Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

7 Ways to Communicate When Speech Impaired

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 1:36 pm on Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Reader's Question

A young man with athetoid spastic cerebral palsy emailed me last week. He uses a Dynavox communication device and asked how I communicate, given my speech impairment, in hopes he may benefit from how I do it.

Glenda's Response

I am responding here in case how I communicate also benefits or triggers ideas for some of my other readers. I use a variety of communication methods; the method I use depends upon the situation.

Here are seven methods I use to communicate:

  1. Speak Glenda-ish: People who know me and strangers who take the time to actually listen do understand my unique dialect. Once individuals master Glenda-ish, I can talk their ears off for hours! In fact, only medical professionals have used the label non-verbal because they don’t take the time to try to understand me.
  2. A sample alphabet card Use an alphabet card: I have made several variations of this low-technology communication device over the years. During my university years, my alphabet card became my security blanket: I didn’t leave my apartment without it. 
  3. Type notes: For short messages like “I would like a book of stamps, please” or “I would like off at the bus stop near Laurel and Canada Way, please”, I type out a note before leaving home.  Post-It notes are great for this purpose. 
  4. Use Kate with PowerPoint: When giving a presentation, I convert the text into speech using TextAloud and NeoSpeech’s Kate voice. I then embed the sound files within my Microsoft Powerpoint presentation.  The process is time consuming, but it works!
  5. Use my laptop: When having a small group discussion with individuals not well-versed in Glenda-ish, I type my point on my laptop and then either have Kate read it aloud or have a fellow group member read it off the screen.
  6. Send email: Email has enabled me to communicate with people I would not have otherwise. Because email is asynchronous, my slow typing speed is not a factor. I can take the time needed to express my thoughts in the written word, my most effective means of communication, before hitting the send button.
  7. Skype with webcam: With individuals somewhat familiar with Glenda-ish, I call them using Skype and my webcam. Watching me while I speak helps their understanding. If they get stuck on a particular word, then I use the text chat feature to type the word.

    Being labeled non-verbal or speech impaired does not mean I’m non-communicative.  It means finding other ways to get my message across. 

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

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    Comment by linda m lopeke

    February 4, 2009 @ 2:53 pm

    Hi Glenda,

    I enjoyed reading your post about the many ways in which one can communicate and share one’s thoughts and opinions.

    I worked with patients at Bloorview Children’s Hospital for years and became familiar with many technological devices and aids to help us talk to one another. Some of the most intelligent and memorable conversations resulted.

    It made me furious that so many presumed that not being able to speak in the same way I do meant that my kids had nothing to say and no thoughts to express. Several were brilliant; all of them were interesting and my own life was made richer by having talked with them.

    I’m even more excited that 30 years later there are even more options for communicating! I’m always interested in hearing what you have to say Glenda so keep on blogging and twittering and hopefully we’ll meet in person one day!

    Linda M. Lopeke
    The SMARTSTART Coach

    Comment by Kati

    June 20, 2011 @ 10:57 am


    What size is your alphabet card?

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