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.

(See the end of this page for subscribing via email, RSS, browsing articles by subject, blog archive, APH resources, writing for Fred's Head, and disclaimers.)


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Deleting Unwanted Programs From Your Computer

It seems like I get questions all the time asking how to remove / uninstall programs. So, here's the step-by-step procedure:

  1. The first thing to do is click the Start menu, Programs. Then hunt for the program you want to delete. Oftentimes, you'll find an Uninstall program under it's program group.

  2. Another way would be to click the Start button, Settings, Control Panel. Then open the Add/Remove programs icon. You'll see a list of programs that Windows can remove from your system. Just click the one you would like to remove and hit the OK button.

  3. If neither of the above works, you can always go to the program's folder and delete it. However, there is no guarantee that the program was confined to that folder. It could have other files distributed throughout your computer.

  4. Finally, you might consider a program like Spring Cleaning . It can remove unused or old versions of programs and toss duplicates and unneeded files.

As I mentioned earlier, you might get a message during uninstall telling you that there are shared files (.dll) that are not needed-it seems that whenever I delete these, it turns out I DO need them for another program to run, so it may be best to keep those files.

Keep in mind that some of the files that get placed on your hard drive when you install a program are basically updates to some of your existing files. So if you are uninstalling something and get a message saying not all the files from a program could be removed, it may be due to the fact that other programs also use these files.

Tips On How to Repair A Video Cassette

If you've got a favorite or irreplaceable videocassette that's been broken or damaged, resist the temptation to try splicing it. A poorly spliced videotape could ruin the video-head drum in your player. All is not lost, though, if you want to salvage the tape's contents.

  1. Take out the five screws with a Phillips screwdriver from the bottom of two videocassettes, one you can sacrifice and the one that's been damaged.

  2. Gently separate the tops and bottoms of the cassettes. Some tapes have a label down the sides, you will have to remove these labels.

  3. Study the way the tape threads through the cassette. You'll need to remember this later.

  4. Discard all of the tape from the sacrificed cassette, but keep all the other parts, including the reels.

  5. Take the first section of the damaged tape (still on its reel) from the videocassette you want to save and transfer it to the shell of the sacrificed cassette.

  6. Attach it to the take-up reel with adhesive tape. The take-up reel will be on your right if you have the case facing as if it were going into a VCR.

  7. Take the empty reel from the sacrificed cassette and transfer it to the shell of the cassette you're saving. Attach the second section of broken tape to this cassette.

  8. Reassemble the cassette shells, being careful to thread the tape the way you found it. You now have two tapes that contain as much of your material as can be saved, with no midtape splice that could damage your video-head drum.

  9. Copy the two tapes to a new videocassette and then throw them away.

Practice this videocassette repair technique on a couple of tapes you don't care about before you attempt to repair that irreplaceable tape of your sister's wedding.

If a tape breaks at one end, you can safely reattach it to the reel for the purpose of copying it, but you should still throw it away since it won't have the leader that the VCR's end sensor relies on to tell it to stop rewinding.

For more information on videocassette restoration, visit this blog:

Visually Impaired computer users can now explore technical drawings

Digitised technical drawings are typically presented and edited on standard PCs with appropriate software installed. However, blind and visually-challenged persons must access a user interface and presentation tool specially tailored for them.

The TeDUB project has overcome the limitations of existing technologies by creating an innovative, accessible system. The Image Interpreter analyses drawings semi-automatically or automatically using image processing and knowledge processing techniques.

The system is capable of analysing and presenting diagrams from a number of formally defined technical drawing domains, primarily electronic circuits, floor plans and software (UML) engineering drawings.

Diagrams enter the system, are processed and transformed to the internal format of the TeDUB system and accessed by the Diagram Navigator, which allows users to interact via a number of devices, including an ordinary keyboard for input and textual output, either accessed through a Braille device or a screen reader.

The system also offers navigation using a joystick and sound notifications. Users can choose between interfaces. For example, the 3D sound interface provides spatial information relating to the user's current position, which allows them to 'walk' around the diagram.

An evaluation took place in Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands and the UK involving 35 blind or partially-sighted participants, including students aged 16 to 30 following courses on computer science or informatics, and professionals aged 21 to 60, working as programmers, software consultants and university lecturers.

They were positive about how easy the system can be learned. They also liked the simple operation of the interface when using keyboard commands and the combination of different interfaces to operate the system, as well as how to access information.

TeDUB can be integrated into available screen readers, avoiding the need to recreate completely new software environments. It also solves a problem that has traditionally demanded the more laborious solution of manually creating tactile diagrams.

Project partners are extending the number of types of drawings the system can handle and plan to include business bar and pie charts found in standard business communications. Future plans include focusing on the educational domain, specifically e-learning content.

For more information on TeDUB, visit the project web site by clicking this link:

How to Know if Someone Likes You Romantically

Sometimes the direct approach is best - just ask. But if that seems too bold for your liking, look for the following signs.


  1. Pay attention to your conversations with the person in question. Does this person show a special interest in having a conversation with you and, once started, make an effort to keep that conversation going?

  2. Is this person "accidentally" running into you in places where he or she knows you will be, such as at your desk? At the Laundrymat on Tuesdays? At your brother's birthday party?

  3. Make a note if he or she mentions future plans to spend time with you: "That band is coming to town soon. We should really get tickets".

  4. Spend time alone together. Canceling other plans in order to be with you longer, or not finding excuses to leave, could be a sign of interest.

  5. Has he or she been calling for random reasons, such as, "I was wondering if you knew what that pizza place down the street is called," followed by, "Are you hungry?"

  6. Has this person taken a sudden interest in your life and hobbies? This is a sure sign that he or she is interested in something - and it's probably not your CD collection.

  7. Observe how the person acts around your friends - he or she might be extra friendly to your closest pals for a reason.

Body Language

  1. Sometimes seeing someone you have a crush on results in telltale physiological signs. Does the person in question blush when you look at him or her? His or her sympathetic nervous system is probably going into overdrive. Does he or she have trouble speaking, using jumbled words when talking to you?

  2. See if the person in question mirrors your motions: When you lean back, he or she leans back; when you put your elbows on the table, he or she does the same.

  3. Note whether this person sits or stands in the open position - that is, facing you with arms uncrossed. In addition, a woman tends to cross her legs in a man's direction.

  4. Does he or she move closer to you and/or touch you softly, such as with a pat of your hand or a touch of your cheek?

  5. Other elements of body language include frequent eye contact, holding your gaze and looking down before looking away, energetic speech coupled with open hands, and flashing palms.

  6. Does the person you're wondering about just plain smile at you a lot?

Take some time to closely observe those around you, you may be surprised at what you discover.

Get Help With Your Modest Needs

Modest Needs is a non-profit organization reaching out to the people conventional philanthropy has forgotten: hard-working individuals and families who suddenly find themselves faced with small, emergency expenses that they have no way to afford on their own.

Most persons living paycheck to paycheck earn just barely too much to qualify for any type of conventional assistance. This means they can't receive the help they need to overcome a short-term crisis - until they've already lost everything.

Modest Needs exists because they think there's a better way to do things. As far as They are concerned, no hard-working person should ever have to choose between taking a child to the doctor and putting food on the table.

At Modest Needs, compassionate persons whose lives have been touched by kindness pass that kindness on to hard-working individuals and families struggling with the burden of an unexpected emergency expense.

They do this by helping people afford small, emergency expenses like those we've all encountered before: the unexpected car repair, the unanticipated visit to the doctor, or the unusually large winter heating bill. Assistance can come within seventy-two hours from the time of request.

Operating this way since 2002, the members of the Modest Needs community have prevented 1604 individuals and families from entering the cycle of poverty over a small, emergency expense. And in keeping with their philosophy, they never ask for anything in return.

By choice, the work they do at Modest Needs is funded exclusively by the generosity of private citizens, with gifts typically ranging from $5 to $100 at a time.

If your life has been touched by kindness, and you're looking for a meaningful way to pass that kindness on, I hope you'll join the Modest Needs community. Here, every person has the power to change a life. Modest Needs is a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit corporation.

If you need help to afford a small, emergency expense, please apply for assistance.

Click this link to visit the Modest Needs home page: You may also use the contact information below to send a gift or a personal note:

Modest Needs Foundation
150 W 22nd St
Fifth Floor
New York, NY 10011
Phone: 212-463-7042

The Ketch-All Multiple Catch Mousetrap

I lived on a farm with my family during my teen-age years, and as wenter came, we found that field mice loved our home as much as we did. One problem that I always had with the old-fashioned mousetraps is checking to see if I caught anything. My father ended up with that job.

How does a blind person check those things anyway? Once you set the trap, I guess you would have to use a stick or something to disarm it, but then if you have a mouse in the trap, it doesn't sound right to poke around at it. You can't reach down to see if there's a mouse, it's gross for one thing, and you may trap your finger in the process.

Luckily for me, someone has solved this delemma. The Ketch-All Multiple Catch Mousetrap is a wind-up repeating trap. No bait required. Just put it two inches from the wall and for some reason the mice climb right in. A spring loaded trap door flips them into a little chamber, and they call their friends to join them.

One trap catches ten a night, and the mice don't seem to mind at all. The one that I know of is the Trap Man, sold as the Ketch-All in the US, but the Mouse Master looks like it may work just as well.

Of course, it does leave you with the problem of what to do with a daily box of live mice, but that's for another Fred's Head article.

Click this link to purchase the Ketch-All Multiple Catch Mousetrap from

The Mouse Master is available from Triton Pest Control, click this link to visit their site.

Freshen The Air with Light Bulbs?

The title got your attention didn't it? No, I haven't totally flipped my lid, and no, my personal intelligence light bulb hasn't burned out.

Fresh2 makes fluorescent compact light bulbs coated with a titanium dioxide film. The fluorescent UV light causes a chemical reaction with the film, and the resulting oxidation eliminates odors. I know it sounds far fetched, but the things really work. I ordered a pair for our laundry room which is located in our basement.

We replaced the room's sixty watt incandescent bulb (which we kept on all the time) with this new Fresh2 forty watt fluorescent fixture. I immediately liked the fact that we're saving electricity, but within one day, the odors were completely eliminated. The only problem that some may have is that the air should circulate around them, meaning that they work best in exposed sockets, which isn't the most attractive look. Results will vary based on the size of the room.

A similar technology is being used in Japan on windows. In this application, exposure of the titanium dioxide to sunlight UV caused a reaction that effectively cleaned the windows of soot, grime, etc.

For prices and ordering information, click this link to visit the fresh2 web site:

Don't Get Stuck Running Speaker Wires

I have been using these wonderful little Mounting Squares from Scotch for about 2 years now for holding things up, down, and together, and have loved them. They are Clear, easy to remove from surfaces, and can be purchased from any home improvement center.

I was desperately searching for an easy and elegant way to tack down my speaker wire for a new surround sound system when I stumbled upon these little gems and knew that I had found the answer. These squares are like a cross between Sticky Tack and the best Scotch tape you've ever used. They are gooey and very sticky, yet hold their form and are almost totally invisible.

For tacking down speaker wire, many folks nail those little "U" shaped brackets into the wall; but these are so much better. I simply stuck one to the wall, stuck the speaker wire to it and then stuck another one over it to make a "sandwich" with the speaker wire in the middle. It looks fantastic, it's non-marring, it's easy and fast, and it really holds well! In addition, these hold up pictures, posters and even light objects with ease. They are truly an innovation and fill a need that many don't realize they have until they see the product. They are just great to have around.

Precut, Removable Clear Mounting Squares
Hang notes, photos and other lightweight items on metal, glass, wood, plastic-most smooth surfaces.
Two-sided adhesive with a removable liner.
Securely holds objects up to 1 lb.
Precut 11/16" squares.
35 Squares per Pack

Click this link to purchase the Scotch Mounting Squares from Amos.

Stop Drafts Cold With The Twin Draft Stopper

Lots of people visiting my house comment on all the different gadgets I have, but the only one they ask me about, so they can get one of their own is my double draft stopper. Sometimes the simple and cheap is more impressive than the complex and expensive.
The Twin Draft Stopper is two long cylinders of styrofoam that slide into a cloth cover, which is then slid under the door and holds the foam in place to stop drafts. The foam can be trimmed to fit your door and the extra fabric folds back and fastens with hook/loop material. It glides with the door, can be easily removed, and the cover is machine washable. They're available from a variety of web sites, and are a lot cheaper than having your doors replaced.

Click this link to purchase the Twin Draft Stopper from the Improvements Catalog.

Bugzooka Those Nasty Bugs From Your Home

Spiders up in the corners of the ceiling. Mosquitoes lurking on the wall by the light. Flies on the windowpane. You can hear them, feel them, but they're hard to hit, and when you do, they squish. So don't even try to hit them, yuck!

The Bugzooka looks, sounds, and is priced like a kids' toy but is highly evolved efficiency when it comes to removing bugs from your home. No batteries. Just cock the bellows on your hip, point the extendable end to within an inch or two of the offending insect, thumb the trigger, and FWOOP!, insect magically gone. Stroll the country house---thirty spiders, fwoopety-fwoop, all gone in five minutes. Don't suck bugs in to your expensive vacuum, some can crawl out of the hose, and who wants bugs in the bag when it comes time to change it.

Bugs are sucked, in good condition, into a chamber on the end of the Bugzooka where they can be studied by a child (probably male) or released humanely. If you really don't care to see the bugs up close, the kit includes a smoked-plastic version of the capture chamber. Now that's nuance.

Click this link to purchase the Bugzooka from

Remove Spiders from Your Home

Spider Catcher is the latest in arachnid immobilisation technology. You can catch a spider while still remaining 65cm away. All you have to do is pull the trigger on the handle of the Spider Catcher, pop the bristled end onto the creature and release.

The spider is incapacitated thanks to the nylon bristles that act like glue to its hairy little legs. Unfortunately, you'll have to finish the job yourself and release the beast in the garden or kill it. The device can also be used to catch butterflies and moths without hurting them.

There's a shorter travel version for caravans, boats, motor homes, cars, tents, etc.

Click this link to learn more about the Spider Fighter.

Gardening Gloves for the Blind

My wife used to come in after a day of gardening with her hands roughened and scratched. Sure, she had gardening gloves, but they'd always get pulled off and forgotten the first time she had to do anything delicate. Leather, canvas, cotton -- nothing would stay on her hands.

Last year she picked up a pair of Atlas 370 gloves at the local garden store. They're extremely thin, lightweight, and flexible, so there's no need to take them off. The palm is tough nitrile -- made it through a season with no punctures or tears -- while the back is a cool, breathable knit. You could tie your shoes without taking these off.

These gloves were actually designed for precision assemblers. Gardeners discovered them and adopted them in a heartbeat. They're pretty easy to find at local garden centers (many of which also carry a heavier cold-weather version), but several on-line retailers stock them. For blind or visually impaired gardeners, they work great!

Click this link to visit the LFS Glove & Safety site:

Native Baby Sling

Like most Americans, I hauled my firstborn around in his carseat or infant carrier, which made traveling on public transportation very interesting. Have you ever tried to use a dog guide while packing a child?

For my second child, I researched slings extensively, and bought one from a company called New Native.

This carrier goes over one shoulder and the opposite hip. It is popular for those finding conventional carriers too bulky, and looking for a carrier that can easily be stuffed into a diaper bag or purse. It can be worn with the baby in front, side or back. For mom, it is ideal for discreet nursing. Made from 100% cotton fabric, with no buckles, padding or metal rings that can slip or be uncomfortable.

Extra small and larger sizes are available upon request. They make sizes up to 5XL in a variety of colors.

Click this link to see if the New Native Baby Sling is right for you.

Medicinal Benefits of Whole Foods

"For the first 5000 years of civilization, humans relied on foods and herbs for medicine. Only in the past 50 years have we forgotten our medicinal "roots" in favor of patent medicines. While pharmaceuticals have their value, we should not forget the well-documented, non-toxic and inexpensive healing properties of whole foods. The following list is but a sampling of the health benefits from whole foods."


"Apple. Lowers cholesterol and risk for cancer. Has mild antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory estrogenic activity. High in fiber, helps avoid constipation, suppresses appetite. Juice can cause diarrhea in children".

"Asparagus. A super source of the antioxidant glutathione, to lower cancer risk".

"Avocado. Benefits circulation, lowers cholesterol, dilates blood vessels. It's main fat, monounsaturated oleic acid (also concentrated in olive oil), acts as an antioxidant to block artery-destroying toxicity of bad-type-LDL cholesterol. One of the richest sources of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant shown to block thirty different carcinogens and to block proliferation of the AIDS virus in test tube experiments".

"Banana and Plantain. Soothes the stomach. Good for dyspepsia (upset stomach). Strengthens the stomach lining against acid and ulcers. Has antibiotic activity".

"Barley. Long known as a "heart medicine" in the Middle East. Reduces cholesterol. Has anti-viral and anti-cancer activity. Contains potent antioxidants, including tocotrienols".

"Beans. (legumes, including navy, black, kidney, pinto, soy beans and lentils). Potent medicine in lowering cholesterol. One-half cup of cooked beans daily reduces cholesterol an average 10 percent. Regulates blood sugar levels. An excellent food for diabetics. Linked to lower rates of certain cancers. Very high in fiber. A leading producer of intestinal gas in most people".

"Beets. Richer than spinach in iron and other minerals. The greens are helpful in cases of anemia, tuberculosis, constipation, poor appetite, obesity, tumors, gout, pimples and helpful in the elimination of irritating drug poisons. Beets are one of the best foods to relieve constipation and they are also good for obesity.

For more foods, and why you should eat them, click this link to visit the Medicinal Value of Whole Foods site:

What's That Acronyma?

APH, ACB, KSB, KCB, VIPS, TARC, NCAA, NAACP, GDUI, and NFB. Don't you hate it when someone throws you an acronym? You spend the next few seconds rolling it over in your mind, trying to figure out what they are talking about, so as not to look too behind the times.

Maybe you just received the latest office memo and there's about to be a big purchase from, you guessed it, another acronym! Wouldn't it be great if there was a place where you could go to look up this funny name, and actually know what it stands for? There is, and the link is at the bottom of this article.

Acronyma is a large, online database full of acronyms. You simply put in the acronym, hit the "search" button, and get instant results. As of this article, there were 471909 acronyms and abbreviations for you to search. There are also acronyms and abbreviations in Spanish, German, French, Dutch, Italian, and Portuguese.

Click this link to visit the Acronyma home page:

Freelance Opportunities for Disabled Latino Writers in the U.S.

the National Technical Assistance Center for Latinos with Disabilities, is looking for reporters with first person experience with Latino culture and disability.

Reporters are needed to write articles documenting

  • success stories about how Latinos with disabilities living in the U.S. have found jobs or advanced in their careers

  • experiences and challenges disabled Latinos face in obtaining education, training, assistive technology, independent living services and jobs in both urban and rural communities in the U.S.

  • Latino organizations reaching out to serve disabled members of their communities

  • disability organizations reaching out to serve Latinos

  • analyses of the situations of disabled Latinos in areas of the U.S. that have a high concentration Latinos with disabilities

  • obstacles and failures, especially if something was learned from the experience

  • interpretation of how new federal initiatives or legislation impact disabled Latinos

Reporters will be expected to use a variety of techniques to obtain information including conducting interviews and surveys, attending meetings, networking, and using local or Web-based libraries and information centers. Articles will be short, practical, and may be submitted in English or Spanish. Go to to see sample articles. Reporters will be compensated for their work on a per-article basis.

To apply, send a resume describing yourself and your skills, and a one-page article you have written about disabled Latinos to Robin Savinar at or call (510) 251-4325.

The National Technical Assistance Center for Latinos with Disabilities is a project of the World Institute on Disability, supported by the Rehabilitation Services Administration.

Insight Radio: Europe's Only Radio Station Serving The Blind and Partially Sighted

Insight Radio broadcasts over the Internet providing tailored, accessible information for people who are blind or visually impaired.

By tuning into Insight Radio, a blind or partially sighted person can listen to a selection of newspapers on the same day they hit the street, thus overcoming the situation where it can take up to three days for them to receive an abridged audio recording of newspapers. The station also has a regular and popular line-up of news and entertainment programmes, supported by live studio debates and phone-ins.

This project is achieving a great deal, not the least helping to break down the barriers faced by blind and partially sighted people in having quick and easy access to information. It also provides a valuable training ground for blind people who may be interested in building a career in broadcasting. The station has had fifteen people enter into full-time employment or training within the broadcasting industry, including BBC Scotland.

Insight Radio began broadcasting on November 20, 2003. It can be accessed by clicking this link:

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Smith-Kettlewell Journal for the Blind

The entire contents of The Smith-Kettlewell Technical File are now available by FTP. The Smith-Kettlewell Technical File is a quarterly technical journal for blind and visually impaired readers that contains, among other articles, a seven part series on soldering techniques, and an extensive series on basic electronics construction methods which culminates in building a series of practical test instruments. also included are numerous articles on specific integrated circuits and other solid state devices.

To find this journal, go to this case-sensitive site:

You may also contact Tom Fowle at if you have difficulties accessing the site.

Start your Career as a Travel Agent

Imagine a future in the exciting Travel Industry

Working at home in your own home-based travel agency is one of the most exciting business opportunities available. The Ctravel terminal has placed Soneil Vision as a leader in its field with a leap in current technology. Ctravel software is Internet based software that will give access to all travel and ticketing networks. It can be used in a call center, in a travel agency office, at home as an extension of the office or anywhere as an independent travel professional. The blind person can able to read each single line displayed and ultimately make a booking.

Ctravel allows blind travel agents to login and check for:

  • The lowest fares available
  • Availability options
  • All applicable rules and routing
  • Passport and visa regulations
  • Special meals and services
  • Complex itineraries with stopovers and open jaws
  • Waitlist and sell-up booking classes
  • Calculate the airport taxes
  • Reserve the seat allowing you to view the file later
  • Print the ticket directly from the PNR

The software also allows you to make or receive phone calls, faxes and emails from anywhere as if you were physically present in the office by using a VPN.

For more information on this exciting field, see below:

Soneil Vision Enabling Solutions
29-6033 Shawson Drive
Mississauga, ON L5T 1H8
Phone: 905-565-0840
Fax: 905-565-0352

Light Up Your Portible Devices

Hi-Speed USB 2.0 Cables with LED Light-Up Connectors!

They may look like ordinary clear cables... but power up your PC and the clear connectors light up! Great for case-modifyers or just for fun, and they're very helpful for identifying cables when you've got several USB devices connected at a hub.

Get organized and look cool at the same time

These great cables are available in 3,6, and 10ft. lengths, in blue, green, clear, and red colors.

Click this link for detailed information on these light up USB cables, or to purchase the cables from

Voice-Dialing and Information Services over the Phone: Weather, Traffic, Airlines, Taxis, and more

Message: hello fred!

I'm working with a blind 80 something year old Veteran who asked me about cell-phones. I don't know much about them. He would like one with voice input capacity.

I'd greatly appreciate any help with this you might be able to offer. location: California

Let me begin by saying that the majority of the phones on the market today are not accessible to the blind. Menu functions like checking the status of the battery, call waiting, the call list, and the address book are almost impossible to use. There are phones that speak this information, but they are very expensive, and if he's like me, spending several hundred dollars for a cell phone is out of the question. I always said that if I spent that kind of money, I'd drop the phone as soon as the purchase was completed.

Cingular Wireless has a plan where you can get the software free if you are blind or visually impaired, but the phone costs $249, which is a lot of money for a cell phone. The reason for the expense is that the phone must run a particular operating system to accommodate the speech software. Cingular does not offer a payment plan for this phone.

Now, there are things that can make cell phones easier to use. The first thing that most folks look at is the keypad. We want keys that are raised, with a dot on the "5" key for reference. Most "flip" phones have a keypad that is flat, which is difficult to use by the blind. How raised the keys need to be is a personal preference, depending on the sensitivity of the fingers.

Sprint offers its voice-dialing service, Sprint PCS Voice Command, for free to customers who are blind, visually impaired or physically disabled. The free service, which allows calls to be dialed by speaking the desired contact or phone number, also includes 10 free directory assistance calls per month. Sprint PCS Voice Command is currently available to Sprint customers for $5 a month.

To take advantage of this program, customers should contact Sprint to obtain an application form. The form requests basic customer information; in addition, customers are asked to have their doctor or ophthalmologist sign the form certifying the customer's eligibility. For more details about this offer, please visit, or to obtain an application, contact Customer Solutions at (888) 211-4727.

Sprint PCS Voice Command is enjoyed by many of Sprint's disabled customers who have difficulty dialing phone numbers or reading handset display information. Sprint PCS Voice Command uses next-generation speech technology that responds to any voice and works on any Sprint PCS Phone.

The Sprint PCS Voice Command personal address book holds up to 500 names and 2500 phone numbers. Sprint PCS Voice Command users can manage their personal address book online, by voice and through Sprint Directory Assistance.

This advanced service is network-based so customers who upgrade to a new phone or happen to lose their Sprint PCS Phone won't lose their address book and contacts. Plus, Sprint PCS Voice Command customers may also "Call the Web" for access to news, weather, sports, email and other information.

Cingular Wireless has a similar service called Voice Connect that will allow a person to speak the numbers they want to dial. To use this service however, one must enter *8 on their cell phone. They can then speak the number they want to dial, or enter names in to an address book. Once the names are in, you can say something like, "call mom" and the phone will call the number you've associated with your mom. The service does have some other features like getting the current weather conditions, a wake up call feature, getting sports and news, and your daily horoscope. If you are blind, you can get this service for free. You will have to show some documentation, but it's usually something simple. Blind users can also get the 411 service for free.

For more information on the various plans that Cingular offers, visit their home page for Disability Resources:

VoiceDialer for Windows Mobile Pocket PC

Voice Dialer is available for Windows Mobile based Pocket PC's. The application lets you say the name of a contact you would like to call, freeing your hands from having to dial the number manually. VoiceDialer retrieves the names and phone number from your contact list and then dials the number.

According to SmartVoice, the developer, VoiceDialer is accurate enough to never need training, it will work the first time even if you have never used it before. They also say it can handle multiple users and accents. VoiceDialer contains text to speech to provide a complete eyes-free interface, allowing confirmations, and the ability to call to multiple locations including mobile, work and home.

Find more information on Voice Dialer by visiting the web site:


A similar service can be found at 1-800-555-TELL. The phone line is provided by Tell Me (R). It lets you get information such as news, sports, weather, stock quotes, entertainment news and driving directions. The software is easy to navigate, it tells you exactly what you can do.

When you call, you tell it what kind of information you want to hear. An example would be to say "weather" and the system will get that information for you. If you are interested in sports, you say "sports", then say the sport you want to hear about. You could say a specific team such as "Braves". In the sports baseball area, you can also say "American League" or "National League" to get all the scores from a specific league. If you pick the taxi or airline option, Tell Me will directly connect you with a cab company in the area you choose, or will connect you with an airline representative.

This service is toll-free for U.S. citizens, the phone number is 1-800-555-TELL, or 1-800-555-8355.

Surf The World Wide Web with Your Phone

netECHO; by InternetSpeech lets people unleash the power of the Internet simply with the sound of their voice. netECHO; lets users give simple voice commands like "Yahoo," or "e-mail" to get the Net-based information they want.

Access is provided via any phone, and information on any web site, whether voice-enabled or not is available to the user. A computer is not required. InternetSpeech is a California corporation, founded in 1998.

See how easy netECHO is to use by checking out the demo.

Click this link to visit the netECHO home page:

Hotline for Disability-Related Air Travel Problems

In August 2002, the Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings (Enforcement Office), established a toll free number that consumers who experience disability related air travel problems may use to obtain information and assistance. The hotline is staffed from 7 am to 11 pm local time in Washington, D.C., seven days a week, and provides general information to consumers about the rights of air travelers with disabilities and assists air travelers in resolving time-sensitive disability-related issues that need to be addressed in real time.

Unfortunately, many members of the public are still not aware of the existence of the hotline, and as a result the hotline is not being sufficiently used. The Enforcement Office asks that you advise members of your respective organizations about the existence of an aviation consumer disability toll-free hotline and encourage them to call the hotline if they should experience disability-related air service problems. The toll-free number for the hotline is 1-800-778-4838 (voice) or 1-800-455-9880 (TTY).

The Enforcement Office is committed to improving the quality of air transportation for people with disabilities and believes that with your help the toll-free hotline can be a major step towards accomplishing this goal.

The Kansas Audio-Reader Network

The University of Kansas' Audio-Reader Network, the second-oldest radio reading service in the nation, makes print accessible for people who are blind or who cannot use printed materials because of a disability.

Audio-Reader was one of only two radio reading services in the nation -- Minnesota was first -- when it was established in 1971 by Lawrence philanthropist Petey Cerf. Today, with the help of FM radio broadcasters, cable TV companies, microwave relay systems and the Kansas Lions Sight Foundation Satellite Network, reading by radio is available to thousands of people across Kansas and western Missouri, with some Audio-Reader programming available via satellite to other radio reading services across the United States.

Audio-Reader is generally broadcast on the subcarrier of an FM radio station. This means a special radio is required in the home. The radio is provided by Audio-Reader, on loan, for as long as it is wanted. In some locations Audio-Reader may only be available through the local cable company. In those cases, Audio-Reader will provide a special radio if one is required, but the listener will have to subscribe and pay for basic cable service. Listeners receive a program guide in large print, Braille, or cassette.

Audio-Reader, offered as a public service by KU, provides live and recorded broadcasts of printed materials including current books, magazines and newspapers. The range of materials includes the New York Times and Wrestling USA, as well as Spanish broadcast of content in Dos Mundos, an English-Spanish newspaper published in Kansas City, Mo.

Other services include Personal Taping and Fax Response. Pamphlets, newsletters, articles, instruction manuals or other printed materials under 100 pages can be mailed to Audio-Reader and a volunteer will read the text onto a cassette. Shorter documents may be faxed to their offices and they will telephone the sender and read them back, usually within a half hour. Details about these services are available upon request.

Audio-Reader also streams the material it provides to the blind through their website. The stream is in the RealAudio format and is available to registered users only. You can request membership through the contact information below.

Audio-Reader also operates a newspaper-by-telephone system, the Lions Telephone Reader. Please use the contact information below to receive an application for service, or a broadcast schedule:

1120 west 11th St.
P.O. Box 847
Lawrence, KS 66044
Toll Free: 800-772-8898
Phone: 785-864-4600
Fax: 785-864-4053

Describe Online for the UK

Ever wondered where to go after you step onto the platform or how to find your train when you leave the bus or taxi? Ever felt lost in the maze of tunnels and galleries where no natural light reaches you? Ever been left wondering what the sign really means when you don't know where you are, let alone where you're going?

Describe Online, a web site in the UK, is publishing text guides to public premises, on a web site which is accessible to all who can benefit from this information. Ever been shocked by the silence you received when you hoped to hear the information you've been waiting for?

The site contains guidance information relating to the London Underground and National Rail networks, together with our first guide to a town centre. It also contains an accessible National Rail map and National Rail station finder as well as a growing number of guides to stations throughout the country.

With Describe Online's text guides of various locations, the user can better understand a location before traveling. It's almost like having a tour guide telling you what's around! Describe Online is co-operating with public information websites to make their pages more accessible and user friendly. They can produce a text guide to your premises, which would include the routes to and from public transport. Their guides range from instructions to customers telling them where to obtain assistance from staff, to descriptions of the entire premises in whatever detail is agreed to be appropriate. Some of their guides include:

  • Sight Village 2005
  • London Underground
  • National Rail
  • Glasgow
  • Watford Town Centre

If you are planning a trip to any of these locations, check out the text guides to insure you are prepared before you travel. A similar site is planned for the United States in the future.

Click here to visit the Describe Online home page:

Magnification Devices for People With Macular Degeneration

Enhanced Vision is a developer of innovative products designed specifically for people who are legally blind and have macular degeneration and other low vision conditions. They have helped thousands of people regain their visual independence by providing the ability to read, write, watch TV, enjoy a play and live again.

Dedicated to helping individuals maintain their independence, Enhanced Vision has leveraged leading technologies to develop a full line of superior, easy-to-use tools at affordable prices. Products are sold through specialized agencies and eye care professionals throughout the distributors' world. The company is located in Orange County, California.

Information on their popular JORDY, Merlin, Flipper, Acrobat and Max products are available online. Review features, specifications plus download their screensaver!

For more information on Enhanced Vision use the contact information below.

Enhanced Vision
17911 Sampson Lane
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
Toll Free: 888-811-3161
Phone: 714-374-1829
Fax: 714-374-1821

Free Computer Help, Tech Support, and Tips at MalekTips

The MalekTips website was created in 1998 by Andrew Malek of Envision Programming. The page's goal is to freely disperse computer-related tips, hints, and informative articles. Tips are organized to be easy to find, and are presented clearly, in easy-to-understand language. MalekTips also provides author-supplied links and descriptions to public-domain, freeware, and shareware software available over the Internet.

Background Information

MalekTips was originally known as Malek's Win95 Tips Page, a personal website created in the summer of 1996. Malek's Win95 Tips Page provided tips, hints, and software links solely for the Windows 95 © operating system. The page won numerous awards and praise from the Internet community for its easy-to-find and comprehensive selection of Win95-related information. Through MalekTips, they have expanded this service by providing many types of computer-related tips, including Internet and web development help, as well as help for other Windows © operating systems.

If you are having difficulty with your computer, or the software that you depend on everyday, let me incourage you to check this site out. If you have enough vision for photography, this site is a wealth of information and suggestions on how to get the perfect shot.

Click here to visit the MalekTips web site:

Monday, November 28, 2005

National Church Conference of the Blind

The National Church Conference of the Blind holds an annual conference in different locations throughout the United States featuring Bible teaching, workshops, tour, talent time, fellowship and more.

They believe:

  1. That the Bible is the inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God.
  2. In one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  3. In the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, His sinless life, His vicarious, atoning death through His shed blood, His bodily resurrection, His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.

The group also offers a free Spring and Fall taped newsletter. To receive the taped newsletter contact:

34 Ramsey Rd.
Phenix City, AL 36869-5903
(334) 297-6432

Click this link to visit the National Church Conference of the Blind's home page:, or use the contact information below.

National Church Conference of the Blind
P.O. BOX 196
GROVER, CO 80729
Phone: 970-895-2352

Scan Printed Materials Faster With Text Cloner Pro

Designing tools to work with screen readers and not duplicating what they already do well. Premier Literacy's scanning package Text Cloner Pro focuses on both Accuracy and Speed.

Text Cloner Pro has two different scanning methods: high-speed and high-detailed scanning. Switching between the two scanning modes is just a matter of which key to press-F5 or F6. Now your low-cost scanner can be fast. Text Cloner Pro was tested with a portable Canon LIDE 20 scanner, and the low-end $600 Dell laptop, running Window-Eyes 5.0. Text Cloner Pro was able to scan and recognize five pages a minute with 99-percent accuracy. For professional or academic requirements, getting information into the computer so that it can read it, in an expedient fashion, is critical for success. The two different default-scanning modes make it so you rarely have to make menu changes while scanning . and less time scanning equals more time reading.

The difference is the high-speed mode is only looking for text. If there are images or tables, it will ignore them. The high-speed mode has three different scanning methods; these methods tell the computer what kind of document you are scanning. By providing this information up front, the computer spends less time trying to figure out what kind of document it is, thus, speeding up the loading and scanning process. For the high-detailed scanning, the computer assumes nothing and looks at every part of the document; it will try to reproduce the tables and include the graphics found in the original. This takes time, so if you are doing straightforward scanning, you will find that you can reduce the time waiting for text to appear on your screen by 66 percent . spend less time waiting and more time reading!

High-speed scanning will: automatically detect orientation of the document and rotate it 90, 180 or 270 degrees. You can have it so that it automatically removes the columns and puts the text in continuous reading format. It will automatically de-hyphenate words to ensure smooth reading by screen readers. Retains font type and size. It will, however, ignore pictures and will not reproduce tables.

High-detailed scanning will: automatically detect orientation of the document and rotate it 90, 180 or 270 degrees. You can have it so that it automatically removes the columns and puts the text in continuous reading format. It will automatically de-hyphenate words to ensure smooth reading by screen readers. Retains font type and size. Includes the images in the final document and reproduce tables. It is recommended that you use high-detailed scanning for documents with watermarks, colored backgrounds, or very complicated layouts.

Blind computer users have to spend in the neighborhood of a $1,000 for a screen reader to access their computer. Then, the same company that sold them the screen reader would try to sell them a scanning and reading package that required the users to turn off their expensive screen reader-in essence, blind computer users paid twice for a reading product. As individuals who require a screen reader to read, blind computer users don't need another reading product; they just need a tool that can get their information into the computer so their screen reader can read it. Text Cloner Pro is that tool. By default, its output is an MS Word compatible or RTF document that you can have your screen reader read in Text Cloner Pro or you can save it, open it up, and read it in your favorite word processor. Premier Assistive avoids creating proprietary file formats, because they want to produce documents that can easily be accessed by everyone, even those who don't use assistive technology.

For more information, contact:

Premier Literacy
Phone: 517-668-8188

National Industries for the Blind Fellowship for Leadership Development Program

Are you an individual who is blind, excels at your job, and sets high goals for yourself? Do you want to gain the skills and experience necessary to take your career to the next level? Would you like both on-the-job and classroom experience dedicated to teaching the fundamentals of business leadership? If you answered "yes" to those questions, the Fellowship for Leadership Development may be for you!

The Fellowship is a two-year, professional, salaried program that combines on-the-job experience with formal management training. Fellows are blind individuals who demonstrate leadership competencies and a high potential to succeed and prosper in a management position. At the completion of the Fellowship, successful fellows will be hired in professional managerial positions within NIB and the network of NIB associated agencies.

For the application form, guidelines and more information, please visit the National Industries for the blind's web site: If you have further questions, call Kathy Gallagher, NIB's Sr. Human Resources Specialist, at 703-578-8343.

Simply Speaking to Your Computer

Powered by IBM's sophisticated large vocabulary voice recognition technology, LDHC's Simply Speaking product is an easy-to-use voice recognition and text-to-speech interface program that allows the user to dictate into many Windows based programs, including Outlook and Explorer. Useful for a variety of actions including e-mailing and instant messaging, Simply Speaking will convert voice into typewritten text and operates with an extremely high accuracy level. Simply Speaking will also read back highlighted text from any Windows application.

For more information about LDHC and their product, Simply Speaking, please visit either of the following two links:

Click here to visit the Simply Speaking home page:
Click here to visit The Learning Differences Help Center home page:

Using A Microphone With My Computer

So you're thinking of doing some recording with the computer. Maybe a podcast? You plugged in a microphone to your computer but you can't hear anything. How can you get it to work?

It could be that the microphone is muted or not turned up. To check this, either double-click the little speaker in the system tray (down by the clock), or follow these steps to get to the "Volume Control" through the Start Menu in Windows.

  1. Press your "Windows" key, or the "Start Button" on your keyboard to open the Start Menu.
  2. Press the letter "P" until you reach "Programs" or "All Programs" and press enter.
  3. Press the letter "A" until you get to "Accessories" and press enter.
  4. Press the letter "E" until you reach "Entertainment" and press enter.
  5. Press "V" for "Volume Control".

You will be presented with a series of volume control sliders. Tab through the sliders until you reach "Microphone". Make sure the box is unchecked, and tab again to insure that the volume for the Mic is up. You may also wish to tab again to reach the "Line In" slider and uncheck it as well. This will allow recording from an external device, like a tape deck or record player.

If you don't see a volume control for your microphone, the drivers may be missing. The simplest way to solve this problem is to re-install your sound card drivers. You will need to consult your card's User's Manual for specific information on how to download the software, and complete the installation.

Now you're ready to record your voice with either Sound Recorder or your favorite sound editing program.

Don't Leave Home Without Your American Express Braille and Large Print Card Statements

American Express has braille and large print card statements for members with vision impairments in the United States.

Cardmembers can request the new service by calling the American Express toll-free customer service number at (800) 528-4800, or the customer service number listed on the back of their American Express Card.

American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, network and financial services provider founded in 1850. It is a leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, investment products, insurance and international banking.

For more information, visit the American Express home page:

Get Your Ticket To Work

Ticket to Work is a free, voluntary program that helps Social Security disability beneficiaries navigate the employment process and overcome the barriers to finding fulfilling careers. Ticket to Work connects Social Security disability beneficiaries to various programs - from employment to vocational rehabilitation - so they have the tools, assistance, and guidance they need to find the right job.

Eligible beneficiaries receive a "Ticket" in the mail. Ticket-holders can redeem their Tickets to obtain services from public or private providers in their local community, including the State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, which make it possible for people with disabilities to get into the workforce. These approved providers, called "Employment Networks" (EN), are private organizations or government agencies that have agreed to work with Social Security in providing employment services and supports to beneficiaries with disabilities. Once Ticket-holders have found an EN, they work together to design an individual employment plan and to find a job best suited for the Ticket-holder's skills, experience, and goals.

Ticket to Work aims to: increase beneficiary choice in obtaining rehabilitation and vocational services; remove barriers that require people with disabilities to choose between healthcare coverage and work; and assure that more beneficiaries with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in the workforce.

Please visit for details about this valuable program from Social Security.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Accessible Voting

The ES&S AutoMARK is a new system designed to give people with disabilities more independence at their local poling place. The 40,000 polling places across 42 states that currently use or are considering the optical scan method of ballot-marking will be candidates for this state-of-the-art voting machine, which uses a touch screen, allows for an auditable paper trail and gives disabled Americans the option to vote privately and independently.

The addition of this technology to an existing optical scan system will bring those polling places into compliance with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 requiring all polling locations to be equipped with at least one voting machine for people with disabilities by January 2006. The ES&S AutoMARK offers a virtually fool-proof way for all Americans to vote accurately with a high level of confidence that their vote is private and secure -- and, since the Chad fiasco of 2000 -- gives polling places reliable and legal documents in case of a recount.

The ES&S AutoMARK prevents overvoting, accidentally marking too many candidates; and minimizes undervoting, skipping a race unintentionally. At the end, the votes are summarized on the screen, also via headphones, and voters have a chance to change selections. Once complete, the voter brings the ballot to an optical scan machine for tabulation.

The machine offers several features for disabled voters, including an audio ballot; a tempo control voice technology; directions and a touch pad with Braille; repeat key voice technology; sip/puff tube for paraplegics and quadriplegics; and zoom and contrast button for the visually impaired. It also features a full range of foreign language options.

This technology was created by Chicago-based AutoMARK Technical Systems (ATS) and is being distributed by Election Systems and Software (ES&S). For more information, call Ed Claffy, 630/291-0655 or go to the Automarks web site by clicking this link. You can also visit the ES&S - Election Systems & Software page by clicking this link:

Headquartered in Tustin, AccuPoll (OTCBB:ACUP) is the developer of a federally qualified electronic voting system featuring an intuitive touch screen input and a voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) that can be confirmed by the voter at the time the ballot is cast, creating a permanent paper audit trail as mandated in the "Help America Vote Act of 2002" (HAVA). AccuPoll's voter verified paper audit trial allows voters with visual impairments to audibly review the permanent paper audit trail as their ballot is cast.

A core component of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) is that all voting locations have a means by which voters with disabilities may vote unassisted by the first federal election of 2006. States across the country are currently evaluating voting systems that meet federal guidelines in order to comply with these new standards. AccuPoll System Scores High Marks for Accessibility, allowing many to vote unassisted for the first time.

For additional information: Click here to visit the Accupoll home page:

Adult Dyslexia Organisation

The Adult Dyslexia Organisation, British charity No. 1022854, was founded in 1991 and is run by dyslexics on a full time basis. The ADO empowers a minority, which is sadly often overlooked. Dyslexia can affect anyone regardless of social or economic background, and the wide diversity of their membership reflects this.

The aims of this organisation are to enable and support men and women who have dyslexia. They try to meet these aims by:

  1. Providing a checklist for people who think they may be dyslexic.
  2. Being sensitive to the many different circumstances which adult dyslexics can face.
  3. Advising on issues relating to employment and education.
  4. Providing opportunities for members to explore and discuss their experience of this disability in relation to its effect on the family or on an individual's development.
  5. Encouraging public and professional awareness.
  6. Providing opportunities for people who contact them to gain skills in office procedure and administration by voluntary work in their modern office facility.
    >li>Liaising with the LEA on matters affecting dyslexics in the U.K.
  7. Encouraging the expansion of special educational provision for dyslexics.

The Adult Dyslexia Organisation, ADO is a charity run by dyslexics for adults with dyslexia and all those concerned with them, regardless of background, gender or ethnic origin. The ADO is supported in its work by a wide range of consultants. Their web site has some great features:

  • The Information Section contains update news, events, booking forms, press releases, and information on current issues.
  • The Education Section contains information about adult dyslexia for students and teachers in Further, Higher, Distance, Community, or Workbased - learning. Resources on Basic Skills and Literacy are also found in this section.
  • The Employment Section contains information for employers, trade unions, employees and those seeking employment.
  • The Day-to-Section contains information on public and government services, counselling, your rights and legal advice.
  • The ICT Section contains information on what assistive technologies can be used to support dyslexic adults.
  • The Research Section contains information on current research into dyslexia and their accessibility research initiative.

The site also provides a range of accessibility options (e.g. ReadSpeaker and background colour changes), which can be found in the toolbar (visually to the left on their site pages).

For more information on the Adult Dyslexia Organisation, use the contact information below.

Adult Dyslexia Organisation (ADO)
Ground Floor, Secker House
Minet Road, Loughborough Estate
London SW9 7TP
Phone: 0207 924 9559

The Perkins School for the Blind

Celebrating over 175 years of service, the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts is the first school for the blind in the country, where Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan, were educated. Today Perkins serves 60,000 people who are blind or visually impaired with multiple disabilities - from babies to school-age children to elders, here and in 55 developing countries around the world.

Perkins has been, and continues to be, a source of inspiration and opportunity for people who are blind, deafblind or with multiple disabilities across the nation and the world. True to its Mission, Perkins School for the Blind continues to grow and evolve with the needs, desires and dreams of its students and their families.

The School fulfills, enriches and teaches. But ultimately, Perkins provides its students with the tools and knowledge to chart a course toward each individual's maximum level of independence, rich in experience and overflowing with potential. This commitment begins with the president, and radiates throughout the organization. The President's Message, and President's Biography simply reinforce what thousands of students and clients already know, that Perkins School for the Blind is about hope.

Spanning 175 years, the History of the School is a testament to this claim. And that history continues. With each day come new opportunities, new challenges and new invitations to reach beyond expectations.

To learn more about Perkins' programs and services in Massachusetts and around the world, use the contact information below.

Perkins School for the Blind
175 North Beacon Street
Watertown, MA 02472
Phone: 617-924-3434
Fax: 617-926-2027

H. A. L. T. E. R.

(Handicapped Athletes Learning To Enjoy Riding)

H. A .L. T. E. R. is an affordable Therapeutic Horseback Riding program which has served disabled residents of Spartanburg (and surrounding counties) and students at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind since 1987.

Therapeutic Horseback Riding is now a growing therapeutic field in the United States, Canada and Europe. Recognized by the American Physical Therapy Organization and the American Occupational Therapy Organization, Therapeutic Horseback Riding has received national media attention. USA Today, People, CNN and CBS networks have recently done features on the topic.

H. A.L.T.E.R., a 501 (c)(3) organization, provides services with a dedicated corps of volunteers and public support. The Saturday morning (five week) sessions generally run from early Spring through late Fall each year (see schedule on their site).

For information about how you can help support this project, please contact Tom Adams at The Palmetto Bank, 864-472-5300. Donations can be made by using the contact information below:

PO Box 1403
Spartanburg, SC 29304
Phone: 864-472-5300 Fax: (864) 472-5373
Fax: 864-472-5373

What Is Section 508?

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual's ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508, agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others.

For more information on Section 508, click this link to go to the official Section 508 web site: .

Light Perception

I'd like to thank Dianna Amarich for sharing the following post from her blog at

I've been doing a lot of thinking today about my vision, or what's left of it. I have light perception. At least I used to have light perception. I can't say for certain now that I have it at all.

I don't remember when I went to the eye doctor and found out that it's been fading. I just know that there came a time when I couldn't tell if a light was shining in my eye or not. At the time, I don't know if I was too bothered about it, but I am now.

I used to have to wear sunglasses all of the time because the light would be so bright it would hurt my eyes. Even to have to look at it for a short time. I couldn't even stand camera flashes for pictures. Nowadays, I don't notice these things, or not as often. And I wish I did. At least I was seeing light for certain then.

Now my brain is playing tricks with my eyes. I don't remember all that the doctor said about what's being stimulated or how, it just is.

Anyhow, when I'm inside a building sometimes the light flashes when it shouldn't. It's as if the light is blinking very rapidly. When I'm outside, sometimes it's bright and sometimes I don't even notice it. So I'm not sure what I'm seeing or if I'm seeing anything. Very frustrating!

I'm finally admitting it, at least in writing, that I'm angry at losing what light perception I had. I've been like this on and off for a while but didn't talk about it much. I didn't see the point. I didn't realize how much I depended on light perception when I was traveling. I could tell where a door was by looking towards it and seeing light coming through it--even from a distance. Not all the way across the room, but still. I think that's one of the main things I used it for. Sometimes when I was little and was allowed to ride a bike, I used light perception to tell me when I was passing certain landmarks on the path I was allowed to ride on. Of course I didn't use only light perception, I listened, too, however I traveled.

Just knowing what the weather looked like--if it was cloudy, sunny or whatever--was nice, too. Of course I can still tell those things by how it feels outside, but it's not the same.

Sometimes it was neat to watch light patterns in glass. It was just fun to do. It's not like I saw colors, but if I looked at glass, especially stained glass, the light just looked different depending on how I turned my head to look at it. (I knew I was looking through stained glass at the time, because someone told me.)

Sometimes it was bright and sometimes it was ... soft. Sometimes it looked kind of cloudy. Sometimes it looked just plain normal--whatever that is. It's hard for me to describe what normal looks like for sighted people, and I'm sure some are curious. That doesn't bother me. I don't mind trying to answer questions about how I see things.

I don't like being in this confused state of sometimes seeing and sometimes not. One thing, and it may be small to some but it's big to me, is not being able to tell when a light is on or off in my own home! I hate that! I can't stand having to ask Eric all of the time, "Is the light off?" or the opposite. It's one of those things I was able to do for, I guess most of my life. And now it's almost impossible for me to be certain anymore.

Sometimes I wish it would just go away completely, and then I wouldn't have to wonder anymore about what I was or wasn't seeing. At least then it would be all dark. But then I'd miss what light I do manage to see.

There is no easy way to deal with this. I'm just going from day to day, wondering what will happen next.

Read Dianna's Online Journal at

Assistive Technology Loan Program

Members of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) can join the Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) to take advantage of access loans, which are now available for any product, device, or building modification designed to assist someone with a disability. Borrow from $1,500 to $25,000 or more for up to 72 months with no down payment required. The borrower need not be the beneficiary of the purchase.

Qualified purchases include, but are not limited to: assistive technology, durable medical equipment, housing modifications, and rehabilitative equipment. DCU offers convenient repayment methods, including electronically, at a DCU ATM, at any DCU branch, or by mail with a loan payment coupon. If you direct deposit your net pay, Social Security, or pension into your DCU checking account and make electronic payments for the full term of your loan, your interest rate will be one-half percent below that for other payment methods. Rates are also based on your personal credit history.

There is no fee to join the credit union; all you have to do is open a savings or checking account for as little as $5. If you are already an AAPD member, or if you would like to join AAPD and DCU at the same time, you can call DCU directly for further information and an application at 800-328-8797 or 800-395-5146 if using a TTY. You may also visit DCU's web site at by clicking this link.


soundaround is the international interactive audio magazine for blind & partially sighted people. This is the first magazine to provide a web site that is self-speaking, you don't need a screen reader to access the Soundaround site.

This blind friendly web site is navigated by using the number keys on your computer keyboard. Listen to the voice prompts, and then choose which article you would like to hear. At the end of each item you can either listen again, or move on to something else. The prompt will tell you what options are available. It's as simple as that!

If you'd like more information on Soundaround, an MP3 file of the Soundaround Promo can be downloaded by clicking this link. Contact information can also be found below.

The Sound Around magazine is one hundred minutes of programming that is sent on cassette to bli nd or visually impaired people in the United Kingdom, and is a Registered Charity supported by public donation. Charity Registration number: 280679

74 Glentham Road
Barnes, London SW13 9JJ
Phone: +44-20-8741-3332

Seeing The World Without Color

Have you ever been curious to know what people who are Color Blind see? How do they distinguish between the large numbers of colors that are out there? Can they tell certain colors? Let your curiosity lead you to Vischeck.

Vischeck offers a web service that simulates the world as seen by color-blind observers, observers at a distance, or users of LCD displays. The integrated vischeck system has been developed by two scientists at Stanford university:

Robert Dougherty PhD

Dr. Dougherty completed his doctoral work in the psychology department of the University of California, Santa Cruz. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the department of ophthalmology at the University of British Columbia and the BC's Children's Hospital Visual Neuroscience Lab before moving to Stanford. After a short leave from academics to run a small company, Dr. Dougherty returned to Stanford as a senior research scientist to help form the new Stanford Institute for Reading and Learning (SIRL). He uses functional brain imaging and psychophysics to study visual and auditory processing.

Alex Wade PhD

Dr. Wade completed his doctoral work on retinal imaging at University College London in the Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfield's eye hospital. He is currently studying the perception of colour and form in the human visual cortex using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

This site is a great resource on Color Blindness, and can be visited by clicking on the following link.

Click this link to visit the Vischeck home page:

Premier Literacy

Premier Assistive Technology was founded in 1998 with a mission to provide assistive technology to persons with disabilities and give them access to today's technologically oriented world. In targeting those objectives, they are rapidly finding that their technologies are beginning to reach far beyond the boundaries that have historically been framed by the visually disabled software market to other emerging areas. They have developed a complete suite of products that address "reading and information transfer" needs for individuals with visual and mobility challenges. Applications for learning disabilities, general literacy and English as a second language can also be well-served using existing and emerging assistive technologies.

Their suite of products continues to grow and includes the following products and technologies:

  • Scan & Read Lite©
  • Scan & Read Pro©
  • Text-to-Audio©
  • Talking Word Processor©
  • Text Cloner Pro©
  • Talking Calculator©
  • Scan and View©
  • Complete Reading System©
  • Universal Reader©
  • Universal Reader Plus©
  • OFF Limits© The Talking Web Browser
  • PDF Magic Pro©
  • The Ultimate Talking Dictionary©
  • Predictor Pro© Word Prediction
  • The Talking Checkbook©
  • E-Library©
  • E-Text Reader©

All of their products are designed with simplicity in mind and feature both easy setup and "one-button" control for many key functions. The quality and overall capabilities of their products is equal to or better than any on the market today, with one major difference ...theirs cost much less. A driving force behind ddddddPremier Assistive's business philosophy is that assistive technology should be affordable for everyone!!!

Premiere Assistive Technology becomes Premiere Literacy

Here's a press release , announcing the name change for Premiere Assistive Technology, Inc., in which the new name will be more reflective of the role this strategic assistive technology company excels at.

The new name of the company is Premiere Literacy.

The change in name is reflective of a broader understanding of their clients^D>' needs, which the company has come to grasp in their years of operation, as well as the evolution of technology in the role of literacy. This is also augmented by alliances they continue to build.

For more information on Premier Assistive Technology, click here for their home page:

A Special Grant For Schools and Organizations

The "Breaking Down Barriers to Assistive Technology" Grant from Premier Literacy, Inc. is committed to providing you the most effective and affordable assistive technology products available in the world today. This grant was established in 2002 to help bridge the gap between education budgets and the need for educational organizations to deploy sufficient resources to serve the needs and requirements of special education programs. They fully appreciate the significant budget pressures that all institutions experience and this grant program will help to act as a catalyst to solidify your special education / assistive technology programs. Above all else, this program is meant to promote literacy EVERYWHERE in your organization, not just isolated groups or departments. In this spirit, the lowest level of grant awarded is for an entire school. (Grants to individuals, single departments or "for profit" companies are not awarded). This grant will give you the right to install the suite of software on EVERY PC IN YOUR ORGANIZATION.

This is truly a grant. There are no current or future obligations for your organization to pay any monies to Premier Assistive Technology to use the programs for the versions being granted to you. After the grant period has expired (all or part of a school year), there will be an optional, but very nominal maintenance fee (a fraction of the total grant value) that you can pay to entitle you to future product releases, technical support, company communications, etc. Again, the maintenance fee is optional and only needed if you want to qualify for those services for future school years. If you elect to pay that fee, you have our commitment that the costs of the maintenance will be VERY affordable.

Since you will receive an Unlimited Site License to install the software on EVERY PC in your organization, the value of the grant will be calculated based on the total number of students in your entire organization (not just a selected department like Special Education). While the number need not be exact, it IS important that this number be a good approximation of the number of students so Premier can devote the appropriate resources to support of the product and services they provide to all grant recipients.

You will receive email notification of your grant upon acceptance along with a letter detailing the grant program along with the software. It will likely take 2-3 weeks to process your grant application, but if you have any questions at any time please feel free to contact them at 815-722-5961 or 517-668-8188 or email them at

To begin the Grant application process, click this link:

Premier Literacy
Executive Offices
1309 N. William St.
Joliet, IL 60435
Phone: 815-722-5961
Fax: 815-722-8802

Victor Reader Classic

The Victor Reader Classic digital talking book players (Classic, Classic +, and Classic + with recording) enables playback of the latest DAISY version 3 digital talking books and a wider variety of other audio formats as well as offering more effective book navigation features.

The Victor Reader is a popular player for DAISY version 2 books produced by libraries for the blind and as these libraries transition to the DAISY version 3 books which have even more extensive navigation features, the Victor Reader is ready to offer the enhanced DAISY 3 reading experience. Books that are produced in the DAISY 3 standard, also called the NISO Z39.86 standard in the United States, allow a blind or otherwise print-disabled person to navigate a digital audio book much like the equivalent print book. The reader can jump from chapter to chapter, section to section, select random pages, or even set electronic bookmarks.

The Victor Reader can play MP3 files as well as the popular OGG Vorbis compressed audio format.

The Victor Reader Classic line durable ergonomic design, integrated handle, auto insert/eject CD loader, and long-life rechargeable battery, together with its outstanding software will continue to distinguish the Classic line as a popular choice of digital talking book players for print-disabled persons.

For more information on the Victor Reader Classic, please visit the visuaide site:

A Fork In The Road

The folks at Fork in the Road have been making low vision simulators since 1994. The simulators have been purchased by organizations and individuals in the US , Canada , Europe , Asia , Africa and Australia .

Their goal is to help educate people about low vision. The simulators provide a reasonably accurate picture of some of the functional limitations and abilities of different types of visual impairments. Some of the most common causes of low vision in the developed world are: macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and cataracts.

Other eye diseases that can cause low vision include RP (retinitis pigmentosa) and brain injuries (including strokes).

Of course, wearing a simulator does not portray what it is like to have low vision, as that is a permanent situation that affects a person in ways beyond his or her ability to read or walk about. However, spending some time wearing a simulator and attempting to do various everyday tasks can quickly give fully-sighted persons a sense of some of the issues involved. Often, people are impressed with how much they can do and, sometimes, the simplest task becomes extremely frustrating.

These are outstanding educational tools to help teach rehabilitation, education, medical and health care providers about the impact of vision impairment on their patients, clients or students. Low vision simulators can make for a lively in-service or continuing education program.

Consumers with low vision have found that these simulators help to get the point across to friends and family who don't understand the importance of putting things back where they belong, closing the cabinet doors in the kitchen, or not leaving things lying around on the steps. For people with low vision who are highly adapted and "don't act blind", they can also help to show others just what you're putting up with.

Organizations that do public fund raising have used low vision simulators when having an event such as a golf outing, wine/cheese tasting, or when making a presentation to a civic club. Low vision simulators quickly help sighted persons not familiar with vision impairment understand the "grey area" between fully sighted and totally blind. They might then be more likely to understand your need for funding to serve this population.

For more information on low vision simulators, use the contact information below:

Fork in the Road Vision Rehabilitation Services, LLC
5141 Door Drive,
Madison, WI 53705-4752
Phone: 608-233-3464
Fax: 608-233-3464

SARA (Scanning and Reading Apliance)

The colorful SARA is so simple to use that it works right out of the box. Just place a book, magazine, newspaper, bill, or other document on the scanning surface and press a button. SARA reads aloud in a crisp clear voice. Absolutely no technical or computer experience is needed. SARA can read columns and sidebars as well as text in a huge array of type styles and colors.

SARA's design recognizes the special needs of its users. A small group of large buttons perform all the basic functions any user needs. The buttons on a straight-forward keypad, are colorful, with tactile symbols that convey each button's use. If assistance is needed to identify a button, a Help key can be pushed to speak the button's name and function. Front-mounted stereo speakers make SARA easy to hear, and the RealSpeak® voice can be changed for the user's preference. The speaking speed and volume can be adjusted while reading or controlled to read a single word or line at a time. Users can even have SARA spell words to get a better understanding of what is being spoken.

SARA remembers hundreds of thousands of pages and handles everything from small-print phone book pages to your favorite novel. SARA's built-in CD player gives the user options to read books saved on disk. SARA also can be attached to a computer monitor or TV for colorful, large print to complement the speech. You can adjust the print, type style, color, spacing and size to meet your needs.


Freedom Scientific is the world's leading manufacturer of assistive technology products for the blind and products for the special education and learning disability markets.

For more information on SARA or Freedom Scientific, visit their home page:

Learning While Traveling Life's Eyeway

This site intends to be a comprehensive source of material that informs, inspires and includes persons with visual impairments. In addition, the site caters to the requirements of parents and guardians, medical professionals, rehabilitation experts and service providers. is a project of the Score Foundation which is registered as a Trust, and is based out of New Delhi. They believe in the unlimited potential of the human-being. They also believe in the power of information, which not only informs, but also inspires, enriches, empowers and encourages people to pursue their passions and make a contribution.

It is said that "A Disability is God given, but a handicap is man made." A vision impaired person tends to get marginalised and excluded from various facets of life due to a lack of understanding, sensitivity and accessible designs. With the passage of time the constant exclusion leads to the disability transforming itself into a handicap.

The second major point of the site is inclusion or Universal Design. They believe that every one born into this world is an integral part of it. The society has to recognise, appreciate and accommodate the diversity that exists within it. All plans, policies and programmes have to take into account the needs of every member, lest no one gets left out.

Score Foundation is committed to the following:

  1. Using information through its project to inform, inspire and include persons with vision impairments and their families.

  2. Empowering professionals and organisations working in the field, and to facilitate and nurture the process of realising potential of persons with vision impairments. The effort is to make a one stop information centre on the eye.

  3. Being involved in an ongoing research programme to constantly keep in touch with the information and support needs of the various target groups to ensure relevance and utility.

  4. Campaigning for persons with vision impairments to be included into the main stream scheme of things.

Their activities and programmes are based on learnings from years of interaction with persons with vision impairment and a detailed study of the lives of successful individuals who were vision impaired.

Eyeway intends to build a community where people can share and learn from each other. If you would like to know more about or Score Foundation, please write to them at or click here to visit the web site.

Accessible Food Preparation Directions

Message: Is there a website or book which gives preparation instructions for packaged products such as Betty Crocker?
location: West Virginia

This is a great question, and I have found three sites that may have the books you're looking for.

  1. National Braille Press sells braille books of package instructions. Call them Toll-free at (888) 965-8965 or visit the National Braille Press web site:
  2. The Volunteer Braillists and Tapists of Madison WI have books of package instructions in braille. I searched their site and found the following books that may be of interest:

    • Back of the Box Gourmet by Michael McLaughlin
    • Best Recipes - From the Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars
    • by Celia Dyer
    • Betty Crocker Hamburger and Tuna Helper Collection by General Mills
    • Betty Crocker Potatoes by General Mills
    • Betty Crocker's Bisquick Cook Book by BettyCrocker&General Mills
    • Betty Crockers Cookie Book by General Mills
    • Betty Crockers Creative Recipes with Bisquick by General Mills Inc.
    • Betty Crockers Creative Recipes With Bisquick by Carol Murphy/Editor
    • Betty Crocker's Microwave Cooking by General Mills, Inc.
    • Birds Eye Cool Whip by General Foods Corporation
    • Even More Recipes - From the Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars by Ceil Dyer

    For more information, call them at 608-233-0222, or visit The Volunteer Braillists and Tapists of Madison WI web site:
  3. You may also want to contact Horizons for the Blind to see if they have books that fit your search. Their web site is:

the Family Center on Technology and Disability

The Family Center is a resource designed to support organizations and programs that work with families of children and youth with disabilities. They offer a range of information and services on the subject of assistive technologies. Whether you're an organization, a parent, an educator, or an interested friend, they hope you'll find information that supports you in your efforts to bring the highest quality education to children with disabilities.

There are 1500 member organizations of the Family Center on Technology and Disability Network. All members have the same comonalities:

  • They share a concern for the families of children with disabilities.
  • They're committed to providing useful information and resources to help children with disabilities fulfill their potential.
  • They share an interest in remaining current on developments in the field of assistive technology.
  • As a knowledge network, they pursue collaborative activities to strengthen individual organizations and the network as a whole.

Organizations that belong to the Family Center Network fit the following types:

  • Parent support and advocacy groups
  • Disability-specific associations
  • State and local government agencies
  • Foundations that support disabilities research and programs
  • National advocacy organizations
  • University-based programs

The Family Center provides the following to these Network members:

  • A fully-searchable database containing reviews of books, articles, research and other materials of interest and utility to families of children with disabilities
  • A monthly newsletter featuring discussions of leading-edge developments in assistive technology, highlights of member organization initiatives, updates on pertinent legislation and regulation, and many other items.
  • Online conferences addressing topical issues and providing access to leading national experts
  • Presentation materials on the subject of assistive technologies

The Family Center on Technology and Disability operates entirely through program support from the Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Member organizations do not pay dues or contribute financially to the operation of the Center. The Family Center is managed by a partnership of organizations, including the Alliance for Technology Access (ATA), Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER), Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) and InfoUse, Inc. The partnership is led by the Academy for Educational Development (AED).

If you would like more information on the Family Center, please refer to the contact information provided below.

Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD)
Academy for Educational Development (AED)
1825 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 7th Floor
Washington, DC 20009-5721
Phone: 202-884-8068
Fax: 202-884-8441

The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities

The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities is the center that provides information to the nation on:

  • disabilities in children and youth;
  • programs and services for infants, children, and youth with disabilities;
  • IDEA, the nation's special education law;
  • No Child Left Behind, the nation's general education law; and
  • research-based information on effective practices for children with disabilities.

Anyone can use their services-families, educators, administrators, journalists, students. their special focus is children and youth (birth to age 22).

Their Web site has information on the following:

  • Specific disabilities
  • Early intervention services for infants and toddlers
  • Special education and related services for children in school
  • Resources and connections in every state
  • Individualized education programs
  • Parent materials
  • Disability organizations
  • Professional associations
  • Education rights and what the law requires
  • Transition to adult life

^DELand much, much more!

For more About NICHCY, use the contact information provided below:

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
P.O. Box 1492
Washington, DC 20013
Toll Free: 800-695-0285
Phone: 202-884-8200
Fax: 202-884-8441

myReader from HumanWare Restores the Joy of Reading

myReader, a low vision auto-reader, manufactured by HumanWare (, is changing the face of low vision and restoring partially sighted people's reading ability.

The machine took three years to design and manufacture in New Zealand and was awarded 'Best Design' by the New Zealand Institute of Designers. It looks set now to improve the lives of thousands of partially sighted people in the UK.

Using advanced digital technology, myReader captures the text placed underneath its camera and displays it on a built-in 15 inch, flicker-free LCD screen. myReader can then enlarge the text and re-format it so it appears in one of three ways: a column designed to fit the whole screen, a row across the centre of the screen or just one word at a time. The text then automatically scrolls on the screen at the speed selected by the user.

myReader offers controls and an interface that are easy to use by people of different ages and different levels of vision and ability.

HumanWare is a multi award-winning vision technology specialist based in Christchurch, New Zealand, and with its European headquarters in Northamptonshire, England. The company was formed in January 2005 after its original trading venture, Pulse Data International - which was established in 1988 and developed myReader - merged with Canadian blindness company, Visuaide.

Click here to find out more about myReader by visiting the HumanWare home page:,

Organize Your Life

If you've been fighting a losing battle with clutter in your home, your place of work, or even in your spiritual life, I have a site for you! As a totally blind person, I hate clutter, and this is a wonderful resource.

Welcome to where learning how to organize is fun... really! is a rich resource of office and home organizing articles, tips, and fresh, easy ideas on how to get rid of clutter from every part of your life... from the garage to your filing cabinet to your spiritual matters! they show you how to organize anything and everything! Get organized completely with this site. Read one article a day, put one suggestion into action a day. With their help, you will enjoy how harmony and a sense of control can come from the clutter of your surroundings. Yes, it can be done. And you can do it with help from this site!

Get Organized Here:

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