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Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Tips for Labeling Clothes

By Dana Ard

Reprinted from the Winter 2000 Gem State Milestones, the newsletter of the NFB of Idaho.

Editor's Note: Learning to dress oneself is an important milestone in the independence of a child. Most kids then move to the next stage of independence in dressing - choosing their own outfits - without too much fuss. Blind kids can make this transition smoothly, too, if parents put a little advance thought and planning into a clothes labeling system.

Dana Ard, a rehabilitation counselor with the Idaho Commission for the Blind, shares some helpful tips about labeling clothes in this nifty little article. In her job, Dana works mostly with newly blind adults, however, she has a lot of personal knowledge about independence for blind children. Born with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and mild cerebral palsy (CP), she was the first totally blind child to be educated entirely in the public school system in Boise, Idaho. Although the CP limits the use of her right hand, she is a good, fast left-handed Braille reader, and, as secretary of the NFB of Idaho, regularly takes notes with a slate and stylus. She and her husband have 6 dogs, including her guide dog, Fringe, and a deaf-blind Dachshund they rescued. Dana is an active member of her church and community choirs, a 20-year member of the Toastmasters Club, and she loves to read, cook, and take walks. Here, now, is what Dana has to say about "Labeling Clothing."

Recently a newly blind client told me about a very embarrassing situation that happened to her. She and her grown daughters were meeting for lunch. When she arrived at the restaurant, they told her that she was wearing two different colored shoes, one black, and the other white. She was humiliated and told me that she was waiting for her daughters to coordinate her clothing before she dared to go out again.

Certainly, both blind and sighted people alike can report such embarrassing moments, but if you're blind and have no method for identifying the colors in your wardrobe, you risk having such moments more often.

Obviously, the simplest way to keep clothing straight is never to buy two items that are exactly the same except for their color. This approach is not always practical. I have a favorite brand and style of shoes, which I like because they fit my hard-to-fit feet. To keep them from getting mixed up, I place the pairs together in a shoe bag. I attach a stick-on Braille label on the side of each shoe where it will not bother my foot. I use Braille letters such as "nb" for navy blue, "br" for brown, "bl" for black, etc. I also use such stick-on Braille labels to identify my belts that are similar. I have two brown belts; one is designated "lbr" for light brown, and the other "dbr" for dark brown. If you don't know Braille, you can buy a package of stick-on raised shaped adhesive markers, which you can use in the same way as the dymo-tape labels. You might use a raised rectangle for navy blue and a raised circle for black, for example. Of course, you need to keep track of which shapes represent which colors.

I use different shaped craft beads attached to safety pins to identify colors of clothing items that are similar. I pin these beads to the inside label of the item. A very small bead symbolizes red or pink, a rough-textured bead is used for white, and a bead with little projections around it is used for black. I use a safety pin in the label for blue, and cut the label down the middle if the item is green. You can be as creative as you want to with your labeling system, as long as it meets your needs.

I am aware of three commercially available tactile labeling products: Braille aluminum clothing tags, Do Dots, and Matchmakers. The aluminum tags can be sewn onto the label of the garment. Do dots are Braille identifiers that attach to the item like a tie tack. They have Braille that signifies both the color and whether it is light or dark. This product seemed very bulky to me when I tried it on my pants. Matchmakers are labels with different dot designs on them. They can be pinned in a garment, and like the craft beads, you determine which design of dots will symbolize which color.

Editor's Note: State or local public or private agencies for the blind will often carry clothing labeling products as a convenience to clients, students, or patrons. The American Printing House for the Blind offers a variety of devices to assist people when labeling their clothes as well as a device that can speak the colors of clothes.

Using Braille to Label Clothes

There are several methods of labeling clothes using braille:

  1. You may identify various shades of small items, such as socks, ties, pantyhose, etc. by storing them in separate Ziploc bags with index cards noting their colors.

  2. You can make braille tags to be placed on the hanger associated with a given garment. Some people use plastic or paper cards, which are removed when a garment is to be washed or dry cleaned.

  3. You may sew a braille label directly into the garment. Several options of braille labeling materials are available for this purpose, including: Brailling on garment labeling tape, which is similar to Dymo tape but without the adhesive backing. And prefabricated metal labels with braille letters.

It is important to note that tags or labels should be placed in the same location on each garment of a class. Just what that location is, is not as important as being consistent. If three dresses are to be labeled, place each label in the same location on each dress. With one label on a shoulder, another under an arm and a third at the middle, hunting the label can be as frustrating as having no label at all.

From the Braille Monitor 42 (March 1999): 177-181.

Colorino Talking Color Identifier

Simpler talking color identifier offers a lower-priced alternative to APH's ColorTest II.

Colorino is a small, hand-held unit that is simple to operate using only two buttons. The Colorino can detect more than 100 nuances of color. It can also be used as a light detector. Colorino uses 2 AAA batteries (included) and comes with a carrying case; cassette, large print, and braille "quick start" instructions; and a one-year warranty.

Colorino, English:
Catalog Number: 1-03955-00

NOTE: Colorino is NOT available with Federal Quota funds

Click here to purchase these items through our Quick Order Entry page:

If you need assistance, click this link to read the Fred's Head Companion post "Purchasing Products From The APH Website Is Easy".

American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
Toll Free: 800-223-1839
Phone: 502-895-2405
Fax: 502-899-2274
Web site:

I use 3" x 5" file cards on which to prepare descriptions of my clothing in braille. Then I punch a little hole in one corner of the card and put it over the coat hanger to identify each garment. Sometimes, I hang necklaces over a garment that go well with it. Also, I keep each pair of my shoes in a shoebox and find it helpful to label these too.

Sherlock Talking Label Identifier


The Sherlock Talking Label Identifier is a hand-held digital voice recorder with each recorded message keyed to an adhesive label or plastic disk tag. Labels or tags can be attached to clothing, medications, packaged products, frozen foods, documents, books, CDs, anything you wish to identify. Includes 25 labels, 10 tags and carrying case.

Sherlock Talking Label Identifier: Catalog Number: 1-07410-00

Extra Adhesive Labels (pack of 25):
Catalog Number: 1-07411-00

Extra Plastic Tags (pack of 10):
Catalog Number: 1-07412-00
Click this link to purchase the Sherlock Talking Label Identifier, now ON SALE!

MagneTachers: Magnetic Labels from APH

MagneTachers are magnetic labels that attach to metal objects, are easily removable, and re-attachable! You can create labels in large print, braille, and for the Sherlock Talking Label Identifier (sold separately).

Uses include:

  • Create, use, store, and reuse labels for canned goods
  • Read, write, order and re-order sets of words or numbers on a classroom magnet board
  • Make labels on metal desks and file drawers that everyone can read

MagneTachers for Making Large Print Labels

can of soup with a large print MagneTacher label affixed
  • Includes two MagneTacher rolls, each 120 inches long, and instructions in print and braille
  • Select from two heights -- half inch or inch, depending on the print size you need
  • Write directly on the paper side of the MagneTacher, which provides a smear-resistant surface for a bold line pen or marker
  • Cut label from the roll and place on metal surface

MagneTachers for Making Braille Labels

can of soup with a braille MagneTacher label affixed
  • Includes two MagneTacher rolls, half inch tall and 120 inches long, with instructions in print and braille
  • Emboss MagneTachers with braille labelers and slates with half-inch wide alignment guides
  • Braille on the non-magnetic side of the label; its white vinyl coating helps braille dots stay firm
  • Cut label from the roll and place on metal surface

MagneTachers for Making Small Braillable Labels

File storage box with a braillable MagneTacher label affixed
  • Includes two MagneTachers sheets, each holding 18 MagneTachers and instructions in print and braille
  • These MagneTachers are magnetic strips only. You can make them braille labels by adhering APH's Braillable Labels: Small Braillable Labels to them (labels sold separately Small Label Pack, 1-08872-00 and Assorted Label Pack, 1-08871-00)
  • Small Braillable Labels hold two lines and fifteen braille cells
  • Press a completed label onto the non-magnetic side of the MagneTacher and place on metal surface

MagneTachers for Use with Sherlock Labels

File storage drawer with a Sherlock MagneTacher label affixed
  • Includes two MagneTachers sheets, each holding 12 MagneTachers and instructions in print and braille
  • MagneTachers for use with Sherlock labels include an additional pack of 25 Sherlock labels
  • NOTE: You must have the Sherlock Talking Label Identifier (sold separately), 1-07410-00, to use these MagneTachers
  • Use, remove, and re-use Sherlock labels on metal objects as often as you like
For Making Large Print Labels (0.5 inch high, includes two 120 inch rolls):
Catalog Number: 1-07417-00

For Making Larger Print Labels: (1 inch high, two 120 inch rolls):
Catalog Number: 1-07418-00
Click this link to purchase the MagneTachers Magnetic Labels: For Making Large Print Labels.

For Making Braille Labels (0.5 inch high, two 120 inch rolls):
Catalog Number: 1-07416-00

For Making Small Braillable Labels (includes two sheets, 18 labels per sheet):
Catalog Number: 1-07415-00
Click this link to purchase the MagneTachers Magnetic Labels: For Making Braille Labels.

For Making Sherlock Labels (two sheets, 12 labels per sheet):
Catalog Number: 1-07413-00

American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
Toll Free: 800-223-1839
Phone: 502-895-2405
Fax: 502-899-2274
Web site:
APH Shopping Home:

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