Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

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

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Exploring the World of Bar Codes with Window Eyes and BCScan

With the release of Window-Eyes 7.0, you can make your life a bit easier by using bar codes to identify grocery packages, your favorite CDs etc. In this short demonstration, listen as J.J. Meddaugh uses a bar code scanner and a Window-eyes script to identify packages and read product directions from the BCScan website.

BCScan is a free service that allows you to organize, catalog, learn about, and manage your groceries, CDs, movies, household products, medications, or just about anything else. It works using a bar code scanner and a database of roughly a million products.

When a bar code on an item is scanned, BCScan will check a database for the product and tell you what it is. You can add products to your personal inventory, add notes, or contribute additional information. It's great for the visually impaired person who needs to identify a canned good or for anyone who wants to better organize their life.

Things you could do with BCScan:

  • Inventory your groceries, CDs, movies, or just about anything else. Great for your records or insurance protection.
  • Identify products and learn more about them.
  • Share and retrieve ingredients and product directions.
  • Link to Amazon, EBay,, and other sites to sell your used stuff.

The main page on BCScan includes a box for you to scan items. Using a bar code scanner, place your cursor in the box and scan the item. With most scanners, you will hear a beep, and the page with the item information will be displayed.

Click this link to visit
Click this link to visit to listen to the demo in MP3 and don't forget to sign up for the discussion email list.

Free Online Barcode Generator

Now you can put barcodes on anything. The Barcode Label Printer is a free online barcode generator that can create printable barcodes. Barcode labels can be printed and read by a cellphone camera with a built-in barcode reader or by a typical barcode scanner you see in almost any grocery store.

To generate a barcode, select symbology, enter the information (URL, text, anything) into the “value” field and click on the “Make me a barcode!” button. Then save and print out the generated image.

You can generate barcodes in the following symbologies: Code 39, Interleaved 3 of 5, Code 128 A, B, and C. You can make as many barcode labels as you want for free, no sign-up needed.

Click this link to check out the Barcode Label Printer at

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