Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

An iPad and Proloquo4Text for Delivering Acoustic Presentations: The Review

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 4:42 pm on Friday, June 13, 2014

Glenda delivering a presentation using the Proloquo4Text app on her iPad In May, I had the opportunity to deliver two presentations. In both instances, I used the text-to-speech Proloquo4Text app on my iPad.

And, wow! That was much easier, much less cumbersome than using the old way in PowerPoint.

The first presentation,  titled “From Speech Impairment to Motivational Speaker: How I Got From There to Here”, was based on much I have written here on my blog. Creating this presentation looked like:

  • Writing: 5.25 hours (not including the time my friend Karen spent editing)
  • Creating the  PowerPoint with only photos: 2 hours
  • Importing into Proloquo4Text: .5 hour
  • Tweaking and practicing: 2.75 hours

The total time for creating this “acoustic” presentation was a mere 9.5 hours for a 25-30 minute presentation. The old way took 50+ hours to create a presentation of roughly the same length. By the time I was ready to go with my iPad, I was in tears; tears of joy!

I felt (and still feel) a huge weight has been lifted off of me. I no longer need to spend an inordinate amount of time on the mind-numbing process of creating my presentations in PowerPoint. Rather I can now focus on what I love doing: writing and developing my message, my story, that I wish to share with my audiences.

For the first presentation, I created a basic PowerPoint with photos, like many speakers do. As a reminder to myself when to advance the slides, I changed the background colour (to green) of the applicable text blocks (on the left). This visual cue worked great.

Screen shot of Proloquo4Text on the iPad

The one challenge that I found was when I attempted a "tap and hold" to speak a text block, the text was not reliably spoken. In those moments, I would then do a “tap” to have the text appear in the text pad (the blue area of the right), tap “play” and then “delete” once it was done speaking that chunk of text. I don’t know whether that bug was because my hold wasn’t long enough or wasn’t steady enough, or whether it was the user, the iPad, the app or a combination thereof. But it is not a big enough challenge to dissuade me and I am confident there will be a fix or workaround in the near future.

My second presentation was totally “acoustic”. Just me and my iPad. No PowerPoint. No wifi. No curtain to hide behind.

Even though I was nervous, which is normal for nearly every professional speaker, this is all feeling so right. Speaking is what I am meant to do at this point in my life.

Now that I know the technology works in this kind of situation and I have more flexibility and choice than I did with the way I used PowerPoint, I am more ready than ever to put myself out there as a motivational speaker; to call myself a professional speaker.

If you have an audience looking for a unique motivational message, I am now scheduling for summer and early fall.

From significant speech impairment to motivational speaker…what a ride this is!

For more of information about my speaking, please visit my speaker site.

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

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An iPad and Proloquo4Text Creates an Acoustic Method for Delivering Presentations

Filed under: Motivation — by at 3:23 pm on Monday, April 14, 2014

Glenda using her iPadEver since buying my original iPad and, even more so, since my iPad Air, I have wondered if I could use the device to deliver a presentation.

Other people have been asking me if I use my iPad while delivering presentations.

Thanks to the fairly newly released app Proloquo4Text (P4T) – a solely text-based communication app – I think I can finally answer, ”Yes!”

With this app, I can enter text as phrases, sentences or paragraphs and, then, with one tap, my iPad will speak that text.

Screen shot of Proloquo4Text app

Unfortunately, the voice of Kate – the synthesized voice that I use in all of my presentations and feels like my voice – is not (yet?) available in the P4T app. But that isn’t really a big deal, right?

However, the good news is the text is easy to edit and to rearrange, which means that making changes right before “going on stage” is possible. I can even skip “speaking” a block of text while presenting. I definitely do not have that flexibility with the current method of using PowerPoint. With using PowerPoint, once it is saved to the USB drive, no other changes can be made. It is what it is. There is no flexibility while I deliver it.

And, with the P4T app open, I can type a comment or respond to a question, which creates further opportunity for spontaneity.

There are a few drawbacks, however. Because an extended tap can cause one block of text to be spoken, it would be relatively easy to “speak” a wrong block, particularly when I am nervous and my hands are more jerky than usual.

Also, I wouldn’t, necessarily, need PowerPoint, which I find redirects eyeballs off of me and onto the large screen. I find that is one way – perhaps a sneaky way – to deal with the jitters of being in front of an audience.

It does mean that if I have access to PowerPoint at the event, I can still use it to show photos and such. But I no longer need to spend hours on creating the captions, animations and timings, unless I choose to create my presentation in that way.

I now have a choice!

I can choose between my pared down, “acoustic” method using only my iPad with my nifty new Bluetooth speaker, which will be ideal for smaller venues or my full blown “rock n roll” method using PowerPoint with the scrolling captions and layered images, which is likely best for longer, more in-depth topics.

As this “acoustic” method has recently formulated in my mind, I have yet to test it in a living lab. I would gratefully welcome the opportunity to deliver a 5-, 10- or 15-minute presentation if you have an audience that might be open to a motivational message, but possibly a not quite perfected delivery method.

For more of information about how I deliver motivational presentations with a synthesized voice, please visit my speaker site.

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

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iPad as a Second Screen Increases Typing Flow for Left Thumb Blogger

Filed under: 4-Hour Workday — by at 4:32 pm on Monday, February 20, 2012

My left thumb typing on a silicon keyboard Typing with only my left thumb is slow; painfully so when my mind is racing.

Using the WordQ software for word prediction and completion saves me keystrokes. A box with numbered words are suggested dynamically as I type; To finish typing a word, I type the corresponding number.

However, needing to be constantly changing my eye focus from the keyboard up to the word prediction box on my computer screen and then back to my keyboard hampers my typing flow.


When I am in my writing groove, I either keep typing and lose the benefit of having word prediction or I constantly look up at the word prediction box and lose the flow of words.

Enter the iPad as a second screen…

Using the free DisplayLink app and our home wireless network, my iPad quickly becomes a second computer screen. I then drag the word prediction box over to the second screen and place the iPad on my lap, within the same view as my keyboard.

Word prediction box on iPad on my lap

To change positions when needed, I prop up my iPad in front of my keyboard. All that I am moving – besides my left arm and thumb – are my eyeballs. It saves moving my head up and down.

iPad on desk as a second screen

Some professionals might say this is ergonomically compromising; but, hey, so is the way I type with my left thumb, which I have be doing for forty years with minimal ill effects.

i can even drag the document I am working on over to the iPad to view everything at once; saving me from looking up at my computer screen at all.

When I am working on a writing task, I am finding that having my word prediction box close to my keyboard increases my flow and, perhaps, even my typing speed. I am also sensing it is increasing my focus because I am on looking at my keyboard and my word box; the other distractions aren’t constantly in my face, tempting me.

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

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When Disabilities Collide…Whip Out the iPad

Filed under: Living with a disability — by 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”


“G? Okay. a b c d e f g h i j k l”


“g l?”


“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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The iPad: A Cool Communicator on the Go

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 7:02 pm on Friday, April 1, 2011

Originally published in the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 20(1), 24-27 (paid subscription required for full access), here’s a brief history of my foray into augmentative and assistive communication (AAC).


Glenda Watson Hyatt, web accessibility consultant, blogger, and user of AAC, shares her perspective on new mobile AAC technologies. A history of Glenda’s use of AAC is chronicled from her early low-tech strategies to her recent embracing of new mobile AAC technologies. She recounts purchasing an iPad and her early experiences attempting to use it as an AAC system in a variety of contexts. Strengths, weaknesses, and projections for the future are highlighted in this personal sharing of a user perspective.

A lack of oxygen for 6 minutes at birth resulted in the diagnosis “cerebral palsy athetoid quadriplegic.” My physical movements are jerky and involuntary; one body part or another is in constant motion. My left hand has some function, while my right is generally in a tightly clenched fist. I am not able to walk without support. My head control is tenuous, and swallowing takes a conscious effort.

“Functionally non-verbal” was also included in my diagnosis. It wasn’t that I couldn’t or didn’t communicate verbally, I did and do. My husband will attest to that fact, particularly when I’m fired up about something. It was the individuals beyond my family who didn’t understand what I was saying, as was evident early in my life, when in preschool a psychologist administered the Peabody Vocabulary Picture Test. I uttered one response that he could not understand. Finally, in complete desperation, he called in Mom, who was observing from the next room, to decipher what I was saying. “Roo roo.” The two of them gazed at the picture of a chicken. “Roo roo.” Suddenly it dawned on Mom. She asked, “Glenda, do you mean rooster?” Yes! The picture was obviously a rooster; the bird had a big, red comb. The experts expected me to offer the accepted response, chicken.

I learned to be quiet, except around my family and close friends. One day I came home from kindergarten nearly in tears. “Mommy, my knees hurt.” She sat me down and looked at my long-legged braces. The occupational therapist had put them on the wrong legs! Wearing shoes on the wrong feet causes some discomfort, but wearing heavy, metal braces on the wrong legs hurts. I knew he was putting the wrong brace on the wrong leg. However, I kept quiet because I thought he wouldn’t understand what I was saying. I didn’t want to create a hassle as he tried to decipher what I was telling him. After all, only people close to me understood Glenda-ish.

During my school years, there was an occasional attempt to introduce me to communication devices, which were quite primitive back then. I wasn’t interested. I felt those clumsy-looking “voice boxes” were more difficult to understand than I was. I was scared people would stop trying to understand me when I did talk. I didn’t want to be stopped from having my own voice being heard.

During my 7 years at university, my low-tech, no-batteries-required alphabet card became my security blanket. I didn’t leave my apartment without it. The alphabet card was handy for spelling out a word or two in a pinch and during lopsided conversations. My main form of communication was by notes I had typed beforehand, trying to anticipate all the information that would be needed in that particular conversation, which took some planning and forethought. I went through several dozen pads of Post-It notes during my university years. I dubbed them my talking papers.

Fast forward to 2005. I was active on the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia’s Board of Directors, and I was beginning to give presentations. The need for effective face-to-face communication was becoming more of an issue. I began wondering whether, with the advances in technologies, there was now a communication device that suited my needs. My husband Darrell called an old friend’s father who was the sales representative for a few communication devices, which he brought by our home for me to see. Despite the lure of the “shiny new objects,” I wasn’t overly sold on the fact that they were single-purpose devices, which would mean something else to lug around with me. And the price tags, ranging between $4,500 and $8,500, were definitely prohibitive.

I decided to go with a small Libretto laptop for roughly half (or less) of the price and with much more functionality than a communication device. I used it to take notes at conferences, to give several presentations, and to participate in some group discussions using the free text-to-speech software, E-triloquist.

I had some communication success with the Libretto and adding a $15 roll-up keyboard made typing easier. However, despite its small size, using it for spontaneous communication was clumsy. I had to unzip the laptop case, undo the Velcro straps, pull out the laptop, place it on a horizontal surface, boot it, and run the desired software before I could type out what I wanted to say. By then, the conversation had progressed and my contribution was old and disjointed. The laptop, although useful for some purposes, wasn’t really convenient for communication in the way I needed it to be. The Libretto did enable me to communicate a bit more, but it still wasn’t the ideal solution for me.

Fast forward again to April 2010. While in Chicago for a conference, I found my way to the Apple store and, after playing with an iPad for an hour, I pulled out my Visa to buy one, a month before the device was available in Canada. I also bought the Proloquo2Go (Assistiveware, 2009) app. Leaving the store, I had an intense feeling of buyer’s remorse. Would I be able to use the touch screen reliably with my shaky and jerky movements? Would the iPad really work for communication? Would it be another fad “shiny object” to gather dust? Had I just put $1,217.40 USD on my Visa for nothing? My stomach was in knots as I headed back to the hotel.

My buyer’s remorse was short-lived. After an hour of quality time with my iPad in my hotel room—enough time to unpack the thing, turn it on, and play around in Proloquo2Go and discover the onscreen keyboard and “speak” button—I met my two Deaf and hard-of-hearing friends for lunch. Typing in Proloquo2Go came in handy. A combination of lip reading, American Sign Language, and typing on the iPad, now there’s AAC on the fly!

Later that night, hanging out with other friends at the bar, the iPad’s back light and clear display made for easy reading in the dimly lit bar. The font size in the Proloquo2Go app was large enough to read from a comfortable distance.

The cool thing was, because the Holiday Inn and bar had WiFi, I had Internet access. When asked what I had been up to, I responded “problogging and ghost writing,” and I was able to show what I had written. I also shared the video of me ziplining across Robson Square in downtown Vancouver during the Winter Olympics. The iPad allowed for a deeper level of communication that would not have been possible with a single-function AAC device.

At another point during the conference, someone was having trouble figuring out what I was saying, and she asked, “Where’s your iPad?” In that moment, I felt a sense of normalcy and acceptance. Using my iPad, a Blackberry, or iPhone in a size I can actually use is not another thing that makes me different. It wasn’t using a strange, unfamiliar device to communicate with this group. People were drawn to it, because it was a “recognized” or “known” piece of technology, rather than being standoff-ish with an unknown communication device.

Even though the Proloquo2Go app has two options for communicating, the grid view and the onscreen keyboard, I see myself using the keyboard more where I have the freedom to use the words I use without needing to go hunting for them mid-conversation. For in-depth conversations, the grid option is too limiting and too much customization is needed to add the vocabulary that I use. Learning the organizational structure and memorizing where individual words are located to effectively communicate with this tool would require either training or several rainy Saturday afternoons curled up with my iPad.

What would be great is if the TextExpander (SmileOnMyMac LLC, 2010) app was compatible with the Proloquo2Go app. This could enable me to type something like “GH,” and it would automatically expand to “Glenda Watson Hyatt,” saving me time and not slowing down the conversation flow as much. A separate app would be better than an expansion feature within Proloque2Go, because then I could use the same shortcuts across apps on my iPad.

In addition to using the Proloquo2Go app, I have found other ways to use my iPad for communicating. Nominated for the local Entrepreneur of the Year’s High Tech Award, 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, I wanted to be able to whip out my iPad for the quick task. I used my text-to-speech software TextAloud (NextUp Technologies, LLC, 2005) on my computer to create the audio file in the NeoSpeech voice of Kate, which I use in all of my presentations and which people have come to recognize as “my voice.” I then e-mailed it as an attachment to myself on my iPad. When I was announced as the winner, the Master of Ceremonies knelt beside me and held a microphone next to my iPad. I tapped play and Kate spoke my acceptance speech perfectly!

Being able to whip out my iPad from my handbag and having a choice of communication methods for when I’m on the go is life changing. Technology is finally catching up to my needs.

About the Author

Glenda Watson Hyatt I work as a Web accessibility consultant with three levels of government, transit authorities, and non-profit organizations to improve accessibility of their websites for people with disabilities. I also combine Web accessibility expertise with a passion for blogging and first-hand experience living with a disability to work with bloggers to create an accessible blogosphere. Personally, I blog at Do It Myself Blog ( and Blog Accessibility ( I have shared my life story in an autobiography titled I’ll Do It Myself (available from my blog and on the Amazon Kindle) to show others cerebral palsy is not a death sentence, but rather a life sentence.


Proloquo2Go. (2009). AssistiveWare [Software]. Available from

TextExpander. (2010). SmileOnMyMac LLC [Software]. Available from

TextAloud. (2005). NextUp Technologies LLC [Software]. Available from

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

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