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 13, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: Student Speech+ Calculator

I’ve been writing these Throwback Thursday articles for several years now, but I’m always amazed at the classic items I have yet to cover.  Our object this week was introduced in 1978, a joint project between APH and Telesensory Systems, a leading accessibility technology firm founded in 1970 at Stanford University. The Student Speech+ Talking Calculator could speak twenty-four words, and was the first calculator to appear in the APH catalog.  It could add, subtract, multiply, divide, and calculate square roots and percentages.  The readout was a pretty small red LED display, but the buttons were designed in large type.   By comparison to modern voice synthesis on your cell phone—I’m talking to you Siri--the voice was highly electronic.  Telesensory designed the calculator, but it was almost identical to their own version from 1976, the Speech+, which came in brown rather than APH blue. Partial assembly was performed by APH, which also distributed the calculators. They sold originally for $455 and were available until 1982.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

Friday, July 07, 2017

July 2017 APH News 
A Few of This Month’s Headlines:


  • Indoor Navigation: The Next Frontier
  • NEW! Six Little Dots - UEB, 2018; Protein Synthesis Kit; Match-It-Up Frames; and Slapstack Math (for iOS Devices)
  • Order Fall 2017 Textbooks Now!
  • Field Tests and Surveys
  • “A Daring Adventure Awaits” at the 2017 APH Annual Meeting of Ex Officio Trustees and Special Guests!
  • The APH Unforgettable Star Contest is back!
  • Braille Badges Contest Begins This September
  • Deadline Approaches for Tactile Illustrated Book Competition
  • Tactile Town Helps Adults Learn Orientation and Mobility
  • Treasure From the Migel Library
  • Social Media Spotlight
  • APH Travel Calendar and more…

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: An Arithmetic Slate

Our object this week is an arithmetic slate from the 1930s.  This is a prototype, the final version was cast in aluminum and featured pentagonal holes.  Pentagonal arithmetic frames were originally developed at the Glasgow Asylum for the Blind in Scotland around 1829.  By turning a metal peg in place, numbers 0-9 and operators were represented.  APH began experimenting with different styles of arithmetic frames in the 1930s.  The frames first entered the catalog in 1935.  By 1937, however, the pentagonal frame was no longer in the catalog, in favor of a gridded frame, often called a “Texas Slate,” which used metal type cast with raised numerals.  A year later, APH introduced its version of the Taylor arithmetic slate, which used octagonal holes, but was similar in concept to the pentagonal design.  APH called its pentagonal slate, the “Bertha Shephard Slate,” but I don’t know who Miss Shephard was.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: Celebrating Helen Keller

Our objects each week run from the humble to the sublime.  This week is a bit of both.  I was looking through our collection to see what we could feature in celebration of Helen Keller’s 137th birthday on June 27th.  This is a zinc embossing plate that we used back in 1957 to emboss a letter from Helen promoting the “Jewish Braille Review,” a magazine that the Jewish Braille Institute of America had begun publishing in 1932.  It was a contract job the Printing House did for the Institute, but it also shows how supportive Helen Keller was of all sorts of social causes.  That was the humble part and here is the sublime.  Most American only think of little Helen at the water pump, but her adult life was so much more interesting.  She lent her name and her influence to a variety of causes, here just promoting a braille magazine.  I encourage everyone to read one of her modern biographies this week and remember her as a fighter for labor, for equal rights, and for social justice. Photo Captions:  #1, Zinc Embossing Plate used in a clamshell press to add braille to a print reproduction of a letter by Helen Keller. #2, Copy of the original letter by Helen Keller promoting the Jewish Braille Review 
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

Quick Tip: Braille Tales. By enrolling in the Braille Tales Print/Braille Book Program, participating families receive six free print/braille books each year until the child reaches his/her 6th birthday.

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