Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Felt Up and Tied Down: The Thrills of Flying the Friendly Skies with a Mobility Impairment

Filed under: Traveling with a Disability — by at 7:25 pm on Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This year I have had the pleasure of flying to Chicago, Washington DC, Vegas, and, in a few weeks, Honolulu, which has lead to a barrage of frequently asked questions, “How do you fly? Do you take your scooter? Do you remain in it on the plane?”

Here’s my lengthy response:

Going through airport security is the hairiest part of the trip, which I’m sure it is for hundreds of thousands fellow passengers, too. Being in an electric scooter, I get to bypass the standard metal detectors – to avoid setting off all kinds of alarms.

Going through a wider opening, I’m told to where to stop and wait for a female security personnel to come over. Knowing what is coming next, I swallow my sense of personal space and dignity, hold out my arms and smile. The woman in rubber gloves proceeds to thorough feel me up: along my arms, down my neck, back and sides, down my legs and inner thighs, under my butt and around my boobs. And that was before the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) new procedures…I can hardly wait to experience the enhanced TSA pat-down and feel up! What more is there to be patted down?

The thing that really disturbs me is, while having my personal space invaded and my scooter being swabbed, that all of my belongings are sitting unattended on the the scanner conveyor belt – available for anyone to grab and walk off with – my money, my travel information, my iPad, everything.

At the O’Hare airport in Chicago, I undergo the pat-down in a glass-walled room. One time the woman even took off the small, traveler’s pouch I had around my neck. In that moment, I had no ID, no money, no personal information, no communication device. I felt completely vulnerable.

Having survived security and with the worst over, I now breathe a sigh of relief and  head for the boarding gate…

Typically, I can drive my scooter right to the plane’s door before sending up a little prayer, Please return my “legs” in usable condition. Airline ground crew then takes my scooter and stores in the bowels of the plane with the rest of the baggage.

Meanwhile I’m triple-strapped onto an aisle chair – a skinny chair on wheels, very much like a furniture dolly. All tied down and unable to move, I feel like Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs.

Glenda being strapped onto an aisle chair

Glenda on aisle chair being wheeled on board the plane

With my arms crossed in from me, an airline staff member tilts back the chair and wheels me on board. Going down the aisle, if thighs are overhanging, it’s an instant weight loss program!

Having made it this far on my journey, I can now sit back and relax. An adult beverage would be most welcomed; however, my scooter is now stored below and I will not have free access to a washroom until we land, my scooter is brought up and I’m deplaned, last. Longer flights with a middle-aged bladder are definitely water torture!

On the flight home from DC this summer, desperation was near. I got the flight attendant’s attention and said I needed to go to the bathroom. Much to my relief, that plane had onboard wheelchair – very much like the aisle chair, but collapsible to stow in a small compartment.

Of course, using the thing provided entertainment for the other passengers, but I didn’t it care. The flight attendant wheeled me to the tiny bathroom. I stood up, he moved the chair out and closed the door. I had no fear of falling because there was no room to fall!

Despite the indignities endured, I am glad I am able travel independently.

Let’s see whether I’m as cheery after I experience the new TSA groping, err, pat-down procedures for the first time in a few weeks…

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Sometimes Cerebral Palsy Means Flying Macaroni

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 12:44 am on Tuesday, November 16, 2010

With my kind of cerebral palsy – athetoid cerebral palsy – I often have involuntary movements. A hand, an arm or a leg does something totally unexpected…and there’s nothing I can do about it!

Last night I had one of those movements that Darrell and I call cp moments. Usually, when I am mixing up something, I place the bowl in the sink, which makes the bowl easier to hold still and any overages can easily be rinsed down the sink. Well, the bowl was too heavy…or the sink was cluttered…or I was in a hurry…or distracted…or something…and the bowl was not placed in the sink.

Macaroni, peas and sauce splattered on the kitchen floor After several stirs of the bowl’s contents, my hand went down too hard, too fast; the spoon hit the side and macaroni, peas and sauce went flying! Everywhere. The counter, the floor, my shoe.

Life with cp is never routine.

Excuse while I go clean up the floor, yet again…

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The iPad: My Ticket to SXSW!

Filed under: Blog Accessibility,Traveling with a Disability,Work — by at 4:16 pm on Monday, November 8, 2010

SXSW: South by SouthWest Music & Film, Interactive

Thank you to everyone who supported my proposal to South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference!

Breaking News…

I am off to Austin, Texas, in March 2011! Yes!

This morning the second round of 2000 SXSW sessions was announced. My presentation title The untapped iPad Market: Is Your Site POUR? is on the list!

Presentation Description

For the masses, the iPad is the latest, hottest, must-have toy. But, for people with disabilities the iPad is life changing: enabling communication, unlocking minds and fostering independence. However in purchasing these devices lays the challenge: oftentimes websites with product information are inaccessible to this market, which has a discretionary spending power of $175 billion in the United States alone.

The session’s goals are to identify some barriers people with disabilities regularly face, making it difficult to participate fully online; explain the four guiding principles of what makes blogs and websites accessible; and offer key questions to begin asking and what resources exist to make sites more accessible to this under tapped market. By giving short vignettes of how people with disabilities are using iPads, faces are put to the size of this disability market – and putting faces to the need for web accessibility. This brings alive the technical requirements and guiding principles of web accessibility.

Questions Answered
  1. How is the iPad life-changing for many people with disabilities?
  2. What is the size of the disability market and its spending power?
  3. What are the barriers people with disabilities face online?
  4. What are the four guiding principles to creating accessible websites and blogs?
  5. Where do I start in making my website or blog accessible?

Now the work begins…

Thanks again everyone for your support! I am truly blessed.

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Giving an Award-Winning Speech on my iPad: Part 2

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 9:17 pm on Friday, November 5, 2010

Earlier this week I shared how I used my iPad to give a speech after winning the Entrepreneur of the Year’s High Tech Award.

Yesterday, the event’s professional photos were made available to the finalists. I’d like the share a few of them here:

Glenda Watson Hyatt receiving the High Tech Award

Glenda Watson Hyatt being presented with the award

Glenda Watson Hyatt giving a speech using her iPad, with the emcee holding the microphone close

And, for those readers who asked to hear the text-to-speech voice of Kate giving my acceptance speech, click the link to play.

For those who prefer the transcript:

A headshot of Glenda Watson Hyatt wearing purple jacket

I would like to thank the Self-Employment Program and the Business in Vancouver Media Group for this recognition.

Working in the field of web accessibility for the past twelve years has been quite a journey, with many lessons learned along the way.

I’d like to share this one important lesson with you: Only you can decide what you’ll be or do and only you can reach out to the folks who can help you get there. Go for it! Do the unexpected and be all that you can  be.

Thank you.

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Giving an Award-Winning Speech on my iPad

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 11:25 pm on Monday, November 1, 2010

Two days after returning from our week in Las Vegas, Darrell and I attended Douglas College’s Self-Employment Program’s Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. I had been nominated for the High Tech Award. (Yes, sometimes life is rough!)

I needed to prepare a one-minute acceptance speech in the event of being announced as the finalist. Not eager to need to pull out my laptop, which takes longer than a minute to boot, I wanted to be able to whip out my iPad for the task.

But how could I get the NeoSpeech voice of Kate, which I use in all of my presentations and which people have come to recognize as “my voice”, onto my iPad?

Yes, I do have the text-to-speech Proloquo2Go app on my iPad, but Kate is yet a voice option. I wasn’t feeling adequately geeky to get the Kate voice file from the CD onto my iPad, assuming that file format is even compatible with the app. That mash-up might still come; later, after consuming an appropriate level of dark chocolate.

Screenshot of email with attachment on my iPad Then brilliance struck: what if I used my text-to-speech TextAloud on my computer to create the audio file and then email it as an attachment to myself on my iPad? My experiment passed the test in the lab. Would it work flawlessly live?

When the award program came to the High Tech category, the nominees were announced and the award sponsor, the Business in Vancouver Media Group, introduced. I woke up my iPad and held my breath.

Remarks about the finalist were made and then the winner’s name announced: Glenda Watson Hyatt of Soaring Eagle Communications.

I drove up in front of the stage, with my iPad on my lap. I was presented with my crystal brick award. Official photographs were taken. Then the Master of Ceremonies knelt beside me, holding a microphone next to my iPad. I tapped play and Kate spoke my acceptance speech perfectly!

Screenshot of the Quicktime player on my iPad


There was a technical difficulty with the microphone…it was not on! My brief speech was not heard. My heart sank, but I kept smiling.

Once Kate had finished, the emcee kindly took my iPad up to the podium mic. Having never used an iPad before, he was able to figure out to tap play. My words were then heard.

Another door had opened for me in that moment: I had just given my first speech on my iPad!

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