Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Optometrist Scores Average on Eye Exam, Patient Enlightens Once Again

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 5:53 pm on Monday, January 18, 2016

Reading glasses set beside Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four AgreementsWith headaches so painful I felt like I would puke, an optometrist appointment was reluctantly made.

Reluctantly because my last appointment three years ago left me feeling devalued and depleted, and took all of my inner strength not to burst into tears.

This feeling had nothing to do with the condition of my eyes, but, rather, the ill-prepared, unenlightened way the optometrist communicated with me and my jerky, constantly moving, speech impaired body.

After that disastrous appointment, I wrote an letter to the optometrist and hand delivered it to the office. Even though I requested that the letter be placed in my file for next time, in preparation for this latest appointment I printed a copy to give to the next optometrist.

I was somewhat hesitant to hand the letter to the new-to-me optometrist because I didn’t want to assume he was as unenlightened as the previous doctor. I then realized the exam would have more of a chance of going smoothly if I gave him a fair chance to succeed. I handed him the letter.


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October 19, 2012

Dear Optometrist:

After my eye exam on Monday, October 15th, I left the office feeling devalued and depleted. I am hoping by sharing the following information, the next exam will go smoother for both of us.

As you might know, I have athetoid cerebral palsy. For me, this means I lack muscle control and coordination. My physical movements are jerky and involuntary; one body part or another is in constant motion. My speech is also significantly impaired, yet can be understood by individuals who take the time to listen.

However, my hearing, understanding and cognition are not affected. There is no need to speak loudly, to repeat yourself or to use simple vocabulary for me to comprehend.

Next time I will grab my iPad from my scooter basket before my scooter is moved out of the way so that I have a more effective means of communication at hand.

My head control is tenuous at times. When conducting the eye pressure test and other such tests during which my head must remain still in a certain position, it might be helpful to have someone hold my head steady.

My eyes closing when something is approaching is a strong, uncontrollable reflex. Repeatedly stating that I need to open my eyes for the eye drops is not productive. Perhaps another method can be found to achieve the same result.

Please keep this letter in my file so that it will be handy for my next appointment.

Perhaps in that time you could consult with colleagues and other optometrists for further suggestions on how to best serve patients with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders.

Working together will ensure successful care for my vision.

Respectfully,
Glenda Watson Hyatt


The optometrist read the letter, thanked me for the information and proceeded with examining my eyes. He was extremely patient when my head twitched like a bobblehead that had just  downed a few cups of espresso.

However, perhaps “…my hearing, understanding and cognition are not affected” was not written clearly enough in the letter as he made a great effort to gesture while he was talking. He went as far as to write “2012” on a small Post-It note when he asked if my last glasses were in 2012.

In Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, the third agreement is: "Don’t make assumptions."

Don’t assume that I do not hear or do not understand because my speech is unclear or because I may communicate in another manner.

Making that assumption really does say more about you than it says about me. And, honestly, it does not portray you in your best light.

Asking me, ”Can you hear and understand me okay? Is there anything else I need to do when communicating with you?” would portray you in a much more enlightened light.

On the bright side, this optometrist would make a fantastic partner while playing Charades.


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Please Be Boston-bound for InBound

Filed under: Motivation — by Glenda at 11:52 pm on Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Glenda Watson Hyatt

in July 2010, I had the pleasure of presenting on a panel Living with a Disability in the Web 2.0 Era at the Plain Talk Conference held in Alexandria, Virginia.

While at the event, I met two women who worked in the web accessibility field in Boston. Upon parting, one of them extended an invitation to meet up, if I am ever in Boston.

My immediate thought, of course, was Yeah, right, when will I ever be in Boston?

Fast forward to May 31st, 2014: I was trying to navigate through the still-under-renovation Main Street Shytrain Station on my way to a speaking gig, when a song line suddenly popped into my head out of apparently nowhere: Please come to Boston.

Huh? That was the only line that came to mind from a song I know I knew, but I couldn’t recall any other words.

While I was searching for the new elevator at the far end of the expanded platform: Please come to Boston.

While I was scooting along the sidewalks, trying to concentrate on finding the venue in a part of town I wasn’t particularly familiar with: Please come to Boston.

Again, huh? Where was that coming from? And, perhaps equally as important, what did it mean?

(Welcome to the inner workings of my brain! Total chaos most of the time.)

I managed to quiet the voices in my head in time to deliver my presentation; my second one using my iPad. And, yeah, I kinda rocked it!

Glenda using her iPad to deliver a speech

Afterwards, Karen, my partner in crime since we were 7 year old Brownies, and I went to Starbucks around the corner. Karen, who also serves as my editor on speed dial, was excited to see me deliver a presentation live. Likely to prepare herself for the next round of editing, she asked what was the next speaking gig I had lined up. At that point, my schedule was open, which is kind of an empty feeling for someone who is trying to get her speaking career going.

While Karen checked her phone for an email message she wanted me to read, I took advantage of the free wifi to check Facebook. Much to my delight, there was a private message from Laura Fitton, who I had first met as @Pistachio on Twitter years ago and then met in person at a BlogWorld Conference in Las Vegas.

She messaged me to invite me to do a 12-minute Bold Talk on any topic I am passionate about, much like a TED Talk. This would be at InBound, with an expected registration of 8,000. The Bold Talks take place in a room with a capacity of 1,000! (I had just finished speaking to a room with 20 attendees, max.) In Boston.

INBOUND 2014 Speaker - September 15-18, 2014 - Boston, MA

Seriously?!

I am presenting my Bold Talk “Go Beyond: Stare Your Fear in the Face and Boldly Go for It!” at INBOUND 2014 next Wednesday, in Boston!

Boston, here I come.

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Can’t Stop Me: Rock n Roll Singers Provide a Roadmap for My Motivational Speaking Career

Filed under: Motivation — by Glenda at 2:51 pm on Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rod Stewart in concert at GM Place Stadium, Vancouver, August at 2009Over the years, various songs have been anthems or theme songs for my life. These tunes either mark milestones or help me navigate something I am going through.

My current theme song is Rod Stewart’s Can’t Stop Me.

Why does Rod’s song about how he got started in his singing career bring me to tears as I launch my motivational speaking career?

Back in my early years at university, I spent my second summer semester “learning how to use the microfilm and the microfiche in the library just in case I needed to use that technology to research a paper” – yes, I am that old! And, really, there wasn’t much else to do during simmer semesters atop Burnaby Mountain.

Actually, I was searching for anything and everything I could find about Rod Stewart, who I had fallen in love with during the 1989 American Music Awards. Yes, i was also a late bloomer! My excuse: I was raised on country music.

Print outs of magazine articles with post-it notes neatly attached

I spent a small fortune on printing that summer. I also neatly typed each article reference on post-it notes; obviously I had more “free” time back then. I even wrote to his record company, requesting 8×10 glossies.

But I digress.

I became fascinated with his career, particularly how he got started; how Long John Baldry discovered Rod while he was playing harmonica in a train station late one night (not seeing Long John perform while he was living in the area is one of my few regrets), and how, by fluke, a radio disc jockey played Side B and Maggie May launched Rod into stardom:

I was singing in the pubs
Was singing in the clubs
Then along came Maggie May

~ Lyrics from Rod Stewart’s Can’t Stop Me

Around the same time I also had a subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. Grabbing a newly-arrived issue and a cold can of Coke and heading to the spot just above the football practice field was one of my few opportunities to read something other than boring university textbooks. I was intrigued with the behind-the-scenes side of the music industry; how the formation of bands was rather fluid and intertwined was fascinating.  

At that time, my fantasy was to become a rocker chick with a searing electric guitar, but, sadly, this white gimp chick has no rhythm. My somewhat-more-realistic dream job was some kind of clerical or office position at the Little Mountain Studios – a local studio where big names like Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams and many others came to record. I was devastated when the studio suddenly closed; that dream died before I had the opportunity to even pursue it.

I am the kind of concert-goer, when I can afford to go, who enjoys arriving early to watch the last minute set up. And then, afterwards, while I am waiting for the crowd to thin out before I head toward the exit, I watch how quickly the roadies dismantle the lighting and stage:

Now the seats are all empty
Let the roadies take the stage
Pack it up and tear it down
They’re the first to come and last to leave
Working for that minimum wage
They’ll set it up in another town

~ Lyrics from Jackson Browne’s The Load Out / Stay

Ever since beginning to entertain the thought of exploring the possibility of becoming a professional speaker, I have felt an affinity with the careers of singers. Those who have paid their dues by playing the smoky backrooms and who have worked their way up, until they finally got  their lucky start. Not like many of the performers today who gain, what seems like, instant fame.

As I see it, the singer and the speaker does the same thing: move, touch, motivate, inspire, educate, rally, entertain. The only difference is one puts the words to music.

The careers of these old rock n rollers – and country singers, too – have kindly provided me with the roadmap for my speaking career. I am willing (and have been doing) to speak to those groups in small, back rooms, in exchange for “a token of our appreciation”. Those gigs are affording me the opportunities to find my voice as a motivational speaker.

The way I present using a text-to-speech app on my iPad and my “uniqueness in movement” (particularly when I am nervous) doesn’t really fit the image of what a motivational speaker looks like. I totally relate to Rod’s beginnings:

"We can’t sign you, son
‘Cause you don’t fit in the mould.
It’s your hair and your nose and your clothes."
I said, "Thank you gentlemen
For this opportunity.
Now move on down the road."

In time, with enough practice, enough massaging of my message, enough confidence in finding my stage presence, my Long John Baldry or my Maggie May will come along.

They can’t stop me now
The world is waiting
It’s my turn to stand out in the crowd
They can’t stop me now
The tide is turning
I’m gonna make you proud

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An iPad and Proloquo4Text for Delivering Acoustic Presentations: The Review

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda 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 Glenda 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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