Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Your Accessibility Conscience

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 cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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“We’re Ain’t Gonna Take It Any More”: Communication Access Now, No More Social Injustice

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 6:35 pm on Wednesday, March 12, 2014

We’re not gonna take it
No, we ain’t gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it anymore

We’ve got the right to choose and
There ain’t no way we’ll lose it
This is our life, this is our song

~ Lyrics from Twisted Sisters’ “We’re Not Gonna Take It”

Individuals with communication disabilities, which affect how we speak or understand what others are saying, typically experience inequality in employment, healthcare and numerous other situations on a daily basis. We are often treated as if we are hearing or cognitively impaired, which is not necessarily the case, and we are regularly discounted,  devalued or, even, dismissed.

Access to effective communication is a social justice issue, where social justice is defined as "… promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity." Social justice exists when "all people share a common humanity and therefore have a right to equitable treatment, support for their human rights, and a fair allocation of community resources." In conditions of social justice, people are not “discriminated against, nor their welfare and well-being constrained or prejudiced on the basis of gender, sexuality, religion, political affiliations, age, race, belief, disability, location, social class, socioeconomic circumstances, or other characteristic of background or group membership" (Quoted from What is Social Justice?)

Glenda using her iPadAs an individual with a significant speech impairment, I have experienced inequitable treatment in countless ways. The most impactful have been in the areas of employment and healthcare.

It still irks a back corner of my mind that I am unemployed and surviving on social assistance because I couldn’t find an employer willing to look beyond my jerky movements and difficult-to-understand speech to give my abilities and skills a chance. Actually, it sucks the chocolate chip right out of my cookie that after five years at high school and seven years at university, working hard to keep up (and sometimes surpass) my classmates and friends, only to watch them land jobs with decent salaries, Christmas bonuses and pension plans while I’m still stuck on social assistance, labeled as unemployable. I have no doubt that my speech impairment played a huge role in acquiring that employment status, but proving it is a different matter. After all, that would have been social injustice. Discrimination, which is illegal.

Glenda Watson Hyatt speaking at Open Web Camp IV

Thankfully, i have found other ways to put my skills, talents and passion to use, in service of others. With perseverance and current technology, I have found a way to become a motivational speaker to share my message with audiences. (I love the irony here!)

I remain confident that my rightful compensation will eventually find its way into my bank account. And, after all of these years of un- and under-employment, that will be one juicy Christmas bonus when it finally does come.

Being self employed, I have been fortunate to surround myself with people who believe in me and who know I am capable and have much to offer. For example, in the next few weeks, I have a couple of podcast interviews. These solopreneurs are willing to give me and the technology a shot in order to share my experience, my story with their audiences.

Unfortunately, I do not have that same latitude in surrounding myself with people who believe in me when it comes to my healthcare. Oftentimes I need to deal with healthcare professionals as they come; I have very little choice. And, frankly, these “professionals” have no clue when it comes to interacting with an individual with a speech impairment or, for that matter, any disability. (Again, the irony.)

As one example (of many): on one trip to the Emergency Room when I had badly injured my foot, the nurse indicated that my husband Darrell had to go back to the waiting room because there wasn’t enough space for both of our wheelchairs.

Darrell explained that I needed him for communication purposes. But, once he relayed how the injury occurred and other necessary medical details, he was told to leave. The nurse assured him that she would come get him if he was needed. None of the other patients’ companions were forced to leave.

In that moment I wondered what were my patient’s rights. Patients who are Deaf wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) be denied access to an interpreter. Non-English speaking patients requiring a translator would definitely not be denied one; that would hit the news for sure.

Yet, I, with a significant speech impairment, was denied my means of communication. Darrell did hand me my iPad before leaving, just in case, but I wasn’t sure I could coherently type because I was in so much pain.

In this instance, I was suffering from only an injured foot. What if it had been serious or, even, life threatening? Would I have been still denied my means of communication? When my well-being or life is at stake, that is social injustice!

This needs to stop. Now. People’s well-being and lives are at stake.

Communication Access symbol symbol contains two faces, one talking, both watching and a two-way arrow indicating an exchange or interactionFor this reason and many others, Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) is launching a 2.5-year national project Communication Access Now (CAN) to promote communication accessibility for people who have speech and language disabilities.

How can you become involved?

Check out the education and resources about making goods and services accessible to people with communication disabilities. Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

If you are in Vancouver, BC, on Monday, March 17th, please join us for the Communication Access Now event – an information session and a rallying of the people. To be held at the Creekside Community Recreation Centre, 1:00-3:00pm.

“We’re not gonna take it anymore.”

Our voices will be heard. Our voices need to be heard.


To keep up with my adventures, musings and insights, be sure to subscribe to DoItMyselfBlog.com.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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From Speech Impairment to Motivational Speaker: How I Create My Talking PowerPoint Presentations

Filed under: Motivation — by Glenda at 3:16 pm on Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Glenda presenting at the Cerebral Palsy Association's AGM

People are often puzzled by how I can be a motivational speaker when I have such a pronounced speech impairment. A fair puzzlement, indeed.

My career choice is largely thanks to technology. Because of technology, I am able to convert text into synthesized speech, which I then embed into my PowerPoint presentation that also has scrolling captions and images.

However, the process is not for the faint of heart or technophobe. For the technophile who likes an ingenious mashup, here is a behind-the-scene-look at how I created my most recent PowerPoint presentation “Go Beyond: Stare Your Fear in the Face and Go for It!”

Writing and Editing

The process begins with writing my presentation in Microsoft Word. Typing with only my left thumb is slow; using the WordQ software for word prediction and completion saves me keystrokes.

However, 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 on my computer screen and lose the flow of words.

Here’s where using my original iPad with the free (yet no longer available) DisplayLink app as a second computer screen comes in handy. I drag the word prediction box over to the second screen and place the iPad on my lap, within the same view as my keyboard, which makes writing a little more comfortable.

Word prediction box on iPad on my lap

Time: 20.75 hours

Chunking Text

The scrolling captions, for the benefit of audience members who are hearing impaired, are actually text boxes stacked above each PowerPoint slide. Motion paths (the green and red arrows in the image below) move the captions down to along the top of the slide when I hit the Space Bar while presenting. Each slide has 15 captions; an arbitrary number that can easily be decreased on a slide, but not easily increased.

A PowerPoint slide with caption boxes stacked above

Each caption holds approximately a line and a half of text from Microsoft Word.

Once I have written my presentation, I break the text into slides and captions. Captions become identified by the format Slide X-Y – where X is the slide number and Y the caption number – which is important in later steps.

My written script divided into slides and captions

Some slides end up having less than 15 captions and some captions are short depending on natural breaks in the content and where I want slightly longer pauses. This is one of the few ways I can control the speed of delivery.

Time: 2.5 hours

Copying the Captions

At this point, my ever-patient husband Darrell copies the captions from Word and pastes into the corresponding the caption box in PowerPoint. He also saves each caption as a separate text file, using the structure Slide X-Y as the filename.

Time: 4.33 hours

Kate-izing the Text

Next comes converting the text into speech with the software TextAloud and the synthesized voice known as Kate. One by one, I open each text file and listen to how Kate reads it. Sometimes some tweaking of the pronunciation is necessary; for example, is “read” meant to be spoken as “reed” or “red” in that instance?

Screenshot of TextAloud software

Once saving it as a WAV file (the only option compatible with PowerPoint), I link the audio file with the appropriate caption via the Animation Panel in PowerPoint. Here’s where the filename structure Slide X-Y comes in handy.

Animation Effects dialog box in PowerPoint

Time: 5.25 hours

Creating, Adding and Layering images

For the most part, I use my own images rather than stock ones in my presentations. Finding them and then cropping and adding arrows or such (as needed) takes time, albeit fun.

The tricky part is the layering of the images. The slide below has four images layered upon one another, plus text boxes and arrows to highlight details. All of these are inserted between the appearance of the captions via the Animation Pane on the right.

Slide with captions and open Animation Pane

Getting the order and the timing right for all of these moving bits is when I reach for the chocolate; the darker, the better.

Time: 17.25 hours

Testing, Tweaking and Practicing

Now that the presentation is built, I can see how it looks and sounds as a whole. I make revisions, adjustments and corrections as needed. Changing one word means redoing the audio file, editing the caption and re-linking the audio file to the caption. It all takes time, but it is worth it in the end.

With this one presentation, I ran out of time before I was 100% happy with the end product. No one knew except me.

Time: 3 hours

After 53.08 hours, 16 slides, 163 audio files, 163 captions, 163 motion paths, 38 images and numerous arrows, text boxes and accessories, I have a 30 minute presentation. Whatever it takes to get the job done!

Here is a brief clip from “Go Beyond: Stare Your Fear in the Face and Go for It!”:

(Transcript is available here.)

To have me share the entire presentation with your group, your organization or at your event, please contact me.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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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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If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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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.


To keep up with my adventures, musings and insights, be sure to subscribe to DoItMyselfBlog.com.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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