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. It was voted best blindness-related blog three years in a row by

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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, February 05, 2016

Guides Available for JAWS Users for Windows 10

VIP Software Guides for Windows 10

Guides for Windows with JAWS

In a previous Fred's head post from 2013 we learned that a website based in the UK offers several guides to various versions of Windows, Internet Explorer and screen magnification.

The site recently was updated with two guides for Windows 10. These guides include: A Guide To File Explorer and A Guide to the Task Bar

The second guide encompasses the Start menu, search, Cortana, the taskbar buttons, the notification area and notifications. The site contains helpful headings that allow users to locate their desired guides quite easily.

While the guides were developed specifically for JAWS users, most of the information applies to individuals using most screen readers. The site with all of the guides and other helpful links is available at this link

Thursday, February 04, 2016

February 2016 APH News now online

The February 2016 APH news is online and includes articles discussing new APH products including Building on Patterns Second Grade Units 4 and 6. Also the APH news includes an article proclaiming 2016 the Year of Braille, the Unforgettable APH Star Contest, the APH InSights Art Competition and more.

indexing cassette player

Today's Throwback Thursday item as well as the encyclopedia which is discussed are items I received while in middle school. It certainly shows the amazing changes in the technology we blind people have utilized throughout the years.
Our object this week is an indexing cassette player introduced at APH in 1981.  Sometimes today we take it for granted that information on any topic imaginable is available with a few taps on our smart phone.  Before the internet, you’d have to visit a library and use an encyclopedia to get access to that much information.  There were a number of encyclopedia publishers but the two gold standard sets were—and are still today—



Britannica and World Book.   One of the largest single projects ever undertaken at APH was the production of a recorded edition of the World Book Encyclopedia.  Imagine it, the recording filled over two hundred four-track cassettes—it took up six feet of shelf space-- and you want to find a short article on the island of Guam.  Without indexing technology, you’d have to find the “GR-GU” cassette and fast forward a bit at a time with frequent starts and stops until you found the material you were interested in.  The specially designed cassette player applied a lot of previous APH research on playback technology.  A paper braille and large type index listed the exact location of each article.  Dials on the player let you select a track and location and go directly to the selected article with the push of a button.  It also included variable speed controls for rapid playback, but that was nothing new by 1980.  The project began in October 1978.  Three brand new recording studios were installed in 1979 to accommodate the recording process.  Some of our narrators read nothing else for many months.  Production of the indexing player began in January 1980.  It first appeared in the 1981 APH catalog, packaged together with the recorded encyclopedia, for $1,176.  Later the player was also sold separately, for $791.  Annual yearbooks for the encyclopedia were produced through 1984-85, the last year it was sold.  Incidentally, I talk like encyclopedias are dead and gone, but you can still buy them in both print and digital versions, and both have impressive on-line subscription services.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Building on Patterns, BOP Second Grade Unit 6 now available!

Building on Patterns: Primary Braille Literacy Program: Second Grade: Unit 6 Student Kit - UEB

A Walk on the Wild Side
Building on Patterns (BOP) is a complete primary literacy program designed to teach beginning braille users all language arts -- reading, writing, and spelling.

The Building on Patterns series addresses phonemic awareness (ability to hear and interpret sounds in speech), phonics (the association of written symbols with the sounds they represent), comprehension, fluency, and oral vocabulary, all of which have been identified as important for reading instruction.
This program also addresses specific skill areas needed by the child who is blind, such as language development, sound discrimination, tactual discrimination, and concept development. Braille contractions are introduced from the beginning along with sound and letter associations. Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) Skills such as using tactile graphics and technology are also included.
BOP Second Grade builds on the components of BOP First Grade and contains additional activities.

New Features 
  • Timed reading in each lesson
  • More independent reading suggestions
  • Simplified lesson monitoring sheets
  • Quick Read for silent reading and reading comprehension practice
  • Special section with information on individual contributors (authors, illustrators, etc.) to BOP in each unit

BOP Second Grade includes more worksheets, part-word braille contractions, and other remaining literary contractions and symbols along with the rules to use them. The curriculum also emphasizes syllables and multisyllabic words, and the effect of certain letter combinations on vowel sounds. For optional map work, each lesson gives the foreign origin of at least one spelling word.

Recommended ages: 7 to 8 years and up.
Prerequisite: BOP First Grade or equivalent skills.

Note: Each student kit includes Lesson Monitoring Sheets, Consumable Unit Assessment Packet, Student Textbooks, and Worksheets Pack.
IMPORTANT: Download the free UEB Teacher supplement here BOP Second Grade Unit 6 UEB Teacher Supplement and use the information to mark up your Teacher's Edition.

RELATED READING LIST: Scroll to the bottom of this page.
Age Range:
7 and Up
Grade Level:
Copyright Year:
>>Additional product information below
Product Image - click to enlarge

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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Guidebook for Students with Hearing Impairments Preparing to Attend College

An organization named Accredited Schools Online has developed a comprehensive guidebook for hearing impaired students who are preparing to attend college. Accredited Schools Online states that it "is a comprehensive accreditation resource that provides prospective students and families with the tools needed to make well-informed decisions about their education."
The organization describes the guidebook as follows: We have taken special care to provide the most extensive knowledge we can in this guidebook in hopes to make the transition to college a less daunting task than it already is. Our guidebook includes tech tools for students with hearing impairments, how schools create more audible environments, and scholarships for students with hearing impairments.
While this book focuses on students with varying levels of hearing impairments, some of its content invariably applies to blind and visually impaired students, especially as it relates to self-advocacy and determining the disability resources each college offers
All this great information and more can be found here:

Directions For Me

Directions ForMe

Directions For Me

Do you have food stored away that you are not quite sure how to prepare correctly? Are you wondering exactly how you should use a particular medicine? Are you uncertain as to whether or not you should use your favorite cleaning product on certain surfaces? A service is available thanks to Horizons for the Blind called Directions for Me. You can reach it from Horizons for the Blind's site or from this link
You might wish to bookmark the site as locating it via search engine is painfully difficult.

Directions For Me provides directions for making baked goods, proper use of cleaners, frozen foods, tools, medicines, and a host of other things. The homepage offers the categories of food, health and beauty, and other. When in doubt, choose other as the list of available options under other is immense.

The variety of products offered is impressive; for instance, you do not get the directions for making just one kind of Betty Crocker brownies—you get directions for making more than half a dozen varieties depending on the size of the box, whether it uses dark chocolate, peanut butter, etc. There are even directions for store or private label brands like Clear Value and Everyday Value. Also if you know exactly what you are looking for, the site provides a search bar that you can use to find a specific product.

Directions For Me is a tremendously useful service. As you utilize it, if you are so inclined, you may donate to the site using the provided PayPal link.

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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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