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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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tips for Cleaning Leather Furniture

Before you can effectively clean your leather furniture, you have to know whether you have the type of leather that stains can permanently penetrate. (dyed leather) or pigmented leather) This can be ascertained by letting a drop of water fall on an inconspicuous part of the leather. If it soaks in immediately, then so will the stains and if it doesn't, you at least have a chance of removing them. In general, leather should not be too wet and most water-based stains like cola, red wine and mustard can often be removed with a damp cloth. If that doesn't work, try a cloth dampened with a very mild soap and water solution.

Saddle soap is a fine all purpose leather cleaner. Rub the lather into the leather using a cloth dampened with water and once dry, buff with a soft cloth. For effective conditioning, mix 1 cup boiled linseed oil and ½ cup white vinegar. Shake well and apply sparingly with a damp cloth and when dry, buff with a soft cloth. Olive oil can be substituted for the linseed oil. To remove mildew, apply a little antiseptic mouthwash to the area with a soft cloth. Sounds strange but it works.

Don't take a chance with dyed leather and call in a professional. With suede you have to be very careful, sometimes marks can be removed by applying steam from a clothes steamer and a very light rubbing with an emery board. If in doubt, call in a professional.

Sofas should be kept away from heat sources like radiators, and direct sunlight. Heat can cause the leather to crack.

Blind Search: Find Things Related to Blindness has launched a new page called Blind Search.

"Tired of searching for information on blindness, accessibility, or other terms and getting meaningless results? At Blind Search, we know you aren't looking for window blinds. We've hand-picked websites that are about blindness, blindness technology, and other related issues and brought them into one search engine, powered by Google."

I've tried a few searches and have found this to give accurate results. Click this link to search the net with Blind Search:

Sorting Data in MS-Word

Have you ever found yourself wishing that the list you just typed in MS Word was alphabetized? Or, for those of you who are good with Excel, you're probably wishing you typed the list in Excel in the first place (where it's so easy to sort data). Turns out that it's very easy to sort data in MS-Word, here's how!

  • Highlight the entire list.
  • Go to the Table menu and choose the Sort option.

You'll see that the default is set to Sort by Paragraphs, type of Text, Ascending. This will make your list alphabetical A to Z. (Descending will reverse the list from Z to A).

There is an option of telling the program that your list has a header row (or title). If you highlighted a title with the data, you would use this option to prevent the program from sorting your title into the list. (In other words, the first row stays in place, regardless of its first letter).

When you have everything set the way you want, click the OK button. You will be returned to the document and you should see that the list is now in order.

Quick Note: When creating a list, think about the spacing. If you want the list double-spaced, highlight all the text and set the paragraph to be double-spaced. Do not simply hit the Enter button twice at the end of each line, it will become an editing nightmare and when the sorting is finished, it will put all of the blank spaces at the top of the list, leaving the data single-spaced anyway.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bigger Attachments with Gmail

Gmail, Google's email service, has added another feature and it has to do with attachments. If you like to send attachments like there's no tomorrow, you're going to love this.

Now, you can send attachments through Gmail that size all the way up to 20 MB! That's actually double what they've offered up until now. And not only can you send attachments this big, but you can receive them at that size as well. Simply amazing!

So, if you've ever had trouble sending large pictures, videos, documents, etc. to your friends and family members, you don't have to worry about that anymore. Any attachment up to the size of 20 MB will go through perfectly, even if you use Gmail with Outlook Express. Isn't it nice when an email service really gives you what you want? Gmail has yet to disappoint me, that's for sure. Give this a try today and make your Gmail space more useful than you ever thought possible!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Among Top Resources for the Blind are Audio Books and Text to Speech Software

Both audio books and text-to-speech software have proven to be invaluable tools for the blind, with audio books allowing the visually impaired to listen to full-length books on any subject imaginable, and text-to-speech software turning written words into spoken words in a flash

Audio Books

While audiobooks can be listened to from a desktop or laptop, as well as an MP3 player, such as an iPod or even an equipped cell phone, text-to-speech software is best relied on from your computer, turning written words into spoken words and helping you to compose emails, review web pages, even lengthy documents and notes.

Adding to the convenience, you can now download any audio book or have it sent directly to your doorstep through the postal service, keeping it as long as you need to hear it from beginning-to-end and then placing it in the provided return envelope for routing back – all for free.

There are inexpensive audio book clubs you can now join through the Internet that allow you to download audio books for free once you are a paying member and enjoying other adult audio books on tape.

For the young at heart, the Harry Potter audio book remains a top choice, although both children and adults enjoy a wide range of MP3 audio books, including self help audio books, Spanish audio books, German audio books – audio books in just about every language you can think of, and on every topic imaginable.

Of course, the audio book Bible remains one of the top audio books – both as a downloadable audio book and as purchased from an audio book sale.

Text to Speech Software

If you spend any amount of time on a computer, you may find it highly beneficial to add text to speech software to your desktop or laptop, allowing you to take written words anywhere on the Internet or even your inbox and instantly transform these into spoken words.

Best of all, advances in technology make for a wonderful natural voice text to speech experience, with users even able to choose from a very large variety of voices.

You can use text to speech capabilities to add converted text to your MP3 player or iPod, just as you would an audio book, and listen any time it is convenient for you – from any room in your home, while outside or while commuting.

Because you can now give a free text to speech converter a test drive, if you will, listening to a free text to speech demo, you can decide for yourself if this robust software solution will work for you.

Keep in mind that text to speech technology has greatly increased over the years, so you can expect almost any text to speech generator to produce top-notch results.

Using Reliable Voice Recognition Software Allows You to Produce Nearly 100% Accurate Documents

As a blind person, getting your thoughts or spoken words onto paper can be a daunting challenge and until recently, voice recognition software, although helpful, was not always reliable.

In fact, today’s voice recognition software uses digital voice recognition to ensure a higher level of accuracy every time, allowing you to produce precise notes, documents, correspondences and more, all of which truly reflect your spoken words.

When used in conjunction with a laptop or desktop, you can simply give voice commands to your computer, bypassing the need to use a keyboard or mouse. Additionally, for web users who may be unable to use their hands, voice recognition dictation software can even navigate through the World Wide Web and onto a specific web page, performing any tasks needed on that page or anywhere else, turning your computer into a comprehensive voice recognition system.

You can even count on voice recognition computer software to simplify your life on-the-go, allowing you to better control your BlackBerry, Treo, or WindowsMobile devices using simple and easy-to-remember voice commands.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking (also referred to as dragon voice recognition) remains the best-selling speech recognition and xml software on the market today, with special editions for home and personal users and for business and professional users – all starting for less than $100.

Best of all you can experience a free demonstration, listen-in on free “webinars” that introduce you to speech recognition capabilities, and download any of the dragon voice recognition program products immediately and start using them within the hour.

Down on the Pharm

At this moment, our low vision and sighted readers think I've lost my mind. No, I didn't spell it wrong! Pharming (with a "ph") is actually a term used in the computer world. I know you've heard of phishing before, because we've talked about it in the database and blog, and well, pharming sort of goes along with that. It's just another example of how hackers try to manipulate computer users via the Internet. Keep reading for a more detailed definition.

Basically, pharming is the act of redirecting users to fake Web sites, without them ever knowing it happened. When you want to visit a Website, you type its domain name into your Web browser and that's then translated into an IP address by the means of a DNS server. After all of that goes through, the information is then stored in your computer's DNS cache. Hackers can use this to redirect you to a false site, one determined by the hacker.

Pharming can also occur as an email virus that can destroy a user's DNS cache. Other pharmers can ruin whole DNS servers as well. Luckily, most DNS servers have good security features, but it still doesn't make them immune. So, if you're on a Website that looks strange, you may be caught in a pharming incident. If that happens, restart your computer to reset your DNS settings, run your antivirus scan and then try going to the same site again. If it still looks odd, contact your ISP and tell them what's been going on. No, pharming is not as commonly known as phishing scams, but it can still be very dangerous.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The First Dog Guide Team

After the end of World War I the nation of Germany was devastated by financial depression. Many private businesses failed, including the Potsdam, Germany school, the first school to train dog guides for the blind.

An American woman named Dorothy Eustis had heard about the program and decided it was a very worthwhile endeavor. Because she owned a company that was training German Shepherds as working dogs, she decided she might try to train dog guides for the blind. She did not start this right away, however. In fact she was still considering the possibilities when she wrote a story for The Saturday Evening Post about the potential for dog guides for the blind. A Nashville man named Morris Frank had heard the story and decided to write to Ms. Eustis and ask her to train a dog for him. She did and Mr. Frank became known as the first blind person to use a dog guide.

As part of an arrangement he'd made with Ms. Eustis, Mr. Frank started training dog guides in the United States. The foundation that Mr. Frank started was dubbed "The Seeing Eye" and the so-called Seeing Eye dog was effectively born.

Home Appliance Tipovers

When I had my first child, one of the things I remember my blind friends telling me was to secure dressers and shelves to the wall using brackets. I would never have thought of the danger of furniture tipping over and harming little ones. And it's not just furniture that tip over. Kitchen ranges and TV sets can also pose dangers to our little ones.

The following quote is from Public Citizen:

According to documents from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the national retailer Sears, manufacturers and the government have known about this lurking danger for more than twenty years. Since the early 1980s, manufacturers of ranges began using lighter-gauge steel to reduce costs, even though they quickly learned that this resulted in a tendency for the lighter-weight appliances to tip over when weight was applied to the oven door.

"There have been over 100 reported cases of death and injury from scalding and burns due to hot foods and liquids spilling from the stove top, and from the weight crushing anyone in the path of the tipping ranges," said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. "Considering the lack of consistent reporting and the millions of homes with these ovens, we believe the numbers of those maimed or killed by ranges tipping over are much greater."

Now from Consumer Reports, we see the following about TVs:

Because of their weight, typical picture-tube (cathode-ray tube or CRT) TVs can produce a forceful impact when they fall. And since the center of gravity is so far forward, if a CRTV is tilted even slightly, the risk of it falling is even greater than with other TV types. While other, somewhat more stable, TV types have become popular, these models still exist in homes and are available in stores, in ever-larger sizes.

Flat-panel TVs, such as plasmas or LCDs, are not as front-heavy as CRTVs, and rear projectors are also more stable than CRTVs because their weight is at the bottom. But any TV type can weigh more than 100 pounds and be a risk to babies and children.

Visit the websites above for more information and safety tips. We all need to be aware of the dangers that appliance tipovers pose, and how to prevent accidents from happening.

Dog Guide Friendly Airports

As any dog guide handler will tell you, some pet-relief areas at airports are simply a small patch of grass or a square or two of green Astroturf-like material. These places are often hard to find and force you to cross lanes of traffic before you can releive your guide.

A few airports around the country have created fully landscaped pooch-parks. The following are some of the country's most canine-friendly facilities.

In December 2004, Reno-Tahoe International Airport celebrated the opening of the Gate K-9 Bark Park. Paw prints stamped on the sidewalk outside the terminal lead to the enclosed Bark Park just north of the baggage claim area. The park is landscaped with trees and a canopy for shade and stocked with fresh drinking water and plastic mitts for quick clean-ups. They even have a fire hydrant for pet dogs who like to do their business the old-fashion way.

In Texas, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has a small park with a figure-eight-shaped dog walk located outside the lower level, just past the east end of the terminal. Landscaped and lighted at night, the park has stone benches, shade trees, grassy areas, a pet-level drinking fountain and plenty of mitts and trash receptacles for clean-ups.

The folks at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport maintain two park areas for pooches. The 2,000 square-foot Bone Yard is just outside the baggage claim level at the west end of Terminal 4, the airport's busiest terminal. This finced-in area is shaded in the day and lighted at night and has a bone-shaped patch in the center filled with kitty litter and surrounded by crushed gravel. Pet owners and dog guide teams can use the park's faucets and buckets to cool off and the plastic mitts to clean up.

The Phoenix airport's second pet-relief area, the Paw Pad, is located just west of Terminal 3 inside a framed archway and a fence decorated with paw prints. This pet-relief area offers pet owners and working teams the same amenities as the Bone Yard, but instead of gravel and kitty litter, the Paw Pad has grass.

While pet-relief areas are a welcome amenity for pet owners and dog guide handlers in transit, pet rest areas at airports are also a boon for the increasing number of narcotics and explosive-sniffing dogs that also work at airports.

While the airports in Reno, Austin and Phoenix offer some of the country's nicest pet rest areas, airports in Seattle; Portland; Denver; San Diego; Columbus, Ohio; and elsewhere also offer pets and guides "a place to go." To find a rest stop for your pet or guide on your next plane trip, consult the list of pet-friendly airports on the website or call the information desk at the airports on your itinerary.

If there's no official pet-relief area, don't give up. You may be able to locate an "unofficial" on-site relief spot or a pet-friendly park nearby.

Have you found a great pet-relief area at an airport or have some tips to share about taking your guide on an airplane? Share your comments by sending an email to

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Effects of Pregnancy on the Eyes

Pregnancy is a truly wondrous experience. Every woman is aware that there are changes to her body that are entirely natural and obvious but many do not know or consider the effects of pregnancy on the eyes.

Your Eyes and Pregnancy: What you need to know is an article that describes the effects on the eyes and the changes that take place in the body during pregnancy. The importance of recognising any symptoms and their consequences is emphasized while non essential medical jargon is avoided.

Click this link to read the article Your Eyes and Pregnancy: What you need to know.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Shaking Hands with the Blind

Message: Are there any guidelines for handshaking etiquette between sighted and blind and/or blind and blind persons?
Location: Texas

This is a great question, thanks for asking.

According to an article by the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind called How do I interview someone who is blind, "If you would like to shake their hand, just say, "I'd like to shake your hand," and they can extend theirs out to you."

I have found this to be accurate when shaking hands with a blind or sighted person. I have said, "How about a handshake" right after being introduced to someone. I have also had a third person say "Mike, he's holding out his hand to you," but this can cause some discomfort for the person standing with their hand out.

Bottom line, if you want to shake the hand of someone who is blind, simply say so. If they want to shake your hand, they will either extend their hand or they may say something to you. Now, what's really fun to watch is when two blind people want to shake hands and they both miss. We call this "the blind handshake" and we usually get a lot of laughs from it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Software Guides Available for JAWS and Screen Magnification Programs

David Bailes from the UK is making available, free of charge, several guides for using JAWS and screen magnification programs with applications such as Audacity and Windows Media Player 11. It is worth your time to visit the VIP Software Guides website to check out this valuable resource:

Article Source:
Darrell Shandrow
Blind Access Journal

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Change Toolbar Size in MS-Office

Ever find yourself squinting at the buttons on the toolbars in various MS Office programs? Wish they were bigger? Relief is just a few clicks away!

To begin, you need to go to the Tools menu, Customize choice. (Or right click over any toolbar and choose Customize from the toolbar list).

On the Options tab, you should see the Large Icons choice. Check this box. Instantly, you should see the difference. The buttons should all be enlarged, while the document itself was not.

If you like this solution, click on the Close button. The buttons will then stay the new size.

If you don't like this solution, uncheck the box. This should return your buttons back to their original size. (Then click the Close button).

One quick side note: When you change to Large Icons, you've changed the buttons in all the MS Office Suite programs. (So, don't be surprised if you change them in MS Word and find them enlarged in MS Excel as well).

"A Mother and Daughter Story" for Mother's Day

As a way to celebrate Mother's Day, the American Foundation for the Blind has released A Mother and Daughter Story on YouTube:

This moving video, featuring Esther Smith and her daughter Gwen shows us one family's experience coping with macular degeneration. And Esther and Gwen are not alone in their experience. This story captures the feelings of many families who are facing vision loss. If you or someone you love has recently been diagnosed with an eye disease such as glaucoma, macular degeneration or cataracts, I encourage you to share this video with them. It has been posted on YouTube to make it easier for you to e-mail to friends and family, or to embed on your blogs. An accessible version of the video can be found on the AFB Senior Site:

Please take five minutes to watch it, and share it with others. Happy Mother's Day to all!

Article Source: Carl Augusto: American Foundation for the Blind Blog:

Friday, May 11, 2007

Safety Tips for Extension Cord Use

Most people have used extension cords at some point. Many people use them regularly. They are very convenient but they can also become hazardous if not used with care. There are nearly 5,000 home fires each year related to extension cord usage, according to estimates by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The following tips will help you use extension cords more safely.

  • It's wise to only purchase extension cords that have been tested by a reputable testing laboratory. The most well recognized is Underwriter's Laboratory, so check for the UL on the label or look for other indications of appropriate testing.
  • Make sure you have selected the appropriate type of extension cord and choose a sufficient gauge of wire for the item you want to plug in. Remember, lower is better in this case as lower gauge numbers mean that the cord can better handle higher levels of electricity.
  • Check the amperage and never exceed the maximum. In fact, it is best to use an extension cord with a higher rating than what you need. Assume that you should only plug in items that use about 70-80% of the amperage listed on the label.
  • Don't use adaptors with extension cords. Only use the correct outlet for the design of the plug. For example, if the plug is polarized, which means it has one narrow prong and one wide one, only use an outlet intended for polarized plugs. You should never file down the wider prong to make it work and never use an adapter to make a three prong plug work in a two prong outlet or vice versa. Doing so can result in shock or fire.
  • Take care not to let clothing or items lie on top of an extension cord. It's also best not to run cords beneath rugs or heavy furniture (where the furniture sits directly on the cord). These things can damage the cord and a damaged extension cord may cause electrical shock, sparks, or fire.
  • Check extension cords occasionally while in use to test the level of heat. If your extension cord is hot to the touch, unplug it and replace it.
  • Avoid the temptation to plug one extension cord into another. This not only creates hazards but it can also damage your appliances. The current isn't as strong when multiple cords are used. This can damage motors and other moving parts. Instead, make sure you purchase the appropriate gauge and amperage cord in the required length. Measure the length of space between the item you want to plug in and the outlet and try to buy a cord that's just a big longer than needed to ensure that there's plenty of slack (but not too much excess that could cause trips and falls).
  • Never use an indoor extension cord outside. There are special cords for this purpose as well as for use in areas containing moisture or dampness. When moisture is present, extension cords must be used only in safety outlets known as GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupters.
  • Never yank on an extension cord in an attempt to unplug it. This can cause damage not only to the cord and to the plug, which can be replaced, but it can also cause damage to the outlet. Worse yet, it can cause sparks, fire, or shock.
  • Never use extension cords in place of wiring. They simply do not conduct the current the same way permanent wiring does. They will deteriorate over time.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lens Magnifying Glass for Windows

Here's a question for our low vision readers. Have you ever run into a Web site or a document that was really small and hard to view? The magnifier feature of Windows works pretty good for blowing up images, but as with a lot of built in Windows features, it's not the best program for the job. If you find yourself putting nose marks on your monitor when you're trying to get some information off your PC, let me show you an alternative program with some really cool features.

The program I want to talk about is called Lens Magnifying Glass (LMG). If you're familiar with the Windows version of the magnifier, you're probably also familiar with its awkwardness. Well, the LMG makes things a lot easier. It doesn't take up half of your desktop; that is, unless you want it to. The LMG also allows you to use different skins, which gives you the option of getting different shapes and sizes of the viewing area. There are interactive buttons right on the interface, so there's no searching for a Tools button to change settings or zoom levels either. You can also minimize the application to the taskbar and then easily pull it up whenever you need it.

It downloads and installs quickly and works in Windows 95/98/Me/NT4/2000/XP. Click this link to download the Lens Magnifying Glass.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

YouGetIt: a Search Engine with Local Results

Like most of the world, I use Google for most of my web searches. You can't get better results in my opinion. Others like Yahoo! I guess the only problem I have with these search engines is that it's difficult to search for something locally, like to find a pizza joint for example.

YouGetIt is a search engine that focuses on providing information you need from a local standpoint. So, the first thing you'll notice, if you can actually see the screen, is your zip code in the top left hand corner. If you want to change the zip code it has selected, just click the "Change Zip Code" link and type another one in. (I think the site goes by the closest big city to you, so if you live in a smaller town, suburb, etc., you may need to change it). Once you're all set with that, you can start searching.

The search box is located at the top of the page and beside that, you'll see a pull down menu of the different categories you can search under. Those include: Businesses, Information, People, Video, Classifieds, Jobs and Real Estate. You can choose a subject and then type in a few keywords to find what you're looking for. When you're ready for your results, just hit the Get it! button. For one of my searches, I chose Businesses and typed in "pizza." My results came back with several pizza restaurants located in my area. It didn't include pizza places from all over the country, just the ones in my city. How cool is that?!

Now, below the search box, there are several tabs that run across the page. Those are: News, Business, People, Classifieds, Coupons, Auctions, Events, Photos, Videos, Traffic and Talent. Just click on a tab to search in that field. For example, I chose to search under News. When I clicked on that, a long list of options came up. I could choose between top rated news, most views, recently added, etc. I clicked on recently added and a whole slew of news stories from my area popped up. So, instead of seeing all the world news, I was able to read about my city only. I love it!

You can customize all the information on the home page. You can design it so it's like your own little Web page with all the information included that you want shown. For example, on my page, I have Local News, Local Classifieds, Local Auctions and Local Events. If you mouse over any of the boxes on YouGetIt's Home page, your cursor will change so you can drag and drop those boxes anywhere on the page. So, if you want your news to be shown first, drag it up to the top. Once you experiment with it a little, you'll get the hang of it. I haven't tried this with all the screen readers, so I'm not sure of the compatibility there.

Now, YouGetIt is still in the beta form, so, if you run into some problems, don't panic, it's probably just a snag that the YouGetIt team is trying to smooth out. If you're having a lot of trouble, you can click on the Contact Us link at the top of the page and send them your feedback. It's all done through email, but they seem to be good at getting back with you in a timely manner. If there are any accessibility issues with the site, now's the time to let them know.

You can access the YouGetIt search engine by visiting

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Are You a Yankee or a Rebel?

Has anyone ever told you that you sound like a hick when you talk? How could they say such a thing about your perfect speaking ability? You couldn't sound like a hick, or could you?

Thanks to the AlphaDictionary Southern Accent Test, you can finally put these rediculous comments to rest.

To find out how much Southern blood your speech shows, simply choose the words you use then press "Compute My Score!" at the end. alphaDictionary will compute your score and tell you where you're coming from: are y'all speaking Bubbaese or are youse guys Yankee Doodle Dandies? The higher your score, the deeper from the South you're from. The test is based on research by the Harvard Computer Society.

Before you choose your answer, it may be helpful to say the word or phrase out loud. When you select your answer, you'll notice in the text line beneath your choice that it will say where the dialect is from. When you've answered all twenty questions, click Compute My Score.

Now that you know how much or little of a Yankee you are, you have the option to take the Advanced version of the test. To do so, scroll down past your score into the "Did You like This Test"? area.

From there, you have the option to send the quiz to a friend (I mailed this off to my mom) or to take the Advanced Rebel-Yankee test. The other links in this area lead to further research, an interesting Glossary and the daily What's the Good Word feature where they take one word and tell you all about it and how to say it.

Are you a teacher or parent? You'll be happy to see links to dictionaries, crosswords, grammar, a language blog and other educational links on the test page. Please note that some of these sites may not be compatible with screen readers and screen magnification programs.

Click this link to find out if you are a Yankee or a Rebel.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Giant Connect Four

When it comes to being visually impaired, sometimes the bigger something is, the easier it is to see. I have two sons, one is visually impaired and they would both love to play on this giant version of Connect Four.

Most of us know the small, plastic version of this game but it has actually been around for many years. Truth is that it goes back in history at least a few centuries, known generally as 'four in a row' or 'four in a line'. The game was taken on his exploration voyages by Captain James Cook and he became so engrossed with it during the long periods at sea that his crew gave it the name "Captain's Mistress", a name which has lodged itself in history.

Players take turns to drop a disk down a chute, the aim being for a player to get four disks in a row, diagonally, horizontally or vertically. There are several sizes for you to choose from, some are even made of wood.

Click this link to purchase Giant Connect Four from Masters Games Ltd.

NFB Link: Linking Individuals to a Network of Knowledge

The National Federation of the Blind is offering a premier, one-stop resource for information on career paths, educational opportunities, recreational activities, technology, and many other topics from successful blind and visually impaired people. NFB-LINK, pairs individuals seeking information about blindness with successful blind people. A college student can learn how to conduct experiments in a biology class or a newly blind person can learn how to continue gardening after vision loss.

To access this one-of-a-kind service, visit On the site, you can share your expertise by joining the growing pool of mentors or you can request a mentor that can help answer your blindness-related questions. For additional information about this program, contact Rosy Carranza at, or 410/659-9314, ext. 2283.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Terrestrial Invaders

Terrestrial Invaders is another take off the classic video game Space Invaders. This game includes several accessibility features that can be switched on and off, both off-line and on-the-fly, such as:

  1. Adjustable game speed.
  2. Adjustable size of all game graphics.
  3. Separately adjustable FX, music and speech volume.
  4. 2D sound for localizing objects on a 2D plane.
  5. Presentation of spatially localised captions using text and / or graphics for visualizing all game sounds.
  6. Reading aloud (for the visually impaired) and automatic scanning (for the motor-impaired) of the game menus.
  7. Two high contrast modes (bright graphics on dark background and the inverse).
  8. Two novel alternative types of audio descriptions that verbalise the relative position of attacking spaceships in relation to the player and warn for incoming fire.
  9. The option of using simple shapes (e.g., rectangles, ellipses) to render all graphic elements.
  10. Controls can also be redefined, but currently this can only be done by editing the respective XML level description files.

You can find more information about Terrestrial Invaders by clicking this link:
The MS-Windows, Linux and Mac OS X versions of Terrestrial Invaders can be downloaded freely by clicking this link:
If you try Terrestrial Invaders, please take the on-line survey and share with us your opinion and thoughts about it, it will not take more than 5 minutes. You will find the survey at:

Are You the Administrator of Your Windows XP?

Have you ever run into a situation where you had to sign in to your computer under the Administrator account? Certain programs require you to have Administrator rights before you can install anything to your PC. (

Let's say you just bought a new piece of software and when you go to install it, you're asked for your Administrator information. So, you log into your Administrator account, you install the software and everything is just peachy keen. But, what happens when you're done with the whole process? Did you remember to sign out of your Administrator account and go back to your normal PC mode? Are you unable to remember if you did it or not?

If you're not sure either way, there's a very easy way to check. All you have to do is right click on your Start button and check to see if the first option says Open or Open All Users. If you see Open All Users, that means you're still logged in under the Administrator account. If you just see Open, you're signed in under your limited account and that's the best place to be. This little trick helps when other people are using your computer as well. To make sure they're not changing your accounts around, do the quick right click and you'll be in the know again.

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