Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

When Disabilities Collide…Whip Out the iPad

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 5:38 pm on Friday, July 22, 2011

One day at university, many moons ago, I was heading towards the residence’s main door as a man with a white cane was coming out. He couldn’t see I was there and I couldn’t step to the side. We collided.

i ran over his foot. He was understandably surprised and bewildered by what had just crushed his foot. I felt awful.

Jokingly he said I owed him my name, at least, for running over him. A fair request I thought and I gave my first name.

Having been double-blessed with a significant speech impairment and a less-than-common name, he, of course, didn’t understand it, even after several attempts.

The alphabet card Since he hadn’t seen me in my scooter coming at him, whipping out my low-tech, no-battery-required alphabet card would have been futile.

Jack began saying the alphabet, “a b c d e f g”

“Yes.”

“G? Okay. a b c d e f g h i j k l”

“Yes.”

“g l?”

“Yes.”

“a b c d e”

Five minutes later he had “Glenda”. We stayed on a first name basis. After a brief conversation of yes and no questions, he limped off on his way to class.

Since then I have given people with white canes and guide dogs a wide berth. I wasn’t avoiding them, not exactly. I was taking the easy route while minimizing inflicting personal harm.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago: while in Mississauga for work, I had the opportunity to meet Jennison Asuncion in person – a meeting I was apprehensive about because he is also visually impaired. I wanted to avoid running over another blind man.

Like so many relationships nowadays, we met somewhere online – Twitter, a web accessibility forum or elsewhere – at an unmemorable point in the past. Technology makes our disabilities compatible while interacting online.

It was the face-to-face interaction I was unsure about. However, Jennison was amazingly good at understanding Glenda-ish and, because we already had a certain degree of familiarity, of intimacy, we had a meaningful conversation.

Proloquo2Go ap on the iPadWhen he did get stuck on a word or when I wanted to give a somewhat longer response, I turned to the Proloquo2Go ap on my iPad and used the speak feature for the first time. As online, this iPad ap worked great in bridging our two disabilities.

Thanks to Jennison, I now know I am able to communicate with individuals with white canes or guide dogs. Future collisions of disabilities will be mitigated.

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

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Social Media: The Power to Connect People and to Affect Change is in Our Hands

Filed under: Social Media — by Glenda at 1:12 am on Sunday, July 10, 2011

Recently a friend commented to me that people don’t get together as much nowadays because they are sitting at their computers with Facebook, Twitter and such.

i say the opposite is true: I am meeting people because I am sitting at my computer with Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

This evening, Darrell and I opened our home to Mark Horvath from Los Angeles, California.

Glenda Watson Hyatt and Mark Horvath

I met Mark last year at SOBCon (Successful Online Business Conference) in Chicago. I attended SOBCon for the second year in a row because I knew, respected and trusted co-founder Liz Strauss through hanging out at Open Mic Nights on her blog. Through Liz, I became to know, respect and trust co-founder Terry Starbucker.

Meeting Mark at SOBCon and hearing his story, I realized we shared a special bond: each of us has taken our unique circumstances, which others may see as debilitating and depressing, and we have turned them around for the greater good. As Reverend Robert Schuller would say, “We have turned our scars into stars!”

Having experienced homelessness (on Hollywood Boulevard, no less!), Mark is now turning the spotlight on those living on the streets – who we tend to ignore as we walk past – by sharing their stories via social media. Mark has criss-crossed the United States, sharing hundreds of heartbreaking as well as uplifting stories on Invisible People TV.

Thanks to support from PetroCanada, Delta Hotels, General Motors, the Government of Canada and others, Mark has begun a three-month trek across Canada to bring light to Canadians living on the streets, in the alleys and in the shadows.

Facebook, Twitter and such are tools. How they are used is in our hands. If used wisely, they have the power to connect people, to embrace friendships and to change the world. If used wastely, we become the tool.

While sitting at your computer, please follow Mark (@hardlynormal) on Twitter, like invisiblepeople.tv on Facebook, view Mark’s photo stream, and then go out and make a difference in someone’s life in any way you can, today. 

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

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What I Learned from My Eight and a Half Days in CubeLand

Filed under: Work — by Glenda at 4:32 pm on Thursday, July 7, 2011

While working from home for the last thirteen years, I have often wondered what I am missing by not having a regular 9-5 job. What is life like on the other side?

For eight and a half days in June I had the opportunity to experience CubeLand. A client needed a web accessibility review conducted on an internal site; hence I conducted the review on-site rather than remotely as I have done with previous reviews. I spent twelve days in Mississauga, Ontario; staying at a nearby hotel and eating at the mall’s food court and restaurants.

Fortunately the commute from the hotel to the office was only a 8 minute (if that) wheel, which was pleasant in the mornings and evenings in decent weather; a nice separation between home and work – something I don’t have working from home. I did miss the mountains though.

Along a Mississauga street

The first morning, waiting in the office building lobby for my contact to arrive (he was 30 minutes late due to traffic), I observed others coming into work on Monday morning; robot-like, carrying their cups of motivation.

The building’s interior was intriguing: the three elevators went up the middle of the building. At each level, bridges went from the elevators out to the offices around the perimeter of the building.

Interior of office building

No doubt the design intended to give a more open, spacious feeling. But sitting there, I felt the creative energy and excitement drain out of me. Perhaps it was just my imagination.

Up until this point, I thought wearing a lanyard with a security pass was a symbol of belonging, a sign of credibility. After wearing one around my neck for 8.5 days to open doors, my view quickly changed to one of annoyance. I am now thankful I don’t need something hanging around my neck to navigate my usual workplace. Besides, I prefer opening doors with only a smile!

My workspace was the third workstation at a long desk of three. Initially, working in such close proximity to others was somewhat daunting as my athetoid cerebral palsy tends to kick into full gear when others are nearby. But, having an intern within arm’s reach proved to be valuable as I required ongoing bits of information to navigate the site. (Thanks Tilac!)

The gray, partial cubicle – with windows off in the distance that I could see the top few inches by popping my head over the cube farm – was sufficient for the work I was there to do. However I am not sure I could have accomplished anything more creative, like write a blog post; although maybe that would have come with time and practice.

My work space in a partial cubicle

Having some websites blocked was also a drag. Sometimes using Twitter is definitely work related; other times not so much. I missed not having fellow colleagues in the web accessibility field at my fingertips.

Screen explaining why website is blocked

The best part of CubeLand was the people – a welcoming, accepting group. “Good morning, Glenda. How was your night?” was such a warm way to begin the day.

I sense the face-to-face contact with people (and a regular paycheque) is what I am missing most by not having a J O B. I need to make more of an effort to get out and connect with people, particularly during the nice weather months.

The most important gain from this trip is a legitimatization of what I do. For the past thirteen years I have been working from home, not marketing my services as much as I ought to be for fear that I didn’t know as much I think I do and that I’d be discovered as a fraud.

During those eight and a half days in CubeLand, I emerged from behind the curtain and claimed what I know – and, it is truly technical stuff. I also learned, thanks to Terry Starbucker, that it is okay to say "I’m not sure; I will ask" and that doesn’t diminish what I do know.

I am glad I had the opportunity to experience CubeLand and I am glad to be back in my lively green home office with my Chief Feline Officer by my side. My task now is to take the best of CubeLand and implement it in my work life at home.

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

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