Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

A Secret Trick to Making Wheelchair Accessible Washrooms Usable

Filed under: Accessibility 100 — by at 7:12 pm on Monday, August 29, 2011

Another Accessibility 100 postSometimes it is the smallest detail that renders an accessible situation usable or not.

A few weeks ago, Darrell and I trekked to a nearby recreation centre to pick up a library book on hold. After scooting along jarring sidewalks for half an hour, I, of course, had to use the washroom.

Wheeling into the women’s washroom, I was immediately impressed by the amount of open space, particularly between the two rows of stalls. I had plenty of room to back my scooter into the wheelchair stall without the door crashing against the stall across the aisle.

However, once in the stall, I had no way to pull close the door. I tried grasping the lock to close the door, but as soon I adjusted my hand position to lock it, I lost my grip and the door swung open. I desperately tried again. And again.

I also tried my trick of holding the bottom of the door with my foot. But the door was too low and I just couldn’t manage the fancy footwork without falling out of my scooter.

After trying for ten minutes to close and lock the door, I aborted my mission. Not a comfortable decision for a middle-aged woman.

A display rack of door handlesThe solution?

A $3-$5 door handle, available from any hardware store, installed on the inside of the door would have made the door easier to pull close and to hold onto while locking it. This inexpensive solution would make an otherwise accessible space usable.

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.

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Home Sweet Home – A Bit at a Time

Filed under: Motivation — by at 1:48 pm on Tuesday, August 23, 2011

When many people buy their first home, they add their personal touch soon after moving in, making it feel truly their own.

Other than having my Dad replace the thick carpet with parquet flooring when my Amigo scooter went up in flames, literally, Darrell and I did not do anything to our home to make it truly ours. I didn’t even buy tea towels.

Instead, when we bought our home in May, 2001, we chose to put any extra money on the mortgage, which proved to be a wise move because we then were able to decrease our mortgage payments when Darrell’s position was axed thanks to a change in a government policy.

We lived with the builder’s white paint and the dated wallpaper borders, not quite feeling the place was completely ours (with the bank still as a silent partner).

Last summer, a combination of factors – a bit of extra money, a neighbour who enjoys painting and a few days away in Virginia – allowed my office (actually, the dining room) to be painted.

My office with lime green wallsWanting to bring the outside inside to give me a cheery workspace, even on dark and gloomy winter days, I chose a bold, very much alive green. Some may call it a lime green.

I love it! I smile every time I see it.

However, the builder’s white and the 1980s wallpaper then became even more dated; even more of an eye sore. But what colour goes with lime green? I have my talents, but interior design isn’t one of them.

After much indecision and driving my husband nuts with umpteen paint chips, we chose Pumpkin Butter. Actually Darrell pointed to it first; a giant leap from his preferred choice of conservative white.

The couch and chair with blue and green pillowsThanks to our line of credit and our neighbour, the rest of the main living space was painted while we were in Hawaii. Coming home to a freshly painted place and having missed the mess was such a treat!

The Pumpkin Butter is warm and rich. And looks amazing with lime green – at least to my eyes! Who would have figured?

Then, while in Mississauga for my two weeks in CubeLand and with my weekend free, I found myself wandering into Crate & Barrel – a store that we do not have here in the Vancouver area, which might be a good thing.

I was enjoying wandering around, and then I spotted it from across the store: a colour combination of green, orange and purple. Pillows, throws and even tea towels in my colour scheme! I wasn’t crazy after all. I felt vindicated.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I had absolutely no room for anything extra in my bags for my trip home – not even for the 3-month old Himalayan kitty in the pet store that I fell in love with and that broke my heart to leave behind, but that’s another story.

When I came home, I discovered Crate & Barrel had a website – and that they ship, too, for a price. It made shopping way too easy. The first order was a duvet cover and pillow cases that perfectly matched our lilac/lavender bedroom. And being the Marimekko brand, which reminded me of my time in Finland with my penpal, it held extra meaning. (Sorry, no photos; that’s where I draw the bloggy line.)

Large Crate & Barrel box on the floorArriving last week in a somewhat battered box, the second order contained the next step in the ongoing makeover.

And the large box means I can pass on a fair number of unneeded items to the thrift store, keeping the clutter at bay.

The cuddly teddy bears on the chair beside the bookcase were replaced with a throw blanket with all of my crazy colours.

New throw blanket with green, orange, purple and gray over the back of the chair

The floral sheet covering the couch – which makes washing easier when it gets covered with cat hair – was replaced with a gray flannel one that I had on hand. My Chief Feline Officer insisted on offering her assistance, of course.

Faith sitting on gray sheet partially covering the couch

With fresh paint and coordinating pillows, this place feels new again. After being here for ten years, our home finally has our own touch. It only shows that makeovers need not occur all at once or be expensive to have an impact.

Couch freshly made with neww, brightly coloured pillows


Faith has given the new couch her paw of approval for cat naps.

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The tour continues…Come on along

Filed under: I'll Do It Myself: The Book — by at 10:52 pm on Thursday, August 18, 2011

On Monday I welcomed you into my bright corner office and showed the essentials in my work day.

Glenda's work tableToday I’d like to continue the tour of my office, which encroaches upon the living room. In this area of my extended office, I package copies of my autobiography I’ll Do It Myself to mail to buyers.

  1. Robert, the Ficus: Why Robert? Robert Plant, of course! We’ve been together since moving into university residence on January 1, 1988.
  2. A partial full box of Glenda's bookBoxes of books: From the print run of 500 copies, there’s only 160 left. Except for a small percentage I have sold face-to-face, the rest have been been mailed to individuals across Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, and even as far away as Chile and Japan. I cherish the connection I have with each reader by personally packaging each book.

Glenda's work table for packaging books

  1. Paper cutter: Handy for slicing off the instructions from the shipping label created in PayPal.
  2. Weight scale: Used when calculating the postage for multiple-book orders.
  3. Business cards: I tuck a business card with “7 Tips for Communicating with People with Disabilities” into each book.
  4. Teddy bear: While at Circus Circus in Las Vegas, Darrell and I watched a Dad win a carnival game and then give the prize teddy bear to his daughter. As they were walking away, she turned around and gave her prize to me. I keep the bear here as a reminder of how kind people can be.
  5. Mailing supplies: Padded envelopes, glue sticks and packing tape – everything I need for when a book is ordered.
  6. A framed photo of Grandma: She loved words and she loved reading. i like to think that she’d be proud her granddaughter had a book in Library and Archives Canada.
  7. A stack of books: Ready to go! The cover itself tells the story of my life.

And that’s my office…both parts of it. Thank you for stopping by.

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

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Welcome to my office…Come on in!

Filed under: Work — by at 11:08 pm on Monday, August 15, 2011

Glenda's corner officeEarlier this summer I shared my temporary work space in gray, windowless CubeLand. I’d like to now share my bright, corner office where I spend way too much of my time.

With windows facing south and west, light floods in on sunny days. On gray winter days, the lime green walls keep the space alive and cheery.

Glenda's desk

Some of the features that make my work time a little easier and more comfortable include:

  1. Spill-proof silicone keyboard: A must for this workaholic who eats at her desk. No more gummed up keys!
  2. Traxsys joystick: Easier for me to control than a mouse. And, it doesn’t cause hand pain like using a mouse does.
  3. Wrist pad: Placed on the topside of the keyboard (rather than the bottom), I slide my hand along the pad while tying with my left thumb. It places my hand in a slightly different position than without the pad, which reduces the strain.
  4. Belkin KVM switch: Allows me to switch between my two computers; the latest with a 6-core processor and 4G of RAM was a surprise from my husband upon my return from CubeLand. Such a sweetie!
  5. Extension cord with switch: Flicking the switch is much easier than twisting a small knob to turn on my lamp.
  6. Oxford dictionary and thesaurus: Obviously a necessity for any writer to have handy. Sometimes I do look up definitions online, but I still like using a real dictionary and thesaurus. They also serve as a visible reminder that I am a writer.
  7. Seedlings growing in a can: Conference swag from Accessibility Yahoo — the best swag I’ve received yet. Most of that stuff ends up in the hotel room garbage can while packing.
  8. Wiskas All Natural Temptations: Treats to keep my cat content while I am trying to work. Product placement perhaps, but if it results in a blog sponsor, bonus! But I really do keep a package of cat treats at my desk.

In terms of software, these are my favourites:

  • Sticky Keys: A feature available in Microsoft Windows that enables me to do a multiple-button command (like SHIFT + M) one button at a time.
  • WordQ: Word prediction software that saves this left thumb several keystrokes. The “read” feature is handy when proofreading my writing. WordQ finally replaced my beloved EZ Keys.
  • TextAloud: The text-to-speech tool I use for creating the audio files for my presentations.
  • SnagIt: A handy screen capture and graphics program that I use almost daily.
  • FreeMind: An open-source mind-mapping tool that is largely, if not totally, keyboard operable. I use it for keeping track of everything I have on the go and everything I need to do.

My cat Faith sound asleep on the desk

And, of course, my office wouldn’t be complete without Faith, my Chief Feline Officer, in her position at my desk.

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

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How Many CFOs Enjoy This Perk?

Filed under: Work — by at 6:38 pm on Thursday, August 11, 2011

I don’t recall when the perk was first implemented, but my CFO insists on it every time I return from errands outside of the office.

Let me explain…

My CFO, aka Faith, my Chief Feline Officer, greets me at the front door and then jumps on my indoor scooter before I even park my outside one beside it.

She assumes the position and then waits…for an invigorating back massage; the duration of which is directly proportionate to have long I have been away. I was there for a while after my two weeks in Mississauga.

Rubbing her face on the scooter controls gives a new meaning to the phrase “face off”.

She does not not relinquish my scooter until she is adequately massaged.

(The only sounds are background noise, one meow, and purring; hence, no captioning.)

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