Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Life with a Speech Impairment: A Toolbox of Communication Methods Required

Filed under: Living with a disability — by 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.

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Communication Equality in Social Interactions: What Does that Really Look Like?

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 11:22 pm on Saturday, November 17, 2012

Reflecting on yesterday’s post Communication Devices: An Communication Equivalent, But An Equal?, I realized how it doesn’t portray my complete SOBCon experience.

Despite a moment or two of conversation ineptness, the last SOBCon was actually the best one for me, personally; largely because of my communication equivalent: my iPad.

Because of my iPad and because of some confidence accumulated over previous experiences, I participated in the Mastermind sessions – in both contributing and receiving – like never before.

Because of my communication equivalent, I was able to carry on several conversations during the informal times of the weekend.

Because of my chosen communication device, I was able to share my one main takeaway with the entire group – something that was not quite as possible merely two and a half years ago. Before my iPad, I likely would have passed on that opportunity and the pass would likely have been accepted by the group. This time around, my participation was expected and my method of contribution was accepted because I was surrounded by people who would not let me fail. The significance of that milestone was not lost as I held back a high-water moment.

Perhaps it isn’t a matter of whether or not communication equality exists, but rather what does equality look like in a particular social interaction, in a particular moment.

If equality existed, perhaps we would not experience the diverse richness in social interactions.

What are your thoughts? Share in the comment section below.

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

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Communication Devices: An Communication Equivalent, But An Equal?

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 6:33 pm on Friday, November 16, 2012

Digital Outcasdts book coverEarlier this week I had the privilege of previewing one chapter from Kel Smith’s upcoming book Digital Outcasts: Moving Technology Forward Without Leaving People Behind, which addresses key trends in technology and their relevance to forgotten populations.

The entire chapter is refreshingly insightful, but one sentence in particular jumped out at me:

Achieving equivalency with technology is not necessarily the same as achieving equality, when interacting with others in social situations.

Thank you, Kel! You obviously get it.

Many people don’t. They seem to think: here’s the device, you can communicate and everything is all fixed now.

It’s not that simple; using a communication device during face-to-face communication, especially in a group situation, adds another layer of complexity. When an individual needs to tap out a response on a device while the conversation continues around her means the time-delayed response appears disjointed, even inappropriate, in the flow of the conversation. Her contribution might not have the same impact, value or meaning as it would have had she been able to interject verbally.

One-on-one can be a little more equal because, with the back and forth nature of the conversation, it is easier for one person to wait for response than for a group to pause the conversation while a response is prepared.

But, there are times when even one-on-one interactions are difficult. Take this one example: while attending SOBCon in Portland a couple of months ago, one fellow kindly came over to introduce himself. We knew each other from online and I had seen him at other events, but we hadn’t yet introduced ourselves, until now. As he stood there in front of me, my iPad at the ready, I knew I should say something intelligent, to ask him something, to hold up my side of the conversation. I mentally ran through a list of possible questions I could ask him: No, he is probably tired of talking about that. No, that is lame. No, that probably isn’t any of my business. Nope, I’ve got nothing. After a few awkward moments, he made his leave. I felt like a total dolt.

My iPad was on and ready, like it had been all morning. I had the ability to communicate. I had enough communication skills to know I had to take a role, a responsibility, in keeping the  conversation going. I even had a few possible questions in mind. But I lacked the confidence to ask one of them. I lacked the confidence because, really, I haven’t had that much experience carrying on a two-way conversation with someone not well-versed in Glenda-ish. I have had my iPad for only 2.5 years now; having the ability to converse with those beyond who understand my unique dialect is still new to me and I am still learning. And, that is hard to admit at the age of 46; an age when carrying on an intelligent conversation shouldn’t require so much conscious effort.

The iPad affords me a communication equivalent, but, because of the nuances of verbal communication (and the temporary lack of experience), I don’t feel my tapped responses are as equal as verbal ones – in some situations.

I look forward to reading Kel’s entire book. Digital Outcasts can be pre-ordered from the Elsevier Store.

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

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Lights. Camera. Take 2.

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 2:00 pm on Monday, July 23, 2012

Since doing the on-camera interview last week, I have been wondering how I can minimize “MASS” – “media-amplified spaz syndrome”, a term offered by fellow CPer Spashionista, that I am so stealing!

MASS bugs me. Every time any camera in the vicinity is turned on, MASS kicks in. It doesn’t allow me to put my best self forward. That isn’t to say I don’t have spaz out moments when there isn’t a camera around, because I do. Peanut butter often goes flying off of the knife at breakfast time in our house. Sometimes I think I could have acquired Parkinson’s Disease and not even know it by of my shaky cerebral palsy. MASS is more pronounced than the everyday spaz outs.

Anyway, the interview was done in two parts: 1) the question and response segment, and 2) the online demonstration segment. For the first part, the interviewer sat off-camera and asked me the questions. I responded with my prepared responses that were on my iPad, on my lap. The thing is, once I tapped play, I wasn’t sure what to do while the device spoke my response. I knew not to look at the camera, but rather to look at the interviewer. But what should I do? 1:30 minutes is a long time to sit still, especially with athetoid cerebral palsy. I remember Roger Ebert being quite animated while using his device when being interviewed by Oprah. I am sure that had I tried that, it would have looked like an extreme spaz out.

Likewise, during the demo, I went through a section of my previous week’s presentation because it addressed one of their questions. (Did I re-use content? You betcha!) Typically when I deliver a presentation, I make eye contact with members of the audience. That seems to (slightly) minimize the spazing. But this time I didn’t have an audience; only a few people watching from behind me, trying not to make a sound. Once again I didn’t know what to do. Do I stare at my computer screen and laugh at my own humorous bits? Or do I stare mindlessly out the window? What do I do?

After much thought and pondering, I have concluded that a portion of (perhaps an extremely small portion of) MASS in this particular situation is due to not knowing what to do, where to focus my attention. When talking people give an interview, ideally they focus on what they are saying and how they are saying it; that might help to divert some of their nervousness. Butt when a device on my lap is speaking for me, I don’t have the same diversion; I have time to focus on the fact that a really expensive camera is capturing every jerky movement, which, in turn, makes me even more self-conscious.

Once again I need to learn the rules and then figure out how to adapt them to fit my own jerky needs. Either that or write my dang own rules…before the next film crew encounter…!

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Lights. Camera. Action! …But not quite that much, please!

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 6:51 pm on Thursday, July 19, 2012

Glenda demonstrating her computer while the camera man recordsYesterday I had the pleasure of welcoming the film crew from the Fetzer Institute into our home and my home office.

This wasn’t the first time a film crew had been in my home. The first was many, many moons ago when the National Film Board of Canada filmed On Top of the World. (Oh, that brings back happy memories!)

And yesterday was likely not the last time I will welcome a crew with a mondo video camera into my home, but that is another post…quite possibly in the not distance future… Smile

But it was the first time I had done an on-camera interview! Once again my iPad was put to the test. I was given the interview questions ahead of time and, after writing my text responses in Microsoft Word, I used TextAloud to convert the text to speech. I then emailed the audio files to myself on my iPad.

Audio files in an email on my iPad

When I was asked a set question during the interview, I tapped the appropriate audio file and “Kate” spoke my response perfectly. I so love my Kate! We have done so many wickedly awesome things together.

But the one phenomenon that I really, really, really don’t like is how my body goes into “spaz out” mode whenever a nearby camera is turned on; the more expensive the camera, the more pronounced the “spaz out” mode. And telling myself to relax only accomplishes putting more focus on my body’s unintentional movement, which amps up the movement even more.

I have often wondered whether mastering a few acting techniques would aid in muffling this mind-body disconnect. This is something I would like to learn before I interact with the next film crew, so that when “Action!” is called, only intended action is put forth, or, less unintended action is caught on video.

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

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