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.)


Monday, March 31, 2008

WordPerfect for DOS and Windows 3.1 Files

WordPerfect for DOS, in the opinion of many knowledgeable users, is still the greatest program ever written. Some of its features have not been matched even by the latest Windows software, and its interface remains unequaled for efficiency and elegance. Its support for multiple font formats has not yet been equaled by any other program or operating system, and its support for multiple alphabets, languages, and symbol sets has only been equaled by the latest versions of Windows.

This site was created as a way to share printer drivers and other files that can be of help to anyone who wants to continue to use WordPerfect for DOS in the twenty-first century.

Every user of WordPerfect for DOS under Windows 2000 or XP should buy a $US20 copy of Tame from This program speeds keyboard input and improves compatibility for WPDOS and other DOS applications under Windows 2000 and XP.

WordPerfect for DOS is no longer marketed by Corel. Fully legal replacement and upgrade copies of WordPerfect 5.1+ for DOS and WordPerfect 6.2 for DOS may be purchased on CD-R discs from Carol Reese at, who has permission from Corel to make these sales. Copies can only be shipped to addresses in the United States; in other countries, probably the best way to obtain a copy is through eBay or a local user group.

WordPerfect is a registered trademark of Corel Corporation. This site is not associated with Corel Corporation, PC Magazine, or any other person or organization. The site is hosted on Columbia University's web server, but the university is not responsible for any of the site's content. Corel Corporation does not support or endorse any of the documents or files on this site, and is perhaps not even aware that the site exists.

This site can almost always be reached at an "alias" address, It can, of course, also be reached at its real address,

Everything Windows 3.1

For those interested in programs for DOS and Windows 3.1, you might enjoy a site called everything windows 3.1. It is full of links to all kinds of DOS and early Windows collections.

Click this link to visit the Everything Windows 3.1 website at

Friday, March 28, 2008

SEN Teacher: Online Resource

"SEN Teacher provides cost-free teaching & learning resources for students with special needs and learning disabilities." That's how this repository of special education resources sums itself up. (SEN is the acronym from the UK that stands for Special Education Needs.)

SEN Teacher offers a substantial collection of "printable" (and brailleable) downloads. There are links to websites that provide information about a wide range of disabilities, free online resources, and freeware download sites. The free software listed here includes programs to help develop basic mouse and other computer skills that may assist someone with low vision, programs to practice switch use, programs that support curriculum, and much more. There are even a few programs by SEN Teacher itself (1-5 Counting, 3D Shape Venn, Buried 3D Shape, Girl Face Matching). I think you'll find something of use here.

Click this link to visit

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Large Type Boy Scout Handbook

Message: I am a Scoutmaster in Hickory, NC. I have a new Scout that is visually impaired. He gets all his school text books in large print. I would like to know if there is an official Boy Scout Hand Book in large print?

Yes, APH has the official book Boy Scout Handbook published by Boy Scouts of America (c1998) in large type. This version consists of 2 pamphlets, 494 pages and a font size of 14 point. When ordering from APH Customer Service, please provide the catalog number L-98300-00.

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

E-file Your Taxes: It Can Be Done with a Screen Reader

Message: Dear Fred,

I know in the last couple of years, they have come out with e-filing for taxes. Are there really any good benefits to doing it that way? Can someone who is blind or visually impaired complete the tax forms online? If so, please enlighten us!

Filing taxes online has become very popular in the last few years and even the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) has been known to "push" people into filing their taxes this way. Of course, we can all figure out that e-filing is a big money saver for the government, but there really are some benefits for us too!

First of all, I want to make sure everyone understands the terminology I am talking about. The whole thing is called e-filing. It's basically just a way for all the tax payers in the world to file their taxes electronically through the Web. To some, it's a more convenient and faster way to get their taxes done. If you don't agree yet, you may change your mind after hearing about the following benefits. Below are five of the most popular pros for e-filing.

  1. Fewer IRS Errors: You know, when you snail mail in your tax returns, IRS employees have to sit and enter in your amounts by hand. But, if you e-file, you get to do it all yourself and let's be honest, we probably trust ourselves more than any IRS employee. Knowing that your information is entered in as correctly as possible is a great benefit in itself. That way, you can check your work as many times as you deem necessary. No keypunch errors and no IRS notices that your information was entered incorrectly. You can't beat that!
  2. Fewer Taxpayer Errors: When you have to have someone write out all of your information by hand, it's possible that they could make some mistakes. For example, they could misprint your social security number or forget to write in your last name. If anything like that happens on a paper form, you won't hear about it for several months, but with an e-file, the IRS lets you know about any common mistakes right away. The IRS computers will reject a return like that within seconds, so you won't have to sit around wondering if everything was right or not. This, of course, doesn't protect you completely from being audited, but in general, you will have a faster error return.
  3. Get a Faster Refund: It's stated by the IRS that tax payers who e-file get their refunds back within 14 days, which is much quicker than the six weeks you may wait to get your snail mail return back. The 14 days isn't a guarantee, but it is generally a faster method of doing things. So, how long would you like to wait for your check to come in the mail? Two weeks or six weeks? Why have it come in the mail at all, use direct deposit and you'll have an accessible way of knowing when the money has posted.
  4. File Conveniently: One of the biggest benefits of e-filing is that you can do it from the comfort of your own computer chair. You get to use your own computer to file your taxes and you don't have to depend on someone else who's basically doing the same thing you could be doing.
  5. Send Both at Once: In a sense, with e-filing, you can kill two birds with one stone. In most cases, you are able to e-file both your federal and state taxes at the same time. Even though the returns go to different places, the IRS will forward your state information to the appropriate state tax agency. That way, you don't have to worry about doing them separately and wasting more time.

Now, all of these benefits may sound great and even though you might be more than ready to go e-file your taxes right now, it's best to look into it a little more to make sure e-filing is right for your tax purposes.

e-file with TurboTax Online

My wife and I decided we'd give it a try this year and looked into TurboTax Online. We found the site very speech friendly and the really cool thing about it was that we could automatically import our W2 information, no eye-straining to read a printed document and we could save our information as we went.

We found it to be a time-saver, no tax jargon. Just easy-to-answer, plain-English questions that pertained to our unique tax situation. The site automatically fills in the right tax forms. Their tax preparation products also look for deductions and credits to get the biggest return. All we had to do was answer the questions.

If you try it and have questions, TurboTax provides answers to commonly asked tax questions on every screen. Plus, with their Live Community, (included FREE, live answers from tax experts and fellow TurboTax customers are just a click away.

TurboTax displays your refund (or tax owed) on every screen and updates the amount as you answer questions. They check for errors before you submit your forms to the IRS, so you'll know for sure that everything's right. If there are errors, the site asks you simple questions to fix them.

Screen reader users will have no problem with the site. I was really worried about this when I started but had a very easy time and completed my taxes and had my money in a few days.

Click this link to learn more about TurboTax Online:

USB Mini Desktop LED Light

Here's a nice way to light up your desk at home, in a dorm room, or at the office, using only the power from the USB port of your computer to make the three LEDs shine. Features include:

  • Mini USB light with 3 LEDs
  • Powered by USB port
  • Touch power On/Off
  • Flexible metal gooseneck
  • Dimension: 6cm dia x 38cm tall
  • Weight: 157g
Click this link to purchase the Mini Desktop USB Light from

Seatbelts Protect Your Eyes from Airbags

Ophthalmologists from Brown University and Penn State University medical schools wanted to analyze the variety of eye injuries that occur in airbag-deployed collisions. They scoured over 9,000 records from a single metropolitain Level 1 trauma center between 1997 to 2005. They discovered 47 documented eye injuries.

Here's how the numbers broke down with the occupants of the 47 airbag-worthy crashes:

  • 21 of 47 occupants did not wear seatbelts and 71% of them sustained serious eye injuries
  • Only 76% of this group recovered 20/40 vision or better
  • 14% of this group ended up legally blind


  • 26 of 47 occupants were wearing seatbelts and only 31% sustained serious eye injuries
  • 96% of this group recovered 20/40 vision or better
  • Nobody in this group ended up legally blind

The authors concluded that seatbelt use is associated with fewer airbag eye injuries, less severe eye injuries, and better visual outcomes.

So, now you have two reasons to wear your seatbelt: to protect your life after colliding with other vehicles and to protect your precious eyesight from your own airbag.

REFERENCE: Rao SK. Ophthalmology, March 2008, pages 573-576.

Seatbelt Light

Now, here's something else the seatbelt can do for your eyes, well, your vision more specifically. Just clip this little light onto your seat belt and turn it on when you want to read something and need a little more focused light. Passengers can use it without distracting the driver. Two levels of brightness from 4 LED lights, uses 3 AA batteries (not included).

Click this link to purchase a set of two Seatbelt Lights from the Whatever Works website.

Select Text with the Help of a Macro

From the Top Tech Tidbits Newsletter we learn of a macro that, when using Word, allows you to mark a spot, navigate in the usual way to a destination in your document, then hit a second key, automatically selecting the text between those two positions. These macros work in any version from Word 2000 to 2007. Directions for installing them on your system have been updated to include Word 2007 keystrokes.

You can grab the macros and instructions (in an MS-Word document) at this link:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Online Price Drop Notification

Is there a particular product you've had your eye on for awhile but you want to wait a bit for the price to drop before you buy it? If this is the case, Price!pinx can keep you updated by letting you know when the price of that product drops, saving you time and energy. To start using Price!pinx simply search the internet for the product you want, and enter it along with the price at Price!pinx. The site will monitor a majority of shopping sites on the net and when it detects a lower price than the one you entered, it will notify you. Save money and time while still getting everything you've always wanted.

Click this link to start saving money with

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Buy or Post Your Unpublished Books at is a site devoted to those who share a passion for books, and acts as a place to bring unpublished writers together with interested readers. The site includes works of fiction and non-fiction, as well as plays and scripts. Book prices start at $2.50, and increases as a book becomes more popular (as indicated by sales on Book Habit). Authors pay nothing to add their books to the site, and receive 40% of the sale price. Once you download a book, you can enjoy it on your computer, mobile phone, PDA, or ereader. Books are downloaded in the PDF format.

For readers, the site provides a place to explore undiscovered authors or find books on niche or specialty subjects not typically published or promoted by mainstream publishing companies. User reviews provide a means to share your opinion, as well as to learn what others thought of a book before you purchase it.

Authors may benefit from constructive user criticism, and can use the site to gain visibility or sales figures that may help them get published. There are also discussion forums and links for authors to seek insight from professional editors, or professional oration services to turn their work into an audio book. Authors can also create a widget to promote their book across the web.

Click this link to find some new ebooks at

Friday, March 21, 2008

Create a Custom Streaming Internet Station

A new breed of Internet radio stations allow you to create your own custom streaming station, edit it, skip songs at will, share your station with others, and discuss music. Unlike Pandora, which is a veteran in this field and is difficult, if not impossible, to use with screen readers, with no hope for change in sight, Jango, currently in beta, is very user-friendly.

To get you started, here's a little tour of some of their main features:

  • Stations: Play your selected artists (plus similar artists we recommend) To create a new station, just type in an artist and press play. To add more artists, just go to "My Home" and click "Add to Station".
  • Rate which songs to play more (or less): To make your stations even smarter, just click the smilies in your player to rate which songs you want to play more or less. Screen reader users will find three rating links, bad, OK, and good.
  • Tune in to other stations: The faces in your player are other people listening to similar music as > you are. Just click any song to tune in and listen!
  • Play more songs by an artist: If you want to play more songs by an artist, just click the orange "Songs" tab in your player - or any artist photo - and you'll see more songs by > that artist that you can tune in to!
  • More music and people: Don't forget to check out the "music" section, where you can browse by genre and see what's new and popular on Jango. Or click "people" to search for friends and musical like-minds.

Note to people using a screen reader: The site works very well, my only problem is with the volume control. I think they use some kind of slider that JAWS can't access. I have not tried this control with other screen readers, but have no reason to believe that they will work any better. I have emailed a suggestion to the tech folks, hopefully I'll get a response.

Having said that, don't let the volume controls scare you away from the service. It is really cool and I've built one station as of the time of this post. I plan to create others very soon.

Click this link to start building your personal internet radio station at

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Robert Krampf's Science Education Company

Robert Krampf is a science educator based in Florida. Mr. Krampf and his wife travel the country giving upbeat presentations about a range of science topics appropriate for students at many grade levels. On his website, he features videos of experiments and demonstrations that students and teachers can do. Each video is accompanied by a list of resources needed to perform each experiment or demonstration.

Click this link to visit Robert Krampf's Science Education Company at


Darrell Shandrow at Blind Access Journal posted the following announcement about a new website and I wanted to share it with Fred's Head users as well.

As you know, the web page of has not been updated for years after I began focusing on software projects. I knew the site needed a redesign, but wanted to work on Windows GUI development, so left it there as a community service for whoever still found it useful, and instead posted direct links to program or documentation files that I added to the site. Inthane, Jeff Bishop, and others gathered some of these links on pages of their sites in order to ease finding them -- collaboration I appreciate.

Last year, I agreed to take over a community project, begun by Chris Hofstader, to develop a C# tutorial for JAWS users. I expanded the scope to any .NET language and any screen reader, naming the project Nonvisual Development with .NET. List members suggested a wiki as a vehicle for collaborating on the tutorial, and for months, Pratik Patel and I have been investigating how best to do this.

Recently, I concluded that the content management system (CMS) called Drupal, available at has the optimal balance of power and friendliness among free, open source choices of a CMS at this time. I decided to try to achieve multiple objectives in a Drupal-based site that provides a complete directory of programs and documentation I have posted, and promotes collaboration on developing nonvisually with various languages and tools. With encouragement from Jim Homme, webmaster of, I am now introducing a site called Nonvisual Development, located at

The site is under construction, and your collaboration is sought to help make it as valuable a community resource as possible. So far, its design is by me, but its coding is by a blind developer, Chetan Bakhru, whose services I have hired and would recommend to anyone interested in working with PHP, Drupal, or other web technologies. Chetan is the webmaster of

At present, the content of is primarily either mine or links I have collected. I intend to build ways for other developers to add content and collaborate. We are working within the capabilities and constraints of Drupal 6.1 and the Zen theme. Feedback, suggestions, and other contributions can help move this project forward.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How About an Extra Set of Hands in the Kitchen?

The Sticky Bowl has been designed to attach any mixing bowl securely to a flat surface. It basically provides an extra hand in all types of kitchens, whether you're working on your own or with others. Sticky bowl can also be applied to plates, bowls and platters. One side has been designed bigger than the other to accommodate a larger range of bowl sizes. On the side are easy to find release levers. Sticky Bowl is dishwasher safe.

Click this link to learn more about Sticky Bowl:

Tips and Resources for the blind or visually impaired traveler

Traveling with a vision impairment can be challenging, but that shouldn't deter you from getting out and seeing the world. Here are some suggestions to make your trip smooth and your stay stress-free.
Consider using brightly colored luggage or high-contrast tape on dark colored bags to make it easier to identify your luggage on the baggage claim carousel.

Invest in a specially designed "luggage locator" that includes a receiver unit (attached to your luggage) and a transmitter for the traveler. With the press of a button, the luggage beeps as long as it is within a five-foot range of the transmitter.

Carry a signature guide for signing credit card receipts. It's a good way to educate others that people with vision impairment are capable of signing their names.

Be mindful of your money and stay organized. If you're traveling in Europe, the new Euro currency can be distinguished by size, color and tactile characteristics.

Fred's Airport Tip

I have found when a blind person travels a route that entails various bus or plane connections, one of the carrier's staff members often promises to help such travelers to make his or her next connection. Over the years, I have adopted the attitude that while such persons might have the best of intentions, life is uncertain and, for whatever reason, they don't always show up at the appointed hour. This being the case, I have learned to pay close attention to the time-of-day so I will know exactly when I should be en route to make the next link in the chain of connections.

Once my connection is announced and my would-be helper still hasn't arrived, I typically wait a few minutes to allow the attendant to finish whatever he or she is doing that has caused the delay. In the event that I receive no word that his/her arrival is imminent, however, I will stand, gather my luggage, and head in what I believe to be the correct direction.

Whether or not I am taking the correct direction is far less important, I believe, than the fact that I am taking some action. This is because I have come to understand over the years that the responsibility for making the next connection is mine--and not that of the carrier or the person who offered help and for whatever reason didn't show up at the critical time.

Also, it's heartening to say that while other travelers may seem perfectly willing to let you sit for hours (probably assuming that you are waiting for your next connection), I have found that once I start to move, it is not long before someone asks if I need help.

Helpful Tips for the Airport Screening Process

The Transportation Security Administration has developed guidelines for the training of airport screeners to make the screening process both comfortable and secure for people with disabilities. If you're visually impaired, take note of what you may ask the screener to do:
  • Explain the security process to you.
  • Verbally communicate to you throughout each step of the screening process.
  • Provide you with assistance by placing your items on the x-ray belt.
  • Provide you with assistance by providing you with an arm, hand, or shoulder as you move through the process.
  • Find someone to escort you through the security process.
  • Let you know where the metal detector is located.
  • Let you know when you will be going through the metal detector.
  • Let you know when there are obstacles you need to avoid.
  • Perform a physical inspection (in lieu of an x-ray inspection) of your white collapsible cane. This will allow you to guide yourself through the walk-through metal detector. Inspection of your white collapsible cane will be completed after you go through the walk-through metal detector. If your white cane cannot be cleared by physical inspection, the screener will notify you that the cane must be x-rayed.
  • Perform a hand inspection of equipment (e.g., Braille note-takers) if you are concerned that the x-ray inspection may damage them.
  • Reunite you with all of your carry-on items and assistive devices after the x-ray or physical inspection of the items is completed, including electronic equipment that has been specially adapted for your use.
  • Verbally direct you toward your gate once the screening has been completed.

Traveling With a Dog Guide

  • If you have a service animal, you are encouraged to inform the screener that the animal accompanying you is a service animal and not a pet. This may result in moving you to the front of the screening line since the screener may need to spend more time with you.
  • People using a dog for assistance are encourage to carry appropriate identification such as cards or documentation, presence of a harness or markings on the harness, or other credible assurance of the passenger using the dog for their disability.
  • Advise the screener how you and your dog can best achieve screening when going through the metal detector as a team (i.e., whether walking together or with the dog walking in front of or behind you while you continually maintain control of the dog with the leash and/or harness).
  • The dog's harness will likely set off the alarm on the metal detector. In such cases, the screener will perform a hand inspection of the dog and its belongings (collar, harness, leash, backpack, vest, etc.). The belongings will not be removed from your dog at any time.
  • The screener should ask permission before touching your service animal or its belongings.
  • At no time during the screening process will you be required to be separated from your service animal.
  • Screeners have been trained not to communicate, distract, interact, play, feed, or pet service animals.
  • If you need to leave the sterile area to relieve your animal, you must go through the full screening process again. Inform the screener upon your return to the security checkpoint and she/he will move you to the front of the screening line to expedite the screening process.

Additional Travel Tips

When making a reservation, it's a good idea to let the hotel know you're traveling with a service animal. Although it's against the law in the U.S. to prohibit service animals or to assess extra fees, this may not apply to other countries.

When traveling by air, you may want to use a collapsible cane. This is because a regulation of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires airlines to stow all carry-on items during air flights.
In order to comply with this regulation, airlines must stow rigid canes elsewhere on the plane because they represent a safety hazard in the event of an emergency. Collapsible canes, on the other hand, can be folded and stowed safely on your person or in a nearby luggage compartment.

When you arrive at the hotel registration desk, ask staff for any assistance you might need, such as orientation to facilities (restaurants, fitness center or gift shop).

Today, most hotel room keys are made to resemble credit cards with magnetic strips. These cards must be inserted properly into a key reader that is positioned on the door handle. This reader magnetically identifies whether the bearer has the proper key prior to releasing the door latch.

As with credit cards, blind persons using these keys may encounter difficulty knowing which way to hold and insert the key card into the reader. To facilitate identifying the correct way to insert the key every time you need to use it, there are several ways to mark them. The important thing is to choose a convenient method that makes a detectable impression in one of the corners opposite the magnetic strip of the card.

One way is to mark a corner of the key card with a bit of tape, or a sticker. Another way is to cut a small edge of the card with a pair of scissors, or a nail clipper. You can also make recognizable marks with other instruments. For instance, punch a hole in one corner of the card with your stylus, or wear out the corner with a nail file. If you do not have any tape or other instrument on hand to make the mark, you can bend the corner of the card using your fingers or your teeth.

Ever had one of those moments when you just HAD to get into your hotel room like NOW? If you had to wait another minute something embarrassing was going to happen?

It turns out that simply rubbing the magnetic side of your key on your shirt prior to inserting it in the door lock gives you hasty access to your room via a key that was, just moments ago, on strike.
It's a good idea to be shown the nearest fire exit to your room. Even if you're traveling with a companion, you may be alone when an emergency occurs.

In your room, ask to be shown the location of the TV remote and in-room service bar, how to adjust heat or air conditioning, who to call to request a wake up call or anything else that's important to you.
Ask hotel staff if newspapers are placed outside of hotel door rooms, as this could pose a hazard. You can request that newspapers be held at the front desk for you.

There's a big world waiting for you out there. And it's filled with interesting and exciting people, places, cultures and cuisine.

Though few in number, there are travel agencies that offer services tailored to the needs of the blind or visually impaired traveler. There are also many online resources that can be of assistance in planning a fun-filled and relaxing vacation, cruise, tour or quick-get-a-way.

Travel Agencies

Campanian Society
The Campanian Society, Inc. is a non-profit organization that fosters appreciation of the humanities and cultural arts of the ancient Greco-Roman world. Among the services the organization offers are travel services for people who are blind or visually impaired.

The society offers travel programs to destinations across Europe and the United States. Tactile and hands-on encounters, audio descriptions and readings give travelers the opportunity to experience each destination. Travel programs are typically limited to twelve to fifteen members each. Sighted guides accompany all programs: sighted friends and family may also travel with the group.

The Society's programs vary from year to year. Past programs have included tours of Key West, Florida; Washington DC; Hawaii; and an Ohio River Cruise.

"Optical Dimensions", the organization's bi-monthly newsletter, contains travel information about Campanian Society activities and tours, and resources for accessible materials. Optical Dimensions is available to subscribers in large print or email formats. To subscribe, send an email to the address below.

Campanian Enterprises, Inc.
Address: PO Box 167
Oxford, OH 45056
Phone: (513) 524-4846
Fax: (513) 523-0276
Web: http://www.c
Access Aloha Travel
Get Hawaii travel information from a locally owned business, with over 30 years travel industry experience! This company offers general travel services as well as specializing in travel plans for the disabled community. Support an agency that donates 1/2 of all profits to the disabled community!

Access Aloha Travel
Address: 414 Kuwili Street, #101
Honolulu, HI 96817
Toll Free: 800-480-1143 Phone: 808-545-1143
FAX: (808) 545-7657
Traveleyes is a UK travel company with a difference. It aims to provide holidays for both blind/visually impaired and sighted travellers, journeying together in a spirit of mutual independence.
Whether you come to Traveleyes as an individual or with a group of friends, you will be part of a small cohesive group. Traveleyes offers the customer a flexibility in world travel to a variety of destinations that was previously unavailable or certainly very difficult to arrange for the blind/visually impaired. Whether you want an adventure holiday, a relaxing break or a cultural expedition, Traveleyes is here to help.

Traveleyes offers you a unique experience - the luxury of a customised holiday to suit your needs, and the independence to discover new worlds. We plan each venture with close attention to quality and detail. Their holiday destinations cover Europe, Africa and the Americas, and vary from the unique and exploratory to relaxing sunshine breaks.

There are three simple steps to take before 'jetting off' with Traveleyes:
  1. Register to become a member (this is free of charge).
  2. Choose a holiday from the "holidays" area of their website and then contact them for availability.
  3. Complete the booking process and send your deposit.
For information on their products, including the first ever range of accessible electronic Lonely Planet travel guides, contact: Traveleyes
PO Box 511
Phone: 08709 220221

Web Resources

Access-Able Travel Source
Access-Able Travel Source is an online resource that contains general information about travel for people with disabilities, and links to travel-related magazines, access guides, transportation, travel agencies and more.

One of the most helpful features of the Access-Able web site is the Travel Database. Users can search the database country-by-country, state-by-state and even city-by-city to gather info about accessible hotels, attractions, travel agencies and other data that can assist in travel planning. The attraction information, for example, includes mention of the provisions that have been made to make the attraction accessible to blind and visually impaired, or other special need travelers.

Access-Able Travel Source
Web: m/
Institute on Independent Living
The Institute on Independent Living is a Swedish, not-for-profit organization that promotes independence and participation for persons with disabilities. Via the Institute's web site, users can access a wealth of links to resources for travelers who are blind, visually impaired, or have special needs, including: travel agencies, rights and advocacy groups and destination information. Contact:

Institute on Independent Living
Petersens Vag 2
127 41 Stockholm-Skarholmen
Phone: +46 8 740 42 00
Fax: +46 8 750 45 00
Email: admin@independentl
Web: http://ww
Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH)
SATH, a non-profit advocacy organization, strives to promote accessibility for disabled and mature travelers and increase employment opportunities for persons with disabilities within the tourism industry. The Access Resources section of the society's web site contains a lengthy list of resources for travelers with disabilities, including links to: books, newsletters, magazines, government and private sector resources.

SATH publishes "Open World," a magazine that covers topics of interest to blind, disabled and mature travelers. Past issues have contained travel tips, and info on finding accessible lodging, airlines, cruise and destination services. Contact:

Address: 347 Fifth Avenue, Suite 610, New York, NY 10016
Tel. 212-447-7284
Fax. 212-725-8253
Deb's Unofficial Walt Disney World Information Guide (WDWIG)
Deb Willis created and maintains this web site that is dedicated to Mickey's home in Orlando, Florida. Among the site's areas of note is a section dedicated to hints and tips for blind and visually impaired visitors to Disney's "Magic Kingdom." Contact:

Deb's Unofficial Walt Disney World Information Guide (WDWIG)
Web: visual.htm
Walt Disney World with Disabilities
Walt Disney World with Disabilities contains in-depth descriptions of the physical and emotional "feel" of Disney World attractions. It's also filled with a wide variety of tips for increasing comfort and avoiding problems at Disney for people with a serious health condition or disability. In addition to ride descriptions, the book also offers information on Disney's special services, as well as expert advice regarding: how to get your needs met in the parks, resorts and restaurants; details on handling medication and medical equipment; meeting special dietary needs; transportation; wheelchair use; and dealing with specific conditions in the parks and resorts. Walt Disney World with Disabilities is available on the web at It is also available from and
Your Guide To Airline Seats,
Well the time has finally come. You've finished all the work at the office, your bags are packed, the hotel room is waiting, and flight tickets are in hand. You've planned on this vacation for a long time, and now it's here. You've thought of everything, or have you? What about the seat on your plane? Will it have enough room for you to stretch your legs? What about your dog guide? Can you watch a movie? What are you going to munch on while in flight? Don't call the airline to get the answers to these questions, just keep reading!

In October 2001 Matthew Daimler, a frequent flier and avid traveler, founded Having realized the vast differences between airline seats, he was determined to build a repository of this useful information and share it with other travelers. Over four million unique visitors later, has established itself as the most up-to-date and complete guide to airplane seat information on the internet. The site currently provides comprehensive airplane seat information for the following airlines:
  • Air Canada
  • Air France
  • AirTran
  • Alaska Airlines
  • America West
  • American Airlines
  • ATA
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Continental Airlines
  • Delta Airlines
  • Frontier
  • Hawaiian
  • JetBlue
  • KLM
  • Lufthansa
  • Northwest Airlines
  • Qantas
  • SAS
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Spirit
  • United Airlines
  • US Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic employs a powerful combination of detailed seat map graphics, in-depth remarks and observations, a color-coded system to help identify superior and substandard seats and icons to denote amenities such as laptop power and audio/video entertainment. This blend of features successfully conveys highly specific seat information such as extra legroom, limited recline, decreased width and obstructed movie screen viewing. All aspects and features of the site are displayed in a user-friendly interface and an easy-to-navigate format. Note that some features may not be compatible with screen reading software.

Benefiting both business and leisure travelers, is a tool for anyone booking airline travel. The site helps business travelers locate seats with laptop power and internet access and aids leisure travelers by identifying seats with extra legroom and in-seat video screens. Whatever your travel priorities may be, will help you find the seat that best suits your needs.

By using the feedback link located on every web page, site visitors can submit their comments about a particular seat or aircraft. This unique feedback system allows visitors to send their seat comments directly to the database. Once verified these comments are incorporated into the site. To date, thousands of comments detailing specific seat and aircraft information have been received. This feedback model ensures that information provided on the site is always current.

Click this link to visit
This site provides unbiased travel reviews, giving you the real story about hotels, attractions and restaurants around the world. Stories, secrets and special places from people just like you. Search, travel, then share your own experiences. Over 2,273,955+ unbiased reviews and opinions were online at the time of this writing.

Select the site you plan to visit, and follow links to articles in newspapers and travel guides, to reader-submitted photos and tips, and to user forums.

Click this link to visit the TripAdvisor home page:
Search for Cheap Airfares with ITA Software
From the website: People are always looking for low-cost airfares. Yes, they do exist, but you need to be armed with the right tools. For me, it's the trip planner from ITA Software. It's a web-based airfare search engine that searches published airline fares for the best deals. You can't actually book tickets from this site, but it will give you all of the information that you need to make your reservation. What sets this site apart from others is its simple interface and highly-customizable search language. Basic searches let you check every airfare within 25 to 300 miles from your own city. The advanced query language lets you limit the search to certain airlines, flights, or even specify that you want your flight from Chicago to Seattle to have a connection in Boise. The tool is free, accessible, and is fully-functional, although it is labeled as a beta.

Click this link to check airfares with ITA Software.

Flight Delay Information: Air Traffic Control System Command Center

Here's accessible help for visually impaired travelers. Search for delays by name of city, or airport code. Note that this covers all commercial airports, not just the ones highlighted on their fancy map.

Click this link to see if your flight is delayed.

Hotline and Websites for Disability-Related Air Travel Problems

In August 2002, the Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings (Enforcement Office), established a toll free number that consumers who experience disability related air travel problems may use to obtain information and assistance. The hotline is staffed from 7 am to 11 pm local time in Washington, D.C., seven days a week, and provides general information to consumers about the rights of air travelers with disabilities and assists air travelers in resolving time-sensitive disability-related issues that need to be addressed in real time.

Unfortunately, many members of the public are still not aware of the existence of the hotline, and as a result the hotline is not being sufficiently used. The Enforcement Office asks that you advise members of your respective organizations about the existence of an aviation consumer disability toll-free hotline and encourage them to call the hotline if they should experience disability-related air service problems. The toll-free number for the hotline is 1-800-778-4838 (voice) or 1-800-455-9880 (TTY).

The Enforcement Office is committed to improving the quality of air transportation for people with disabilities and believes that with your help the toll-free hotline can be a major step towards accomplishing this goal.

The main Department Of Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection home page is located at:
This page has a number of resources including regulations, reports, statistics, complaint procedures, etc. You can file a DOT complaint via email off of this web site.

While most generic complaints are pretty much just logged in the database, if you enter in the subject line "disability complaint Part 382", they should pull it and complete an investigation. FYI the investigation that DOT completes on a disability complaint is supposed to be similar to that which would happen if a Congress person files a complaint :). Basically there is an email address on the above web site that you can use to send in your complaint.
I would also bring your attention to a study that NCD (National Council On Disability) published: NCD - Enforcing the Civil Rights of Air Travelers with Disabilities:
Mind's Eye Travel
Mind's Eye Travel creates tours for people who are visually impaired or blind. Itineraries are planned not only for great comfort, camaraderie and enjoyment but also for full sensory discovery, and they offer options for independence.

Click this link to visit has Braille travel and tourism information. These Braille Readable-only Files (BRF) are excerpted from popular published guidebooks (such as Lonely Planet and Fodor's), brochures, Tourism Authority websites, and newspaper travel sections such as The New York Times.
Persons who are blind must first register on the website. They must certify that they have legally blind status in their country of residence, that they will use Braille materials for research purposes only, and that they will not communicate the files to others.
Braille files available include Tibet, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Belize, Kenya, Tasmania, Greece, Italy, the City of Rome, Thailand, and an introduction to the World Heritage program.
All Braille format information is provided FREE OF CHARGE, upon request, to persons who are blind under 'fair use' or 'fair dealing' rights afforded by their country of residence and international copyright treaty (TRIPS). will provide Braille travel materials to persons who are blind for special situations. These might include destinations of interest to disabled veterans, athletes who are blind, persons who are blind traveling on tours, etc.
John Edwin Miller, a US Library of Congress Certified Braille Transcriber, has supervised all Braille transcriptions.
For further information, please contact: or visit the website:
Emerging Horizons
Emerging Horizons: The Accessible Travel Newsletter, produced by Candy & Charles Creative Concepts, is a consumer-oriented publication that addresses the needs of travelers with disabilities. The publishers offer choices and options to their readership, and cover both domestic and foreign destinations in both group and independent travel. They accept no advertising in order to present unbiased accessibility information. The focus is on overcoming barriers, whether they are architectural or attitudinal.
You can subscribe to the newsletter through their website:
This website contains "comprehensive listings of: Travel Agents, Tour Operators, Adventure Travel Companies, Accessible Van & Equipment Rentals, Travel Companions, Home Exchanges, and Access Guides for wheelchair users and other disabled travelers." Click this link to visit
Tourism Offices Worldwide
"The Tourism Offices Worldwide Directory is your guide to official tourist information sources: government tourism offices, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, and similar organizations that provide free, accurate, and unbiased travel information to the public."
That sums up what you'll find here, but it does leave you wondering^DEL How does it all work? Well that's pretty simple too-there are two search engines: one for outside the USA, and one for inside the USA. p>To use the search engine, click in the drop-down box and choose the country (if looking outside of the USA) or the state (if looking inside the USA) and click "Go". This will then search and generate a list of tourism offices and their webpage if they have one.
For instance, if I chose to search inside the USA, and chose Colorado, then clicked go it would generate the list for Colorado. Let me tell you, a lot of these travel sites are beautifully crafted and definitely make you want to hop a plane with your passport and go. Click this link to plan your next vacation by visiting the Tourism Offices Worldwide website:

How to Tell if an Egg is Bad

Food poisoning is one of the worst experiences a person can go through, it can be lethal. Eggs can be the source of some superb meals, but they can also be the source of food poisoning if they are eaten when they've gone bad. How can you tell when an egg is fresh or ready for the garbage can? You use the old floating egg trick, just follow these steps:

  1. Place the egg into a bowl of water. The water level should be deeper than the egg is long.
  2. Leave things alone for a few seconds.
  3. Observe what the egg does. Gently touch the egg to see if it does one of the following:
    • Fresh eggs will sink to the bottom of the bowl and lie on their sides.
    • Slightly older eggs (about one week) will lie on the bottom but bob slightly.
    • If the egg balances on its small end, with the large end reaching for the sky, it's probably around three weeks old.
    • Eggs that float at the surface are bad and should not be consumed.
  4. If you have difficulty observing the egg by touch, smell the egg. With time, bacteria break down the proteins in the whites of the egg and create a gas. This gas is hydrogen sulphide, better known as "rotten egg gas."

The floating test works because the air pocket inside the egg gets bigger with time as the egg contents lose both moisture and carbon dioxide. As the air pocket gets bigger, the egg is more likely to float.

TIP: When a recipe calls for a lot of yolks or whites, separate the eggs in a different bowl then dump the contents with the rest of the egg yolks (or whites). There's nothing more wasteful than cracking open egg number 14 in a 15 yolk recipe and finding out that it is a bad egg. You could also test all the eggs for freshness using this floating technique.

Online Database of Telemarketer Phone Numbers

Want to find out more about telemarketers that spam you? CallerComplaints is a free, public user-powered database of telemarketer phone numbers, harassing callers, debt collection callers, and telephone con-artists. Here you can lookup any such phone number and see if anyone else reported it and learn more about the company behind it.

Aditionally, CallerComplaints offers a free and easy way to file a public complaint against any phone number that spams you. Keep in mind though these complaints have almost no legal power over the telemarketers. For more effective complaints, you might want to try the National Do Not Call Registry at

Click this link to visit

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

SusieSays Let's Go Shopping! is your guide to shopping. It is always better to go shopping with a friend so bring Susie along. Susie is that friend who helps you find all of those bargains. is a site that helps users with online shopping, from coupons to shopping tips. All of the content on the site is well organized into clear categories, from home and garden to kids clothing. Once you choose a category, there are sub categories like sizes and types of clothing. also has price ranges so you can search for items within your budget. The items on sale have a photo and a brief description of the item along with the brand logo. You can also use the key word search to find the coupons you are looking for. Using the coupons is simple, either click on them to check out or copy the code at check out and paste in the appropriate place.

A unique aspect of the site, separating from the competitors, is when visitors comparison shop, they offer the option of checking for any additional promotional offers, such as discounts, coupons or free shipping, to help save even more. can help you shop online and save money.

Free Credit Scores at

Would you like to be able to check your credit score routinely and take actions that will help you to improve it? If so, then check out Credit Karma, a free service that allows you to check your credit score on a daily basis and will also provide you with tools and articles that can help you to improve your overall credit score. Credit Karma helps you to raise your credit score and at the same time, provides you with exclusive deals that get better as your score goes up.

"The principle of Karma is common to many beliefs. The general idea is that any action a person takes either positive or negative, will have an inevitable equal effect in the future. Your credit score is kind of an expression of this concept; an index of your credit history: your credit karma. Credit Karma embodies the best parts of these two disparate yet similar concepts to help people stay aware of their Credit Score and gain access to exclusive deals at the same time."

Credit Karma is giving consumers something they've never had before, the ability to access a truly free, accessible credit score as often as they need to, an then to use it to gain preferred pricing on products they desire. Consumers can use Credit Karma to track the improvement of their credit scores and their subsequent appeal to lenders, while at the same time leveraging their responsible financial behavior to gain something in return. There is no one like Credit Karma.

Click this link to visit

Give Blogs a Voice with

Listen to your favorite blogs using BlogBard, an online application which gives blogs a voice. This means of course, that you can multitask while listening to your blog roll, and you can take your blogs with you on the go. With BlogBard you'll have your own personalized audio station. You can listen to blogs in your Google Reader or Bloglines account, by logging in through BlogBard. If you don't see your favorite blog, simply type in the URL or RSS feed URL of the blog in the search box. You can also subscribe to blogs from the site itself. For publishers, BlogBard offers an embeddable Flash widget, adding audio to their blogs.

For people who use screen readers, this site is not as friendly as it could be. You can't access the Flash player to control the reading. Once a feed is entered and the reading starts, the only option you have is to sit back and wait until it finishes. Low vision users should have no problems with the site.

Click this link to visit

Monday, March 17, 2008

Giant Golf Set

People often ask me where I find all the things I write about in Fred's Head. Most of the items I list are found on various gismo sites and are not designed for the blind or visually impaired. The beauty of this database is that we find things that blind and visually impaired people can use, even though they were never designed to be accessible or benefitial to our community.

A good case in point is this item, the Large Golf Set. Here is the description of the product from the I Want One Of Those website:

"The trouble with golf is that everything is so darn small. The club heads are tiny, the ball is minute, the holes are just ludicrous (as are the shoes of course), and you begin to wonder what on earth the point is. However, if it wasn't for someone inventing pinhead golf, then some other idiot wouldn't have come up with this super-size, super-stupid Giant Golf. Club, tee and ball are all ludicrously big, enabling even the tragically inept to take a successful swing and watch with smug satisfaction as their ball sails across the garden, beach or fairway. Though we don't suggest trying this on a real fairway as golf clubs are renowned more for their feelings of self-importance than their sense of humour. It's big, it's beautiful and it's a brilliantly fun lawn game."

Now, I say, what if a visually impaired or blind person should want to try golf for fun? Doesn't the large set bring a bit of accessibility to the game? Sure its only for fun, but what a good way to introduce a visually impaired or blind child to the game! Features include:

  • A super-sized golf set.
  • An enormous golf ball.
  • An enormous tee.
  • A golf club with an enormous head.
  • Suitable for ages 8 years+.
Click this link to purchase the Giant Golf Set from the I Want One Of Those website.

Leading to Reading

I'm always looking for ways to bring accessibility into the classroom. Sometimes that means finding sites that teachers can use, maybe with some modification, to assist their students.

Leading to Reading is, "A free resource to help parents and childcare providers develop the language skills of their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Available in English and Spanish."

The site is divided into 3 main sections: Babies and Toddlers (Ages 0-2); Pre-Schoolers (Ages 3-5); Grownups. The collection of interactive options for both toddlers and pre-schoolers is extensive. These include nursery rhymes, games, lullabys, finger plays, songs, art, and exploratory activities.

What I like best here are the books and stories. There are small books that could easily be translated into braille, and a wonderful collection of online books to be read aloud to children. Even for the toddlers, words in the stories are highlighted onscreen as they are read.

It is hard to imagine a more engaging set of early literacy activities than those found here, and the quality is first rate. There is absolutely no commercial advertising on the site.

Click this link to visit the Leading to Reading website at

Burn CDs and DVDs with CDBurnerXP

If you're tired of fighting with Nero or any of the inaccessible CD/DVD burning applications out there, this program is for you.

CDBurnerXP is an application to burn CDs and DVDs, including Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs. It also includes the feature to burn and create ISOs, as well as a multilanguage interface.

The program will take some getting used to, but I have used it to burn audio and data CDs and I understand what the program needs to burn a DVD, although I haven't done that as of this post. Key features include:

  • Burn various types of discs, Audio CD, Data CD, Data DVD, standard DVD and more
  • Audio-CDs with or without gaps between tracks
  • Burn and create ISO files
  • Data verification after burning process
  • Create bootable discs
  • Multi-language interface
  • Bin/nrg ? ISO converter, simple cover printing and much more
  • Operating Systems: Windows 2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista
  • Absolutely FREE with no addware or spyware
Click this link to learn more about CDBurnerXP:

Stock Market Challenge

This site offers a free stock market simulation game that lets you play the real stock market without ever risking a cent of your own money. A fun way to learn to invest. From the site:

"Welcome to Max's Investment World Stock Market Challenge. You have come to the right place if you are looking to learn about investing on the stock exchange while having fun."

You can play in two ways:

  • Join the open competition where you will be ranked with other members on a weekly, monthly and long-term basis.
  • And/or create or join a private competition, which only you and those you invite can play. You can create or join a private competition after you register.

The private competitions are ideal for teaching your class about stock market investing.

Click this link to play Stock Market Challenge at

Online Tutoring Service

What's it like to have an educational wizard by your side? Smart, very smart. Eduwizards is a place for students who need a little extra guidance in school.

With Eduwizards, you can choose from a host of qualified tutors in a range of different subjects from kindergarten to college. Eduwizards tutors are not your average tutors either. They're ranked and reviewed by students who use them and most of them hold advanced degrees. This way, students can choose the tutor that's right for them. You can sort your wizard search by grade level, subject area and specific subject, or by feedback and hourly rate. Tutoring works on a one-on-one online basis. Simply check the tutor's available times and schedule an appointment.

"Our website features the world's best tutors, ranked and reviewed by students. To get a feel for our site do a Tutor Search by selecting your Grade Level, then the general Subject Area, and finally the Specific Subject. You will see tutors with profile and other information, and as time goes on, you'll see more and more tutors, with individual feedback by students.

As a student you can create a Free Account and take absolutely free, no strings attached, half hour trial sessions with tutor(s) of your choice."

Click this link to find an educational wizard at

Tutoring for the Blind

Portal Tutoring offers individualized tutoring in using adaptive computers, braille and specialized equipment for the blind and visually impaired, as well as pamphlets, books and audio classes on these same subjects. In addition, they now offer a program designed to teach basic writing skills for all students from age ten and up.

For more information, visit or call 585-244-0477. For a product list, or to discuss your training needs, click this link to email

Friday, March 14, 2008

How to Safely Answer the Door

Home invasion, the act of forcibly entering a home to commit robbery or other crimes while the occupant is present, is a terrifying and dangerous experience. Unfortunately, federal crime statistics report that this kind of robbery is increasing in popularity and is a common type of robbery. Usually home invasion perpetrators gain entry by posing as legitimate visitors. The key to preventing home invasions is to recognize a potentially dangerous caller, because once the criminal enters the home, it's often too late to do anything about it.

  1. Think before you open the door. Too many of us automatically run to the door and swing it open when someone knocks, especially if we're busy around the house at the time. Get in the habit of pausing to ask yourself whether you're expecting anyone or whether this is a logical time for someone to be visiting.
  2. Use a peephole or security chain when checking who is at the door. If you have some vision, look to see who the visitor is. Look through a peephole or think about installing an inexpensive video camera that can be accessed by your television.

    Make sure your security chain is locked and open the door just a crack. If you don't recognize the person ask them their business and request that they show their identification. If they have a legitimate reason to be on the premises (they work for the utility company or they're a police officer), they'll be happy to show you their ID. If you are still afraid to let them in, tell them to go away and have a friend come over when they are scheduled to return.

  3. While the door is still locked, ask the person for identification. If the person claims to be from, for example, the electric company, and you've not been notified that someone would be coming, call the company to check on him. Even if he shows you identification, it's a good idea to call and check, because identification cards can easily be faked. Look up the number in your phone book; don't call a number that the visitor gives you.
  4. Take your wireless home phone or cell phone to the door with your finger near a speed dial that calls 911 automatically. Be careful that you do not push the number accidentally in the event the visitor is friendly.
  5. Leave the house if you feel uncomfortable after letting someone in. If you've done your best to verify a person's identification but you begin to feel uncomfortable after you've let the visitor in the house, make up an excuse to leave the house and go to a neighbor's home or call the police. If you feel threatened, don't worry about being impolite--run out of the house and call police as quickly as you can.

Teach children to answer the door correctly. Kids are often eager to answer the door, and if you can't be sure they will do it safely and securely, they should be prohibited from doing so.

Security chains are not necessarily all that strong, and will break if the door is hit by someone of sufficient size and strength. They can also be cut using bolt cutters.

Many people who would exercise caution with a male visitor will drop their guard when a woman or girl comes calling. Keep in mind that women have been known to participate in home invasions and other crimes, and they are sometimes used as decoys to gain entrance because people usually feel safer around them.

If someone forces their way in, and you make the decision to fight back, do so right away--it is much safer than waiting. If somebody is going to violently assault you, they will probably want to do so behind the closed door. So fight as soon as they try to force their way in. Be very cautious about making a decision to fight someone; such a decision should not be made lightly. Do not endanger yourself further by attempting to disarm someone wielding a gun or other weapon.

Leaders and Legends: Mary Elizabeth Switzer

Mary Elizabeth Switzer
Inducted 2002
Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field

Mary Elizabeth Switzer (1900-1971) was born in Massachusetts of Irish immigrants. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1921 with a major in International Relations. Her first few jobs after graduation were with the Minimum Wage Board, Treasury Department, Public Health Service, and the Federal Security Agency. It was her association with Dr. Howard Rusk who was developing the field of rehabilitation medicine that stimulated her life-long passion for rehabilitation.

At various times, Mary Switzer served as Director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Commissioner of the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration and the first Administrator of the Social and Rehabilitation Service of HEW. In 1954 she shaped the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, referred to as the Magna Carta in the work for the handicapped. Amendments to this act would put vitality into the State-Federal program for the blind. She handled such varied responsibilities from keeping a lid on germ warfare during World War II to managing a budget of seven billion dollars, and was known as an "accomplished cutter of red tape."

Under Mary Switzer's administration there was a great expansion of vocational rehabilitation service under state-federal matching funds, resulting ultimately in tripling the number of yearly rehabilitation of blind clients. One of the extraordinary aspects of her administrative genius is that she was able to say a good word for the general approach without losing the affection of workers for the blind. During the fifteen years she presided over meetings of the National Advisory Council, 183 projects concerning blindness were approved. Some of these research projects were in the areas of mobility including electronic travel aids, the translation of print to braille, optical aids, artificial sight, and work with the deaf-blind.

The breadth and humanity of Mary Switzer are stamped forever on the passage of Public Law 565 with its research and demonstration features, its concern for rehabilitation education, its mandate to construct necessary rehabilitation facilities, its totally new characteristic of international efforts and cooperation regarding rehabilitation, and perhaps, above all, in its expanded funding base for more personnel and programs for those in need of rehabilitation services. She retired in 1970 as the highest ranking female bureaucrat in the federal government.

Mary Switzer was active in many professional organizations including serving as President of the National Rehabilitation Association (1960-61) and participating in the World Rehabilitation Fund. Among her many national and international awards, she was the recipient of AAWB's Ambrose M. Shotwell Memorial Award in 1962 for her outstanding contribution to the rehabilitation of blind persons, one of the first outside the blindness field to be so honored. Three different buildings have been named in her honor. She was awarded honorary degrees from six universities and from Gallaudet and Russell Sage Colleges.

Mary Switzer Mary Switzer's Hall of Fame Plaque
About the Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is dedicated to preserving, honoring, and promoting the tradition of excellence manifested by the specific individuals inducted into the Hall of Fame and through the history of outstanding services provided to people who are blind or visually impaired.

These significant professional colleagues of the recent and distant past are a fascinating cross-section of heroes and pioneers who not only shaped our rich history, philosophy, knowledge and skills, but also give us insights into current and future challenges. These giants shared their personal lives and showed us strategies to ensure that services for blind persons remain unique and specialized. Enjoy their lives and contributions and reflect upon your own list of heroes.

Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is a project of the entire field of blindness. It is curated by the American Printing House for the Blind, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.

Visit the virtual Hall of Fame for the inspiring stories of many more heroes of the field of blindness.

Leaders and Legends: Stanley Suterko

Stanley Suterko
Inducted 2002
Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field

Photo 1. See captions below

Stan Suterko was born in 1920 in Chicago. In 1947 he graduated from the University of Illinois with a BS in Education and later with an MA from Western Michigan. He and Wanda were married in 1948, and they have three daughters and 7 grandchildren.

Stan Suterko started his professional career as a corrective therapist in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the V.A. Hospital at Hines, Illinois. With the establishment of the Hines Blind Center in 1948 he was among the first five from the center to be prepared as orientors for veterans who were blind. He helped refine the orientation procedures and cane techniques that had been previously developed at Valley Forge Army Hospital. During the Korean war, he was given the responsibility of heading a unit at Hines that was to triple in size.

Photo 2. See captions below

When the Western Michigan University program began in 1961, as assistant director Stan Suterko played a key role in the establishment of the O&M curriculum, adapting the Hines program to a university course structure. He participated in workshop courses on the Laser Cane, the Sonic Guide, the Russell Pathsounder, the Tactile Vision Substitution System, and technology on mobility methods. He has been credited as being one of the people who launched the profession of orientation and mobility.

Stan Suterko's international work included conducting a year long training program in 1966 that introduced the long cane to England. During shorter visits he conducted workshops in many countries including Australia, Poland, Denmark, Germany, France, Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. He has been called by the Australian Royal Guide Dog for the Blind Association, the "St. Peter of Mobility". Many agree that he played a key role in spreading orientation and mobility around the world. In 1984 he retired from Western Michigan University.

Photo 3. See captions below

Stan Suterko shared his ideas freely, presenting regularly at conferences and universities. He was Chairman of the certification committee of Mobility Instructors of AAWB. He also shared his ideas through numerous articles and publications, such as chapters on life adjustment in Lowenfeld's The Visually Handicapped Child in School, and on orientation and mobility in the Hardy and Cull text on Social and Rehabilitation Services for the Blind.

Many awards have been bestowed upon Stanley Suterko for his contribution to people who are blind. He has been the recipient of the Buddy Award from the Seeing Eye, the Lawrence E. Blaha Award from AAWB, Commendation from the Central Blind Rehabilitation Center at Hines, the Alfred Allen Award, the Ambrose Shotwell Award, and had an international award named after him at the International Mobility Conference #8 in Trondheim, Norway.

Photo 4. See captions below

Photos: 1) Stan Suterko-Lt.Jg 1943 WWII military service; 2) Training St Dunstan's war-blinded veteran-along the coast of England, 1964; 3) Introducing the 'Long Cane' travel method in Australia (December, 1973); 4) Stan and Wanda Suterko on their 50th wedding annniversary, with three daughters and sons-in-law and seven grandchildren (November, 1998).

Stanley Suterko Stanley Suterko's Hall of Fame Plaque
About the Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is dedicated to preserving, honoring, and promoting the tradition of excellence manifested by the specific individuals inducted into the Hall of Fame and through the history of outstanding services provided to people who are blind or visually impaired.

These significant professional colleagues of the recent and distant past are a fascinating cross-section of heroes and pioneers who not only shaped our rich history, philosophy, knowledge and skills, but also give us insights into current and future challenges. These giants shared their personal lives and showed us strategies to ensure that services for blind persons remain unique and specialized. Enjoy their lives and contributions and reflect upon your own list of heroes.

Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is a project of the entire field of blindness. It is curated by the American Printing House for the Blind, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.

Visit the virtual Hall of Fame for the inspiring stories of many more heroes of the field of blindness.

Leaders and Legends: Peter J. Salmon

Peter J. Salmon
Inducted 2002
Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field

Peter Salmon (1895-1981) was born in Hudson, Massachusetts. He was educated at the Perkins School for the Blind as a "partially seeing" student. After completing two years of post-graduate work, specializing in teaching the deaf-blind, he joined the staff of the New York Association for the Blind.

In 1917, Peter Salmon took a position with the Industrial Home for the Blind as a salesman and subsequently served in a number of posts until he was appointed executive director in 1945. IHB of Brooklyn became Peter Salmon's own unique creation as he built it into the most complete voluntary agency service program for the blind in America. Two outstanding service achievements stood out: the first, a break-through in IHB's program for the partially seeing in the form of a workable optical aids program, which brought ophthalmologist and optometrist together; the second was a program for deaf-blind adults. He had begun to show the way in which a private agency such as his could make use of government resources without losing its own identity.

Peter Salmon had a talent for dealing with seemingly irreconcilable forces, a talent which was appreciated and respected by his colleagues. Newly available through the 1954 amendments to the Vocational Rehabilitation Act was a national program of research in rehabilitation of the handicapped and the National Advisory Council had just come into existence. Peter Salmon was the closest thing to everybody's choice to represent the interests of the blind in this program, and he was to use this opportunity to bring into focus the awesome problems of the deaf-blind. He united with Helen Keller to do something for deaf-blind people and was probably the last of the notable allies of her active career, and one whom she perhaps prized the most because he was willing to take on the cause of people with multiple disabilities.

In 1966 he resigned from his position as Executive Director, assuming the title of administrative vice president and he continued to play a strong advocacy role at the national, state, and local levels. Though officially retired, his greatest achievement was yet to come, for Peter Salmon went on to found the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults at Sands Point, NY in 1976.

During his long life, Peter Salmon developed an impressive list of accomplishments. He was responsible for establishing the first social services department to counsel blind people. He also started the first vocational placement service in 1929 and inaugurated programs that placed blind children in public school classes with sighted children. He helped found National Industries for the Blind, was a past president of the American Association of Workers for the Blind, a trustee of the American Foundation for the Blind and of the Helen Keller International. The recipient of numerous awards, including AFB's Migel Medal and AAWB's Ambrose M. Shotwell Awards, Peter Salmon was also the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Laws by Gallaudet College.

Peter Salmon Peter Salmon's Hall of Fame Plaque

Plaque sponsored by the Helen Keller National Center

About the Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is dedicated to preserving, honoring, and promoting the tradition of excellence manifested by the specific individuals inducted into the Hall of Fame and through the history of outstanding services provided to people who are blind or visually impaired.

These significant professional colleagues of the recent and distant past are a fascinating cross-section of heroes and pioneers who not only shaped our rich history, philosophy, knowledge and skills, but also give us insights into current and future challenges. These giants shared their personal lives and showed us strategies to ensure that services for blind persons remain unique and specialized. Enjoy their lives and contributions and reflect upon your own list of heroes.

Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is a project of the entire field of blindness. It is curated by the American Printing House for the Blind, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.

Visit the virtual Hall of Fame for the inspiring stories of many more heroes of the field of blindness.

Student Lessons and Ebooks at the Beacon Learning Center

I'm always looking for ways to bring accessibility into the classroom. Sometimes that means finding sites that teachers can use, maybe with some modification, to assist their students.

Beacon Learning Center has some great Student Web Lessons and Online Books (a number with audio) that would be accessible to English Language Learners. They cover English, Science, Social Studies and Math.

Beacon Learning Center is an online educational resource and professional development center currently funded through a Technology Innovation Challenge Grant from the US Department of Education. The resources posted in the Beacon database are products of professional development activities teaching a standards-based planning model.

The mission of Beacon Learning Center is to provide educators throughout the nation with standards-based resources and professional development, thus enabling them to identify, design, and implement quality education.

High quality teachers use standards-based practice as the foundation for all they do. Beacon's focus on the alignment of curriculum, assessment, and instructional activities support the development of sound educational practice.

Click this link to visit

Create Personal RSS Feed without a Blog

RSS feeds disseminate information, headlines, updates, articles etc, from blogs and news sites. They give you a daily dose of news, culture, sports, recipes, it's your choice what you want to be fed. To create a feed, you had to have a blog or website.

Now, there's FeedXS, a Netherlands based feeder that lets you publish feeds without a website or blog. It's incredibly simple to use. Just create an account on FeedXS. Then make up a name for your feed and start adding articles. Anyone who has a feedreader can get your feeds once they subscribe. You can even post feeds directly from MSN messenger. Think of it as the purest form of feed broadcasting, no strings attached.

The goal of is to supply millions of people and businesses with their own feed. People who use have an easy way to inform friends or clients about their news. No need to send email, just update the feed, and that's it!

Click this link to create your own RSS feed at

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Find a Job with RSS

The Productivity Portfolio blog has a great walk-through on how to create a collection of personalized RSS feeds to show any new jobs that pop up on eight popular or specialized job search sites, including Craigslist,, and Indeed. Even if RSS feeds are old hat for you, you might not know just what each of the major job-finding sites offers in accessible, localized, career-specific searches.

Have you ever found a job through an RSS ping or email alert? Have a better way of not missing that potential next career? Share your story in the comments.

Click this link to read Create RSS Job Feeds from Job Searches from The Productivity Portfolio blog.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Leaders and Legends: Louis H. Rives, Jr.

Louis H. Rives, Jr.
Inducted 2002
Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field

Lou Rives (1919-1986) was born in Virginia and lost his sight at the age of two. He was brought up by his aunt in Norfolk where he attended the public schools. He received his baccalaureate and law degrees from the College of William and Mary. He and his wife Marcie moved to Arizona where he lived until his death in September of 1986.

In 1944 he became a member of the legal staff of the former Federal Security Agency for three years. He then transferred to the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration (VRA) where he held a variety of positions. While serving for a short time in the Dallas regional office, he demonstrated that the government could provide guidance to both public and private not-for-profit rehabilitation programs. He returned to Washington, DC to ultimately become VRA's Chief of the Division of Services for the Blind. Mary Switzer, VRA administrator, brought Lou Rives into the national office because he was a proponent for change and believed that progress for blind persons could only come from cooperative efforts between the state agencies, private not-for-profit agencies and the Veterans Administration. Since he was committed to the premise that blind people deserved the highest caliber of service from well trained professionals, he was a strong advocate for allocating federal funds to support the training of mobility specialists. During the period 1963 to 1971, federal rehabilitation services funded 30 training and demonstration programs concerned with blindness, a tribute to the influence of Lou Rives.

In 1964, he became the chief of planning for all of VRA, which is known today as the Rehabilitation Services Administration. He went from the VRA to the Office of Civil Rights as chief of the Social Welfare and Related Programs Division and assistant director for State Agency Compliance. In this capacity he was committed to being a part of the process of implementing policies to end discrimination under the Civil Rights Act. Upon retirement from federal service, Lou became the Director of the Arkansas Division of Services for the Blind.

Lou Rives was a robust man with a commanding presence. He had a great sense of humor and an uncanny ability to be the life of any party. Yet, on the serious side, he provided wise counsel to all who would ask, and provided consistently sound assistance and encouragement to those who needed it. He was admired and respected by all who knew him.

Lou Rives served as international AAWB President in the mid 60's and guided the organization to start chapters. He served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Foundation for the Blind. He received numerous awards including the Distinguished Service Award from the Department of HEW. In 1969 he was presented the Ambrose M. Shotwell Award for outstanding professional service to persons who are blind. During his retirement, he served as an influential member of the Board of Directors of the Arizona Foundation for Blind Children.

Louis Rives, Jr. Louis Rives, Jr.'s Hall of Fame Plaque
About the Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is dedicated to preserving, honoring, and promoting the tradition of excellence manifested by the specific individuals inducted into the Hall of Fame and through the history of outstanding services provided to people who are blind or visually impaired.

These significant professional colleagues of the recent and distant past are a fascinating cross-section of heroes and pioneers who not only shaped our rich history, philosophy, knowledge and skills, but also give us insights into current and future challenges. These giants shared their personal lives and showed us strategies to ensure that services for blind persons remain unique and specialized. Enjoy their lives and contributions and reflect upon your own list of heroes.

Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is a project of the entire field of blindness. It is curated by the American Printing House for the Blind, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.

Visit the virtual Hall of Fame for the inspiring stories of many more heroes of the field of blindness.

Leaders and Legends: Alice Geisler Raftary

Alice Geisler Raftary
Inducted 2002
Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field

Alice Raftary was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1927. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutrition and Institutional Management from Marygrove College in 1949. She and Raymond H. Raftary were married in 1950 and over the next eleven years were blessed with the birth of four daughters and four sons. Ray and Alice celebrated their fiftieth anniversary in April 2000 with their family that now includes seventeen grandchildren.

Alice Raftary in 1943

Shortly before the birth of her eighth child, the macular degeneration that Alice first experienced in high school caused a substantial loss of vision and she became legally blind. That event rekindled her interest from college days in the field of blindness. While still a full time homemaker, she returned to Marygrove College on a complete grant from the Vocational Rehabilitation Department of the State of Michigan. Alice earned a Master of Education Degree specializing in Blindness and Rehabilitation in 1967.

The Raftary Family circa 1970

Her Post-Master's work included a Traineeship in work with the Deaf-Blind at the Anne Sullivan Macy Service, Industrial Home for the Blind (New York, NY 1968) and course work in Ophthalmology and Counseling at Wayne State University (Detroit, MI 1972) Alice's career as a rehabilitation teacher at the Greater Detroit Society for the Blind (Upshaw Institute for the Blind) began in 1968. This followed professional positions at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Ann Arbor, MI; Mercy College, Mount Carmel School of Nursing, Detroit, MI; and The Rehabilitation Institute, Inc. Detroit, MI.

The Raftary Family in 2000

Alice served in a number of capacities while at the Upshaw Institute: Rehabilitation Teacher, Supervisor of Teaching and Personal Adjustment Training, Coordinator of Rehabilitation and Social Services, and lastly, Associate Director. She also authored a number of publications. and scripted and produced audio-visuals. The audio filmstrip, "Valentines for Grandpa Raub" won a Creative Excellence Award at the International Industrial Film Festival in 1980. Her article, "Assessment of Rehabilitation Students During Initial Contact with the Teacher" published in The Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness (November, 1977), continues to be used as a model in university rehabilitation teacher programs. "Modification of Insulin Techniques for the Visually Impaired or Blind", an eight page pamphlet published by the greater Detroit Society for the Blind, 1974 (Revised 1976) was reprinted in Aids and Appliances Review (June, 1982), Diabetes News, and Ophthalmological Nursing, Little, Brown & Company, 1980.

January 17, 1973. Blind and deaf Willie Stark has a jovial conversation-by touch-with Mrs. Alice Raftary, a teacher for the Greater Detroit Society for the Blind. Photo and caption courtesy of the Detroit News, photo by Theodore J. Gladwell.

Throughout her career Alice Raftary was in demand as a conference and workshop presenter on the topics of working with the deaf-blind population, insulin management, psycho-social aspects of blindness, funding sources, initial client assessment, aging and blindness, to name a few. She was active in a number of professional organizations including: American Diabetes Association; Association for Diabetes Educators; board member for "Readings for the Blind"; life member of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER); Chair, AER Division XI (1979-80); Midwest Regional Representative on the AER National Executive Committee (1982-83); past president and board member of MACRT, the Mid-America Conference of Rehabilitation Teachers, and Editor of the MACRT Newsletter.

Alice Raftary receiving the Bruce McKenzie Award

Alice is the distinguished recipient of several awards. In 1982, the American Association of Workers for the Blind honored her with the "Bruce McKenzie Award" for dedication to the field of rehabilitation. The Michigan Chapter of AER named her "Member of the Year" in 1991. She received the Charlyn Allen Award from MACRT in 1992 for outstanding achievement, dedication and leadership in the field of rehabilitation teaching.

1993. Alice Raftary getting Geraldine Lawhorn to autograph her autobiography

Alice Raftary's outlook on her career in the blindness field is best summed up in her own words: "It's exciting to participate in the restoration of life styles. Helping people to progress from hopelessness to confidence and competence is a thrill and a joy."

Alice Geisler Raftary Alice Raftary's Hall of Fame Plaque
About the Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is dedicated to preserving, honoring, and promoting the tradition of excellence manifested by the specific individuals inducted into the Hall of Fame and through the history of outstanding services provided to people who are blind or visually impaired.

These significant professional colleagues of the recent and distant past are a fascinating cross-section of heroes and pioneers who not only shaped our rich history, philosophy, knowledge and skills, but also give us insights into current and future challenges. These giants shared their personal lives and showed us strategies to ensure that services for blind persons remain unique and specialized. Enjoy their lives and contributions and reflect upon your own list of heroes.

Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is a project of the entire field of blindness. It is curated by the American Printing House for the Blind, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.

Visit the virtual Hall of Fame for the inspiring stories of many more heroes of the field of blindness.

How To Remove Stains

Stains or spots on clothing must be found or identified by a sighted person. The stain should be marked with a safety pin, or if the spot is large surround the spot with safety pins. Use a prewash or stain treatment and let it soak for a few minutes. Then wash the garment with the other laundry in the washing machine.

These tips from Carol Woodward were published on the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired website and are made available by special permission of the author.

Sonic Stain Remover

This device will remove virtually any clothing stain, no matter how stubborn. Try it on all types of stains. All it takes is a few drops of water and some rubbing and the stain will be gone. It utilizes ultrasonic technology-120 vibrations per second. Not a trace will be visible. It'll work better than any laundry detergent like Tide or Cheer. And don't be concerned about the Electric Stain Remover fading color. It won't harm your clothing's color integrity at all. This ingenious gadget utilizes ultrasonic technology and a "sprayer." A small detergent bottle and water refilling pump are included.


  • Uses 4 AA batteries (not included)
  • Note: A/C adapter not included
  • Measures: 10" x 5" x 2"
  • Weight: 0.5 lbs.


  • Removes virtually any clothing stain
  • Utilizes ultrasonic technology-120 vibrations per second
  • Will not harm clothing's color integrity
  • A small detergent bottle and water refilling pump are included.

Click this link to purchase the Sonic Stain Remover from Home Innovations.

Stain removing tips and tricks

The School of Fiber Science and Technology at the University of New South Wales have prepared a simple and easy to understand table of good solid tips for removing stains. We have covered some of these tips before, but check it out to see all their suggestions. These people should know what they are talking about!

Click this link to read the Stain removing tips from the School of Fibre Science and Technology.

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.