Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

A Lesson Learned from Roger Ebert

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 3:10 pm on Thursday, March 4, 2010

Film critic Roger Ebert has battled thyroid and salivary gland cancer and, in the process, has lost his ability to drink, eat and speak. He now communicates like I do: using text-to-speech software.

Watching Oprah interview Ebert on Tuesday, I witnessed what I have often felt while using text-to-speech technology. Because it’s difficult to have spontaneous communication with this technology, the interview was more of a Q&A session – Oprah asked the question and Ebert responded with his prepared responses – rather than it being a two-way conversation.

Ebert was given the questions prior to the interview, giving him time to prepare his responses. I appreciate how difficult preparing responses ahead of time is. What makes sense when writing them at home may not fit the flow of the situation when it comes time to actually respond.

However – and, in my mind, this is a big however – when Ebert was responding, Oprah was completely quiet and listened. She did not interrupt, interject or take the conversation in another direction, like she typically does. In that moment, Ebert was in control; the one without the voice had the power and I find that very empowering!

It took watching someone else communicating in the same manner that I do to see how empowering this form of communication can be. Thanks Ebert.

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

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Comment by oscar

March 5, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

Excellent point Glenda, I always wondered about this. I mean it seems to take away from some of the natural back and forth in a discussion, but the upside is being able to have the undivided attention to get your message across. As always, you introduce me to new perspectives.

Comment by Glenda

March 5, 2010 @ 1:57 pm

Thanks for your kind words, Oscar! I hadn’t realized the point about undivided attention until I watched Ebert keep Oprah quiet for a moment. That was an empowering realization!

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