Mike May Joins Access Explorer Team as Chief Evangelist

Mike May, a pioneer in accessible navigation, has joined the Access Explorer Team (an incorporated company owned by American Printing House for the Blind). May brings experience that will help the company continue to lead the way in accessible navigation.  “Mike has more than 25 years of experience in accessible indoor wayfinding and literally originated this effort in the US. There is nobody with more experience or passion for accessible indoor navigation than Mike,” says Access Explorer CEO, Jose Gaztambide. “He’s an incredible leader and human being, and everybody at Access Explorer and in the indoor navigation industry will benefit from his commitment and presence.” Mike will help the Access Explorer company develop partnerships, identify resources to help expand its mission, and ensure Access Explorer’s work meets the highest standard of accessibility. “I’ve been learning how to navigate since I was blinded from an explosion at age 3, and have worked on accessible navigation as …

Experiencing Fireworks as a Visually Impaired Person

by Jessica Minneci One of the best things about the Fourth of July is seeing the fireworks at night, that is, if you can see them. I’m visually impaired, so I can’t enjoy fireworks in the same way as everyone else, but that doesn’t mean I have to stay at home. I’ve been lucky enough to have family and friends who encouraged me to come with them to firework shows and who also described everything that was happening. This Fourth of July, make fireworks displays fun for everyone by following my list of tips for describing fireworks to people who are blind or visually impaired.
How to Describe the Fireworks
Sit close to your friend who is blind or visually impaired. Do your best to make sure that they can hear you over the sound of the fireworks. When the show starts, make sure that you describe everything in real-time. Tell them what is happening exactly as it is happening. Describe the color of each firework, how bright it is, and how fast it's moving. Demonstrate the size of the firework…

The Braille You Need - FAST!

It takes time to transcribe and emboss a book – but we know there are times you need braille right away! To help meet this demand, APH is introducing a FREE NIMAS-to-braille translation service.
If a NIMAS source file is available, the APH team can convert it to a .bbx and .brf file for you within 3 business days. The files will be formatted and will contain headers, paragraphs, and page numbers. The .brf files are ready to use with refreshable braille devices, while the .bbx files can be opened in BrailleBlaster or your braille translation software to complete braille translation.
How to Request a File: Check the NIMAC (or Louis Plus) to see if the NIMAC has the file.Ask a NIMAC Authorized User for your state to assign APH the digital file.APH will notify you when the BrailleBlaster files are ready for download from the APH File Repository.Ask an approved APH File Repository user to download the completed file for your student.
Once produced, the BrailleBlaster files will be available…

A Surreal Experience: Touching Helen Keller's Desk

by Jessica Minneci
     When I touched the smooth glass-topped surface of Helen Keller's desk at the APH museum, I was shocked. The texture beneath my fingertips revealed a normal, average desk. It was like something you would find at a furniture store: a large desk with two sets of drawers on either side, a wide surface, and a wooden guard to protect papers from sliding off. But make no mistake, this ordinary desk represents much more than it appears. Helen Keller did some of her finest work while sitting at her desk. She was a writer, a pacifist, a feminist, and an advocate for women and for the blind and visually impaired community. Touching the desk helped me get closer to Helen Keller and renew my support for everything she has done. Many people can discover wisdom from Helen's piece "To Girls Who Are Going to College." Published in The Youth's Companion on June 8, 1905, she gives emerging college students tips about how to be successful in postsecondary schoo…

A Life Worth Emulating: Helen Keller’s Legacy

By Jessica Minneci
        When people think about Helen Keller, they recall the image of a girl with one hand under a water pump while her teacher spells the word “water” in sign language into her other hand. While this story is beautiful, people often don’t take the time to reflect on the rest of Helen’s life. Helen Keller was a woman who not only fought for the rights of people with disabilities like herself but also advocated for marginalized groups all over the world. Helen’s accomplishments would have been impossible if not for her optimistic perspective, which continues to inspire people today. In her text “Optimism: An Essay,” Helen Keller discusses her positive outlook on life. She thinks of optimism as a mindset that grows over time. Helen said, “the struggle which evil necessitates… makes us strong, patient, helpful men and women.” It “teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” She shows people that life is complex, full…

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