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, December 27, 2007

Remote-Controlled Smoke & Fire Alarm

There are two very dangerous things we do with smoke detectors:

  1. We stand on something to fan them when they go off for no reason.

  2. We take out the battery because we're annoyed with them going off for no reason.

At my last house the builder, in his infinite wisdom, decided to put a smoke and fire alarm in our kitchen within five feet of our oven. Everytime we broiled something in the oven the fire alarm would sound which annoyed my wife and I to no end.

We really could have used the Remote-Controlled Smoke & Fire Alarm so we could use a remote to silence the fire alarm rather than stand on a chair and wave a towel in front of the alarm to disperse the "smoke".

Simply use the VOLUME or CHANNEL buttons on any infrared remote control to test or silence the smoke alarm from up to 20 feet away. It works with virtually any infrared remote control, regardless of the make or model, no special programming is needed!

This false-alarm-resistant smoke detector combines photoelectric and ionization sensors, helping it recognize the difference between non-threatening conditions and real emergencies. If there is a false alarm, you can silence it with the touch of a button, without having to pull out the ladder or stepstool. Since silencing the alarm is so incredibly easy and convenient, it eliminates the temptation to remove the battery and jeopardize your family's safety.

The Remote-Controlled Smoke & Fire Alarm also comes with a low-battery warning. If it starts chirping at 2:00 in the morning, you can silence it for up to eight hours, go back to sleep, and change the battery when you wake up. Just use the remote control test/silence feature, or press and hold the test/silence button for three to five seconds.

Although the Remote-Controlled Smoke & Fire Alarm can respond to remote controls, the unit still offers a physical test/silence button. Its microprocessor technology automatically runs a daily self-check test on every smoke alarm function (except horn sound output) to assure that it works properly. It's recommended you test the horn sound output at least once a week.

The Remote-Controlled Smoke & Fire Alarm would make a great gift for anyone with limited mobility.

Click this link to purchase the Remote-Controlled Smoke & Fire Alarm from the Smarthome website.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

KidSmart Vocal Smoke Alarm

This is a great idea for families with smaller children in the horrible case that you have a house fire.

The Vocal Smoke Alarm allows you to record your child's name as well as using the standard alarm tone and bright light flashes sending out three different triggers. In addition to your child's name you can issue instructions about leaving the house and gathering outside in the event of a fire as well as standard safety messages.

The KidSmart Vocal Smoke Alarm lets you record a message specific to your child. While a child might sleep through a high-pitched alarm, hearing his own name spoken loudly by his parent is a more likely trigger to awaken him. Since the Vocal Smoke Alarm includes an alarm tone, a vocal message, and a bright light ring that illuminates during drills and in case of an alarm, your child is three times more likely to respond.

Recording your message is easy on the Vocal Smoke Alarm. In addition to repeating your child's name, you can issue instructions about leaving the home in the event of a fire, reminding your child not to open a hot door or to cover his face if smoke is present. There's even a fire drill button on the Vocal Smoke Alarm so that you and your family can practice exiting the home as you would in the event of a real fire.

The Vocal Smoke Alarm is a battery-operated photoelectric smoke detector, which excels in detecting slow, smoldering fires. These fires produce a substantial amount of smoke before bursting into flame.

Kids can sleep through pretty much anything, which is often a blessing. But you certainly don't want them sleeping through the smoke alarm! Protect the youngest members of your family with a smoke detector directly targeted toward them.

Click this link to purchase the KidSmart Vocal Smoke Alarm from the Smarthome website.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Meeting a blind person with a guide dog

Guide Dogs are considered to be "on duty" when wearing their harnesses. It is a natural impulse for most people to want to stop and pet a guide dog, but the dog should not be petted or disrupted while working. An attempt to pet a guide dog in harness can distract the dog from its job, placing the owner's safety in jeopardy.

When a guide dog is out of its harness, permission should always be asked before reaching to touch or pet a guide dog.

Do not offer food or treats to a guide dog. This can be distracting, and handlers carefully monitor their dog's diet. A guide dog is able to do its job most efficiently when a recommended diet is followed.

Calling out the dog's name or making distracting noises can break a guide dog's concentration and ability to work. Guide dogs are friendly and they will want to respond to the attention you are giving them, but please remember: They are working as a blind person's eyes.

A person using a guide dog wants to be treated as an independent person. If you want to offer assistance simply ask, "May I help you?" If they respond yes, approach them on their right side and offer your left arm for assistance. You should not take hold of the guide dog's harness or leash; this will confuse and startle the individual.

Guide dogs enjoy playing and, when off duty, they are treated the same as most pets are. Southeastern recommends specific toys for play and, as with petting, you should always ask the handler's permission before offering any toys.

Guide dogs will make mistakes. The handler has received extensive training in giving humane and proper corrections and they will need to give a verbal and/or leash correction when a dog makes a mistake. Lots of praise follows once the dog has corrected its actions.

Lighted Message Board

How many of you remember the Light Bright? You know, the black paper that would go against a screen and all the little pegs of different colors that you could punch through the paper and make cool pictures?

Here's a way to have a more high-tech Light Bright, not using pegs, but a pen to write messages, draw pictures, do math problems, whatever you can imagine. Here are some of its features.

Write on the screen of this funky acrylic notice board with one of the 2 special pens provided, then switch on the LED lights. Select single color or multi-color mode, with changing or blinking lights. Hangs on wall like a picture. 12¼" x 9½" x ?" (31 x 24 x 1.6cm). 3 AAA batteries or electric adapter, not included.

Click this link to purchase the Lighted Message Board from Expert Verdict.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Eye Digest: A Resource for Age related Eye Diseases

Do you suffer from an eye related disorder? If you don't, more than likely someone that you know and love does.

Whether it be the development and or worsening of near sightedness or far sightedness; or more serious conditions that develop, due possibly to genetics, health disorders like diabetes, or even those caused by medications that we must take for other disorders, there's a good chance that many of us will suffer the affects of the aging eye.

I wanted to take a moment to tell you about a great resource called The Eye Digest. This is a publication created by the University of Illinois Eye & Ear Infirmary and it contains a wealth of information about the effects of the aging eye and serious disorders that may affect your vision as you age.

All of the articles that you'll find within the Eye Digest are in depth and well researched. Along with full discussions of major eye disorders, you'll see that there's a section called Vision Basics where you'll find information that discusses vision myths, nutrition and vision, flashes and floaters, 20/20 vision, medication and more.

One of my favorite articles in the Vision Basics section is called Did You Ever Wonder which contains answers to questions such as why do I see spots after looking at a bright light, Why your nose runs when you cry, twitching eyelids and many others.

Large sections of the digest are devoted to providing informative articles on disorders such as Dry Eye, Cataracts, Glaucoma, and macular degeneration.

All of the articles and sections on these major eye disorders are accompanied by diagrams, charts and in some cases video. Each disorder discussed on the Eye Digest has a section which discusses the disorder, the symptoms, diagnoses, medical and surgical treatments (if available) and new developments in the treatment and diagnosis of the disorder.

Along with major eye disorders, the Eye Digest also discusses a number of other problems that affect the aging eye, including a section on low vision and visual aids, and links to other eye and vision related sites.

You'll also find information on LASIK treatment. Lasik is becoming a viable and more commonly used treatment for some vision problems, especially myopia (near sightedness).

As you've likely guessed by now, I think this is an important topic as many of the diseases and disorders of the eye discussed on the Eye Digest could affect us or those whom we love as we age. If you are concerned about any vision related symptoms that you might be having, or know someone who has vision problems I strongly suggest that you visit and bookmark this site: http://www.agingeye.net.

Please let others know about the eye digest if you feel that the information and articles on the site might help them.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Braille and Large Type knitting patterns from Lion Brand

Did you know that many companies now print knitting patterns in a large type format for people who are visually impaired, and in Braille, for those who are blind? It makes sense, especially as many knitters will know, your sight is not necessarily the main sense used when knitting, which is what makes it a great social craft.

Lion Brand have been producing their patterns in large print or Braille since the beginning of 2006. They have also added colour descriptions to all their yarns, and added special features to their online patterns and directories to make them easier to navigate with a screen reader.

Click this link to visit the Lion Brand Yarn Company at http://www.lionbrand.com.

Unsealing An Envelope

Have you ever sealed an envelope only to realize that you forgot something, such as signing a check or including a rebate form? Normally you would have to open it and throw the used envelope away, right? Well here is a handy trick that you can use to save that envelope.

Put it into the freezer for a few hours. Take it out and then run a knife under the flap. It should pop open very easily. The glue will still be good, so you can seal it right back up again. This will also work with new envelopes that might have become accidentally sealed by humidity.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Rain is so inaccessible!

The following article was posted by Jemma Brown on the Ouch weblog in December, 2007. I thought about what the author has to say, and I must agree with her, rain truly is inaccessible.

It's true it really is! See today has highlighted all the issues I have with the wet stuff, its been raining pretty much all day; ranging from thin drizzle that's slightly pathetic but still manages to soak you right through, to really heavy fat rain that just pelts down on you.

Lets start with the blatantly obvious, everything is wet therefore slippery for someone with a condition that affects there balance the chances of falling over are very high. What's worse still is that if you fall over in the rain not only do you get the standard 'ouch that hurt' (or expletive) but you also get the 'great now I'm soaking wet' effect. There are also more outside risks; manhole covers are very slippery when wet.

The thing is that the slipperyness does not just apply to being outside on pavements for example, when you go inside everything's slippy too, or your footwear is wet and slippy, thus again increasing the risk of falling over in the dry!

Then there is the whole rain on glasses issue, not a good mix especially if you are already partially sighted. furthermore when you get out of the wet the glasses are not only covered in rain but then steam up.

In desperate attempts not to get soaked through one chooses to wear a sufficiently waterproof hooded coat. In the attempts to stay relatively dry this causes another issue, when wearing a hood it is very difficult to hear traffic and it significantly reduces the already somewhat sketchy field of vision.

Then there's the waterproof footwear issue, the problems with this particular coping strategy start early on while trying to purchase suitable walking boots. I will be the first to say I have VERY odd feet; this is due to my disability. My feet are very flat and very wide and for a woman very big (at least a UK size 9) add to that the fact that I have to wear supportive orthosoles inside my footwear of choice. It all makes finding walking boots very tricky!

As a long cane user there is also the 'ewww my cane is soaking wet I don't want to put that inside my bag now' reaction when you reach your chosen destination. Using a long cane in the rain also has other issues, a wet hand usually equals a cold hand, other people would perhaps wear gloves in such circumstances but I myself find that wearing gloves reduces the tactile feedback of my cane to much, so I have to put up with a numb blue hand.

As a future guide dog owner there is also the smelly wet dog issue and the necessary towels required to dry said disgusting but still loved small pooch. It is also a fact of life that a dog will run in to the muddiest possible puddle when off the lead but cannot stand getting wet on the lead so rain usually equals a sulking miserable dog!

Then there are even more issues when it finally stops raining, for example the sun comes out. I absolutely hate it when it has been raining and the sun comes out, I can't see a thing! People that know me are usually completely shocked by my sudden blindness and I am frustrated when it takes me an eternity to travel what should be a 2 minute walk from the bus stop into college and popping up every lamppost on the way.

See rain, its disabling and it does not make reasonable adjustments to include disabled people who can't drive, it makes our life harder.

It's completely inaccessible and I am seriously considering taking up a case under the DDA (ADA in the US>!

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