Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Move Over Scissors, The Nimble is Cutting It!

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 7:21 pm on Monday, April 18, 2016

A pair of scissors and a NimbleMore often than not, using scissors when left-handed is frustrating. The scissors tend to fold paper, rather than cut it. Add in limited hand function due to cerebral palsy and some tasks, like opening a plastic package, leaves me screwed.

Enter the Nimble – a cutting tool that slips over the fingertip.

When I was given the opportunity to try one, I said, “Yes, please!” (In the spirit of full disclosure, this is, in essence, a sponsored review, in that I did received one Nimble for free.)

Nimble on Glenda's forefinger

Right out of the envelope, I was able to use the small gadget to open the enclosed packages of the sweets.

Since then I have been using the “1 finger cutting tool” to open packets in the kitchen every day. And I am constantly finding new uses for it.

The actual cutting bit is like the very tip of a cat claw. Because it is so small, there is no (or, a minuscule) chance of cutting myself. Yet, it will cut what I need cutting: paper, plastic, cellophane, foil, tape, and such.

I am looking forward to packing the Nimble in my bag when I head off to Toronto this summer. Scissors aren’t permitted through airport security, but this small cutting tool will likely get through without a second glance. Opening the hotel’s tiny soap bars will no longer be a hassle!

The creator Simon Lyons and his company VERSION 22 are running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to get the Nimble into production. If you feel so inclined, please check out the Nimble’s Kickstarter campaign.

I am eager to having Nmbles in several places throughout my home so that one is always handy when I need it!

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

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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.

Twitter: @GlendaWH

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.

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

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No One Speaks for Me!: Accessibility Must Include Communication Access

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 5:07 pm on Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Even doctors have dismissed my ability to communicate. One specialist went as far as to tell me that he would ask me questions, but he expected my husband Darrell to respond because “it would be faster.” I was shocked! No one speaks for me on something as important as my health simply because it is more convenient for them.

I shared this story during last week’s CBC Radio interview, in which Communication Disabilities Access Canada’s Executive Director Barbara Collier and I, in my role as CDAC’s Social Media Coordinator, briefly discussed communication access for individuals with speech and language disabilities.

Here’s the interview audio as a YouTube video – a clever way to have the audio transcribed, even if it it isn’t quite perfect.

For more CBC coverage: Speech and language disabilities ‘need more support’ in British Columbia

Many resources for individuals with speech and language disabilities and on how to best serve us are available from CDAC’s project Communication Access Now.

Donning my Social Media Coordinator hat for a moment, I invite you to Like CDAC on Facebook and to follow @CommAccessNow on Twitter. That is where I am spending a fair bit of time these days.

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

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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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“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

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

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