Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

The Fred’s Head blog contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Fred’s Head is offered by the American Printing House for the Blind.

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Fred's Head is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, who passed away on September 21, 2014. Check out the bottom of this page for: subscribing to posts via email; browsing articles by subject; subscribing to RSS feeds; APH resources; the archive of this blog; APH on YouTube; contributing articles to Fred's Head; and disclaimers.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Customize your white cane with Kustom Cane


Most people who are blind and visually impaired use one or more aids for orientation and mobility, the white cane being one of the most common ones. You may think of your cane as merely a functional device and, indeed, it does fit that description.

 

Your cane, however, is a part of you, something everyone else notices. Now thanks to Kustom Cane, you can own a cane that stands out from all the others, a cane that displays your personality and things that matter to you.

 

Kustom Cane strives to provide canes that are safe. Every cane includes reflective material that makes you visible when traveling at night. Kustom Cane will add this reflective material to any cane you send to them even if you don’t buy a customized cane from them. Kustom Cane will personalize any type of cane and even offers to make customized harnesses for service dogs.

 

When you visit the homepage www.kustomcane.com, you find a promotional video and a guide for determining which type of cane is best for you. You also find a place where you can purchase gift certificates and a listing of some of the new products Kustom Cane has to offer.

 

You get a better idea about the company’s origin from the “About” page and notice that its founder used to work in restyling for the auto industry. When James, the company’s owner, lost his vision in 2010, he figured out that there was no variation in white canes, a fact that he sought to change. He believed that canes should reflect their owners in some way rather than just being “Boring white canes”.

 

Kustom Cane has a page that is a gallery of pictures of many canes they have made; the gallery includes well-described images. The descriptions, by themselves, give you an idea of what kinds of customizations James can do. You can put the logo and/or colors of your favorite sports team on your cane, advertise a business or cause you care about by including their logo on a cane, choose colored handles that reflect your style, or add charms like Bluetooth speaker charms that actually do have audio output or alarm charms that sound an alarm if you need one.

 

The best way to see all of Kustom Cane’s offerings, however, is to navigate to their “Order” page. After entering your demographic information, you begin designing your custom cane, determining your cane type, length, and color. Then you are asked to describe your custom cane; you will type as detailed of a description as you can. Next you select a cane tip and a charm from the list of over 20. Available charms include several butterflies with different sayings in braille, discs, guitar picks, stars, hearts, a dolphin, a football, and several more. There is a choice for “other” which allows you possibly to suggest one that is not on the list. Immediately following this combo box with the aforementioned charms, you can choose additional specialty charms which appear as a list of check boxes. This list includes USB battery charms (yes these are actual battery chargers for mobile devices), a hand sanitizer pump charm, several alarm charms, multiple Bluetooth speaker charms, or suggest a charm in the edit box below these choices.

 

After you submit your order, Kustom Canes will contact you for a personal consultation so that they can make sure that your cane is exactly as you like it; they also make payment arrangements with you at that time.

 

As you can see, these canes are far from ordinary. But Kustom Cane offers another fantastic program that you can be part of, whether or not you purchase a cane from them. This initiative is called the You Cane Give program.

Here is a description of this service:

 

Wondering what to do with that old cane you no longer use in the closet? Is that drawer of used canes collecting dust and taking up space? Donate your old canes to our new “You Cane Give” program. Kustom Cane is collecting donated canes to refurbish and send to individuals who are blind and visually impaired around the world. Let’s face it, we have it good here in our country. With the click of a button, we can order almost anything we need, including a cane. In countries like Mexico, China, India, and the African continent, people do not have access to the proper tools to empower independence and success. Do not let your canes go to waste!  “You Cane Give” allows you to help us give your used cane to a person far away who needs it!  Kustom Cane will give you a $15 credit towards the purchase of a cane or accessories if you donate a cane to “You Cane Give.”

Thanks to the program, Kustom Canes has shipped canes to Nicaragua, and will ship some to Nigeria and the Philippines soon.

 

You can get more information about Kustom Cane in several ways, visit www.kustomcane.com, email kustomcane@gmail.com, call James at 901-483-1515, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kustom-Cane/272840179481964, follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Kustomcane, or visit their blog at https://kustomcane.wordpress.com/.

As Kustom Cane’s slogan says: Don’t be plain, go Kustom Cane!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Throwback Thursday Object: Espinasse Braille Duplicator

Our object this week would allow a small shop to emboss its own braille publications and in a very unique way.  Designed for small scale braille reproduction, the Espinasse Braille Duplicator was invented in 1954 and sold for about $250.  From the instruction manual, "There is a master plate and a punch plate which each have 3200 holes.  The punch plate is fitted with small punches in each hole; it is fitted over the master plate and the braille is written with a frame [slate] just as in ordinary writing.  An awl [stylus]pushes the small rods in those cell holes forming the letters into the master plate.  The master plate is placed on a flat bed; a pressure roller is drawn over the master plate and the paper on which the embossing is to be done, and when lifted off, the paper contains an excellent grade of braille."  It was made by the Societe Nationale de Constructions Aeronautiques du Sud-Est, a French aircraft manufacturer which emerged from the nationalization of the French aeronautical industry in 1937. (That explains the really cool dragon logo on the side of the aluminum frame.)  The company merged with another regional firm in 1957 to form Sud Aviation.  Like many items in our collection, APH purchased this example to see if it had application in the educational market.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Paid Resources Available to Persons Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired for Learning to Use Apple Devices


Paid Resources Available to Persons Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired for Learning to Use Apple Devices

 


In a recent Fred's Head post, we explored free resources that persons who are blind and visually impaired could access to learn to use Apple products. Along with these resources, however, other materials exist that differ in scope and format and are available for varying levels of costs. In this post, we will list a number of books, audio tutorials, and multimedia series that persons who are blind and visually impaired or those who teach them may purchase and use to learn or teach persons who are blind and visually impaired to use Apple products.

 

Books


 

National Braille Press


 

National Braille Press, NBP, offers several books discussing Apple products including iPhones, Macs, the Apple TV, and different categories of apps.

 

Learning the Mac


 

Janet Ingber, who has written other books about using Macs which NBP has published, recently authored a new book called Everything You Need to Know to Use the Mac with El Capitan and VoiceOver (MAC-CAPITAN). Here is NBP’s brief description of this book:

 

This guide on Apple Macintosh computers running the El Capitan Operating System is intended for all blind users - whether you have already been using Windows, currently have a Mac and want to use it more effectively, or are considering purchasing a Mac. It explains how to use VoiceOver (Apple's onboard screen reader), learn the keyboard layout, choose preferences, navigate text, surf the Web, and use many of the standard applications that come with the Mac, such as Apple Mail, Safari (Apple's web browser), iTunes, and TextEdit. It covers different models of MacBook and iMac.

 

This book is available in multiple formats including Braille, electronic Braille, Word, ASCII, and DAISY. Purchase this comprehensive book about the Mac at this link.

 

Getting Started with the iPhone and iOS 9


 

Anna Dresner has redesigned this book which first was offered for previous versions of the iOS operating system. It covers changes in iOS 9 while still including information for people with little or no iOS knowledge. Here is NBP’s description of this book:

 

This new edition of our soup-to-nuts tutorial for beginners contains everything you need to know to get started using the iPhone and the iOS 9 operating system. If you like step-by-step tutorials, you'll appreciate the detailed way in which you're guided through setting up your phone, loading and backing up music, contacts, etc., placing calls, entering text, using a Bluetooth keyboard and braille display, and more. If you prefer to look up the commands you need, you'll love the first appendix, which lists every gesture and button on the phone in an organized manner so you can find the one you want.

Other appendices include troubleshooting tips and a list of resources to help you learn more. Most of the book is relevant for iPod Touch users, and since the layout of many iPhone 6 Plus screens resembles that of corresponding iPad screens, iPad users should find this edition useful as well.

 

The book is available in multiple formats and can be purchased at the following link.

 

iOS 9 Without the Eye


 

Jonathan Mosen has written this book to describe the new features of iOS 9 as they affect VoiceOver users. The main difference between Anna Dresner’s book and Jonathan Mosen’s book is that Dresner starts from scratch, assuming you have no particular iOS knowledge while Mosen’s book seeks to explain in great detail the newest features of the latest iOS version without necessarily teaching you iOS basics.  NBP describes Mosen’s book in this way:

 

The incomparable Jonathan Mosen takes you through the latest enhancements to Apple's iDevices - for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad - with iOS 9, showing it to be a more powerful, more capable, and more open system than ever before. Learn all about its newest feature, 3D Touch, as well as peek and pop, Apple Music (3 months of free access to 30 million songs!), what's new with Siri (new voices and a flight status detector), built-in Apple News, a re-vamped Notes, Apple Map transit directions, improved battery life options, Find My Friends, iCloud Drive, Home Kit, and so much more!

 

You also may purchase iOS 9 Without the Eye directly from Jonathan Mosen’s website, Mosen Consulting, which offers Jonathan’s blog and features all of his publications and other services which he provides. Buy iOS 9 Without the Eye from NBP at http://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/IOS9-EYE.html, check out Mosen’s site at http://mosen.org/, and follow Mosen Consulting on Twitter @MosenConsulting.

 

Remember that the iOS 9 books should be updated and/or rereleased when subsequent versions of iOS software become available. Mosen’s book iOS 10 Without the Eye, for instance, can be preordered now on the Mosen Consulting site and can be downloaded on the day that iOS 10 is available for download.

 

Other NBP Books


 

The remaining selections offered by National Braille Press are more specific in their scope, consisting of an iOS 9 Reference Guide, a Mac Reference Guide, and several books about specific types of apps. These books about apps include Anyone Can Play: Accessible Games for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, Out and About: Our Favorite iOS Travel Apps, and Twenty-Two Useful Apps for Blind iPhone Users (Second Edition). NBP’s site includes Tables of Contents for each of these books, all of which can be downloaded at http://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/publications/apple.html.

 

Although this list states that it covers all the Apple-related books available, further searching of NBP’s site shows two additional Apple-related books in the “Computers and Technology Section”. These include Stream It! Music, Movies, and More with Apple TV and VoiceOver and Get the Picture! Viewing the World with the iPhone Camera. You also may find these books listed in NBP’s Computers and Technology Section of their bookstore. You can follow NBP @braillepress on Twitter, https://www.facebook.com/NationalBraillePress on Facebook, https://www.youtube.com/user/NationalBraillePress?feature=watch on YouTube, https://www.pinterest.com/braillepress/ on Pinterest, and https://nationalbraillepress.wordpress.com/ which is NBP’s blog.

 

iOS Access for All


 

IOS Access for All: Your Comprehensive Guide to Accessibility for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, written by Shelly Brisbin, covers more than just VoiceOver; in fact, it covers all of the accessibility features built into iOS. The site’s description of the book is quite helpful:

 

iOS Access for All is a comprehensive guide to the accessibility features of Apple’s mobile devices. From the VoiceOver screen reader, which allows blind users to control an iPhone or iPad, to support for hearing aids and closed captioning, Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS, includes features that support use of the company’s popular iDevices by people with a wide range of physical and cognitive disabilities. iOS Access for All is the most thorough, hands-on guide to accessibility features available. Readers will learn how to set up and use an iOS device in an accessible way, and how to get the most from apps provided by Apple, and available from the App Store. The book also introduces iOS tools, including the Siri voice assistant, that weren’t designed for accessibility, but that nonetheless enhance the productivity and pleasure of disabled users.

 

Brisbin offers a Table of Contents, a sample chapter available for download, and an explanation as to why she wrote this book on the site that promotes the book. She also has stated that the version for iOS 10 should be available in the fall, assuming that version 10 is released as expected by Apple. If anyone buys the version 9 book after iOS 10 is released and before Brisbin’s newest book is released, they will receive the revised book for version 10 for free. Read the information about this resource at http://www.iosaccessbook.com/. You may receive email updates from this site which also provides social media links. Follow @iosaccessbook on Twitter, https://www.facebook.com/IosAccessForAll on Facebook, and https://plus.google.com/communities/104191387699677276608 on Google Plus.

 

Audio Tutorials


 

MacForTheBlind


 

We discussed MacForTheBlind’s available resources in the post about free resources for people who are blind who wish to learn to use Apple products. However, the site also offers audio tutorials for sale. Two pages of audio lessons exist, one for the Mac and one for iOS devices. The advantage of this series is that you do not have to go through every file; you may pick and choose which files most interest you. The Mac page lists 20 files, the first of which is free and contains introductory VoiceOver information. The iOS page contains 14 files, the first of which is introductory in nature and is free. Check out the Mac audio tutorials at http://macfortheblind.com/Audio-Tutorial-series and the iOS tutorials at http://macfortheblind.com/iOS-Lessons. Follow MacForTheBlind @macfortheblind on Twitter and https://www.facebook.com/macfortheblind/ on Facebook. They expect to have a YouTube channel in the future.

   

 

Fedora Outlier


 

Fedora Outlier is a teaching and consulting firm that exists to empower people who are blind and visually impaired to use technology effectively at home, in the classroom, or at work to accomplish as much as they can. Fedora offers this brief description of their firm:

 

The nation’s first provider of consulting, teaching and support for Apple’s range of accessible technologies (including the Mac, iPhone and iPad), Fedora Outlier, LLC, partners with private consumers, agencies and government organizations to provide better than excellent products and services to encourage, equip and empower users to do more with their technology.

 

Fedora works with agencies and individuals, offering specialized training; they also provide comprehensive training on Apple products with their Mac Master Series, iOS Master Series, and their Apple Watch Master Series.

Each series focuses on that particular Apple product or operating system and offers “Teaching from the time you take your device out of its box to mastery.” Each series offers a standard and premium membership; premium memberships offer one-on-one coaching opportunities in addition to the elements present in the standard editions. Each series requires a yearly membership. When you purchase any yearly membership, you receive weekly class modules (Mac and iOS Master Series) or monthly class modules (Apple Watch Master Series) in audio and/or video formats that teach a particular aspect of the product or operating system, dedicated forums, quick tips, and the opportunity to ask questions of the coaches of each series. Premium memberships offer discounts on other courses or series Fedora offers and opportunities for more one-on-one interaction with coaches and even the possibility to benefit financially for getting people to enroll in a series. Thus, each series walks you step-by-step through the process of mastering each device or operating system from unpacking the box to setting up your device, learning its basic features, and discovering advanced features. Fedora’s site also lists additional courses that will be released soon. You may contact Fedora in several ways for additional information. Contact them by E-mail or iMessage at: Excellence@FedoraOutlier.com, @fedora_outlier on Twitter, https://www.facebook.com/fedoraoutlierllc on Facebook, https://www.linkedin.com/company/fedora-outlier-llc on  LinkedIn, and https://plus.google.com/114511140220970872889/posts on Google Plus.

 

As you can see, the existing resources available for purchase for persons who are blind or visually impaired who want to learn to use Apple products are quite varied and extremely comprehensive in scope. As Apple changes its products and operating systems, these resources should be updated to reflect the changes.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Blind Alive Provides Accessible Exercise Information and Routines for Persons Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired

When it comes to exercise, many blind and visually impaired people may hesitate to participate for a number of reasons. In this post, we introduce you to Blind Alive, whose mission is to help blind and visually impaired people to be more active and to incorporate exercise into their lives. One of Blind Alive's team members provided the following information about their mission and their website:

Fitness has always been a concern for both mental and physical health regardless of age, gender, or any other variables that make each of us unique. And for those who are blind, fitness is every bit as much—if not more—important.

 

Exercise for the visually impaired is something that should be incorporated into a weekly, if not daily, routine for a variety of reasons that are both similar and different from those of their sighted peers. For those with total loss of sight as well as for those who have low vision, a lack of regular exercise can bring on a host of other issues, including weight gain, sluggishness, and perhaps worst of all for many, it can worsen insomnia or a circadian rhythm that has been thrown completely off track.

A quality workout done at the right time of day and at the right pace to meet your unique physical and mental needs is just what the doctor may have forgotten to order. For many blind people, fitness has been a challenge: without someone to guide you and without the ability to drive yourself to the gym, it becomes obvious why so many of us give up—but with the Eyes Free line of Fitness Workouts, you’ll never have to depend on anyone else to reach your fitness goals.

 

BlindAlive is proud to have created a user-friendly, completely accessible solution to exercise and fitness that you can do with confidence in your own home.   Now, with resources you can use, you are equipped with the information you need to take charge of your own health and fitness. All of their exercise products have been tested by blind and low vision individuals to ensure that they are completely accessible to members of this community.

 

For each workout, there are supplementary text and audio descriptions that complement those built in to the existing audio. A wide variety of exercise types including cardio, strength training, chair workouts, yoga, and Pilates is available on the website.

 

The team at BlindAlive frequently updates its website with workouts and products, blog posts, podcasts and suggestions to support you on your path to health and wellness. BlindAlive creates more choices for more people by removing those barriers that keep people who are blind and visually impaired from exercising, moving freely, and creating the healthy bodies that we all want in order to participate as vital members of society.

 

For more information, visit BlindAlive's website to see all they have to offer.

You can also like BlindAlive’s Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, or join the BlindAlive Community on Facebook.

 

 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Plate for Creating APH's First Mass-Produced Tactile Map


In honor of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes competing in Rio this month, I tried to find a map of South America in our collection.  We have many.  Our object this week was used to make our first mass-produced version of a tactile map.  This is a brass embossing plate. APH introduced its series of cardboard tactile maps in 1894.  Captions were originally in New York Point, the point system that most U.S. schools used before 1910, although some of the surviving plates indicate they were later converted to braille.  The three volume set included eighty maps with the bulk covering the United States and its territories.  This plate was used to create a map of the western hemisphere.  I am no cartographer, but I think this is a vertical perspective projection map.  Somebody can check me up on that.  The earth looks round, as if you were stationed somewhere in outer space and looking at half of the globe.  The land is indicated by raised horizontal lines, with a few rivers picked out by even heavier raised lines.  The water was left smooth, and the equator, tropics, and arctic circles are indicated by dotted lines.  And that is pretty much it.  Prior to the creation of this set of maps, all previous versions from APH were hand carved out of wood.  The plates for this set were made by hand too.  A worker would hand inscribe the lines on the plates with an embossing tool, and the captions would be added one dot at a time with a special set of tongs.  The plates were fitted into a special rotary press designed by APH Superintendent B.B. Huntoon, which could make thirty copies every minute (or so he boasted!)  Unfortunately, we don’t own any prints made from this plate, but the Perkins School has a set in their archives.  As a side note, brass became increasingly expensive in the twentieth century, turns out it was pretty popular for making artillery shells.  So APH converted to using zinc.

 

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