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, November 15, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Vintage STEAM Product

Our object this week is an early STEAM product introduced in 1984 for low vision students.  “Microscope Use and Basic Life Forms” was adapted from a 1967 kit developed for fully sighted students by a company called National Teaching Aids (NTA).  That is not uncommon, teachers of the visually impaired see innovative teaching tools developed for ordinary classrooms and adapt them for students who are blind.  The slide viewer, which looked like a plastic microscope, the lesson programs, and a set of 160 slides came directly from NTA, with audio versions on cassette added by APH.  The kit introduced basic concepts of botany and zoology, and a second kit covered microbiology and human anatomy.
 Black plastic slide viewer shaped like a microscope and a black cardboard mailing case filled with clear plastic bags.  Each bag holds a strip of slides, print lesson plan, and an audio cassette.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Throwback Thursday: U.S. Signal Corps Sensory Aid

The Signal Corp Sensory Aid is a black metal
box about nine by nine by three inches, with two
 lenses on the front and a curved handle on top.
One of the more interesting stories that we tell is how military technologies like sonar and radar began to be applied to blindness after World War II.
This is a pioneering electronic obstacle detector, designed by Lawrence Cranberg at the U.S. Army Signal Corp Engineering Lab in 1943.  Twenty-five experimental units were manufactured by RCA, and in 1950, Haverford College was contracted to field test them by the Veterans Administration.  That study led directly to the development of more advanced models including the space age Laser Cane.
Cranberg's device sent out a beam of light, which, when reflected off an obstacle or object, was detected by the machine.  A vibrating button in the handle would suggest the distance from the object by changing its frequency.  This and many other travel aids are part of our AER Warren Bledsoe Orientation and Mobility Archives Collection.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Have you met the littlest pumpkin in the pumpkin patch?

Just in time for Halloween, we have a new tactile and auditory experience for you! You can now read the story of “The Littlest Pumpkin” with fun audio effects. We are happy to announce our collaboration with Novel Effect to bring the book to life. All you have to do is download the Novel Effect App for iOS, select “The Littlest Pumpkin,” and start reading. Novel Effect’s game changing app will listen to your voice and add sound effects, enhancing the storytelling experience. This is a great way to keep young learners engaged and to provide context clues for children with visual impairments that sighted children receive from illustrations.

A child's hand feeling a tactile graphic of a jack-o'-lantern
This APH favorite with its tactile, low complexity illustrations and print/braille, is designed for children with visual impairments and CVI but it’s easily enjoyed by all the little pumpkins! The book now comes to life with the sounds of the pumpkin patch and the Littlest Pumpkin himself. Novel Effect is working hard to make its app fully accessible, but for now this is a great way for sighted family members or teachers to make story time super exciting!

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