Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

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

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


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Online Church Communities and Services for People with Disabilities

Do you find it hard as a blind or visually impaired person to get to church for lack of transportation? Has someone slighted you for your visual impairment, and refused to be around you and fellowship with you? The answer to this problem is simple.

On Thursday nights at 9:00 P.M. Eastern, 8:00 P.M. Central, an internet church service is the answer. Come in to this church service via computer and listen to songs, testimonies, and a preached message. With a microphone, you can share with others your story of salvation, ask for prayer, and give praise reports.

This is an e-church. After service, there will be a period of fellowship. Come and be filled with God's Presence.

Click this link to learn more about this online church service:

First-time users will have to download a chat client. Upgrades are automatic. Audio quality is good and the software is safe. Just type in your name and disregard the password prompt. Enter on your name or tab to the OK button to enter.

This service is free to the blind, visually impaired and physically handicapped. Our sighted counterparts are welcome to join as well.

MyChurch: a Christian Social Network: Find, Connect and Grow Your Church Community

Here's an easy way for churches to create their own online community and an accessible for blind and visually impaired people to find a church. Start by exploring what's already online here: over 10,000 churches, and over 40,000 blogs.

Click this link to visit

Online Prayer Requests allows people of all faiths to submit a prayer and then have others pray for them. In this fast-paced world, people don^D>'t always have time to go to Church everyday and so a service that allows them some spiritual release is very helpful. The service is very easy to use, just go to the site, click ^D<"submit a new prayer^D>" and then type in your thoughts and images if desired. Your prayer will be immediately viewable online and others can pray for you by simply clicking ^D<"prayer it^D>". The more people that pray for you, the higher up on the page your prayer will be. So if you would like others to pray for you, perhaps the fastest solution is by going to

A Light in the Darkness

A Light in the Darkness is a community for blind and visually impaired Christians! "It's a place where we can discuss our faith, submit prayer requests or just share inspiring stories with one another. Anyone who wants to join is welcome! Just go to the link below or look in my profile for it. The only rule in the community is RESPECT. Other than that, have fun!"

Click this link to join A Light in the Darkness:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nexus Radio

p>Nexus Radio is a free full featured radio player for listeners who want to record their favorite radio content for playback on their PC, or any portable device that supports MP3s. With over 6000+ radio stations and support for thousands more, Nexus Radio delivers the content radio listeners yearn for. Search through a rich variety of radio stations with a straightforward interactive guide that can be updated daily with more content than XM and Sirius radio combined.

Whether you are at home or on the road, Nexus Radio can record your favorite songs or radio shows automatically with TiVo style recording for later playback. MP3s recorded with Nexus Radio can be automatically named and tagged with ID3 tag information, and transferred to your iPod or any other multimedia device effortlessly.

Simply download the Nexus Radio application to your computer and listen or record the stations presented on the Nexus Radio website. Screen reader users will find most of the buttons to be properly labeled and most functions are accessible, but as with most of these media players, some experimentation will be required.

I especially love the automated song naming feature of your downloaded music. Click this link to visit

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

LazyLibrary: Read Less, Get More

Ever strained your eyes reading a book that was a few hundred pages longer than it needed to be? Yeah, so have we. Fortunately, there are authors out there that would rather have a concise and effective book than a lengthy and diluted tome, and that's where LazyLibrary comes in.

Welcome to the LazyLibrary, where you can find print books on any topic without having to worry about high page counts. If it's over 200 pages, you won't even see it. Scan and read all about anything, in less time, for (usually) less money.

Click this link to visit

The Power-Failure Light

Winter, at least where my parents live, means always having to say "The power just went out." Enter the Power Failure Light, which sits innocently charging on your lamp most of the time. During an outage, it kicks in and gives you a bright light for up to 8 hours. Useful to most of us; invaluable to seniors and people with low vision.

This clever little device will keep you from stubbing your toe while going for a flashlight next time the power goes out. Fitting between a lightbulb and your lamp, the Power Failure Light sits dormant and juices up while the power is flowing. When you get an outage, the six built-in LED lights automatically turn on. Compatible with incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs. 5" H x 5" W x 3" D. (3 1/2 lbs.

Click this link to purchase The Power-Failure Light from Hammacher Schlemmer.

PawPlunger Cleans Your Dog's Paws

The PawPlunger is the latest in pet cleaning products, designed to help you keep your dog's paws clean.

When "Mimi" is ready to come into the house, you "plunge" each foot into the PawPlunger, and the soft bristles and water cleans off all the dirt and mud. All you have to do is fill it with water, and it's ready to use.

Click this link to learn more about the PawPlunger:

Monday, September 24, 2007


Lite-A-Switch is a set of face-plates for wall-mounted switches and outlets that have LED lights on them. The Lite-A-Switch night light retrofits existing wall switches or outlets and using zero space, can be installed in minutes with only a screwdriver, and attaches securely to a wall switch or outlet making it kid friendly and adult convenient.

Ever come home at night, with the lights off, and find yourself feeling around for the light switch? The Lite-A-Switch solves that problem by allowing you to see the switch in the dark.

Probably a good idea for the guest room and guest bathroom.

Available in four stylish colors: Crystal Blue, Diamond White, Emerald Green and Pearl Pink.

Click this link to Lite-A-Switch in your home:

Santa's in the Building!

After several meetings, and a lot of coffee, your group/organization has decided to have a Christmas party this year. Who gets to play Santa? Let me guess, you got the job? Now you get to purchase the suit without getting a second mortgage on your home to finance it. Don't worry, you came to the right place to find the perfect costume.

You can purchase a variety of Santa Suits from the Oriental Trading Company. The suit includes the jacket, drawstring pants, 11" Santa cap, beard with elastic strap and boot covers, pipe and glasses. One size fits most adults.

Now, there's no reason you should have all this fun by yourself. After all, you'll need someone to guide you to the front of the room. Get your wife involved with her own Miss Claus Suit. The felt dress has an elastic waist with an attached belt. Includes a 11" x 18" felt santa cap. One size fits most adults.

Won't you guys look great? Who knows, you may be asked to do this every year! Click this link to learn more about the Delux Santa Suit from the Oriental Trading Company. You may also wish to call them toll free at 800-875-8480.

Bible Audio Via Email

The audio files on this page have been highly compressed so that you can easily send them to your friends as e-mail attachments.

Right click the files and save them to your computer. Then you can attach them to your emails.

When your friends open the attached audio file it will play for them if they have the RealAudio or Windows Media player.

Send an audio Psalm, Prayer, Scripture or Blessing to someone Today by clicking this link:! All quotes are from the WEB or KJV and are provided in both RealAudio and Windows Media formats.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Crafting Patterns Website For The Blind and Podcasts to Get You Started

DRG, publisher of books, magazines and pattern booklets in a number of special interest areas, recently received an e-mail from an avid knitter, Eileen Scrivani, who also happens to be blind. Scrivani expressed concern that the company's Web site lacked vision-impaired access.

As a result, the company researched vision-impaired accessibility and made the necessary technological changes. Now, all of its free patterns are tagged to enable screen readers to translate them into audio.

Every pattern on is now tagged to enable screen reading. This is a great resource for visually impaired crafters because there are nearly 2,000 craft and needlecraft patterns to download from the site. is available to the general public at no charge, and includes patterns in knit, crochet, paper crafting, quilting, sewing, tatting, plastic canvas, woodworking and general crafts. Members can download patterns from the Web site at

DRG Publishing encompasses leading brands, including Annie's Attic, American School of Needlework, House of White Birches, Clotilde and The Needlecraft Shop. DRG publishes 15 magazines in the quilting, crochet, plastic canvas, knitting, nostalgia, woodworking, paper craft and cooking fields. It also publishes hardcover consumer books and instruction books that are sold direct to consumers and through wholesale and trade channels.

Knitting Podcasts and Books from APH

All these great patterns do you no good if you don't know how to knit. Here's a few podcasts to get you started.

Kids Knitting: Projects for Kids of All Ages

by Melanie Falick

In 15 easy projects, knitting expert Melanie Falick teaches kids of all ages through step-by-step instructions. (Grades 4-7 +)

Braille -- T-N1179-70

Click here to purchase this book 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:

Planet Patchwork: The Ultimate Address in Quilting

Another site that may be helpful is This site includes a quilt gallery, a Beginning Quilters Resource Page, reviews of books and videos, product reviews of tools and software, info on international techniques, info on quilting discussion groups, and more.

Be Punctual and

Have you ever missed an important meeting or doctor's appointment? Maybe you've forgotten to eat lunch? is a site that two fellas started so that you could write yourself a letter to be delivered at a later date. we've all had to do them in high school and college. it's sorta cool to receive a letter from yourself about where you thought you'd be a year (two years? more?) later. is based on the principle that memories are less accurate than emails. They strive for accuracy.

The letter will be delivered from the email address: mailer (then the at sign) so you may want to tell your spam guard to allow mails from that address.

Click this link to visit

The Children's Nursery and its Traditions

This site is about Children's Books for the young, and for the not so young. It provides an unashamedly nostalgic trip into the magic lands of lost childhoods as depicted in classic books of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

A feature of books of the Victorian period is that it was not uncommon for them to attempt moral tuition as well as telling a story. This is perhaps why many of our traditional family values are popularly thought of as having their utmost expression during this mainly Victorian period. Although, realistically, there were many problems with life in that period, there were also many good things well worth preserving. I hope that you as a parent or grandparent, may think like me, that the world can be improved by passing on some of these traditions, values and magic to your children.

Click this link to visit The Children's Nursery and its Traditions:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What is Beta Software?

Occasionally the American Printing House for the Blind will offer software under a beta release. No, you don't get a cute fish with your programs, but you do get to check out some great programs before they are released to the general public.

A beta release of any program is a version that has been through extensive in-house testing by the company who made it and has been released for public use, usually with very minimal support.

Beta testing is an advanced phase that tells the company how well their program works for real-world users with all the possible different operating systems, settings, and other programs on their machines. The company usually encourages these beta users to give feedback so they can fix any little wrinkles before the general release of the "real" version and answer the most common questions in the help files and guides.

In the case of beta software from APH, you should not expect to receive phone support from our Customer Service department. Many programs have an email list where beta testers communicate with one another about the software they are testing. Please refer to the APH website for more information on any beta release:

Monday, September 17, 2007

Resource for Homeschooling Your Blind or Visually Impaired Student

Nothing But the Best
by Sarah J. Blake
Book Review by Margaret Mary Myers

(This book review was written several years ago, but the ebook is still available today.)

How would you like to have a friendly, knowledgable person in your living room any time you wish, telling you all about how to homeschool your blind or visually impaired child? Imagine her speaking to you conversationally over a cup of tea, telling you of her own experiences as a blind child and a blind adult, making complex explanantions about the eye simple to understand, sharing with you what methods various people have used in homeschooling their children.

Now imagine that in her Mary Poppins type carpet bag, she has a limitless supply of resources of all types about homeschooling, blindness, and the education of blind children. And sometimes when she comes, she brings guest speakers who are experts on various related subjects. This is the virtual reality of Sarah J. Blake's electronic book, "Nothing But the Best."

If you've never bought an ebook before, now is the time. When you buy this user-friendly ebook, you follow the prompts to download it to your computer, where you can read the author's ample explanations and illustrations, print pages as you wish for your own use, and connect to countless other resources.

Each link opens in a new window; you never have to worry about losing your place. The text also boasts a search feature, so if you are interested in a particular topic, you can type it into the search and it will quickly give you the page or pages where you can find that topic.

Although the book was designed and designated particularly for homeschoolers, other parents may also find much useful information, including the chapters on blindness, low vision, social skills, college preparation, career planning, music, art, and other subjects. Teachers of the visually impaired may find the abundant resources for all the academic subjects helpful in their planning. And homeschooling parents, as well as prospective homeschooling parents, will gain insight on making the decision to homeschool, getting started, where to find supplies, books, organizations, and other resources, besides all the valuable information on teaching children who are blind.

You can skim the table of contents, the layout, the features, and get a feel for this book in a day or two. You can spend many an enjoyable evening perusing its contents. You can use it as a resource for many years to come. But I believe the benefits will be with us and our children for a lifetime.

To download yours, go to Sarah Jane's website:

Kester Braille

Kester Braille
by Louise Johnson
Review by Margaret Mary Myers

Would you like to start teaching your child to read - using braille? If you homeschool, these books would be an ideal place to begin. Or if you are a teacher of the visually impaired who has learned Braille, but you don't have a lot of experience with it yet, these books could be very helpful for you in teaching your students.

You don't need to have prior knowledge of braille in order to use these books, which enable you to teach your children both Braille reading and Braille writing. The Teacher's Guide provides all the information that you need, including how to teach your student tracking. All you need is the books, a few minutes a day, and a Perkins braillewriter (which - as a homeschool parent or as a teacher - you can probably borrow through your state resource center).

Even for an older child who already knows how to read in print, and now must learn braille, I feel these books are worthwhile as a starting place. They helped me get my then-nine-year-old started on Braille after he experienced vision loss.

Level One introduces the letters of the alphabet and beginning sounds. Level Two introduces three-letter words with short vowel sounds, writing sentences, and the numbers 0 to 20. These books are one of the best buys you are going to get...both as far as the cost and as far as getting your young child started on the road to literacy.

Click this link to visit the author's website: for more information.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Little Red Alphabet Book

For years teachers have used The Red Letter Alphabet Book as a complement to the Sandpaper Letters, integrating touch, sight, and sound to help blind and low vision children in the first stages of reading. This book uses greeting card felt (flocking) to make velvety, touch-sensitive letters, which invite children to touch and trace the shapes of the letters. Letters have specially designed ascenders and descenders for clarity. Three realistic drawings of everyday objects feature the red, textured letter opposite them.

First use the pictures for sound games and later for word recognition. Includes a pronunciation guide of phonetic sounds and suggestions for use. Spiral bound cardstock; 5½" x 8½", 56 pages. Ages 2 and up.

Click this link to purchase The Little Red Alphabet Book from the Montessori Services website.

Small Wrists Need a Smaller Talking Watch

One of my biggest gripes about talking watches is that they are huge and often don't fit the small wrist of younger girls. Thanks to Independent Living Aids this problem has been solved.

This ladies'/junior watch is small (1.12 x 1.5 inches) and delicate. Alarm function offers 3 different sounds. Hours and minutes are verbally announced while setting the watch. This is a pink watch also good for teenagers and women with smaller wrists.

Click this link to purchase the Junior Style Talking Watch from Independent Living Aids.
Also available in black.

Vision Impairment in Children Website

This website, sponsored by Comeunity Parenting Support: is a great resource for information about blindness as it relates to children. The site features a section of Books for Parents of Children with Vision Impairment and lots of Vision Impairment Resources.

Vision impairment is one of the more common long term impacts of prematurity. Many children born prematurely experience ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity) during their hospital stay. As they mature, myopia, amblyopia and more severe vision impairment (including blindness) occur in many children born premature. Children at risk due to ROP or who have visual disability should be followed by a children's opthomologist throughout their lives. To learn more, click this link to visit the Vision Impairment in Children website at

For general articles and Resources for Parents of Children with Disabilities and Special Needs, click this link to visit

Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Students

Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Students
Author: Doris M. Willoughby and Sharon L.M. Duffy Reviewed by Margaret Mary Myers

Don't let the long name and the 1989 copyright of this book fool you as this is a treasurehouse of practical advise and instruction for teachers and homeschooling parents. Some of it is specifically for the itinerant or resource teacher, advising her how to deal with parents, staff, and IEPs. But much of it teaches you step-by-step how to teach!

The book includes, among other things:

  • Hints and tips about teaching braille, note-taking, handwriting and keyboarding.
  • Techniques for independent living, cooking, sewing, and industrial arts.
  • Discussions of social life, dating, marriage, and the family.
  • Cane curriculum with instructions and illustrations.
  • Guide to the Nemeth Code.
  • A "paper-compatible" abacus method.

In this book there is a strong slant toward NFB (National Federation of the Blind) philosophies. Even if you happen to be one of the people who doesn't agree with some of the particular philosophies of this organization, this handbook contains loads of good information and ideas that I think you will find extremely useful.

Click this link to find this and other books about educating the blind at

Blindness Etiquette Tips

The following piece on "Disability Etiquette" is an excerpt from the United Spinal Association "Tips On Interacting With People With Disabilities." These tips are designed to help you understand what to do and what not to do when in the company of a person with a disability.

People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

People who are blind know how to orient themselves and get around on the street. They are competent to travel unassisted, though they may use a cane or a guide dog. A person may have a visual impairment that is not obvious. Be prepared to offer assistance-for example in reading-when asked.Identify yourself before you make physical contact with a person who is blind. Tell him your name-and your role if it's appropriate, such as security guard, usher, case worker, receptionist or fellow student. And be sure to introduce him to others who are in the group, so that he's not excluded.

If a new customer or employee is blind or visually impaired, offer him a tour of your facility.

People who are blind need their arms for balance, so offer your arm-don't take his-if he needs to be guided. (However, it is appropriate to guide a blind person's hand to a banister or the back of a chair to help direct him to a stairway or a seat.)

If the person has a guide dog, walk on the side opposite the dog. As you are walking, describe the setting, noting any obstacles, such as stairs ("up" or "down") or a big crack in the sidewalk. Other hazards include: revolving doors, half-opened filing cabinets or doors, and objects protruding from the wall at head level such as hanging plants or lamps. If you are going to give a warning, be specific. Hollering, "Look out!" does not tell the person if he should stop, duck, or jump.

If you are giving directions, give specific, non-visual information. Rather than say, "Go to your right when you reach the office supplies" which assumes the person knows where the office supplies are, say, "Walk forward to the end of this aisle and make a full right."

If you need to leave a person who is blind, inform him first and let him know where the exit is, then leave him near a wall, table, or some other landmark. The middle of a room will seem like the middle of nowhere to him.

Don't touch the person's cane or dog. The dog is working and needs to concentrate. The cane is part of the individual's personal space. If the person puts the cane down, don't move it. Let him know if it's in the way.

Offer to read written information-such as the menu, merchandise labels or bank statements-to customers who are blind. Count out change so that they know which bills are which.

If you serve food to a person who is blind, let him know where everything is on the plate according to a clock orientation (twelve o'clock is furthest from them, six o'clock is nearest). Remove garnishes and anything that is not edible from the plate. Some patrons may ask you to cut their food; this can be done in the restaurant's kitchen before the meal is served.

Keep walkways clear of obstructions. If people who are blind or are visually impaired regularly use your facility as customers or employees, inform them about any physical changes, such as rearranged furniture, equipment or other items that have been moved.

From Summer 2007 Newsletter
Volume 2, Issue 3

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pup Cups, Water for Dogs On The Go

How many times has your dog spent the day panting and sweating in need of a refreshing drink of water? If you're like me, then you're always wondering where you will find the next source of water for your thirsty dog. Whether you are on your way to the park, taking a ride on the bus or off on a trip around the world, the accessibility of water is a common concern.

Even when you do find water, it's nearly impossible to serve without spilling it all over the place or carrying around some clunky, messy device. That's why Pup Cups was created.

Pup Cups are small enough to fit anywhere and filled with ultra-purified water in a cup your dog can drink right out of. They can be purchased individually, or in packs of twenty-four.

Pup Cups incorporate your dog's thirst for life and your need for convenience. So from now on, if you want to water your lawn, buy a sprinkler. If you want to give your dog a drink, get some Pup Cups:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The BiblioVault Scholars' Portal

The BiblioVault repository contains a growing collection of older, recently published, and new books from participating scholarly presses. The Scholars' Portal, now in its beta-test phase, enables you to pinpoint books that are of interest to you.

You can do full-text searches over the BiblioVault collection and learn which books contain the search topic. To do a quick search, select a book element-full-text, title, author, copyright year, or ISBN-from the pull-down menu and then enter a word or phrase in the box. Finally, click on the Quick Search button. A list of the book(s) that are consistent with that search will result. Clicking on the title for a book will take you to that book's page in the Scholars' Portal. From there you can go to the publisher's home page and even order the book.

Clicking on In-Depth Search will enable you to do a complex search. Or you can browse the collection by title, author, or publisher by clicking on the appropriate button.

It's not a large collection as yet, but an interesting one that can shed light on current issues. Click this link to visit The BiblioVault home page:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

High-Tech 007 Devices

Do you consider yourself to be a blind 007 type of guy? Maybe you're a smooth, visually impaired operator like Agent 99 on Get Smart?

You know to be cool you have to have the latest spy gadgets. Things like hidden cameras and listening devices are standard in your line of work. Where can you go to find the latest high-tech survailence equipment?

For the latest in Nanny cams, covert cameras, bug detectors, hidden cameras, spy cams, gps tracking, wireless video cameras, home security systems and more, click this link to read the Surveillance Products blog at

This phone "listens" for intruders

The TeleSpy is an economical intrusion notification system, built into a working telephone. With the internal hidden motion detector and microphone this plain telephone is now your DIY way to install a home alarm. Simply enter the number you would like the TeleSpy to call in the event of an intrusion and turn the power switch on. When the motion activated sensor is triggered the TeleSpy will call the number and the internal microphone will allow the call recipient to hear what is happening!

Has these features.

  • Slim Line" type standard telephone
  • Stores one number
  • Plugs into standard RJ-11 phone jack
  • 30 seconds of listening - after 30 seconds the TeleSpy call disconnects and re-arms
  • Built-in passive infrared motion sensor
  • 45-degree wedge beyond the sensor origin
  • Amplified condenser microphone
  • Includes: Telespy, coil phone cord, phone cord, AC adapter, print instructions

Click this link to purchase the TeleSpy Intrusion Detector from ThinkGeek.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Global Restaurant Guide

So, you're in a new place and you're hungry. What do you do? Well, for someone who is blind or visually impaired, the first thing you do is to search around until you find someone to ask about the local establishments. How many times has someone told you about a place that they said had really good food, and when you got there, it smelled horrible and tasted worse! Wouldn't it be nice to be able to find things yourself, without having to ask anyone for assistance?

This restaurant guide will make it easier for you to find a great place to eat. This is an excellent tool for vacation planning, business trips and even to check out what's good in your own town!

The main page is broken down into sections and those are: United States, Canada, Australia & New Zealand, Asia and Europe. You'll also find a search engine sandwiched between the United States and Canada. At the bottom of the page, there is an international guide and world map as well.

Since I can only wish about going on a vacation, I thought I'd check out a restaurant near me. I typed in my zip code and it found some results. The search goes fifteen miles away so you know the results are in your immediate area.

You'll receive the name of the establishment, the address, phone number, type of Cuisine served, and a map if you have enough vision to make use of it. You'll also see ratings and comments from people who have eaten at the Restaurants in your area and you can write a review after sampling a place. Just fill in your email address, name, choose whether you want your name to be displayed and then confirm your review when you get the email in your Inbox.

This site is easy to use and it is filled with helpful reviews so you can get the most out of your dining, in any town. Bon Appétit! Click this link to visit

Picking Pans for Baking

You are getting ready to bake and you have several different types of pans to pick from. But which one do you use?

When you are baking pies and breads, use a dark pan. This will aid in browning the crusts better.

When baking cookies or cakes, use a shiny pan. This will help prevent over darkening of the bottoms and sides.

If you decide to use a glass pan, don't forget to reduce your oven temperature by 25º. You may also want to check for doneness a few minutes before the timer goes off.

Accessible World of Coca-Cola

I love soft drinks, specifically Coke. I even enjoy collecting Coke stuff, you know, jukeboxes and Coke Christmas tree ornaments, stuff like that? Well, when I heard that recent improvements to their museum makes things easier for us, I knew it was a great write-up for Fred's Head and a place I have to visit.

The New World of Coca-Cola opened a few weeks ago in Atlanta, Georgia. It offers several interactive theaters, a full history of Coca-Cola, and an actual working bottling plant! It also offers Durateq handhelds featuring an Assistive Listening and Captioning engine by Softeq.

Guests can listen to amplified audio, view closed captioning for the shows and exhibits, or listen to content in multiple languages. Descriptive narration is also offered for the blind.

The handhelds are free to guests and can be checked out at the Guest Services station in the main lobby.

To learn more about the New World of Coca-Cola, click this link to visit them online at

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sunblades Are More Than Sunglasses

Here's a new type of eyewear that might really take off, and may prove to be benefitial for some of us.

Sunblades are not really sunglasses, in that they don't block out light. Rather, they create a band of shade around your eyes to block out glare, allowing you to see more clearly.

You can get all kinds of shapes and sizes to enhance that "look" you're trying to create. They even have batman style Sunblades.

Recently, the maker of Sunblades came out with a line of products called, "Sunblade Shades" which attaches a set of removable sunglass lenses to the Sunblades. Apparently, the producers of Master Blasters, a sci-fi television show, thought Sunblade Shades were so cool, they had their characters wear them.

For more information, or to purchase, click this link:

Serial Numbers and Their Locations

Have you ever been asked for your computer's serial number? How about for some of your other electronic devices? If you have, you probably already know what I'm talking about, but if you haven't, allow me to fill you in!

These days, every computer, every device, has its own serial number. The serial numbers are mainly used for inventory purposes, but they also help with identification. For example, if you're having trouble with your computer and you are talking to your manufacturer's technical support, they may ask you for that number, because it helps them to identify what type of computer you have. They can then use that information to help you in a more detailed manner. Your manufacturer can also use that number to order replacement parts, or a new computer if necessary. The same goes for other devices you may use with your computer as well.

For most pieces of hardware (including your computer, printer, etc.), the serial number can be found either on the bottom or on the back of the device. For most PCs, it's usually on the bottom of the computer tower or on the bottom of a laptop. Of course, each computer is different, but you should be able to find your number in that general area. Now, most software programs also come with serial numbers, which you are probably more familiar with. Those numbers can usually be found on the actual CD or on the CD's casing.

So, the next time you have a sighted person around, have them look for your serial numbers and write them down in an accessible format. Remember too that these numbers are usually very small, it may be helpful to have some kind of magnification device around to help your sighted friend.

The Mouse That Soared: Modifying Windows for Better Visibility

The Mouse That Soared: A Guide for Customizing the Mouse for People with Low Vision

"Redoing Windows: A Guide for Customizing Windows for Users with Low Vision," in the May 2005 issue of AccessWorld, provided a no-cost, step-by-step guide to modifying your Windows operating system and the appearance of the computer screen. This article provides a no-cost solution for customizing the mouse for users who have low vision. Most computer users who have low vision can relate to the challenges of locating and tracking that darn rodent. For users who love the mouse, this guide provides instructions for controlling features on the mouse and changing the size, color, shape, and look of the mouse pointer.

Because of Windows XP's advanced features for customization, all instructions are based on this operating system. However, most of the same features are also available in the Windows 2000, Windows ME, and Windows 98 operating systems. Features exclusive to XP are noted.

What Is the Mouse?

For most users, the term mouse is used to refer to the physical mouse, as well as the image that is displayed on the computer screen. In this article, the mouse refers to a physical piece of hardware that is connected (either by cable or wireless) to the computer. The mouse can take many shapes and sizes, from a standard mouse to a track ball. Features vary by mouse and may include roller balls, multiple buttons, or ergonomic designs. The mouse on a laptop can also range from a touch panel to a flexible nub that resembles an eraser head. The mouse can even be personalized by color and design.

The mouse pointer is the image that appears on the computer screen and is controlled by the physical mouse. As you move the physical mouse, the mouse pointer moves on the screen. Actually, the mouse pointer is driven by software in your computer that defines the size, shape, and features of the mouse pointer.

Before You Begin

Since changes to the functionality of the mouse and appearance of the mouse pointer are immediate, you can test a change before you move on. As you will learn in this guide, it is fairly simple to customize the mouse and the mouse pointer. Have fun and try different pointer shapes and colors until you find the one that best works for you.

If you use assistive technology, there are a few things you need to be aware of before you begin. Most of the more current versions of screen-magnification programs (with or without speech support), such as ZoomText or MAGic, offer many features for customizing the appearance of the mouse pointer. Changes that are made in Windows may not apply when the screen-magnification program is running and, in some cases, may even conflict with your screen-magnification program. Check with the manufacturer of your screen-magnification software before you make any changes. If you are using screen-reading software, such as JAWS for Windows or Window-Eyes, changes to the appearance of your mouse pointer may interfere with the screen-reading software. Again, consult the software manufacturer before you make any changes.

The May 2005 "Guide for Customizing Windows" provided instructions for accessing the Windows Control Panel, as well as a list of Key Terms, which explains some of the commands and elements that you may encounter when you customize your Windows operating system. In the interest of simplicity, this information will not be repeated here; please refer to that article for as necessary.

In most Windows operating systems, the Accessibility Options and Mouse Properties dialogue boxes offer options for customizing the mouse and mouse pointer. However, the Accessibility Options dialogue box offers the ability to control the mouse pointer only through the numeric keypad on the keyboard and related settings for this option. Since this article focuses on customizing the mouse for low vision users who prefer to control the mouse pointer using the mouse, the Accessibility Options mouse features will not be addressed.

The Mouse Properties Dialogue Box

The Mouse Properties dialogue box is located in the Control Panel window. First, open the Control Panel window. In the list view, select Mouse (double click on Mouse or move the Up or Down arrow to Mouse and press Enter).

The Mouse Properties dialogue box is a multipage dialogue box. The page tabs are (from left to right) Buttons, Pointers, Pointer Options, Wheel, and Hardware. Each of the pages is addressed separately.

To select a page from the Mouse Properties dialogue box, click on the desired page tab listed horizontally across the top of the dialogue box or press and hold down the Control key and press Tab until the desired page is selected.

Buttons Page

The Buttons page enables you to customize the ways in which the buttons on the physical mouse operate. These buttons, often referred to as the left or right mouse buttons, control different features. For example, single clicking the left mouse button on an item in a list view selects the item, while double clicking the left mouse button on the same item may open the selected item. The right mouse button is often used to open the Applications, Context menu, which provides many shortcuts to standard operations, such as cut, copy, and paste, in a word- processing program.

The first option in the Buttons page dialogue box is the Button Configuration: Switch Primary and Secondary Buttons check box. This feature is useful for left-handed users of the mouse because it allows them to switch the functions of the left and right mouse buttons. Select this check box to make the button on the right the one you use for primary functions, such as selecting and dragging. Select this feature by clicking once with the left mouse button in the checkbox or tab to the box and press the spacebar.

The next option in the Buttons page dialogue box is Double Click Speed. This option controls how fast or slow you want the mouse buttons to respond when you double click. This is a track bar. To increase or decrease the Double Click Speed, click and drag the bar to the left or right or tab to the track bar and press the Up or Down arrow key. You can test the new setting by clicking on the icon (picture) of the folder to the right of the option. If the folder does not open or close, slow down the speed setting.

The last category in the Buttons Page dialogue box is the Click Lock: Turn on Click Lock check box. This feature enables you to highlight or drag items without holding down the mouse button. Once this feature is turned on, simply press the left mouse button once to engage, perform the task, and then press the left mouse button once again to release. To turn this feature on, check the check box by clicking in the box once with the left mouse button or tab to the check box and press the space bar.

The Click Lock Settings button opens a dialogue box that enables you to adjust how long you have to press the left mouse button before Click Lock is engaged. Open the dialogue box by clicking on the button once with the left mouse button or tab to the button and press Enter. In the dialogue box, set the speed for the Click Lock feature using the track bar by clicking and dragging the bar to the right/left or tab to the track bar and press the Up or Down arrow. Once you have set the speed, select the OK button by clicking on the button or tab to the button and press Enter. You are returned to the Mouse Properties Button Page dialogue box.

Once you have made all the changes in the Buttons Page dialogue box, select the Apply button (click on the button or tab to the button and press Enter).


The Pointers page dialogue box is where you will make the majority of changes to the appearance of your mouse pointer. This is where you can change the shape, color, size, and effects of the mouse pointer. Have fun picking the mouse pointer, but remember to pick one that works best with your visual needs.

The first category on the Pointers page is Schemes. This is a combo box that allows you to select the size and shape of the mouse pointer. In Windows XP, 20 schemes are available, including an option to make your mouse pointer look like a dinosaur! Some favorite schemes for users with low vision include Magnified, Windows Black, Black Large and Black Extra Large, Windows Inverted, Inverted Large, and Inverted Extra Large. (Inverted means that the color of the mouse pointer changes, depending on the background color. For example, the mouse pointer changes to white when on a black background and to black when on a white background.) As you move through the different selections, a sample of the mouse pointer appears to the right of the combo box.

To select a scheme, click on the Up or Down arrow on the right of the combo box to open the list of schemes and then click on a scheme. Or tab to the combo box, move the Up or Down arrow to the desired scheme, and press Tab to select.

To try different pointer schemes, select one from the combo box. Select the Apply button by clicking on the button or tab to the Apply button and press Enter. The new pointer is now visible, and you are returned to the Pointers Page dialogue box in the Schemes combo box.

The next category is the Customize Pointers List Box. This option enables you to customize the appearance of the pointer when it is performing other tasks, such as when the pointer changes to the shape of an hourglass. The following is the list of the different mouse pointers with a brief explanation of their functions.

  • Normal: the basic pointer shape for performing most tasks; the default is an arrow.
  • Help Select: the pointer when the Help feature is selected; the default is an arrow with a question mark.
  • Working in Background: the pointer when the computer is performing a task, such as opening a program; the default is an arrow with an hourglass.
  • Busy: the pointer when the computer is engaged and the pointer is unavailable; the default is an hourglass.
  • Precision Select: the pointer when it is used for tasks like working in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets; the default is crosshairs.
  • Text Select: the pointer when typing or selecting text; the default is an I-beam.
  • Handwriting: the pointer when used for handwriting; the default is a pen shape.
  • Vertical Resize: the pointer when used for dragging the vertical shape of an item; the default is an up-and-down arrow.
  • Horizontal Resize: the pointer when used for dragging the horizontal shape of an item; the default is a left-and-right right arrow.
  • Diagonal Resize 1: the pointer when used for resizing the shape of an item from right to left and up to down; the default is a right diagonally pointing arrow.
  • Diagonal Resize 2: the pointer when used for resizing the shape of an item from left to right and up to down; the default is a left diagonally pointing arrow.
  • Move: the pointer when used to move an item around the screen; the default is two crossed arrows pointed up and down and left and right.
  • Alternate Select: an alternative to the normal pointer; the default is a thinner version of the selected normal pointer.
  • Link Select: the pointer when used to select a link for a web site or an e-mail address; the default is a hand and cannot be modified.

You can customize the appearance of each of the pointer options except Link Select. Select the one you want in the Customize list box by clicking on the item or tab to the list box and arrow up or down to the item. To open the list of different pointer shapes, select the Browse button (click on the button or tab to the button and press Enter). The Browse dialogue box opens. This dialogue box resembles the Open or Save dialogue box in a word-processing program. In the List View box, approximately 184 pointer shapes are listed with a picture of each shape preceding the name. Select the shape that you want for the specific mouse pointer, such as a dinosaur shape for the Busy pointer. To select an option, click on the item in the list box and then click the Open button or tab to the list box, arrow to the item, and then tab to the Open button and press Enter. You will need to go through this process to select a new pointer shape for each of the pointers in the Customize list box.

The next option on the Pointers page is the Select Default button. This button resets the pointer's appearance back to the Windows standard. If you have customized several pointers in the Customize list box, you will need to select each one separately in the list box and then select the Select Default button. To select the Select default button, click on the button or tab to the button and press Enter.

The last option on the Pointers page is the o check box to enable the pointer shadow option. This option places a shadow around the mouse pointer. Some users who have low vision may find that a shadow makes it easier to track the mouse. To select this feature, click in the check box or tab to the check box and press the spacebar.

Once you have made all the changes, select the Apply button and see how the new pointer looks. If you want, you can save the new scheme and appearances of the pointer under a custom name. Select the Save As button by clicking on the button or tab to the button and press Enter. In the file name edit box, type a name for your new pointer scheme, such as your own name. Click on the OK button or tab to the button and press Enter. Your new scheme will now appear in the Schemes combo box. To open your new scheme or another scheme, simply click on the item in the Schemes combo box and select the Apply button.

Before you leave the Pointers page, make sure that you select the Apply button (click on the button or tab to the button and press Enter).

Pointer Options

The next page in the Mouse Properties dialogue box is the Pointer Options page. This page enables you to customize the functionality of the mouse pointer.

The first category on the Pointer Options page is Motion. This category allows you to change the speed and precision of your mouse pointer.

The first option under Motion is to select a pointer speed, or how fast or slow the pointer responds to your movement of the physical mouse. Most users with low vision prefer a standard or slower speed, usually between 25% and 50% of the maximum. To increase or decrease the pointer speed, slide the bar on the track bar to the right (faster) or left (slower) by clicking on the bar and dragging it to the right or left or tab to the track bar and press the up (faster) or down (slower) arrow.

The other option in the Motion category is the Enhance Pointer precision check box. If selected, this feature improves the accuracy of the mouse pointer when it is placed on an item for selection. To turn this feature on, click in the check box or tab to the check box and press the spacebar.

The next category is Snap To. This feature automatically positions the mouse pointer on the default button of a dialogue box, such as the OK button. To turn this feature on, click in the check box or tab to the check box and press the spacebar.

The final category in this dialogue box is Visibility. There are three options under visibility:

  1. Display pointer trails. This feature places trails or visible dots as the mouse pointer is moved around the screen. Some users with low vision may find this feature beneficial in tracking the mouse pointer, while others may find it visually distracting. To turn this feature on, click in the check box or tab to the check box and press the spacebar.
  2. Hide pointer while typing. This feature hides the pointer while you are typing, such as in a word-processing document. It can be useful if the mouse pointer consistently gets in your way while you are typing. To turn this feature on, click in the check box or tab to the check box and press the spacebar.
  3. Show the location of the pointer when I press the CTRL key. This is a handy feature for users with low vision. If it is turned on, simply pressing the Control key on your keyboard will place a large red circle around the pointer, making it easy to locate visually. To turn this feature on, click in the check box or tab to the check box and press the space bar.

To apply all the changes you have made on the Pointer Options page, select the Apply button (click on the button or tab to the button and press Enter). You can now test some of the features, such as mouse trails and locating the mouse pointer, by pressing the Control key.


The Wheel page allows you to change how the wheel on the physical mouse (if you have one) responds. The wheel, usually located on the side of the mouse or between the left and right mouse buttons, rolls forward and backward in clicks or notches. This feature is used to scroll the page up and down, rather than to use the scroll bars on the side of the program's window.

The first category on the Wheel page is Scrolling. This sets the wheel to how much you want to scroll as you roll the wheel one notch at a time. There are two choices listed as radio buttons:

  1. The following number of lines at a time. If you select this option, you will be prompted to enter a number in the edit box just below the radio button. You need to specify how many lines at a time you want the wheel to scroll with each roll. To enter a number in this edit box, you have several options. You can click in the edit box and type a specific number, such as 3 (click in the box and type the number or tab to the box and type the number). Or you can select a number from the list that is provided (click on the Up or Down arrows on the right of the edit box until the number you want is displayed in the box or tab to the edit box and press the Up or Down arrow until the desired number is selected). The default number of lines is 3 and is a good rule of thumb.
  2. One screen at a time. This option will enable you to scroll one screen at a time with every roll of the wheel.

To select the radio button, click on the button or tab to the field and press the Up or Down arrow until the one you want is selected. Select the Apply button (click on the button or tab to the button and press Enter).


The final page in the Mouse Properties dialogue box is the Hardware page. Unless you are using multiple mouse devices on the computer, it is recommended that you leave this option in the default settings. The Windows operating system has defined the mouse that you are using and has configured the proper settings.

Once you have completed all the changes in the Mouse Properties dialogue box, select the OK button (click on the button or tab to the button and press Enter). You are returned to the Control Panel window. Close the Control Panel by clicking on the "x" in the upper right corner of the window or by pressing Alt+F4.

Your New Mouse Friend

If you followed the steps described here, you should be viewing a new mouse pointer that is easier to see and track. If you are still having difficulty locating and tracking the pointer or using the mouse features, try different options. Have fun, but remember that usability is the most important element. You can personalize your mouse and mouse pointer, but make certain you can still use both effectively.

If you are enjoying this series of articles on low vision technology solutions in AccessWorld or have suggestions for future articles, let us know by sending an e-mail to <>. Upcoming issues will include articles on customizing Internet Explorer, Outlook, and other programs that are commonly used by people with low vision.

For More Information

For more information on low vision access for the computer, check out the following resources:

American Foundation for the Blind

Visit the American Foundation for the Blind web site for a variety of information on technology at <>. The Technology section of the web site also offers information on customizing the computer for low vision users.

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

The web site of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired <> offers a variety of information and articles for users of low vision technology. It also offers a link to download alternative mouse pointers for Windows 95 and NT users. This download offers a variety of pointer options that have been found to be more accessible for users with low vision. To download this program, visit <>.Once the program is downloaded to your Desktop, open the Read Me.txt file for specific instructions on how to install the new mouse pointers. If you are using a Windows 98, ME 2000 or XP operating system, these mouse pointers are included in the dialogue box on the Mouse Properties Pointers page under Schemes.

Contributor: American Foundation for the Blind:

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

MoveIt2 That Folder for Me

I download a ton of stuff: movies, music, software, documents. I spend a lot of time selecting which folder to store the various files in. You know, you put the music files in the My Music folder, the documents in the My Documents folder, etc. MoveIt2 is a free program that helps keep all this stuff organized, without needing to specify a location every time I download something.

With MoveIt2 running in the background, I can automatically move music files to one of my music library folders, TXT files to the place where I store electronic documents and movies to the place where I like to keep videos, without ever manually intervening in the process. If you run an FTP site, MoveIt2 is even more useful because you can have people upload files to a common location and MoveIt2 will automatically sort them based on certain criteria (of course, this assumes your FTP server is running Windows).

The free version supports 5 simultaneous watched actions, which for a single user is likely more than enough. For complicated file moving rules, a pay version of the software supports unlimited manipulations.

Click this link to download MoveIt2.

Happy Birthday, You've Got Myopia!

This goes to show you what you can discover if you have lots of data.

Vision researchers wanted to test the theory that the development of myopia (nearsightedness) is linked to the amount of sunlight the baby receives in the immediate period following birth. They call it the perinatal photoperiod.

They reviewed the complete health records of over 275,000 children and tracked their refractive errors . Next, they did a statistical analysis of those with myopia using a technique called multivariate logistic regression. Stay awake - here comes the good part!

There were seasonal variations in moderate and severe myopia according to birth month, with prevalence highest for June/July births and lowest for December/January. In the northern hemisphere nearsightedness correlates with sunny birth months. It would be very cool to repeat the study in Sydney or Cape Town to see if such numbers are reversed, just like their seasons.

Remember, this information came from looking at piles of old records, a retrospective study. Retrospective studies are far less meaningful because there can be all kinds of obvious and subtle errors in data gathering that escape detection. For example, was every child in every family enrolled? Did some families opt out and disappear from the database?

Having said that, seasonal associations are a familiar oddity to the practice of medicine. Did you know that appendicitis is more likely to occur in the spring? Just last year a different team of researchers reported that you are 27 times more likely to have a heart attack on your birthday than on any other day of the year. Go figure!

Article Source:

Grocery Cart Containment Systems

The next time you find yourself pushing a shopping cart through a grocery store, you may not realize you're pushing the latest in shopping cart technology. That is until, you try to push it off the parking lot.

I have a Wallgreen's near my home, and we do all our simple shopping there. We used to put our things in the cart, take them home, and return the cart to the store. This became more difficult when the cart began locking up on us about half way through the parking lot. Now, we have to pack everything home. This usually causes bags to be broken, items to be lost, and we don't purchase as much because we can't pack it all.

The secret behind the GS2 Comprehensive Cart Containment System is its new-fangled wheels. These wheels are designed to automatically lock when someone tries to push it beyond the perimeter of the store parking lot.

Buried underneath the parking lot pavement is a "perimeter antenna" that carries a locking signal. When a shopping cart wheel passes over the antenna, the locking signal prevents the wheel from rolling. The signal reaches up to about 5 feet above ground-level.

Store employees are equipped with remote controlled "Cartkeys", that sends a wireless signal to the wheels causing them to unlock. My wife continues to go on a "cart rebellion" and drives the cart as far as it will go, and leaves it stuck, right in the middle of the parking lot.

Click this link for more information on the GS2 Cart Containment System:

I Need To Get Off The Phone

It's a Saturday afternoon, the snacks are ready, and you're excited to watch the final episode of your favorite show on television. Suddenly, the phone rings. You try and try to end the conversation, but it just goes on and on! The last thing you want to be is rude, but man, you really want to go!

Don't you wish you could send a signal to the other person that you really want to get off the phone? If only the kids would come in, or if someone would come to the door. Let me tell you about a site that can help:

This site is great for helping you get off the phone, either at home or the office. Simply choose the excuse you need, click the link, and in a few seconds, the sound will be playing out your computer speakers. Sounds include:

  • Someone's at the door
  • My ride is here (honking horn)
  • I can't hear you (jet noise)
  • I can't hear you (street noise)
  • I can't hear you (conversations)
  • The car alarm just went off.
  • Something's wrong with my computer
  • The office party is starting
  • There's another call
  • There is a fire drill
  • There's my pager
  • There's my cellphone
  • I have a customer (cash register)
  • The boss just came in
  • There's static on the line
  • I can't hear (construction)
  • There's the door bell
  • The baby is crying
  • I've got to feed the cat
  • I can't hear you (Helicopter noise)
  • My wife, husband,just got home
  • Uh oh, something just broke
  • I don't like thunder
  • The kids are fighting
  • The tea kettle is boiling over
  • The house alarm just went off

New sounds are being added so you're sure to find something to help you get out of that annoying phone conversation. Click this link to visit

What are "shared" files in Windows?

Shared files are "general purpose" files more than one program can use. They usually come in the form of DLL files, and should be automatically installed with the software that needs them (assuming the setup program for the software includes them.

DLL (Dynamic Link Library) files are basically "support" files for certain types of software. They are generally (but not always) found in your Windows System directory.

They work like this: Let's say a program needs to perform an operation. Rather than all the coding being built into the program, it uses a particular DLL file that, with a simple call, can perform the operation for it. Saves lots of programming time, especially since many of the common DLL files are already installed with Windows.

I've also had lots of people ask about deleting these files. Well, the best advice is not to, since many of your DLL files are used by more than one program. Going through and deleting the ones you *think* aren't being used anymore is a lot like getting under the hood of your car and yanking wires that don't look important. What happens if one of those shared files gets deleted or corrupted and one of your other programs will no longer run? Easy - just re-install the program in question and you'll be back in business. No big deal.

If you're really concerned about stray DLL files, make sure you run uninstall programs. Most programs include an uninstall program that will (should) take out all the extra DLL's.

There are programs available that will check your shared files to see if they are needed, but again these aren't always fool-proof.

Sometimes when uninstalling a program a message comes up telling you that there are shared files that may not be needed on your system, "Would you like to remove?"

All of us want to conserve space on our hard drive, so of course, the natural impulse is to click "yes". Guess what? You may have actually removed files that another program does need. I get so many calls from readers who experience "***.dll file not found" errors after uninstalling software.

So, if you are asked if you want to remove a shared file, it may be best to click "no". Going through and deleting the ones you *think* aren't being used anymore is a lot like getting under the hood of your car and yanking wires that don't look important.

What happens if one of those shared files gets deleted or corrupted and one of your other programs will no longer run? Easy^DDLjust re-install the program in question and you'll be back in business. No big deal. If this still doesn't put back the missing .dll file, check out this site...

Simply type your missing file name into the search box to find if it is available, then download it. You can also go to the "dll-files downloads" page and scroll down the alphabetical list to find the file you need. After downloading the most likely place to put the .dll file is in the Win32 folder, if that doesn't work, try the program's folder.

Thought Provokers About Blindness and Visual Impairment

This website is devoted to changing what it means to be blind through the promotion of the human potential to successfully adjust to and live with blindness and visual impairment. It is meant for the blind, the visually impaired, professionals involved with this population such as vocational rehabilitation counselors or therapists, teachers and educators of the blind and visually impaired, families and friends interested in adjustment to vision loss, all those interested in peer counseling and blindness, individuals looking for blindness related information or guidance or suggestions or materials or adaptive equipment or consumer groups, etc.

Toward this goal, THOUGHT PROVOKER, a web based discussion forum on blindness and visual impairment is presented and available for reading and being responded too.

Additionally featured are short stories highlighting the successful adjustment to blindness through the development of a positive attitude and philosophical foundation, to the acquisition of alternative techniques in order to function independently.

Finally, there are links to other sites that also promote a positive approach to blindness and visual impairment.

Click this link to visit

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Audio Book Clubs, Are they the Right Choice for you?

By Pete Markovic

Audio Books

Audio books or "digital books" are a modern alternative for traditional paper books. They are a great source of spoken entertainment, education and information. The attractive feature offered by audio books is they allow you to listen to almost any book of your choice while pursuing another interest. For example some of the more common activities include commuting, walking, driving, cycling, gardening, cooking and much more!

Audio books include the digitized versions of magazines, original TV and radio programs as well as all the genres normally available for paper books. Theses include all the popular audio fiction book titles, non fiction, science fiction, mysteries and autobiographies.

Club Subscriptions

There are many options available for obtaining your audio books; one very popular such method for regular audio book listeners is to subscribe to an audiobook club. Clubs are a monthly subscription based system of procuring audio books on a regular and rotating basis, not dissimilar to a video or DVD rental club that so many of us are already accustomed too.

Audio book Clubs offer various subscription plans that are designed to suit most users simply pick a suitable plan that fits your needs, create a list of titles you would like to listen too and you're done! Of course you may rest easy in the knowledge that you may change or cancel your subscription at will with out any penalty's or charges at any time!

One of the many advantages to be enjoyed by subscribing to a club is they are a very cost effective method of accessing all the latest audio book titles with out the need to purchase. The system is well thought out and automated, simply pick your choices ahead of time and the priority you would like to receive them in.

By choosing to rent audio book titles by subscribing as a club member will ensure you always have a supply of your favourite audio books on hand.

Decide whether you would prefer to have them sent to you as an audio book on cd or download the audio content directly to your personal computer or Mac; it is a then a simple procedure to transfer the audio to an MP3 player or personal digital assistant (PDA) for listening to any time or anywhere at your convenience. Of course your digital entertainment centre is ideal for listening to you audio books at home.

Download or Ship

Personal preference will dictate the appropriate means of having your audio books delivered to you.

  1. Shipped to you on Compact Disc is an option that suits many people as there is no need to download and burn the digital file yourself. Compact disc players are still currently a very popular listening device for the car, home and portable players.

  2. Downloading gives you the flexibility in regards to which format to download your audio book in, as there a varying types to suit most playback media and a simple conversion process to make the file suitable for use in various types of devices.

One of the many benefits of downloading is that there is no waiting period before you are able to listen to your new audio book. Note: The digital file is encrypted and will time expire at a predetermined time.

Free Trial

In either case, most reputable merchants offer an incentive to encourage you to try the system; this will ensure that subscribing to an audio book rental service is for you.

In some cases merchants will offer either 2 free audio book titles or a 15 day free trial period for subscribing. If for any reason you wish to cancel, then you may do so free of any charges or penalties.

Subscribing to an audio book club is a very economical way of ensuring that you will have a plentiful supply of audio books on hand with a minimum of fuss.

Audio books should be part of every ones "Sight and Sound" collection!


I Don't Like Spam

To help combat spam, email users should follow these recommendations:

  • Never make a purchase from an unsolicited email - If spamming weren't economically viable, it would be obsolete. Not only can an email user fall prey to a potentially fraudulent sales scheme, but his or her email address can also be added to the numerous email lists that are sold within the spamming community, further compounding the number of junk emails received.

  • If you do not know the sender of an unsolicited email message, delete it - While most spam is usually just annoying text, a spam email message could actually contain a virus and/or other exploit that could damage the computers of all who open it.

  • Never respond to any spam messages or click on any links in the message - Replying to any spam message, even to "unsubscribe" or be "removed" from the email list only confirms to the spammer that you are a valid recipient and a perfect target for future spamming.

  • Avoid using the preview functionality of your email client software - Many spammers use advertising techniques that can track when a message is viewed, even if you don't click on the message or reply. Using the preview functionality essentially opens an email and tells spammers you are a valid recipient, which can result in even more spam.

  • When sending email messages to a large number of recipients, use the blind copy (BCC) field to conceal their email addresses - Sending email where all recipient addresses are "exposed" in the "To" field makes it vulnerable to harvesting by a spammer's traps.

  • Think carefully before you provide your email address on websites, newsgroup lists or other online public forum - Many spammers utilise "web bots" that automatically surf the internet to harvest email addresses from public information and forums.

  • Never give your primary email address to anyone or any site you don't trust - Share it only with your close friends and business colleagues.

  • Have and use one or two secondary email addresses - If you need to fill out web registration forms, or surveys at sites from which you don't want to receive further information, consider using secondary addresses to protect primary email accounts from spam abuse. Also, always look for a box that solicits future information/offers, and be sure to select or deselect as appropriate.

Conscientious users who follow these suggestions will ultimately play a significant role in reducing the amount of spam that enters their homes/offices.

Subscribe to receive posts via email

* indicates required

Browse Articles by Subject

Follow us on Twitter


Write for us

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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