Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Segmented Sphere Model

Wooden model of a segmented sphere,
with two “slices” removed to reveal the interior
A problem that all the historic residential schools experienced was the scarcity of “tangible apparatus” or educational models and equipment.  In their report to the state of Kentucky in 1871, the Board of the Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB) described some of the types of models they would like to purchase if the state would increase their appropriation.  Apparently the state of New York had bought an expensive set of mathematical models overseas.  The KSB Board had located another potential supplier: the mechanical department at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York had a new woodworking shop that was turning out a cheaper set.  Our object this week is a segmented model of a sphere which might have come from that set, but definitely came from KSB.  The sphere will divide into eight “slices,” much like an orange, and each “slice” will further divide into four wedges, so that the entire sphere is composed of thirty-two pieces.  The wedges in each slice are held together by strips of leather.  Pins on the tops and bottom of the slices allow the entire sphere to be held together by ribbon ties.  Early tactile models such as these would have been precious commodities, an indicator of the “modern” education provided to an institution’s students.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Reading Pacer

Tan plastic Reading Pacer device.
Our object this week is an interesting device used by our research team in the 1960s to study reading speed.  Visually it is a tan plastic box with rounded corners, about ten inches long , six wide, and four high.  It has a clear window on the top, and on its right side are a crank, a switch, and a dial with several settings.  It was called a “Reading Pacer.”  The Educational Research Dept. at APH, headed by Dr. Carson Nolan, was studying the impact of controlled exposure devices on braille reading rates.  Nolan and Research Associate Cleves Kederis published a paper on the subject in the 1967 International Journal for the Education of the Blind, pp. 16, 97-105.  You could set the clockwork on this machine to deliver a reading lesson at a set rate measured in words per minute.  The crank was used to wind it up, and the dial set the speed at which a printed lesson would reveal itself through the window on the top.  Hint:  you can use your hand or a bookmark to perform a similar controlled exposure function and there are plenty of folks who think you can teach yourself to speed read that way!

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Throwback Thursday: American Historical Documents Talking Book

Our object this week celebrates our nation’s independence.  In 1952, APH issued a four disc recording of American historical documents including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States; Lincoln's First and Second Inaugural Addresses, the Gettysburg Address, George Washington's Valley Forge Letter, and Washington's Farewell Address.  It was narrated by Walter Gerard, a WHAS radio newsman in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  You can listen to the Declaration of Independence here.
(Caption:  Red Talking Book record label.)

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Thriving with Vision Loss: Introducing the APH ConnectCenter

“Your site has been an invaluable resource for my family and myself. I am so thankful that you guys take the time to compile information for families that would be impossible to find elsewhere.” - A parent speaking of FamilyConnect

A mother gets tips on how to help her preschool daughter who is blind make friends.

Teenage boy reading braille & smiling in front of a tactile map
A father whose son is low vision reads articles written by another parent with similar experiences.

A rehabilitation counselor watches his student's confidence grow in mock job interviews.

A senior who is worried about life with recent vision loss finds reassuring information written in Spanish, her native language.

Continuing the Legacy of Independence through Information
In February 2018, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and the American Printing House for the Blind  (APH) announced a historic partnership with  the mutual goal of improving the lives of children and adults who are blind or visually impaired. As of July 1, this partnership has taken effect.

APH has now become the steward of several key information resources founded by AFB. The goal is to ensure the continued impact of these critical sources of information. AFB is taking its work to a new level by investing in policy and programs focused on creating a more inclusive, accessible society for people with vision loss.

Introducing the "APH ConnectCenter"
Building on decades of work by AFB, APH has now grouped these resources that cover every aspect of life under the name the APH ConnectCenter. The APH ConnectCenter includes: - gives parents of children who are visually impaired a place to find resources and support each other.

CareerConnect – provides employment information, career-exploration tools, and job-seeking guidance for individuals with vision loss and professionals who work with them. – helps adults who are losing their sight continue to live full and independent lives by providing timely information, step-by-step daily living techniques, and a supportive online community. – teaches children about braille through games and activities and provides resources to teachers and parents.

APH ConnectDirect - this information and referral 800 number provides information by phone on virtually any topic related to visual impairment and blindness. Dial toll-free 1-800-232-5463. You may also submit questions by email at

Preserving Vital Content, Building for the Future
APH is honored to be preserving these vital sites and building them for the future. Users will notice lower activity on the sites until the fall of 2018 because APH is making technical changes to make updating content easier. The current content on the sites will continue to be available, and APH will continue the dialog with users through Facebook and Twitter. New content additions will resume in late fall.

APH President Craig Meador says, "These sites are a critical lifeline for thousands of people of all ages who have vision loss or are caring for someone who does."

Note: Information provided through APH ConnectCenter is for educational and informational use. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice or treatment. Consult your physician or other professionals as appropriate for medical, legal, financial, and related advice.

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The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) makes every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the Fred's Head articles; however, APH makes no warranty, guarantee, or promise, expressed or implied, concerning the content or accuracy of the information provided in Fred's Head. APH does not endorse any technique, product, device, service, organization, or other information presented in Fred's Head, other than products and services directly offered by APH.

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