Showing posts from October, 2008

Punctuation Made Simple with Big Dog's Grammar

There are a lot of writers out there who absolutely hate the idea of grammar. I myself am one of them. To me it seems overly complex. I probably couldn't put together a decent sentence to save my life. But now I no longer need to fear incorrectly using punctuation because this site makes it, well, simple. At Punctuation Made Simple you can learn the correct way to use a colon, semicolon, comma, dash, or even an apostrophe. The site is broken down into a section for each one of these delightful punctuators. Best of all not only do they explain why they are used in the correct fashion, but they give you multiple excellent examples of how they are used correctly in a sentence. I wish I had this site back in college, things would have been a little easier.
Click here to visit the Punctuation Made Simple web site: Dog's GrammarHere's another site to help you college students and anyone who's concerned with their writing skills…

Accessible Public Transportation: I Know it's Out There, but How Do I Find It?

This is a good and useful question, to which the answers are not necessarily obvious. Fortunately, there are several ways to check it out. The easiest thing to do is to contact your local Department or Commission for the Blind and ask them for the information. They are your best source because they know your area and the options available to you. Another possibility is to call your local Transit Authority. They will know what services they offer and can give you all of the information you need. You may be able to accomplish this by asking a bus driver or perhaps a cab driver, but they would probably suggest that you call their office for the information.Internet Options
There are many sites on the internet that can provide you with information about accessible public transportation. For one, your local Transit Authority probably has a web page with information such as: operating times, reservation requirements, and of course the cost of the service. Be forewarned: i…

Top Ten Myths About the Mac and Its Accessibility to the Blind

By Josh de Lioncourt, updated by Michael McCarty I have compiled this list based on many false beliefs I have seen expressed in a variety of forums and from many individuals in the blind and visually impaired community. If you have questions please ask, and feel free to pass this list on to any and all you think may benefit from it. The following list is not all inclusive, but it does provide information on the most commonly held Mac myths in the visually impaired community. I hope you find this list informative and helpful. Myth: VoiceOver does not include scripting functionality, like that in Jaws for Windows, rendering it less useful than its Windows counterparts. Truth: While VoiceOver itself does not include scripting functionality, the Mac OS X operating system does. AppleScript provides a great deal of similar functionality and features visually impaired Windows users are used to in Jaws scripts, and then some. Other tools, such as the Automator ar…

Find And Download Ebooks with WitGuides

Here is another web resource where you can browse and download free ebooks. You can search for books, browse by category such as Computers, Health, Business, Self Improvement, Cooking etc. You can also check out the recent additions (under "New" and "popular" books, which means the most downloaded, "rate" and "leave comments".

Click this link to find ebooks at

Adobe Acrobat: Current Solutions to Accessing PDF files

Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) is a universal file format that preserves all the fonts, formatting, colors, and graphics of any document, regardless of the application and platform used to create it. Adobe Acrobat software converts any document to Adobe PDF files, even documents that have been scanned. Adobe PDF is a common file found on the World Wide Web. It is also used to distribute electronic documents over corporate networks, via e-mail, hard disks or CD-ROM. Since Adobe PDF can represent documents that contain graphics, columns, vertical labels or other complex layouts, screen reading software for the blind may not be able to correctly reproduce some of these documents. However, Adobe studied the W3C guidelines for accessibility and Adobe Acrobat and Acrobat Reader now include a number of tools and features that help make information in Adobe PDF files accessible to the visually impaired. These include the following:Microsoft Active Accessibility. MSAA is a programming …

NOAA Weather Radio Online and Weather Via RSS

The National Weather Service says that you may be in for some bad weather. How are you going to keep up with the changes? You could hunt around to find a local radio station that actually gives the complete weather forecasts, you could turn on the TV and hope they say something, or you could use a service that delivers the weather to your computer. delivers the current weather conditions to you through RSS technology. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and can be read through a variety of programs and websites. Using this service is simple, and you'll love the convenience of getting the up to the minute weather conditions. Click this link to visit the home page:

This website is so smart that it should have put you directly on the weather page for your state. If it didn't, simply enter the name of your state in the edit box provided.,

Click on the link that represents your county.

Click on the link for your city.

You will now b…

Shades of Doom: An Audio Adventure for the Blind

One of the first audio games I ever played was Shades of Doom from GMA games. This is the most real-life audio game I've played, and man, can you get hooked. My wife and I have played this game for hours and we never got tired of going through the various levels. The sounds are so real, and the adventure is wonderful. Shades of Doom is a revolutionary Window's-based game for the visually impaired. It creates a virtual reality using sound as it's medium. It features multi-dimensional multi-layered sound, immersing the gamer into a world of action and suspense set in the not too distant future. The game is self-voicing, so no screen reader is required to play. You are equipped with a medical kit, a few grenades, a gun, a knife, your fists, and a computer to analyze your surroundings. You must make your way through many levels of a top secret military research base, and shut down the ill-fated experiment. You will use the sound of the wind in the passages and rooms, th…

Braille Music

Music can be, and is, written in braille. Braille music looks and feels nothing like its printed counterpart. Because a blind musician's fingers are used to read music, as well as to play the instrument, he/she must memorize the entire score in order to play it efficiently. When music is written in braille, first the "right hand" is presented for a bar, then the "left." A two-character symbol indicates whether the material that follows is for the right or left hand. Rests, whole, half, quarter, and eighth notes can be expressed in braille, however, there are times when more than one braille character (cell) is required to give all the information that belongs to a given note. Despite this fact, anything expressed in regular staff notation can be expressed in braille. Two good books about teaching braille music are:How to Read Braille Music, by Bettye Krolick, which is available from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped; an…

Teaching Music To Blind Students

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) of the Library of Congress has a booklet called Teaching Music to Blind Students. Designed for people who teach students, the booklet is available in an ordinary printed version for sighted instructors and in a braille version for students who are blind.

For more information, contact:

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)
Phone: 800-424-8567

Contributor: Fred Gissoni

How to Fix a Scratched CD or DVD

While compact discs (CDs) are remarkably durable, it's nearly impossible to prevent scratches and scuffs from occurring from time to time. The resulting damage can be either a skip in your favorite Bob Marley track or, in the case of data CDs, the loss of that spreadsheet you worked on for two weeks. Don't despair-repair! While commercial CD repair kits and CD refinishing machines are available, you may be able to repair the damage on your own with products you already have. Here's how.

Clean the disc. Even if a CD isn't actually scratched or scuffed, dust, oil, and other surface contaminants can prevent it from playing properly. Thus cleaning the disc should always be your first move. Run warm water over the damaged disc to remove dust. If there is stubborn dirt or grease on the disc, gently rub it with your finger while you are washing it, and use a gentle detergent (with the water) or rubbing alcohol (in place of water.) Anytime you rub or wipe a CD, you should do so…

Beep Baseball is all the buzz

The sharp crack of ball meeting bat. The umpire's cry of "Fair ball!" The flat-out foot-falls of the batter running toward base... From the sound of it, you've just come across a good old-fashioned baseball game. Listen closer. The buzz you're hearing is more than the excited chatter of the crowd: it's coming from the base. And that beeping? It's not a car alarm triggered out in the parking lot. It's the ball, and it's on its way out of the park. Welcome to Beep Baseball--an exciting blend of baseball, high-tech gadgetry, and genuine grit and go-for-it hustle. Beep Baseball was born as a response to the difficulties that playing America's pastime presented to people who are blind or visually impaired.Beep Beginnings: The sport traces its origins to 1964 when Charley Fairbank, an engineer with Mountain Bell telephone company, installed a transmitter in a baseball. The result? A baseball that beeped. Charley shared his invention with schools for…

Online Guide to Dog Medical Conditions has announced the launch of its Dog Medical Conditions section, where visitors can find what may be ailing their dog by browsing through a list of symptoms. The symptom list, located at was compiled by Dog Fancy's "Ask the Vet" expert Karla Rugh, DVM, Ph.D. of Rocheport, Missouri. The section contains the 40 most common signs of a sick dog, from appetite changes to yellow eyes, along with possible causes and treatment options. Dr. Rugh also offers her expertise in the Dog Skin Conditions area ( where visitors can match their dog's skin condition to photographs and read a description of the skin problem. Dr. Rugh is the author of What About Labrador Retrievers? (Howell, 2003) and English Setters: Everything About Purchase, Care, Nutrition, and Behavior (Barron's, 2000).

Click this link to visit DogChannel's Dog Medical and Skin Conditions are intended f…

Forty Things to Do with Old Socks

Deborah Ng over at Simply Thrifty created a great list of forty things you can do with old socks. This is a good one because, as we all know, there's always odd socks from the dryer. Here's her list: Use them for dusting - I know lots of people who put an old sock on their hands and dust. It’s especially great for nooks and crannies. I do this often with my son when he wants to help, it makes the work fun.Use them for kids’ crafts and make sock puppets.Make a sock frog.Make a cat toy buy filling with catnip.Make roses from baby socks.Place in door and window cracks to keep cold air from coming through.Use to store golf balls, tennis balls and other small toys.Fill part of the foot with potpourri and use as a sachet for drawers and closets.Use them to make wrist rests.Use them to wash or wax the car.Use it for a Christmas Stocking.Make a patchwork quilt. Cut the good parts into patches.Cut off the foot and use to insulate bottles and cups - keep the cold cold and warm warm.Use…

Convert Blogs to Podcasts

Here are seven services that turn blogs and news feeds into audio files or podcasts. OdiogoOdiogo's media-shifting technology expands the reach of your content: It transforms news sites and blog posts into high fidelity, near human quality audio files ready to download and play anywhere, anytime, on any device. Odiogo mobilizes your media, transforming textual content into audio formats downloadable directly to the PC, iPods/MP3 players and mobile phones! High quality text-to-speech solutions
Smooth integration with your website
Optional end-to-end advertising system
Comprehensive statistics
Flexible packaging options
Supports thousands of concurrent downloads Click this link to visit Click any of the Fred's Head Companion pages to hear this service in action. VozMeVozMe converts typed text to speech producing an mp3 file. VozMe can also be added to your blog or website as well as your browser. Both male and female voices are provided and several language…

Sources for Braille Math and Science Textbooks

Fred's Head would like to thank Susan Osterhaus of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, for allowing us to reprint this information. The comments that follow some of the entries in this list are hers, unless otherwise noted. APH
P.O. Box 6085
Louisville, KY 40206-0085
Toll-free: 800-223-1839
Fax: 502-899-2274
Web: American Printing House:

Also check the LOUIS database.

Computers to Help People
825 East Johnson Street
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608-257-5917
Fax: 608-257-3480
Web: Computers to Help People:

If you are a blind engineer, mathematician or scientist you may be interested in the Technical Braille Center established by a non-profit organization. This center will produce highly technical material in Nemeth Code braille. Tactile graphics will be included where practical. Books will be available to anyone at prices depending …

Free Guide to Designing Tactile Illustrations for Children's Books

The Guide offers teachers, caregivers, and transcribers information concerning:the role of tactile illustrations in books for a young childchallenges and limitations of tactile illustrationsfactors that contribute to a well-designed tactile illustrationconsiderations in designing a meaningful tactile illustrationinformation supporting an overall sequence of difficulty for various types of tactile illustrationstypes of tactile illustrations and tools and materials to create themThe 35-page illustrated Guide is available in multiple file formats:HTMLPrint PDF (Portable Document Format)BRF (Braille Ready File)Follow the link below to the format of your choice:
or visit the APH homepage, click the "Research & Development" tab, then select "Research Resources." Click on Guide to Designing Tactile Illustrations for Children's Books.Please help us spread the word about the availability of this new and useful guide!