In a previous post (April 6) I blogged about the pleasure I had of being one of three panelists at Dal Legal Aid’s A.G.M. Now I’d like to tell you about what I consider a brilliant service and technology.
For those who’ve never met me, I have a moderate speech impediment. I personally don’t think it’s any big deal but in a fair size room with white noise buzzing about, yeh, some people will likely have some difficulty understanding me, at least initially.
At this event I had my main attendant, Kelly, accompany me, as I knew the event would entail 4 or 5 hours including bus travel and therefore I would need washroom and other assistance.
Now, you have to understand Kelly. Kelly is incredible and totally awesome! She also happens to be at the very top of my cheer leading squad. She and I have been through such an incredible amount of good, terrible and everything in between (including my unexpected marriage breakup) during the 4+ years since I hired her. Yet Kelly would rather burro herself to the bottom of the earth than be anywhere remotely near a spotlight. So when one of the event’s student organizers, Jimmy, asked if she wanted to sit next to me at the panelists table, well, poor Kelly just about had 5 simultaneous heart attacks right then and there. She knows well how much I appreciate her. That’s never in question. So she and I quickly agreed that she was just fine right where she was – in the isle seat of the back row.
Knowing that Kelly was cool, I headed up front where we panelists and organizers were meeting each other and working out the logistics of our presentation. Earlier I had noticed Jimmy setting up some kind of laptop-phone combo and as I love tech toys immensely I was intrigued, but there wasn’t time for me to be my nosey self and soon the panel discussion was in progress.
As the other panelists spoke, I happened to glance behind us and I realized that our comments were being posted on screen. My only thought then was: “Huh. That’s cool. But it likely won’t pick up my voice.” Some time went by before I began to clue into the fact that each time I spoke, Jimmy would crouch down, come scurrying up, grab a cordless phone off our table, and go scurrying off to the back of the room. Again, I really didn’t think much about this at first and it wasn’t until we had finished the evening’s discussion that I learned of what was happening. When Jimmy told me about what was actually transpiring, I was completely impressed and blown away.
AB Captioning & CART is an instant transcribing service, headed by Sandra German, in British Columbia Canada. While we were speaking, a person in Ontario Canada, was transcribing our spoken words to text, which was then put up on the screen behind us. Each time I spoke, Jimmy was transporting the phone back to Kelly, who would repeat word for word everything I was saying. I was also extremely impressed with Jimmy’s quick thinking initiative to provide adaptive accommodations for me.
The fact that Kelly was at the back of the room made it much more comfortable for both her and I, and Jimmy was such a good sport about running the phone to her. It was perfect.
Back standing, left to right: Donna Franey, Sarah Boucaud, Nora MacIntosh and Jimmy Bray.
Front, left to right: Claire McNeil, Gerianne (Annie) Hull and Megan MacBride.