Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

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

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Stop Searching for Your Pen

Some things are just better kept together. BookSling keeps your pen or highlighter with your book. Why would you want it any other way? Whether you're in a classroom or just lying in bed, it's nice to know your tool of choice is always within easy reach- write where you need it.

Features & Benefits

  • Attaches up to 2 pens, highlighters or pencils to your book.
  • Integrated ribbon provides an optional bookmark you'll never lose.
  • High quality woven elastic stretches 7.5-12" to fit most mid-to-large books.
  • Elastic can also be used as a bookmark or stretched around the entire book to keep it closed.
  • Thoughtful design allows your book to maintain a thin profile so it can be stored flat on a bookshelf or in a backpack.
  • Works on hard and soft cover books.
  • Great for clipboards too!

Works best with non-rubberized writing instruments.

Click this link to learn more or to purchase the Booksling from Everyday Innovations.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tips for Cleaning Wicker and Cane Furniture

The original environment of wicker and cane is humid and tropical, and even though furniture pieces made from these sources may now live in homes in far away non-exotic places, their need for humidity and lush warmth never dies. Cater to this need and your wicker and cane furniture will continue to look great!

Most of the time, a good vacuuming is all your wicker furniture needs. You can plug your hose into the exhaust port and simply blow the dust away. The real problem with this type of furniture is that it can easily yellow. To avoid this, clean it by rubbing with a stiff brush dipped in warm salt water. Be careful not to wet the wicker too much. If dirt is really stubborn, you might have to risk wetting it a little bit more. Mix a solution of 1 part water softener to 8 parts water, wipe off with a clean cloth and let dry naturally without heat to prevent cracking.

To clean cane, add a little lemon juice and salt to some warm water. Using a stiff brush, scrub the cane well with the solution. This application will also prevent the surface from yellowing. Marks and dirt deposits can be removed by applying some warm soapy water mixed with a little borax. Let the solution dry naturally.

A humidifier can help maintain the temperature in which wicker and cane thrive best. Consider buying one. Sometimes dried wicker can be restored with a little lemon oil. In general, neither wicker nor cane like cold temperatures and should be brought inside during the colder months.

Braille Magnetic Letters

Here's a great learning tool! Not only is each magnetic piece in the shape of the print capital letter, but the Braille equivalent is embossed onto each one as well. Blind and sighted people can reinforce Braille skills and practice spelling out words together by sticking the letters onto a refrigerator, filing cabinet, or cookie sheet. And best of all, none of the pieces will slide around while being read by touch.

Click this link to purchase the Braille Magnetic Letters from Future Aids and don't forget to purchase a set of Braille Magnetic Numbers.

That's right, you already know what these are ... Almost. What's cool about this 26-piece set, though, is that there aren't just the numbers from 0 through 9 with Braille on them. Also included is a second set of numbers, as well as the standard math signs. This way, assuming there's a real math whiz around, you'll have your Braille numbers down pat in no time!

Future Aids: The Braille Superstore
(A Division of MarvelSoft Enterprises, Inc.)
33222 Lynn Ave.
Abbotsford, BC
V2S 1C9 Canada
Toll Free: 800-987-1231

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

How to Play the Alphabet Game

The Alphabet game is a perfectly fun way to pass the time and hone your kid's alphabet, attention and memory skills. The game involves the repeating of the phrase: "I'm going on vacation and bringing..."

This is a simple and fun game to play with kids and adults of almost any age. Here are the basic rules you'll want to follow:

  1. Players must announce one item (food, animal, anything really) that they will bring with them on their trip.
  2. The first person uses the letter A.
  3. The second player must use the letter B, and so on.
  4. The challenging part of this game is that each player must run through the entire list on every turn. This challenges everyone's vocabulary and memory (not just the little ones!). When you get to the second half of the alphabet it gets rather dicey trying to recall what item starting with F or G is going to be included.

Here is an example of how things could proceed in a game with three players: Player 1: I am going on vacation and bringing an Apple. Player 2: I am going on vacation and bringing an Apple and a Butterfly. Player 3: I am going on vacation and bringing an Apple, a Butterfly and a Chalkboard. Player 1: I am going on vacation and bringing an Apple, a Butterfly, a Chalkboard and a Diaper. And so on.

Another variation of this game is to tie each letter/item together. For example, if the first player again says Apple, but now the next in line must come up with a B-word that is related to an Apple. If that next player opts for Banana (sticking with the fruit theme) the following player now needs a C-word that relates to Banana (Central America - the source of some Bananas would be interesting). You may have been thinking another fruit related food item for the letter C, but getting away from the expected can take this version of the game down funny and more difficult paths. This can be made harder, easier or themed depending on what you start with, for example Appendix may cause the entire game to be played with body-part words or words relating to books/literature.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Webmasters, It's Time to Accessify

Have you ever had discussions with people and said, "We need to make that accessible?" or "This site needs to be made 508 compatible"? All gets to be a bit of a mouthful, doesn't it? What is really needed to make these meetings much shorter is a new verb: 'accessify' - to make accessible. Some folks liked this so much that they built a site around it!

The purpose of is to build up a collection of useful resources, links to the best accessibility sites on offer (they're not selfish, they don't have a monopoly) and an online toolset for everyone to use free of charge.

Click this link to visit the home page of

What To Do With Old Print Books

So, you've finished another book. What are you going to do with it now? I'll bet you'll put it on a shelf and forget about it. Wouldn't you like to get another great book and put this one to better use? You can at is a book swapping service. You can post the books that you are willing to swap on the site, and then build a list of books that you'd like to get in return. Bookins manages the swap; when you post an available book that somebody else wants, they contact you. You have two days to decide if you are willing to send the book along to the next person.

Here's the cool thing: they allow you to print a prepaid postage mailer label that you can tape to a box or envelope and simply leave in your mailbox, there is no cost to you (besides the package or envelope).

For each book that you trade, you earn points (4 to 6 for a paperback, about 11 for a hardcover book), and when you have earned enough points, Bookins looks for books on your "want" list that might be available. If they find one that matches, they arrange with another person to send the book to you. This time it does cost you; both the points that the book costs, plus $3.99 for shipping.

Click this link to put those old books to a better use at

Cooking by Numbers

Are you at a loss as to what to make for dinner tonight? Or do you have a limited amount of ingredients and need to make the most of them? Well, now you can! At Cooking by the Numbers, putting together meals has never been easier.

There is a list of ingredients on the site. Just check the boxes next to everything you have, for both the fridge and the cupboard. Once you're done with that, click the Find Recipes button.

This will give you a listing of recipes that you can make with what you have. It also tells you the percentage of your ingredients that matched the recipe. To see more recipes, click the More link or the down arrow.

If you click the I Feel Lucky box, you'll get only one recipe and it tells you the percentage of ingredients that you have and what you are missing.

Say you want to make a chicken dish. You could just check chicken, as well as, a few other ingredients and get a listing for only chicken recipes. For example, if you want to make some sort of chicken pasta, check chicken, tomatoes, cooking oil, pasta and noodles. The results will be mostly different types of chicken pasta dishes, with some tomato dishes thrown in, like Tomato Salad.

Another great section here at this site is Skills by the Numbers. This is where you can learn all sorts of different cooking skills. For example, How to Joint a Chicken, How to Slice a Potato, How to Fold, How to Make Carmel and that's just the tip of the culinary iceberg.

Click this link to start Cooking by Numbers:

Thursday, December 14, 2006

How to Play Go Fish

I remember playing Go Fish with my grandmother several years ago. It's a fun little game that's a great way to pass some time on a rainy day. Do you remember how to play? Have you played it with your children? Let's refresh you on the game.

The Rules: If you haven't played in a while, Go Fish begins by shuffling the deck of cards. This is usually a job for the adults. But you can take time to teach the children how to shuffle. You deal out five cards to each player. You can have up to four players comfortably. You look at the five cards you have and if you have any matching pairs, you lay them down - face down or face up.

The youngest player goes first. They begin by asking one of the other players if they have a particular card. For example, do you have any 2s. If you are using a regular deck of cards, you may have them specify - do you have a red 2 or a black 2. You can play Go Fish by suits, but that's a lot harder and can take a lot longer.

If the player who was asked has the 2, they pass it to the person who asked. If they don't have it, they say "Go Fish" and the player who made the request then draws a card from the deck in the center. Play continues clockwise around the table until a player is out of cards. The first person to run out of cards, wins.

Click this link to purchase a braille set of Go Fish cards from the Badger Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired website.

An Alternative to Perkins: The Tatrapoint

Tatrapoint is a mechanical six-key Braille typewriter with adjustable key spacing. Every model comes with adjustable left and right margins and a warning bell 5 cells before the end of the line. It also includes Dymo tape holders on the carriage for making Braille labels.

For years there has been no option for a manual Brailler. Now there is, and it's smaller, lighter, cheaper and more flexible!

The Tatrapoint Adaptive 2, from SVEC a SPOL of Slovakia features:

  • Adjustable left and right margins
  • Adjustable spacing between keys to allow for different sized hands
  • Line-end bell 5 cells before the end of the line
  • Carriage release and backspace key
  • Dymo tape clips integrated for embossing dymo tape
  • Precise paper transport for exact readjustment of corrections in previously written text
  • Dimensions: 40cm x 26cm x 8.5cm
  • Weight: 2.75kg
  • Paper: Standard braille paper (11 1/2 " x 11")
  • Extras: carrying case and shoulder strap

For more information, contact:

SVEC a SPOL s.r.o
Stanicna 502
95201 Vrable
Slovak Republic
Phone: 00421-37-783-3445
Fax: 00421-37-783-3137

Click this link to learn more about the Tatrapoint brailler.

Adobe Can Read PDF Files

One of the biggest access issues on the web right now is our ability to read documents in Adobe's PDF format. There are tons of documents that are produced in this format and most of them can't be easily read by our screen readers. Even sighted folks have trouble reading the print because of the strange colors that were used in the documents or because the print is simply too small.

Adobe is working on this issue by adding a reading option to later versions of its software. Before I go any further, you need to make sure you have a few things in order for this process to work. You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 or higher installed and you must have a speaker connected to your computer with the volume turned up. (It's good to have the speaker turned on too!) : )

Once you have both of those things, you can move on. Just follow these directions:

  1. Open any PDF file that you want to read.
  2. If you want Acrobat Reader to read the complete PDF file, press Control+Shift+B and it will start to read the file.
  3. If you want Acrobat Reader to read a selected page, click on the page you want to hear and press Control+Shift+V. It will then read only the page you have selected.
  4. To pause the reading, press Control+Shift+C. To continue reading from a pause, press the same combination of keys.
  5. To stop the reading, press Control+Shift+E.

Note: Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 and higher will only read the contents if the PDF file is in English.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Illuminating LED tweezers

Have you ever needed to put a little extra light on your eyebrows as you try to remove every little hair? The TweezLight and the La-Tweez are quite similar in concept: a LED spotlight built into the tweezers helps the user to focus on hairs, splinters, etc.

Both brands are widely available online, with the TweezLight being easier to find in the US. The La-Tweez is supposedly available in most Australian pharmacies.

Click this link to purchase the TweezLight from

Accessible Self-Voicing Star Trek Game

p>As a huge fan of all the Star Trek series, I'm really excited about this game. I've played this one and if you like Star Trek, this is a must download for you.

Star Trek Final Conflict is a game in which you and the computer take turns shooting at each other as well as moving your ships about the alfa sector. Join in the action as you lead the Federation's most powerful fleet of starships and starbases against the forces of the Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians, and Borg. Completely self-voicing, uses Microsoft DirectX 9 and the Microsoft Dotnet Framework 2.0, and 5 action packed levels of gaming experience. You have five of the Star Trek ships from the television series and not only will you shoot, you have to move them about to dock with the starbases, Deep Space Nine and Earth Station McKinley to refuel. Not only that, but your starbases can also fight. You have the following four weapons: a deflector dish, photon torpedos, Quantum torpedos, and phasers.

Click this link to learn more or to download Star Trek Final Conflict from USA Games.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Take Your Magnifier to the Max

For a powerful and affordable digital magnifier mini CCTV that is easy to use - look no further than the Max Full-Color Digital Handheld Magnifier. Use this lightweight, hand-held portable low vision device on any straight or curved surface to magnify images and text from 15x to 30x! Move the Max Full Color Digital Handheld Magnifier over books, newspapers, magazines, or even medicine labels and read with ease. It connects quickly to any TV and is ideal for use at work, school or even on vacation.

Max is a powerful, portable, hand-held digital magnifier mini CCTV designed for people with low vision. The size of a computer mouse, the Max offers multiple viewing options and low vision magnification up to 28x on a 30" TV. View pictures in photo mode or choose between high contrast positive or high contrast negative for easy reading.


  • Magnifies images on any surface, curved or straight from 15x to 30x
  • Four viewing modes: full color, black and white, high contrast negative and high contrast positive
  • Power supply included
  • Built-in RCA and RF jack for connection to any TV
  • Designed for right or left-handed use
  • Weighs less than 4 ounces
  • Light, convenient and easy to use
  • 1 year limited warranty - 30-day money back guarantee

Click this link to purchase the Max Full Color Digital Handheld Magnifier from SHOP.COM.

Double Spacing in MS-Word

A few days ago, my son was working on a document for school. He came to me and asked if I knew how to turn on the double-spacing option in Word. I looked through the menu options and couldn't find it. I eventually was able to locate the feature and he got an A on the paper.

As I sat searching for this feature I thought, "This would make a great Fred's Head article," so here it is!

By default, MS-Word documents are single-spaced, which is great for most of what we do, but what about that small percentage of documents where you need things double-spaced?

Double-spacing is set through the Format menu, Paragraphs option. In the middle section of the Paragraph window entitled Spacing, you will find the Line spacing options. Using the pull down menu, you can select double-spaced or whatever you like. There are several choices listed there.

Once you've made your choice, click the OK button.

You can quickly turn on the double-spacing feature by using the keyboard command Control+2. To go back to single-spacing, use Control+1 and, as an added bonus, 1.5 line spacing is Control+5.

Now, what if you have a document that is already written single-spaced? Simply highlight the entire document (Control+A) and then follow the instructions to double-space the text.

What if you only need a section of the document double-spaced? You have two choices. First, you could turn the double-spacing on at the point it's needed, type the text and then turn it off when you've completed the section. Second, you could go ahead and type the text single-spaced. Then you would highlight the text you want to be double-spaced and follow the above process.

That's it! All the space you could ever want and then some!

Friday, December 08, 2006

USB Microscope for the Visually Impaired

I attended college at the University of Louisville and one of my most interesting times was when I had to take a lab to complete a science credit. Me, being the science fiction fan that I am, chose astronomy as my science class because I thought I knew a little about the subject and maybe it would get me away from the science labs all together.

When that didn't happen, I realized that I was going to be in some trouble when our book said that we had to use microscopes and write papers on what we saw. Well, I had some usable vision at that time, but not enough to see through a microscope.

Luckily, they partnered me with another student who had sight, so he looked and I wrote. Things could have been a little easier if the USB Microscope had been around. I could see computer screens back then and could have helped him do some of the looking.

This computer microscope allows you to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary for hours of fun and learning. View specimens collected around the house, backyard, your desk, or the fridge. Look at the micro-printing on a dollar bill or examine the traces on your motherboard. This microscope provides you an easy way to zoom in on a wide variety of objects to satisfy your curiosity of the world around you. Ever wondered what lint looks like or the mold growing on your week-old bagels? Now you can find out.

Simple plug and play operation with included software that allows you to magnify objects and view them on your PC up to 200X and take snapshots and time-lapse movies. You can also manipulate images with drawing and painting tools.

Now, here's the cool thing for visually impaired folks. The QX5 microscope is detachable from the stand to allow you to get closer to large objects. What things could you look at with this? I know there's a few of you right now that are thinking of ways to use this that were never thought of by the manufacturer.

The USB Microscope QX5 has these great features:

  • Take snapshots, video, and time-lapse movies
  • 3 magnification levels - 10X, 60X, and 200X
  • Super-brite LED lighting for bright top and bottom illumination
  • Video playback at 15 frames/sec
  • Resolution of 640x480
  • Software works with Windows 98, Me, 2000, XP
  • Handheld mode allows for expanded viewing possibilities
  • Comes with: Microscope, USB cable, Stand, Specimen Jars, Sample Slide, Tweezers, Eye Dropper, Slide Clip, and Software CD-ROM

Teachers of the visually impaired take note. This thing could be perfect for your lab or computer workshop. Have you ever had students who simply couldn't see through a regular microscope? Use this in combination with Zoomtext or another screen magnification program to further increase the size of what the student can see. Imagine showing them a circuit board up close, much closer than you can get with a normal CCTV.

Teachers of sighted children could also use this in combination with a projector to show something to the entire class. The possibilities are endless with a little imagination.

Click this link to purchase the USB Microscope from Think Geek.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Change the Colors of Yahoo!

Here's another helpful tip for all our low vision readers who have a Yahoo! email account. When you log in to Yahoo!, do you notice the colors that come up? Did you even know there were colors there?

The colors represent a border around your information, but if you're going to have to look at them every day, why not have a color that you actually like and that can help you read the text you came there for?

To change the colors, click on the Options link at the top of the page. From there, choose the Colors link on the left hand side of the page. Now, this is where you get to choose your new color. There are several colors to choose from, including Classic Blue, Sand, Khaki, Ice Blue, Pink, Maroon, Peas/Carrots and even a Salmon Pink, among others.

If you're not sure what some of those choices even look like, click on the one you'd like to check out and a display of the color will be shown. Once you're done, click Save. You can then go back to your email home page and see the difference.

If you decide that you don't like the color you chose, go back and pick another color. The look of your Yahoo! email is all up to you now.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

How to Remain Standing While Riding a Bus

You're standing on a crowded bus, surrounded by folks who are waiting for the driver to call their stop. Then the bus stops suddenly. If you don't have a good hand hold, you go flying forward into other passengers and start a domino effect! Here's how to keep your footing during challenging times.

  1. Place your feet about a foot apart in the shape of a "T" after boarding the bus. One foot should be aligned with the direction of travel and the other should be placed behind it perpendicular to the direction of travel.
  2. When the bus stops, bend your rear leg and keep the front one straight to lean towards the back of the bus. As the bus comes to a stop, slowly straighten your legs to stand upright.
  3. When the bus starts again, bend your front leg to lean forward.
  4. Use the foot placed perpendicular to the direction of travel for lateral stability (i.e. during turns). Lean into the turns.

This technique works best for shuttle buses that make frequent, predictable stops. They also work great for subways and light rail.

Another approach is to stand diagonally in the bus. This gives stability for lateral as well as forward-backward motion!

This is not meant to be used as a substitute for holding onto the hand rails. The hand rails are there for your safety, use them if possible.

Tips for Cleaning the Stove

Cleaning the stove can be one of those chores that make a root canal seem more pleasant to endure. Still, it doesn't have to be that way if you don't want it to be. Ponder the following tips the next time you are faced with the formidable task of cleaning your stove.

  • The Stovetop: Most stovetops can be washed down with hot water and regular detergent. For those spills that have lived for a long time rent-free on your range surface or on those chrome and stainless steel parts, use a little baking soda and water. They will vacate the premises soon after you apply a smooth paste to the area and leave it on for five to ten minutes. Then wipe it off with a soft cloth and rinse with a solution of white vinegar mixed with water. Results are reminiscent of that old song, "Nowhere to run to, baby; nowhere to hide."

    For the cleanest oven top on your block, mix equal parts warm water and ammonia. Apply, wait thirty seconds and then rub as necessary. Rubbing alcohol also brings a beautiful shine to your stovetop. To clean and shine those messy chrome burner trim-rings, rub well with a paste of vinegar and cream of tartar.

  • Stove Burner Drip Pans: One quick way to clean burner drip pans and rings is to simply add them to your next dishwasher cycle. For stubborn stains on drip-trays, place an ammonia-soaked cloth in it and leave it overnight. Wash off well with dish soap and water.

  • Oven Spills: While this tip may seem like part of a family recipe of some sort, it isn't. When spills occur, sprinkle with a mixture of one part cinnamon and six parts table salt. Not only will it absorb the spill, but it will also help remove the burnt food odor. To dislodge baked on spills, apply a paste of baking soda and water. You may need to add a little elbow grease too.

  • The Oven Racks: Place your oven racks in a garbage bag and throw in an ammonia-soaked cloth. Seal the bag tightly and leave outside overnight. Wash down well with soap and water the next day.

  • Oven Trays: In the case of oven trays, an ounce of prevention is truly better than a pound of cure. Add a small amount of water to your trays while baking and broiling. This can save a lot of time later when it comes to cleaning them. If you are opposed to water for any reason, you can cover the bottom of the pan with aluminum foil as a spill-catching alternative. Oven trays as well as pans should be dried well after washing to prevent rusting. Place them in a warm oven so that they dry really well.

  • The Oven Window: For that brown-stained window that no cleanser known to man seems to alleviate, make a thick paste of baking soda and water. Coat the inside of the window well with the mixture and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes or until completely dry and then rinse with clean water.

Remember that only you can prevent a dirty stove. (I ought to know. I have one.) Happy Stove Cleaning.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Memoir of a Boy who is Blind

Adventures in Darkness: Memoirs of an Eleven-Year-Old Blind Boy, by Tom Sullivan, is a book that takes readers through the adventures of a "monumental" year in the life of Tom, a boy who has been blind since birth. Publishers describe the synopsis: "Tom lived in a challenging world of isolation and special treatment. But he was driven to break out and live as sighted people do." The 240-page book is available in hardcover and abridged audio on CD for a cost of $24.99. For more information, contact:

Thomas Nelson Publishers
P.O. Box 141000
Nashville, TN 37214
Phone: 800-251-4000
Click this link to purchase Adventures in Darkness: Memoirs of an Eleven-Year-Old Blind Boy, by Tom Sullivan from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Table Tennis and Air Hockey Combine to Create a Game for the Blind

Have you ever heard of a game called PowerShowdown? Well, join the majority of people in the United States. While invented in Canada and played rather extensively in other parts of the world, somehow it never managed to cross the borders into mainstream usage.

PowerShowdown, known internationally as Showdown, is a combination of table tennis and air hockey. Invented in the 1960s by Joe Lewis and Geraldine York, the game is specifically designed so individuals with visual impairments or blindness (VI or B) can play without sighted assistance. Additional rules have evolved from different parts of the world to make the game what it is today.

PowerShowdown has seen little use in the United States simply because most people are unaware of its existence. The tables are also expensive and difficult to obtain since they have to be ordered from Europe. Jim Mastro, Ph.D., has been working with a group at Bemidji State University in Minnesota to manufacture the tables in the United States. Considering the possibilities for social interaction as well as recreational or competitive sport, PowerShowdown is well worth discovering.

The game is inexpensive to start up, requires minimal maintenance, and can be played in a room the size of a classroom or meeting room. The only equipment needed is the specially designed table, two paddles, special ball into which metal bee bees have been inserted, and perhaps a glove for the batting hand. Sound produced by the bee bees rolling around inside the ball indicates the location of the ball during the play.

Showdown is easy to learn. The object of the game is to bat the ball off the side wall, along the table, under the centre screen, and into the opponent´s goal. the first player to reach eleven points, leading by two or more points, is the winner. Each player serves five times in a row. Player score two points for a goal and one point when their opponent hits the ball into the screen, hits the ball off the table, or touches the ball with anything but the bat.

The game of PowerShowdown has many benefits. Kinesthetic awareness, ear/hand coordination, and spatial awareness all come into play. The greatest benefit is the social aspect. It allows people with VI or B to compete and interact with other people. PowerShowdown could replace table tennis or air hockey in the family recreation room, providing an opportunity for participation with a competitive twist for entire families. It will help integrate individuals with VI or B into the general population.

The tables are $2,800.00 plus shipping and handling. Each is individually crafted and comes with two paddles and two balls. For additional information, click this link to contact Jim Mastro via email at
A text file of the official rules can be found at

The Incredible 2006 Annual Meeting Presentations of Tom Sullivan and Michael Hingson

Due to popular demand, and the gracious willingness of our presenters, the amazing Annual Meeting keynote presentations from October 12-14 2006 of Tom Sullivan and Michael Hingson are available through our website. Additionally, you may enjoy the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony of Anne Sullivan Macy and Arnall Patz.

Here's how to access the presentations:

the Keynote Presentations and Induction Ceremony recordings are located at:

To listen to podcasts of various Annual Meeting sessions, visit:

Monday, December 04, 2006

What is Hypoglycemic Unawareness?

Children with diabetes need to be encouraged to test their blood sugar at least four to five times a day, six to eight times would be better. This is especially true because some kids can develop a condition called hypoglycemic unawareness. It means pretty much what it sounds like, the state of being unaware that one's blood sugar is too low.

Typically, there are obvious physical symptoms of low blood sugar that a person experiences. Rapid heartbeat, perspiration, shaking, anxiety, hunger, confusion, and irritability are some of these signs.

A diabetic who doesn't "sense" that he or she is falling into the low blood sugar "danger zone" can literally become unconscious before being able to get help.

Tips for Parents

  • Get your child into a scheduled routine of testing blood sugar. Testing before eating and sleeping is a good plan. If you are firm in seeing that your child tests before all meals, snacks, and bedtime, eventually it will become a habit.

  • If your child gets a low blood sugar reading, especially if it is below 70, treat with a sugar substance. Afterwards, ask about what he was feeling while he was low. Write down the symptoms he describes every time he's low, and discuss them with your child to help him become more aware.

  • Make sure teachers and caregivers are aware of your child's particular symptoms of hypoglycemia. When in doubt, the teacher or caregiver should give the child juice, soda (not diet) or candy such as sweet tarts (that dissolve quickly).

  • Your son or daughter should keep juice boxes or emergency candy on hand for times when symptoms appear.

  • Set up rewards for your child when he consistently checks his blood sugar. Plan a movie or trip to someplace fun when she has been testing herself at least five times a day without fail for two weeks or a month.

Dr. Alfred T. Sapse Talks About Retinitis Pigmentosa

The audio interview conducted by TransWorldNews with Dr. Alfred T. Sapse is now available for listeners in the Audio Interviews section of TransWorldNews. Dr. Sapse's interview discusses Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and the treatment offered by StemCell Pharma, Inc.

Dr. Sapse also explains the causes that lead to RP that transcend genetic variables. Through the treatment offered by StemCell Pharma, Inc. individuals suffering from Retinitis Pigmentosa can gain improved eyesight.

To listen to the audio interview with Dr. Alfred T. Sapse please go to:
To read more about Dr. Alfred T. Sapse and the treatments offered by StemCell Pharma, Inc. visit his TransWorldNews profile at:

Accessible Software at

By Chris Hofstader

One of the major aspects of the website is to encourage volunteerism among the community of people with disabilities. Another is to promote a community-based mentoring system in which people with disabilities who want to learn a new skill can match up with experts in the field and work on professional quality open source programs that people with disabilities can use without impediment.

The community of people with vision impairment, the group of people with disabilities that I know the best, has authors tremendous amount of energy. Some members of our community focus on applying this energy to constructive purposes; others, grow frustrated and spend a lot of energy yelling about problems but offering no solutions. I hope that our volunteerism project can help channel energy toward solutions rather than just criticism.

The site also hopes to serve as a one-stop shop for people with disabilities to find free, open source programs that they will enjoy using. In the beginning, we will be focusing on Windows and Windows Mobile software as that is what we know best. I expect that scripts for JAWS will dominate the early content on the site as all of the blind people working on this project use JAWS and that is the area with which we are most familiar. Some time in early 2007, when the site will have its Windows section in some reasonable order, we'll start adding software for the GNU/Linux platform and after that software for Macintosh and other platforms.

If you are interested in volunteering on this project in its early stages, we mostly need people to help us research and find as many free and open source projects pertinent to people with disabilities that run in the Windows environment. We need help finding all of these projects, categorizing them in writing a sentence or two describing them for people who visit the website. If you think you're interested in helping, visit the site and click the link to send a mail to

Blind Confidential will announce important changes to the website but it's probably best to check their from time to time to watch it grow.

Click this link to visit

Magnify Your Screen with Zoommy

Zoommy is a replacement for the MS Magnifier. The area of the screen is shown in the lens window with customizable magnification up to 20 times. A click on the Zoommy icon in the tray shows the lens, another click hides it.

A right click on the same icon opens a menu with parameters. Each of them can be changed with one more click. Zoommy is a magnifier tool for the visually impaired. Using Zoommy it is possible to adjust contrast, brightness, color mode: normal, inverse, black and white or gray gradations. The size of the lens is also customizable. Its unique mode can slow down the mouse when the specified magnification level is used.

This mode is automatically disabled when you hide the magnifier. The lens window shows the current magnification, proportionally magnified mouse pointer and its current coordinates.

The pointer looks in a special way that will help to precisely determine the actual position of the mouse pointer and also the color of the pixel the pointer is currently pointing to. The color of the pixel is in the RGB format (red, green and blue) and in the hexadecimal format.

The program can run in two modes: the lens follows the mouse pointer or is fixed in a certain position on the screen. It has a simple and comfortable interface. If you want it, Zoommy can be automatically launched at Windows startup.

Click this link to learn more about Zoommy from

A Blind Friendly Toaster

For those of you who burn your fingers trying to get an English Muffin from your toaster, we've come across a toaster that will give you an extra lift in the morning.

There are toasters available with a second lever that allows the item to be raised higher. One variety is the T-Fal Avante Deluxe Toaster With 2 Position Bread Lift. The two slice version runs around $39.00 and the four slice one around $59.00. They're available from the Penney's catalog and I'm sure from Wal-Mart and other sources.

Friday, December 01, 2006

How to RSVP

RSVP stands for the French phrase "répondez s'il vous plaît" and means "respond, please." It is used when someone issues you a social invitation and wants to be able to plan ahead. Although many people mistakenly believe that you need to reply only if you are coming, it actually means that your potential host wants to know, and soon, whether you intend to come or not. Here's how to give the inviter the proper courtesy when asked to RSVP.

  1. Check your calendar. See if you are free on the appointed date and time. If you previously accepted another invitation for that time, you will have to decline the new one.

  2. Do you want to attend this new event?

  3. Make up your mind by the date specified on the invitation; if a "reply by" date was not listed, reply within 24 hours of receiving the invitation. What if something better comes up later? That doesn't matter. Maybe it will, maybe it won't, but it is rude not to reply quickly to any invitation and show up as promised.

  4. Don't leave your potential hosts in suspense. If you want to hold your schedule open, the proper response to an invitation is, "Thank you for the invitation, but I'm afraid I will not be able to attend" -- say, "No thanks," instead of, "Please wait until I see what else comes along." True, you might not get a better offer after all, and if you turned down the first invitation, you could end up having nothing else to do that night, but you are abusing the graciousness of your hosts if you keep them on a string as your back-up plan.

  5. Reply in writing or in kind. To be most proper, one would reply in writing, by hand. But one may reply in the same format that one was invited; for example, an email invitation can be answered by email. For an RSVP to a wedding or other formal event, write the reply on a small plain piece of stationery, mirroring the layout of the initial invitation. The lines are centered. Write in the third person. "Ms. (Your name) accepts with pleasure / the kind invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Jones for Tuesday, the thirty-first of October." If unable to attend, change "accepts with pleasure" to "regrets that she is unable to attend." You never need to give a reason for not attending. Just let the host know whether you're currently planning to be there or not.

  6. Communicate last-minute changes. What if the time comes and you can't attend after all? Maybe you're not feeling well, or there was some real emergency. Then, as soon as you know, you must get in touch with the host (by telephone is fine) to let them know you can't come, and apologize. Acceptance of a social invitation did not constitute a legal obligation; your RSVP just communicated your best intentions.

Because exasperated hosts were making a lot of follow-up phone calls to inconsiderate invitees, the "reply card" was invented and is often considered standard and even necessary. However, if a reply card is not included with a formal invitation, you still need to reply in writing and provide the stamp.

If you want to bring extra people, re-read the invitation. It may allow for your guests, in which case you can respond for your party. "Hi, Jane, yes, I would like to come, and my sister is also available; thanks for thinking of us." If not, you can call the hosts and weasel a bit: "I'd love to come to your party on the 31st, but my sister will be visiting me then." The host can either say, "OK, thanks for letting me know, see you next time," or, alternatively, "Well, why don't you just bring your sister along?" Never bring people who were not invited by name, even your own children, unless you clear it with the host first.

If you have special needs (e.g., you're a vegetarian), tell your hosts in advance. When you RSVP, mention that you are, say, a vegetarian, and offer to bring a dish that you can eat. The host may volunteer to make something themselves, and you can accept. But don't just show up and expect that there will be something for you to eat.

People you'd never think care about these things often do, from dates and grandmas to friends and employers. Depending on your crowd, you will get a reputation as either "rude" or "flaky" if you habitually fail to respond to invitations.

Etiquette Police: Free Online Etiquette Training Course

Etiquette 101 is a free online Etiquette Training Course to upgrade your social skills. This training program is designed to improve your etiquette IQ so you can put your best foot forward in varied business and social situations. In today's fast-paced environment, there is a need for an awareness of what is socially acceptable. When people come in contact with highly educated and cultivated men and women our opinions about them are mostly formed by their refined manners. This course is aimed to teach finer etiquette points through concise notes and quizzes. You will then be able to measure this added knowledge by taking an online Final Exam.

An Online Certificate will be awarded after you've passed your Final Exam. This Certificate will give you the confidence and satisfaction to be a sophisticated member of the Etiquette Police alumni.

The Etiquette 101 Certificate Course is divided into the following units.

  1. Dine like a Diplomat: Covers the Dining and Table Manners
  2. Business Etiquette: For Business and Corporate Situations
  3. Cultural Notes: Provides info on Global Cultural Differences
  4. Wedding Etiquette: For Dating and Wedding Situations
  5. Potpourri: Covers Flag, Funeral, Netiquette etc.

The only pre-requisite for taking this training course is a desire to improve your social grace. Once you've registered with the Etiquette Police, you can login anytime at your convenience. This course can be completed at your own pace. You may complete this course in less than a day, or as long as it takes. The idea is to make sure you have grasped all the information in an effective way. After completing the five units, you can take the Final Exam to evaluate yourself on the Etiquette 101 course material.

You will receive a certificate in your email after passing the Final Exam. This certificate will testify that you have successfully completed Etiquette 101 training material. You can then be a proud graduate of the Etiquette Police Certification Program.

Click this link to visit to get started.

How to Seat Dinner Guests

When you decide to have a dinner party, there are many things that you'll need to consider besides the menu. An important consideration is where the guests should be seated, as this could determine whether or not your guests enjoy themselves or network successfully (depending on what the aim of the dinner event is). This article provides some tips to guide your decision.

  1. Decide on the formality of your occasion. Are you having business associates over or friends? Relatives from out of state or your immediate family? The relationship that you have with the people attending your event will determine the formality. As a general guide, a silver service sit-down event should be reserved for professional or very special occasions; a buffet is far more informal and you are less able to control the seating arrangements.

  2. Seat people who have common interests together. This is the most helpful starting point. Consider the following:

    • Do they have a need to discuss business together?
    • Do they have hobbies or interests in common?
    • Do they have professions in common?
    • Do they have marital/single status in common? (Perhaps you're into matchmaking, although some would be irritated by your attempt if they were to figure it out)
    • Do they like one another? Be careful of seating people you know have an animosity towards one another unless you want a dampener on the occasion.

  3. Pair people together. Be creative in your pairings. Sometimes it is customary to pair male/females but this can be stifling to the conversation or uncomfortable for some people. If you know someone to be shy, try to pair them with a caring extrovert. If you think two people who would normally not cross paths will end up having a good yarn, then try it. Being the host calls for exercising some people skills in your choices, as well as during the occasion.

  4. Seat guests of honour in order. If you have a guest of honour, for example, a boss, an elderly relative, a visiting superstar (you should be so lucky), there are etiquette rules as to their seating. A female guest of honour usually sits to the right of the host. A male guest of honour usually sits to the left of the hostess.

  5. Try opposite ends of the table for the hosts and/or the guests of honour. With two hosts, you should consider sitting yourselves at opposite ends of the table so that you are "sharing yourselves around" your guests. Alternatively, you could seat the guest of honour at the opposite end of the host, for a female guest of honour, seat her opposite the female host and for a male guest of honour, seat him opposite the male host. The remaining host can sit amidst the rest of the group or alongside the guest of honour. Remember, the hosts should try to remain apart as it is the hosts' duty to make sure the guests are happy.

  6. Have a seating list for large dinner parties. If your dinner party is so large that it encompasses a group of tables, it is helpful to have a seating list at the entrance to the room. Or, personalise it and tell each guest/couple where their table is. That is much friendlier than making them line up like they're at a school cafeteria.

  7. Be a good host. Enjoy yourself but make sure the guests are having fun, too. Make sure that anyone with a disability is seated on a comfortable enough chair; offer to change it or add a cushion etc., if they appear uncomfortable. Let people know quietly where the bathrooms are located, or assist by making it clear with a discreet sign. If a guest looks put out at where you've seated them, do some discreet legwork and re-seat them as quickly as possible; make an excuse like, "Oops, I meant to put you over there." Don't do this if it makes the situation too obvious or you really can't work out a better place for Mr. Snotty to sit.

The number one rule is that you are the host and it's the host's duty to ensure the happiness and comfort of the guests throughout the event. This means foregoing things for yourself if necessary (like less food), keeping an eye on guests' comfort levels and providing swift attention to any problems that might arise.

Don't get too hung up on seating etiquette rules. Many of the rules were established in the courts of kings and queens and were perpetuated by wealthy people for generations to follow. With the rise of the middle class and nowadays much more liberally-minded younger generations, the do's and don'ts are less concerning. This is a very general and liberal guide. It will apply in many middle class, anglophone situations. However, there will be stricter interpretations depending on culture, region, country, religious beliefs etc. that you will likely be aware of if this pertains to you.

How you seat your guests from the start can assist in making the occasion more successful, so put some thoughtful effort into this decision.

Accessible Paint Calculator

When my wife and I moved into our new home, we wanted to paint the walls before moving in the furniture. My wife has some vision, so she measured the rooms and we went to our local hardware store to purchase the paint. We knew what color we wanted, but we had no idea how much paint it would take to paint our house.

While searching the net, I found this paint calculator. I wasn't looking for a paint calculator at the time, but I thought there may be someone out there who is getting ready to move and may have use for it, so here's how it works.

You first take the measurements of the room you want to paint. This means the length, width and height of the walls, as well as, how many doors and windows there are with their measurements too. Then you put that information into the calculator along with how many square feet a gallon of the paint you want to use covers (this information is usually provided on the can). Then click Calculate.

You'll then find out how many gallons you need in the totals area. (Visually impaired folks will notice it is darker gray around this area to attract your eye to the total!) They give you the disclaimer that you should do your own measurements and check with a professional, because this is just a rough measurement. It will help you get an idea of how much money it will cost to get the job done.

Click this link to use the Paint Calculator.

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