Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

I Can Communicate, But Is My Voice Being Fully Heard?

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 7:00 pm on Thursday, March 21, 2013

Glenda using her iPad

Reading Robert Hummel-Hudson’s blog post Finding Her Own Voice has me thinking about the difference between “voice” and “communicate”. (I wonder how many people have ever sat down to really consider the difference between these two terms that might appear synonymous upon first ponder.)

Text-to-speech devices enable individuals to communicate, but are our voices fully heard? How can we reflect panic, softness or passion with these devices?

In my pondering, I recalled a moment at last summer’s ISAAC conference (the international conference on augmentative and assistive communication). One afternoon I attended a Town Hall, which had a somewhat futuristic sounding vibe because only people using AAC were allowed to speak. The talkies needed permission to speak.

At one point, I needed to swallow a giggle after an abrupt “No” came from a robotic sounding voice from somewhere in the dimly lit auditorium, in response to what the moderator had said from the stage. A few moments later came a response from a somewhat similar sounding voice elsewhere in the room. The slow paced conversation continued between the similar sounding robotic voices.

With spoken voices, the individual speaking can be identified and much information can be garnered from the sound of the voice: the speaker’s rough age, usually the gender and ethnicity, as well as the speaker’s emotional state and such.

However, with these synthesized voices, most of this information cannot be determined from the sound alone. These voices sound so alike.

This is one reason why, a few years ago, I was immediately drawn to NeoSpeech’s Kate, who I use in my presentations and videos. Kate’s voice is different, distinct; dare I say, even sexy. It was love at first sound byte!

Yet, Kate does have her limitations. When I am creating a presentation, part of the process is what I call “kate-izing”: tweaking her pronunciation to be as correct as possible, e.g., is “read” to be spoken as “reed”’ or “red”? Oftentimes the tweaks are fairly straightforward, but there are hilarious moments while I, with a significant speech impairment, attempt to correct the pronunciation of a synthesized voice. It feels like high tech speech therapy!

The tweaking of her pronunciation is relatively easy; the conveying of emotion is what I have yet to make her communicate. The excitement. The passion. The rant.

I acknowledge that this is one of my challenges as I move forward with my motivational speaking. I will need to rely even more heavily on the right choice of words rather than on tone and inflection to fully communicate the message I am aiming to get across. Yes,  I can also use my body language and facial expressions, but, with my cerebral palsy, that is not always under my full control either. It will be a learning process with much experimenting to find an effective way to use my voice fully.

An interesting ponderment, isn’t it?


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Life with a Speech Impairment: A Toolbox of Communication Methods Required

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 7:33 pm on Thursday, March 14, 2013

So…how do I communicate when I have a significant speech impairment?

It really depends upon the situation and degree of familiarity the other individual has with my Glenda-ish.

Allow me to explain.

Phone calls with individuals without any experience in Glenda-ish

Text chat on SkypeIn the last two weeks, the need arose for two phone calls with people not indoctrinated into my unique dialect. It is difficult for people to understand that, yes, I am a motivational speaker, yet chatting on the phone is not possible – until they master Glenda-ish.

Thank goodness for Skype!

I text chat while the other individual talks. Or, we both text, which results in a complete record of our conversation. There is no need to take notes. Yes!

Meeting with friends still learning Glenda-ish

Glenda and Avril next to a colourful dragon lanternWhen my friend Avril and I spent a wonderful afternoon at the Vancouver Art Gallery and then wandered around the Chinese New Year festivities, I spoke a few words, which she was fairly good at deciphering.

Once we had ordered our award-winning gelato – my choices indicated by saying “two” or “four” (from the top on the posted menu) – and were sitting at a table, I whipped out my iPad to use the keyboard with word prediction in Proloquo2Go. That allowed for a deeper and more equal conversation.

Glenda Watson Hyatt and Karen PutzA few weeks later, when my friend Karen from Chicago came in to town for an all-day workshop the following day, I had the pleasure of greeting her at the airport and then going for lunch at Steamworks right downtown.

With Karen being Deaf, another layer of communication is added to the mix. Because using my iPad on the SkyTrain is not overly wise, I pulled out a communication skill I learned many, many moons ago in Brownies: finger spelling! It did the trick quite nicely.

Likewise, a couple of years ago when I met my friend Jennison, his blindness required yet another layer of communication since he couldn’t see what I was typing on my iPad. Thankfully the Proloquo2Go app has a Speak button. Jennison listened to what I had typed. We proceeded with an easy flowing conversation.

Meeting with the Master

After seeing Karen to her hotel, I zipped next door to the Metrotown Mall to find an accessible washroom. As it was only mid-afternoon, I had the urge to ask Darrell if he would like to meet for coffee at our Tim Horton’s.

But I don’t have a cell phone. Not a problem. I whipped into Chapters Bookstore and parked close enough to the Starbucks area to borrow their wifi. Using the Skype app on my iPad, I texted my husband and arranged to meet him in half an hour.

Sitting at Tim’s with our cafe mochas in hand, we talked for an hour or so, which isn’t unusual for us, without any hiccups in communication, except for the “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” moments. I cherish the conversations we still have, after nearly fifteen years of marriage.

Glenda Watson Hyatt and Darrell Hyatt

For me, having a significant speech impairment means having a toolbox of various communication methods that was I can mash together and switch out in a fluid manner, depending upon the situation and the needs in that moment. It truly is that simple.


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

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Need to Increase Your Productivity? Go Have a Nap.

Filed under: 4-Hour Workday — by Glenda at 12:47 pm on Thursday, March 7, 2013

Glenda laying on the couch with her kitty FaithConventional wisdom tells you that to get more done, to accomplish more, to be more productive, you need to work more, to put in longer hours.

Wrong.

A growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that the opposite may, indeed, be true:

…the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less…[That] strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.

There is nothing like having a horizontal thinking session with my kitty in the middle of the afternoon, spending time macreming or puttering in my flower boxes when the weather permits. It not only refills my energy tank, but it also allows me the time and space to think, to ponder, to contemplate so that I can problem solve, create and do efficiently during my shortened workday. This is making the 4-Hour Workday work for me.

How do you renew your energy on a regular basis? Do you find it increases your productivity? Feel free to share in the comment section below.

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

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