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.)


Monday, November 14, 2005

Instructions for the Cubarithm Slate

The Brannan Cubarithm slate and cubes comprise a system that allows the user to enter and manipulate numeric symbols. The slate consists of a 16 by 16 grid of square cups. Plastic cubes with braille markings are placed in these cups. Each cube has six faces. Five of these faces have raised dot characters from which selections can be made to produce the digits 0 through 9. The sixth face of each cube has three raised dots. Depending on the orientation of this face, these dots can be thought of as the braille letter "o" (dots 1, 3 and 5) or the braille "ow" sign, (dots 2, 4 and 6). This sixth face also can be oriented so that its three dots can resemble an up-arrow or a down-arrow.

The use to which this slate is put depends on the needs and abilities of the user. While one can use it to set down numbers during a calculation, it may be of greater value as the means of displaying the format of a problem. At best, the process of entering numerals is slow. First, One must pick up a cube. Then, the face appropriate to the task at hand must be positioned so it is facing upward. Then, the dot pattern on that face must be rotated horizontally so that its pattern of dots represents the desired digit. For example, one face of the cube has a three dot pattern. Once this pattern is facing up, rotating the cube horizontally can orient the pattern to produce the digit 6, 8, 4 or 0.

The three-dot pattern already mentioned (braille letter "o" or "ow") can be used by a student or teacher to represent a special symbol (plus, minus, times or divided by). This can be a matter of agreement among those concerned with the processes being performed or studied.

As an example of problem layout, consider a short exercise in addition. First, we need to orient ourselves to the slate. Since it is square, it can be set down with any of its four sides as the upper edge. However this is done, let us call the vertical rows letter rows and the horizontal spaces along each row number spaces. Thus, The upper left square is row A column 1. The lower left square is P1. The upper and lower right squares A16 and P16 respectively.

The problem we will consider is 123+456+789.

On A7, A8 and A9, set 123. On B7, B8 and B9 set 456. On C7, C8 and C9 set 789. For the present, skip D7, D8 and D9. On E6, E7, E8 and E9 set 1368.

Now, return to row D and on D5, D6, D7, D8 and D9 set five cubes oriented so their two-dot patterns represent dashes. Once this is done, you have the layout of the problem, a line of separation between terms to be added and the result.

In the study of fractions, spatial orientation is important. in the case of a pure fraction, the numerator can be shown on a line while the denominator is shown two lines below with a blank line between. In the case of a mixed fraction, the whole number is shown on one line while the numerator is one line above and one space to the rightof the last digit of the whole number. The denominator is one line below and one space to the right of the last digit of the whole number.

Consider the mixed fraction 22-5/7. On spaces G7 and G8 set 22. On F9 set 5 and on H9 set 7.

The Cubarithm Slate is a device that permits students and teachers to make maximum use of imagination.

Brannan Cubarithm Slate, APH catalog number 1-00320-00. Cubes for Brannan Cubarithm Slate, catalog number 1-00330-00.

Contributor: Fred Gissoni

No comments:

Subscribe to receive posts via email

* indicates required

Browse Articles by Subject

Follow us on Twitter


Write for us

Your input and support in the evolution of Fred's Head are invaluable! Contact us about contributing original writing or for suggestions for updating existing articles. Email us at


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

The products produced by the American Printing House for the Blind are instructional/teaching materials and are intended to be used by trained professionals, parents, and other adults with children who are blind and visually impaired. These materials are not intended as toys for use by children in unstructured play or in an unsupervised environment.

The information and techniques contained in Fred's Head are provided without legal consideration (free-of-charge) and are not warranted by APH to be safe or effective. All users of this service assume the risk of any injury or damage that may result from the use of the information provided.

Information in Fred's Head is not intended as a substitute for professional advice or treatment. Consult your physician before utilizing information regarding your health that may be presented on this site. Consult other professionals as appropriate for legal, financial, and related advice.

Fred's Head articles may contain links to other websites. APH is not responsible for the content of these sites.

Fred's Head articles created by APH staff are (C) copyright American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. You must request permission from APH to reprint these articles. Email to request permission.

Any submissions to Fred's Head should be free of copyright restrictions and should be the intellectual property of the submitter. By submitting information to Fred's Head, you are granting APH permission to publish this information.

Fair Use Notice: This website may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright holder(s). This site is operated on the assumption that using this information constitutes 'fair use' of said copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law.

Opinions appearing in Fred's Head records are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Printing House for the Blind.