Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Your Accessibility Conscience

Celebrating Buddy: Four Months in His Forever Home

Filed under: Motivation — by Glenda at 4:27 pm on Monday, January 27, 2014

Glenda and Buddy looking directly into the camera and smiling

Four months ago today, Darrell and I welcomed a grey ball of energy into our home. It was love at first sight (of course!)

Buddy (aka Bud, Budmeister and Budweiser) has grown way too fast. He’d awake from a nap and seemed like he had grown yet again. He’s now a sturdy 9-10lb kitty; our stocky, muscular linebacker who is continually into everything, except when he is asleep.

There have been plant mishaps. Except for one spider baby that remains in ICU, all of the spider plants have been annihilated with potting soil scattered everywhere.

Buddy sprawled out on my desk amidst the potting soil mess.

The 6-foot fig tree Robert Plant received an unplanned pot upgrade when he and Buddy tangoed and his terra cotta pot smashed. His new pot is plastic with a layer of pie plates and sticky tape to keep the Budmeister from digging in the soil.

The fig tree Robert Plant

(That space atop the wall above Robert…yeah, Buddy gets up there too, particularly when Darrell and I are in the kitchen and he has been removed from the counter too many times. Bud just likes being wherever his people are.)

In addition to being part Russian Blue, he is also part Maine Coon – indicated by his large paws and his love of water. Keeping him off of the kitchen counter would be much easier if there wasn’t a sink.

Buddy  playing in the kitchen sink.

At times I am convinced Buddy is channelling his big sister Faith, who I dearly miss every day.

Two photos side-by-side: the first of me cuddling Faith, the second of me cuddling Buddy in a somewhat similar pose

Buddy has not replaced Faith; no one ever will and she will remain in my heart. My baby forever.

I am beginning to learn Buddy-ese and how he communicates (a little less with his sharp teeth would be great). We have fun playing with his wand toy in the living room and the mice in the bed. When I am working, he is either on my desk or atop my bookcase; never too far. He still sleeps at the foot of the bed; hopefully that will change and he will cuddle more. He definitely knows how, particularly when he is hungry in the morning and he works his cuddly, affectionate self.

I am grateful that Buddy found his way to Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue (VOKRA) and then to me. I am convinced the Universe was holding onto him for me until his forever home was ready.

I am looking forward to getting to know you better and to enjoying our time together. I am glad you are home, forever, Buddy!

A close up of Buddy's face while he sleeps.

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

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Letter to Santa 2013

Filed under: General — by Glenda at 9:27 pm on Monday, December 23, 2013

Three candles burning in the windowDear Santa,

2013 has been a tough year for myself and several of my friends: many of us experienced heartbreaking losses, others dealt with health issues, while other friends faced disappointment and trying circumstances.

I would like to ask that my friends, near and far, receive healing and happiness.

Let 2014 be filled with hope, health and happiness. Thank you.

Wishing you and the reindeer a safe trip. Merry Christmas!

With love from, 

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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Seated in Empowerment: The Back Story

Filed under: Seated in Empowerment — by Glenda at 6:07 pm on Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Seated in Empowerment: A couple's journey with cerebral palsy through life, marriage and success by Glenda Watson Hyatt and Darrell

For a few years Darrell and I had talked about working together on a project. We just needed an idea.

That idea came this summer: we would write an ebook about the subject we know best – our lives together.

However, this idea caused Darrell great trepidation. He is not a writer; writing is painful. Yet, he trusted me to move forward with the idea; a trust I did not (and do not) take lightly.

We decided on a question and answer format, so that our readers would, hopefully, feel like they were sitting around the table, chatting with us. Once we came up with the list of questions, we each wrote our responses separately. Response by response, the ebook was written. A light editing was then applied to correct the grammatical errors and yet still maintain the rawness and truthfulness of our words.

We are happy to announce the release of Seated in Empowerment: A couple’s journey with cerebral palsy through life, marriage and success!

Glenda and Darrell both have physical disabilities, specifically cerebral palsy. Both are unable to walk independently, Glenda does not speak clearly. Between them, they have the equivalent of two functioning hands. But that doesn’t define who they are, neither does it hold them back.

Despite various medical professionals saying these two individuals wouldn’t amount to much, they fell in love, got married and bought a condo. They struggle with the unenlightened attitudes of others, needless physical accessibility issues and household chores. Through it all, they keep a sense of humour and determination, and a deep love and admiration for one another.

What is the one thing they would change about themselves? How do they make life and marriage work? What do they see as success?

Seated in Empowerment is available on the Kindle. However, you do not need a Kindle to read this and other ebooks. Check out the many ways you can read Kindle books.

At the moment, Seated in Empowerment is only available in electronic format. I still need to check if the book is long enough for CreateSpace, the print-on-demand arm of Amazon. (Our ebook is a quick read.) If you would prefer a printed copy, please let me know in the comments below. That will indicate to me whether looking into CreateSpace should be higher on my priority list.

Please welcome Darrell into the world of published authors on Amazon; a world he never envisioned himself entering. I am so proud of him!

And…happy reading!

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

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Every Life Should Be Blessed with a Little Buddy

Filed under: Motivation — by Glenda at 9:32 pm on Thursday, October 3, 2013

My new kitty BuddyWith a mix of happy and sad tears, I would like to introduce Faith’s successor: Buddy!

The Kitty Stork (aka foster mom Wendy) delivered Buddy to us Friday evening after I had a successful adoption interview that morning, which really wasn’t much of an interview at all. I think emailing a list of blog posts about Faith to the Application Manager helped to demonstrate my capacity to be a loving kitty mommy. Winking smile

Darrell and I then made a quick trip to the pet supply store for the essentials and not-so-essentials in preparation for the Kitty Stork’s arrival:

The spoils of the first shopping trip for Buddy

That shopping trip was fun! Obviously, he will be loved lots.

Buddy sleeping on the couchOnly a little is known about Buddy’s background: his family could not afford him and chose to surrender him a few weeks ago. Because he is so cuddly and affectionate, I have no doubt that was a heartbreaking decision for them. But surrendering him to a lady who assists people on low incomes with their pets, who in turn handed him over to Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue (VOKRA), was the best decision for this little guy. He will be well cared for and neutered; he won’t be contributing to the unwanted cat population.

Because VOKRA fosters all of their kitties in homes, I was concerned about getting to various homes to view the kitties. Yet, once again the Universe came through: Wendy had her first husband- and daughter-free weekend in years. She brought the kitty, formerly known as Sterling, to me on the agreement that I would be honest and tell her if he wasn’t the right kitty for me. As if! It was instant love.

Buddy is likely a Russian Blue, at least in part. His guessimated birth date is June 1st, making him now four months old. He is full of energy, as well as affection and purrs.

Buddy on Darrell's lapFor seventeen year, Darrell claimed that he is not a cat person. Within twenty-four hours, Buddy had blown hubby’s cover! Buddy jumps up on his lap for cuddles, pats and purrs. Darrell might not be a cat person, but he is definitely a Buddy person. Who knew! Smile

Buddy on Glenda's lapWhy Buddy?

The non-cat person started calling him Buddy until I could come up with a more suitable name. I didn’t have any potential names in mind when he arrived; I wanted to wait for the little guy to tell me who he is.

After a name like Faith, I kept thinking this little one needed a more significant name than Buddy. Upon further thought, I realized that everyone should be a blessed with a good, reliable friend who is there through the happy and sad times, the good and bad. A buddy. What is more significant than that! 

Welcome Buddy!

Buddy working it for the camera!

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

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