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The Whole Is Greater

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You Start by Meeting Your AudienceWhen I started working at the Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind, I immediately knew something was wrong. The display cases open up to allow their contents to be touched, and there is not a single “Don’t Touch” sign in the building. I had a fairly conventional museum studies education and a fairly conventional job at a state history museum before this one, so it all seemed very unorthodox to me.
Years later, I see things differently. Our museum is located in the original 1883 building of the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) in Louisville, Kentucky. APH was founded in 1858 to supply accessible learning materials for students who are blind or visually impaired. Today, it is the largest such company in the world. How could we possibly justify exhibiting tactile globes and braille writing machines, teaching tools meant to be used by touch, under Plexiglas covers so that the very people they were designed to serve cannot “see” th…

Charlottes Web Coming to APH: "I like acting more than anything!"

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“Templeton, Templeton! Wake up you lazy rat!” yells sixth grader Luke Hagen. He’s telling me about his role as Wilber in the upcoming Braille Reader’s theater production of Charlotte’s Web. That line wasn’t in the original script, but when you have as much energy as Luke, the script is just a place to start.

“I don’t say this to be rude, but I think the kids are basically the main attraction.” If you haven’t caught on yet – Luke is pretty funny kid.“Because when you think of plays you mainly think it’s going to be adults only, but NO, these are KIDS!” To be fair, there are many talented adults in the production, but they’re not as cute as Luke and his younger co-stars.
“My mom told me about the play, and I really wanted to do it because I like acting more than anything,” said fourth grader Makenna Harrod, who plays a lamb. “She is kind of sassy like me, and she doesn’t like Wilber. She’s his enemy.”


Charlotte’s Web is going to make you laugh, but have a tissue at hand. “It’s very funny.…

Accessibility Matters

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You know that song, “you only miss the light when it’s burning low, you only miss the sun when it starts to snow…” Unfortunately, many of us only think about accessibility when it affects our life or the life of someone we know. When it’s our child that cannot access a book to learn her ABCs; our significant other that is unable to fill out the online job application; our neighbor that cannot use her glucometer because the digital screen is too small. Only at this point do many of us think, I wonder if that book is available in braille, I cannot believe the company did not use current web standards to create the job application; I wonder if someone has created a glucometer with speech output or a larger screen.
It is not fair to say that many of us do not care about accessibility. We believe that things should be accessible to everyone, but we may not even know something is not accessible, or that we can make a difference by being aware and following standards and guidelines in our wo…

Introducing Building on Patterns Prekindergarten

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Every child deserves the opportunity to read. That is the core belief behind Building on Patterns (BOP), a comprehensive program designed to teach children to read and write while learning braille. During the update of BOP, it became apparent that there was a need for a prekindergarten emergent literacy program to help students meet the new literacy standards for preschool and the increased emphasis placed on early learning. Building on Patterns Prekindeårgarten (BOP Pre-K) was created to meet this need.
The BOP Pre-K curriculum demonstrates best practices in braille literacy instruction, with lessons designed to develop listening, speaking, reading, and writing in preparation for kindergarten. It incorporates early childhood education principles throughout the lessons and balances instruction and experiential learning. Through the lesson activities, children will learn to recognize letters and their corresponding sounds; write their name; and read and write the braille symbols that re…