the door, but I wasn’t keen on using a doorless stall.

Some fast-thinking then occurred: This is the only women’s washroom in the station. I didn’t know where the next closest public washroom was and there was no time to go searching. Whistler was 2.5 hours away, plus loading and unloading time –not going was too risky. The doorless stall was my only option.

Oh well, if someone happened to peek, it was better than the possible alternative. I had to go for it.

I realize it is probably a female thing, but do you appreciate how difficult it is to pee without a door? Thankfully, at 7:30 am on Wednesday morning, Pacific Central Station’s bathroom traffic is very minimal.  I carried on with the day’s unfolding adventure, minimally psychologically scarred.

Christine and Glenda at False Creek This past Sunday, Darrell and I met a Guiding friend Christine who I hadn’t since my Guiding days, many moons ago!  With her partner Mark and their dog Cyrus, the five of us walked and wheeled around the north side of False Creek. We had great time talking, reminiscing and laughing.

After a yummy beverage from Starbucks, we headed back to Science World where they had parked their car and made tentative plans for Canada Day. Darrell and I decided to continue onto the south side of False Creek to see how the 2010 Athletes’ Village is progressing. But, first we had to make a pit stop.

Science World wasn’t really an option without paying for admission. Pacific Central Station with the doorless stall was two blocks away. Along the way was a self-cleaning public washroom on the sidewalk. Although it is supposedly accessible, my fear was I’d take longer than the allowed time and I’d end up having an unplanned shower!

The doorless stall wasn’t sounding too bad after all.

Much to my relief, the accessible stall had been doored! The only problem was it opened out into the traffic flow rather than opening against the far wall. It meant opening the door while reversing and then driving around the somewhat opened door to get into the stall. Then I had to reach for the bottom of the door to close it.  Tricky, but doable!

The fact that I nearly fell off the toilet reaching for the paper, which was so low, was only a minor inconvenience! At least the paper holder was on the correct wall – the one closest to the toilet.

Accessibility 100 is a series of 100 easy-to-implement, free and inexpensive tips for improving accessibility for people with disabilities. This is a community project. Feel free to leave your comments, questions and ideas for future Accessibility 100 posts.

Get the entire series by subscribing to this blog by filling in the form in the upper right corner or by subscribing to the RSS feed.

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Stuck in Batman’s Bathroom

Filed under: Accessibility 100 — by at 5:28 pm on Monday, June 8, 2009

Partying in Batman's bedroom atop Hotel 71, overlooking downtown Chicago

Accessibility 100Friday evening during SOBCon: Biz School for Bloggers found us partying in the movie Dark Knight’s location used for Batman’s bedroom, which had a great view of Gotham City, also known as downtown Chicago.

Glenda Watson Hyatt and Chris Brogan
(Photo credit: Duong Shehan)

Sitting with chaplain Jon Swanson and watching the many words happening around us, I gave him cause to pause and reflect when I asked: how many were actually meaningful? Culture smith Cheryl Smith kindly helped me with a Klondike Bar – the official snack of Liz Strauss’ Open Mic Nights. And, Chris Brogan and I shared a moment over a rum and coke. Quite a fulfilling networking session, I’d say!

Bean Fairs and Mark Carter discussing ideas

Sunday morning found us back in Batman’s bedroom to do some masterminding for SOBCon’s fantastic sponsors. Our task was to come up with ways for the sponsors to use social media to begin a social conversation about their products or services.

All that I can say is that the sponsors definitely need social media guru Mark Carter! What better way to start a conversation than with laughter. Both Mark and I were laughing so hard that we both had tears streaming down our faces. Everyone else was wondering what was going on at our table.

The session ended none too soon! After laughing so much, I really had to use the bathroom. Thankfully there was an accessible washroom right there. (In other big fancy hotel top floor ballrooms I’ve had to go all the way back down to the lobby to find the accessible washroom.)

batmanbathroomI drove straight in to the bathroom (rough sketch to the right), but even with my scooter nose right against the far wall, the door wouldn’t close. I backed up and tried pulling in beside the toilet. However, a small table and waste paper basket were next to the toilet – dumb place to put them! I was able to squeeze my scooter in between the table and toilet, barely. But now the metal garbage can was at risk – and I couldn’t reach it to move out of the way. It was either the garbage can or a dire consequence.

Sadly, Batman’s stylish metal waste paper basket was round no more!

Then, because I had to drive into the bathroom on an angle, my scooter was wedged in between the toilet and the closed door.  There was no point hollering for help because the door couldn’t be opened. There I was, after successfully trekking all the way to Harpo Studios alone, stuck in Batman’s bathroom! it took me ten minutes of going back and forth to straighten out my scooter enough to back up to the sink.

Note to establishment owners: in accessible washroom, please keep the open space beside the toilet open. This space is necessary for parking the wheelchair.

LIz, Terry, my apologies if SOBCon was charged extra for a vandalized garbage can! I’ll pay for it.

Accessibility 100 is a series of 100 easy-to-implement, free and inexpensive tips for improving accessibility for people with disabilities. This is a community project. Feel free to leave your comments, questions and ideas for future Accessibility 100 posts.

Get the entire series by subscribing to this blog by filling in the form in the upper right corner or by subscribing to the RSS feed.

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

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Celebrating Women of Distinction

Filed under: Motivation — by at 4:40 pm on Friday, June 5, 2009

Darrell Hyatt, Industrial Alliance Pacifc representative - category sponsor, Glenda Watson HyattThanks to a wonderful nomination package prepared by the SPARC BC (Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia), Darrell and I had the pleasure of attending the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards on Wednesday evening at the posh Westin Bayshore in downtown Vancouver.

Women of Distinction - Community Building nominee: Glenda Watson Hyatt In part of the 11-page nomination package, SPARC BC’s Communication Manager Lindsay Hindle wrote:

Her “go for it” personality filters down to all people, with or without disabilities. Glenda embodies technology. Not only does she lead the way in finding what new technology is out there, but she shares what she learns through her presentations, interactions with others, in her book, and on her website. Technology is such a critical aspect of her life as it has opened new doors of communication. Her blog that she maintains inspires the community by letting her readers in her daily life living with a physical disability and severe speech impairment. Through her blog, she educates people on creative opportunities of how to work through the barriers that some communities place on people with disabilities.…There is room on her site to open up discussion about these issues under a warm and welcoming environment so that barriers can be confronted and broken down, resulting in an increase of people with disabilities participating in community life.

Isn’t Lindsay marvelous with words!

Following the advice from the brilliant Liz Strauss, who is definitely a Woman of Distinction herself and who told me to “Tell your story and get out your message by talking about them…not you,” I prepared my 1-minute acceptance speech. Unfortunately I did not get to use my speech Wednesday evening; I was not the award recipient in the Community Building category. Instead, I’d like to share it with you, my community. Feel free to have a listen or a read below:

I would like to thank the Social Planning and Research Council of BC for the kind nomination and the YWCA for the honour.

I have learned three lessons about community building from all of you. First, that we all have causes we are passionate about; for me, its building an internet accessible to all. Second, when building a community centered on our passion, we have challenges to solve and goals to reach for. My challenge is getting people to understand the importance of an accessible internet. Lastly, building a community is not accomplished by one, but rather by working together and supporting each other’s strengths. Having enthusiastic supporters for web accessibility is such a blessing!

For these lessons, I thank you all.

White rose and purple orchidEarlier that afternoon, after I had boarded the Skytrain to downtown, a TransLink staff reached around from the doorway and handed me a white rosebud. I have no idea why. Something in that moment moved him to do so. Although being an award recipient would have been quite an honour, sometimes its the small recognitions that are most meaningful.

Smile! You never know when a stranger may hand you a rose for being who you are.

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Bailing on Jury Duty: A Crime or Self-Defense?

Filed under: Living with a disability,Motivation — by at 5:48 pm on Monday, June 1, 2009

This morning I was supposed to appear for jury duty at BC Supreme Court in New Westminster. To be honest, I have been waiting years for the opportunity to serve on a jury. Since taking Law 11 in high school, I had an interest in the legal system. A tiny piece of me desired to be a lawyer; the rest of me pointed out how much work that tiny piece would have to do. Serving on a jury would provide me one perspective of the legal system.

However, after much deliberation, I chose to play my “physical infirmity incompatible with the discharge of the duties of a juror” card. Did I take the easy route out? Quite possibly. Do I feel guilty about it? No, not overly.

The past few months, particularly May, have been extremely busy for me. I am hoping I can fulfill my next two commitments before breaking! I definitely don’t need to add jury duty.

Proving I can do something is one thing; saying “No, thanks” when my plate is overflowing is something else, yet can be equally empowering. Because when one door opens, it doesn’t necessarily means passing through is a must. Sometimes walking on by is fine.

Besides, being summons to criminal court, I envisioned serving on a jury for one of the many gang-related murders. With my red scooter sticking out in a crowd, would that make me an easy target? I can do without that kind of drama in my life!

If accused individuals can use mental insanity to shirk responsibility, should the innocent be able to gracefully bow out of commitments for mental (and physical) health’s sake without fear of any retribution, perceived or otherwise? What say you?

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