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.)


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Reviews and Sources for Screen Magnification Software

Screen magnifiers are a very useful software option for increasing the accessibility of computers to the low vision computer user. They are widely available for all operating systems, and range in complexity from basic magnification to multi-featured software packages that incorporate magnification, text scanning (with Optical Character Recognition), synthesized speech, and support for braille displays. They range in price from freeware to over $2,000.

The needs of a low vision computer users vary greatly from individual to individual, so the software programmers have made a wide variety of features to better serve the community. What follows is a description of several types of features found in magnification software.

There is a wide range in the amount of magnification available, from simple 2x programs to programs that offer 2x, 4x, and 8x to programs that offer 2x to 32x and anything in between.

There are four basic display types available in these programs. The most basic type is to magnify the entire display, which means that the image no longer fits on the screen and the user must scroll through the display to see everything.

The next type of display involves using the mouse cursor as a sort of magnifying glass ; this type has two options. In the first option, the mouse cursor becomes a virtual magnifying lens and magnifies what is found under the cursor. In the second option, the area around the mouse cursor is magnified and displayed in a stationary window elsewhere on the screen. Many programs offer the user both of these options.

The third type of display is similar to the last one, except that the area around the mouse cursor is displayed in a resizable window, allowing the user to adjust the display area to suit his or her needs. The last type of display is the split screen, where a portion of the screen is divided off of the main display and devoted to displaying the area around the cursor. This can be either a vertical split or a horizontal split, as defined by the user.

The more complicated programs usually offer the user the choice of any of these display types, while the basic programs usually use one of the first two types.

Because extreme magnification settings distort the characters displayed, most packages include "font smoothing" to compensate for the distortion. The quality of this effect varies from package to package.

Another tool available with some magnification software changes the screen display colors so that the user can adjust the display to her or his liking.

The producers of these software packages offer free trial or "demo" versions to give consumers a chance to try the software out (for a limited time) before paying for it. This allows you to experiment with the different packages for free until you find the one that suits you the best. These "demos" are available either by download from the Internet or on disk by mail from the manufacturer.

The prospective user should visit The Screen Magnifiers Homepage,, a great website with product reviews, a fairly comprehensive product list, and links to manufacturers' websites.

Virtual Magnifying Glass

Virtual Magnifying Glass is a free, open source, cross-platform screen magnification tool. It is simple, customizable, and easy-to-use. Runs on Microsoft Windows Vista, XP, 2000, NT, ME, 98 or 95. Also runs on a UNIX system running X11 (any Linux Distribution, FreeBSD, etc) and Mac OS X 10.4 or superior.

Click this link to learn more about the FREE Virtual Magnifying Glass at

How to Hang Pictures and Shelves

How to Hang a Picture

You've finally gotten that fantastic print or photograph framed. Now, how to hang it on the wall? Just follow these instructions.

  1. Decide where to hang the picture. Avoid hanging one small picture on a huge expanse of wall - art looks better when it seems to extend the lines of furniture, windows or doorways or when several small pieces are grouped together.
  2. Check that you are not hanging a heavy picture on wallboard only. Hang heavy objects only from a wall stud or beam.
  3. Hold the picture up and make a small pencil mark, or use something to make a small scratch on the wall where the top edge of the frame will be.
  4. Choose an appropriate hook. You might want a two-piece nail-and-hook, or a hollow-wall anchor for heavier objects.
  5. Holding the picture's wire taut, measure from the wire (or from the hanging tab if that's what the picture has) to the frame's top edge. Measure down that distance from the pencil mark, or scratch you made on the wall and mark that spot - that's where the hook will go.
  6. Nail the picture hook into the wall where you've just made a mark.
  7. Hang the picture and adjust it so it's straight.

You can hang wide frames using two hooks spaced about a third of the way in from each side. Use a level to make sure that the two hooks are correctly aligned.

Very lightweight pictures can hang from hooks that stick with adhesive to the wall.

Picture-hook packages usually indicate how much weight the hooks can bear.

Tips for the Blind

  • Put a dab of toothpaste on the hanger of the picture. Place it exactly where you want it on the wall and then push so that toothpaste stays on the wall. Then you know exactly where to put your nail/screw.
  • A little trick to hang a picture that requires multiple nails: Just get some masking tape. Lay a strip of the tape along the back of the frame to be hung. Poke holes in the tape to mark where you want the nails to go. Then pull off the tape and stick it to the wall. Then you can mark those holes on the wall.
  • To prevent your fingers from getting smashed by a hammer, try using a spring-loaded clothespin to hold the nail in place while you hammer it in to the wall. This keeps your fingers far away from any danger.
  • Heavy pictures or mirrors should always be hung from wall studs to support their weight. Use a stud finder that can be purchased at your local hardware or home improvement store. But if you find yourself without a stud finder, run an electric razor over the wall. The tone will change when the razor vibrates over the stud.

How to Hang a Shelf

Adding storage or display space in your home can be a snap. Here's how to mount a simple wooden shelf and two brackets to a wall.

  1. Buy a wooden shelf from a home-improvement store. Buy shelf brackets - simple L shapes or something more decorative - making sure that the top leg of the bracket is no longer than the shelf is deep.
  2. Buy screws if you don't have a supply at home or if they don't come with the brackets.
  3. Find the wall studs; you'll fasten the brackets to them.
  4. Determine where you want the bottom edge of the shelf to sit, then mark the position, using a carpenter's level, or audible level as a guide.
  5. Line up the top of each bracket with a pencil line or scratch and mark the attachment holes on the wall. Set the bracket aside.
  6. Test-drill the holes to make sure they are going into wood rather than wallboard. If there is no stud in a convenient place and the shelf is not going to carry more than a few pounds, you may be able to settle for using hollow-wall anchors.
  7. Attach the brackets to the wall, lay your shelf on top, and screw the bracket into the shelf.

Choose screws that will penetrate the wallboard and go into the stud about 1 inch. Choose shorter screws for mounting the shelf on the bracket, so they won't penetrate the top of the shelf.

Before you buy a precut shelf, check it carefully to make sure there are no dents, scratches or chips in it. And make sure all the hardware and brackets are included.

Closet Garment Rail with Light

Have you ever been met with the comment "Closet lights out?" when you have shown up at work or at some party?. Neither have I, but there must be something behind this, since it's almost a saying. The idea as far as I know, is to make a friendly comment to a person's lack of clothes coordination and style. If the closet light is out, it's difficult to find matching clothes, unless you're totally blind. This lack of coordination can be caused by other things, for instance being fashion illiterate, in such a case this invention will not help, but for everybody else who lacks cool lighting in their closets, here's a product that is both smart and stylish.

The illuminated garment rail creates attractive lighting inside of closets. Illuminating the closet's interior offers practical convenience. This rail uses LED light, which has the advantages of low heat build-up, long life, constant light output, robustness and minimum spatial requirements. Because "Lite inside" is battery operated, the cordless lighting is quick and easy to install, and can be retrofitted by the end user. The garment/coat rail is available in different lengths to meet individual needs.

The light in the garment rail makes it easier to see clothes inside the closet. After a short time, the light automatically switches itself off again.

Click this link to learn more about the Lite Inside illuminated garment rail from Hettich International.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Braille and Large Print Beverage Brochures at Starbucks

Did you know that there are over 87,000 beverage combinations at Starbucks? To help you order, Starbucks has made their popular brochure, "Make It Your Drink," available in both Braille and Large Print. Ask your barista for it the next time you visit your local Starbucks.

The input from customers, partners (employees), and disability organizations helped guide this effort. Starbucks would specifically like to thank the American Council of the Blind, the American Association of the Deaf-Blind and the Seattle Lighthouse for their input. Thank you also to Easy to Read Documents for producing the Braille and large print.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Accessible Nutritional Content Information Websites

Most will agree that eating is one of life's greatest pleasures. There are many foods and many ways to fix them. There are packaged foods, meats, fresh fruits, vegetables, and fast foods. Some are better for us than others. The trick is to know how to combine them in order to build a healthy diet and lifestyle.

But how do we go about learning which foods are better for us than others, and the kind of nutrients they offer? By law, packages are required to have labels specifying the nutritional content of the food they contain. For fast foods, fruits and vegetables there are a number of charts and tables available in books, health magazines and grocery store billboards. However, none of this information is readily accessible to blind individuals.

Although the Internet has become a great resource for blind people to acquire information, most of the sites that list nutritional content of foods are not accessible. Most of them use a variety of charts and tables to list the nutritional content of foods. While this is an effective way to visually convey information, charts and tables are very difficult or impossible to follow for people relying in screen access software.

Since nutritional information is as essential to blind individuals as it is to anyone who wants to have a healthy lifestyle, we did some research for you. In this record we have found some speech friendly Internet sites for nutritional contents.

Do You Really Want to Eat That?

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has an article by Janet Ingber titled Do You Really Want to Eat That? Accessibility of Nutritional Information on Restaurant Companies' Websites. Taken from the article:

"Did you ever wonder how many calories and how much fat are in a fast-food burger or latte? Some cities now have regulations that require restaurants to post the nutritional information for the food they serve. However, if you are blind or have low vision, you may not have access to this information. Before you drink that latte or eat that burger, you may want to check out the nutritional information for these and other items. This article reviews a variety of fast-food websites to determine whether nutrition information for their products is accessible... An accessible website can help consumers with visual impairments make informed decisions about what food they choose to eat. The restaurant websites that I reviewed are Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Taco Bell, Subway, Papa John's, Domino's, Baskin-Robbins, and TCBY."

You can read the entire article at

Chow Baby

At Chow Baby you can check out the nutritional content of those delicious fast food tacos, burgers, cheese sticks and fried chicken. Although the site is not specifically designed for blind users, it is speech friendly and easy to use.

Looking for new "Restaurant Experiences"? If you're tired of frequenting the same old restaurants or can't find that specific "something" you are craving, is the place to visit. Their dining directory hosts restaurant websites from all over the nation and your next perfect dining experience is likely among them. Use the search tools to find the "type of restaurants" you like and then read among the results before clicking on the website links. The websites offer you virtual tours or photographs of the restaurants interior, a list of the services they provide, the hours of operation, all their menus including wine and cocktails, what it costs to dine there, what methods of payment are acceptable, if they have a dress code, what specialties they offer and how to map the drive from where you are to the restaurant. Did you say you're looking for a restaurant? is the go to Restaurant Guide!

Click this link to visit the Chow Baby homepage:

To retrieve information about a particular fast food place, you need to select one of the choices listed in their combo box, and do a search. For instance, you may want to check out "Burger King". Your search results will retrieve a list of those items in their menu, for example, the "whopper", "fries", etc. Each item will link you to its corresponding nutritional content analysis.

Click this link to visit Chow Baby's Fast Food Calories and Calorie Counter page.

Food and Nutrition Solutions

The University of Illinois' Food and Nutrition Solutions Series website offers tips and guides on food preparation, preservation, safety and storage, and tools for nutritional analysis. Particularly useful: Its "Is it safe" guides for a number of questionable-appearing foods, its suggestions for reducing cholesterol, fat and sugar. Start your search with these three topics:

  • Food Preparation - Help with selecting and preparing a variety of foods
  • Food Preservation - Guides to canning, drying and freezing foods
  • Nutrition & Analysis - Tools for analyzing and improving your diet
Click this link to visit the Food and Nutrition Solutions website.

Calorie Calculator and Diary at aims to help users maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle through informed nutrition and exercise. It is a database of information about how many calories are in the foods you eat and how many calories are burned when you exercise. You can also create a personal calorie diary to track your caloric intake and your exercise, and even print weekly reports. Any visitor to the site can check the food or exercise calorie calculators, but only registered users can create a diary or participate in discussions in the ^D<"clubhouse,^D>" a general bulletin board for discussion. The clubhouse also features a page of YouTube videos about fitness and nutrition topics. At last count, listed 8,932 foods in its database, with new foods being added regularly. One way the database is expanded is when users add a new food by entering information off the label or copying a recipe into the site. When users add a new food or recipe, it becomes accessible to the entire community.

We all know that if you burn more calories than you take in, you should lose weight - but that can be easier said than done. could be a really helpful resource for people who want to get serious about tracking their calorie intake and exercise to lose weight or stay healthy. Even users who do not choose to keep a calorie diary on the site could find the calorie calculators for food and exercise quite helpful.

Click this link to visit


"Healthy Dining Menu Choices from Fast Food to Upscale Restaurants." Input your location, price range, and other options, and get recommendations from the restaurants participating in the Healthy Dining Program. Click on the restaurant names to get recommended menu selections from each, along with nutritional information about each entry.

Click this link to visit HealthyDiningFinder at

Calories Per Hour

I really like the approach this Website takes for weight loss. They're not telling you to go run a marathon tomorrow, only drink water or give up all the foods you love. No, it's much easier than that!

  • Diet and Weight Loss Tips: In this section, you'll find practical tips for diet and weight loss. Each tip discusses something different and gives you a link to a related article with more information on the subject.
  • Tutorial: The purpose here is to give you a solid foundation that will help you put an end to the dieting cycle.
  • Calories Burned Calculator: Here you'll find calculators for your BMI (Body Mass Index), BMR and RMR (Basal and Resting Metabolic Rates), an activity calculator and five advanced calculators tuned for specific activities. Each calculator has a tutorial article linked at the bottom of the section, so you'll learn exactly how everything works in conjunction with weight loss. This is one of those sections that we as blind people can really benefit from because this information is typically inaccessible.
  • Food Calories & Nutrition Calculator: I suggest starting by clicking on the Help button for this calculator, because it will give you clear instructions as to what you need to do. Basically, what it does is allow you to input food items and calculate the calories for them. If you check out the food lists, you'll find fast food information and some stats on frozen foods and prepackaged foods as well, really cuts down on trying to scan the side of a box with the computer.
  • Weight Loss Calculator: This section provides three calculators for you. One that lets you calculate the time to reach your weight loss goal, one that lets you calculate the daily calorie deficit to reach your weight loss goal and one that lets you calculate your weight loss over time.
  • Weights & Measures Converter: Here's another great section for us, it helps to convert weight, height and food measurements to the metric version and back again.
  • Weight Loss Forums: Here you'll find people who will support your weight loss efforts, who you can ask questions or even give answers to. The forum has topics on eating disorders, dietary supplements, surgery, diet plans, training and more!

This accessible Website will educate you on how to live healthy and lose those extra pounds! Again, it's great because a lot of this information is found in formats that are not easy for us to access.

hClick this link to visit

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

National Federation Of The Blind (NFB)

Founded in 1940, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has over fifty thousand members, with affiliates in all fifty states, plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico, and over seven hundred local chapters. As a consumer and advocacy organization, the NFB is one of the leading forces in the blindness field today.

The NFB offers information and referral services, advocacy services, and works to protect civil rights. Further, it provides aids and appliances and other adaptive equipment for the blind.

Additionally, Newsline for the Blind offers the complete text of leading national and local newspapers with the use of only a touch-tone telephone. Literature and publications about blindness include the Braille Monitor, which discusses activities in the blindness field, and Voice of the Diabetic which focuses on the special interests and needs of diabetics.

Use the contact information below to learn more about the National Federation of the Blind.

National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
Phone: 410-659-9314

I Can't See But I Can Imagine

Patty asks her grandmother, "What is it like not to be able to see?" Grammie says, "I can't see, but I can imagine!"

Patty's grandmother is blind, but together they share adventures as Grammie imagines things around her and composes songs for her five grandchildren. They laugh when they hear frog conversations in The Frog Song; hold their breath as they ride in a rocking chair, chariot with delightful ponies going to Rock-A-Bye Town; giggle when they meet Pepper in Patty's Puppy Pepper; stare in wonder at things below when Grammie's rocking chair turns into a swing and she is Swinging From a Star; and grin when they meet Mary Lou with her hair standing on end.

Wrapped inside a beautifully illustrated and colorful children's book with an accompanying CD, one family's priceless history has been forever preserved. Patricia's book I Can't See, But, I Can Imagine is a sixty-four page hard-bound book featuring colorful illustrations by Sharon Bean. The CD includes the entire story and five children's songs written by Patricia's grandmother, Persis Beach Bennett.

About the Author:

Patricia Wilson was born and raised in New England, and now lives in Central Oregon. As a child she was captivated by the songs her grandmother, Persis Beach Bennett, wrote. In 1915, about the time her last child was born, Persis began to have trouble seeing. By 1925, she was almost completely blind. Her blindness, however, never stopped her from enjoying life. She loved music and spent much of her time playing the piano and composing songs, recorded on 78 rpm records in 1949. Most of her music was Christian based and ballads, but she delighted her grandchildren by writing five songs for and about them. When Persis passed away in 1954, Patricia began worrying, "What will become of Grammie's music?" In 1994, she retrieved the records from a basement in New Hampshire. They were terribly scratched and nearly impossible to understand. She says, "With God's help and the assistance of many talented people in Central Oregon, all the music has been reproduced. I am delighted to share some of Grammie's music and stories with other people, especially children."

The book contains a CD with the story and children's music by Patricia's grandmother, Persis Beach Bennett, first recorded on 78rpm records in 1949, updated and reproduced in the 1990s.

Click this link to learn more about the book, hear samples of the songs, and to read the blog:

Fire Safety Tips For The Visually Impaired

A Clear Fire Safety Message

Over 10 million Americans are visually impaired. During a fire emergency, the senses that visually impaired persons rely upon have a high probability of being overpowered.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA), a directorate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), encourages the visually impaired population to practice the following precautionary steps to help protect themselves, their home and their surroundings from the danger of fire.

Install and Maintain Smoke Alarms

  • Make sure working smoke alarms are installed on each level of your home. You may want a family member or friend to assist you.
  • Remember to test smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. You may want a family member or friend to assist you.
  • Audible alarms should pause with a small window of silence between each successive cycle so that blind or visually impaired people can listen to instructions or voices of others.

Don’t Isolate Yourself

It is important that older adults speak up - 55% of the visually impaired population is over the age of 65.

  • Speak to your family members, building manager, or neighbors about your fire safety plan and practice it with them.
  • Ask emergency responders to keep your special needs information on file.
  • Contact your local fire department’s non-emergency line and explain your special needs. They will probably suggest escape plan ideas, and may perform a home fire safety inspection and offer suggestions about smoke alarm placement.

Live Near an Exit and Plan Your Escape

You’ll be safest on the ground floor if you live in an apartment building. If you live in a multi-story home, arrange to sleep on the first floor.

  • Being on the ground floor and near an exit will make your escape easier.
  • If necessary, have a ramp available for emergency exits.
  • Unless instructed by the fire department, never use an elevator during a fire.
  • If you encounter smoke, stay low to the ground to exit your home.
  • Once out, stay out, and call 911 or your local emergency number from a neighbor’s house.

Be Fire-Safe Around the Home

  • When cooking, never approach an open flame while wearing loose clothing and don’t leave cooking unattended. Use a timer to remind you of food in the oven.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets of extension cords.
  • Never use the oven to heat your home. Properly maintain chimneys and space heaters.
  • Keep a phone near your bed and be ready to call 911 or your local emergency number if a fire occurs.

Know Your Abilities

Remember, fire safety is your personal responsibility …Fire Stops With You!

Article Source:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Guidelines for Described Educational Materials

The Described and Captioned Media Program has partnered with the American Foundation for the Blind to forge "guidelines" to equal access for students with vision loss: the Description Key: Guidelines for the Description of Educational Media.

The Description Key guidelines are complete and are posted online. The guidelines are intended for new and experienced describers, description agencies, media producers and distributors, and others who want to make educational media more accessible.

Go to at AFB for this valuable resource. And to connect with DCMP, visit

DCMP may be a new resource for you. To learn more about their extensive description resources available to teachers and parents , check out the DCMP Website for your free-loan educational accessible media needs.

Homework Helping Sites On The Net

Let's face it, we all need help with homework from time to time. Parents often don't know how to help their children with the assignments they bring home today. Problems only increase when the parents are blind and the child is sighted. Where can you go to find educational sites that are fun for your children?

The following websites will help you find the answers that will bring you closer to an "A".

Homework Spot

A free homework information portal that features the very best K-12 homework-related sites. With the help of students, parents and teachers, their team of educators, librarians and journalists has scoured the Web to bring you the best resources for English, math, science, history, art, music, technology, foreign language, college prep, health, life skills, extracurricular activities and much more.

Click this link to visit Homework Spot:

InfoPlease Homework Center

Find useful information by subject area, develop better writing, note-taking and study skills, and search through previous questions and answers from other students.

Click this link to visit InfoPlease:

The Kids On The Web

This is an excellent site maintained as a labor of love by Internet luminary Brendan Kehoe. Kids on the Web has links for Homework Tools, Educational Sites and much more. You could spend days exploring all these links, and Brendan adds new ones every month.

Click this link to visit The Kids On The Web site:

Website Features Free Science Fair Projects for Kids

Students looking for free science fair projects can find them at, which includes award-winning projects from students all over the world. Among them is one that demonstrated the effects of fertilizer on algae growth in pond water. In another, a student isolated, incubated and then harvested indoor allergens.

Homework Center

Welcome to Fact Monster's Homework Center. This is a fabulous Web site to bookmark for your kids or grandkids. Here they can find help on specific subjects, along with an added bonus of a huge reference section. The Search Engine will search the almanac, atlas, dictionary, encyclopedia and even biographies for the information you are looking for. What a great homework tool!

You will also find links to the following subjects: Geography, Mathematics, History, Science, Language Arts and Social Studies. The Skills section includes Writing/Research Skills, Speaking and Listening, as well as, Studying skills.

The Tools for School section includes calculators, chemistry help, the periodic table and sun, moon and stars. If you look just below that, there's an accessible Math Flashcard section as well.

On the side menu, you've got great sections like World & News, U.S., People, Word Wise, Science, Math & Money, Sports, Cool Stuff, Games & Quizzes and if you scroll down just a bit, Fact Monster Favorites.

With all this at your disposal, your kids can rule the school! Well, at least the homework their teachers give them. Check it out!

Click this link to visit the Homework Center at

This site's name isn't all that original but it offers free lessons and help with everything from addition to geometry, algebra, and more.

Click this link to visit


From the site:

"Welcome to We have many math help resources available, including math lessons, math games, and a math help message board. You may navigate this site using the subject links, or search for something specific with the search box."

Site includes: Algebra, Geometry, Trig, Calculus, and Statistics. See Also: drop-down menu under "Other".

Click this link to visit


Starfall is geared more toward younger children who may still be learning how to read. The site starts off with teaching a simple concept of learning letters and how to pronounce them. It then goes on to offer some interactive reading, word search puzzles and it even has some school plays you can watch. And even better, it does all of that without charging you for any books, videos or anything. How great is that?! Starfall also has free teaching journals that all of you parents and grandparents can use to follow right along with the kids!

Check Starfall out for yourself by clicking this link:

This Website is good for children of any age. It's basically an information portal that was created with kids in mind. The site consists of different links you can click on to visit both U.S. government and non-government sites. The sites are categorized by age groups and different subjects, so it's very easy to find exactly what you're looking for. On, you'll find links for over 1,200 Websites with subjects ranging from government agencies, schools, organizations and so on. The site offers up art projects, games, math and so much more for younger children and for older children, it has links to technology, health and fitness, science and more. It's a perfect resource for all those school projects your kids will have to do this year as well!

Check out today by clicking this link.

Family Fun

School should be fun too and that's exactly what this Website offers! Here you will find some non-school related topics, but they are still educational and helpful for children. For example, you can find ideas for cooking, planning parties, travel, arts and crafts and so on. This site also has a lot of games your children can play that will help them learn as well. There are also several how to videos on this site that you all can watch together to learn how to do some pretty fun stuff!

Click this link to visit the Family Fun website today!


Are your children or grandchildren way into science? If so, this site will be perfect for them. SciVee is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, along with SDSC's Supercomputer Center, and it basically aims to encourage students to publish their science fair papers and videos. So, if your little one comes up with a mind blowing science fair project idea in the near future, make sure they check out this site to enter it in for even more recognition! SciVee really has a cool thing going here.

Click this link to visit

AOL Reference

If your children or grandchildren have to do a lot of research for their homework projects, they'll definitely want to check out this site. AOL Reference offers a dictionary, thesaurus, translator, world atlas, as well as, plenty of additional information on such subjects as science, history, space and global warming. It also takes Web searching to a whole new level. It's so simple to use and I just know your students will fall in love with it right away.

Click this link to visit


By the name of this site, I bet you've already figured out that this one is geared more toward younger children, but either way, it definitely deserves a look see. Seussville calls in Dr. Seuss to aid in your children's learning. On this site, your children can play games, print out coloring sheets and they can even create their own book. This one is even good for children who cannot yet read. It's so cool, you've just got to check it out.

Click this link to visit


This Website is the perfect search engine for grade school aged kids. This search engine features over 600 sources and with it, you can search under different themes and subjects. It even allows your children to search under the reading level they need, which definitely helps them to understand the material much better. With KidsClick, you can find results for reading, writing, arithmetic, computer learning, sports and recreation and so much more. This site was developed by librarians, so you know it's good!

Check out by clicking this link.

Homework Hub

Homework hub is where students can get help and direction in completing various assignments from doing research, improving skills, and organizing their work. Site includes study aids, test preparation guides, and term paper guides and resources.

Click this link to visit Homework Hub:

SqoolTube: the YouTube of Education

SqoolTube is a video resource designed for K-8 teachers and students. It offers ten categories of videos and dozens of sub-categories of videos. Visitors to SqoolTube can find videos for everything from learning to count to Algebra lessons and from basic spelling lessons to Spanish lessons. The only problem that teachers might encounter in trying to use SqoolTube is built upon videos hosted on YouTube so if your school blocks YouTube you will have to download the videos away from school to use them. You can read more about what to do when YouTube is blocked by clicking here.

Click this link to visit

Remember that not all of these sites will be 100% compatible with screen readers. If you run into problems, contact the individual webmasters and tell them the problems you're having.

Do you have a favorite homework helping site? Let me know by sending an email to

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fun and Accessible Travel Games To Relieve Kids' Boredom

Here's the surest way to keep your kids under control while in the car. They are also a great way for the kids to have fun and get to know each other better. Use some imagination and the games can be adapted for home or classroom use with your blind or visually impaired students.

Click this link to visit this FamilyFun: Fun website. See also Road Trip Games from this kid-friendly website.

101 Things to Do When There's Nothing to Do

Forgot to toss toys in your purse? Carry-on consigned to the cargo hold? Long waiting-room stay used up all your distractions? No matter how organized the parent, there will always come a time when your child will rely on you for distraction, just you and you alone. What do you do when you're stuck without props? Here are 101 informal activities that use nothing more than your clothing, your accessories, and whatever wits you have about you. If your child has a particularly short attention span or low tolerance for boredom, you may have to run through a whole string of these -- but finally, the time will pass.

Click this link to read the article 101 Things to Do When There's Nothing to Do.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Point-to-Braille: A Braille Dictionary

Point-to-Braille: The Braille Enthusiast's Dictionary contains more than 29,000 common as well as not so common words in the English Language. Each word is spelled out in regular print and divided by syllable along with the correct ink dot representation of words in Grade 2 braille. The dictionary also contains a lengthy appendix as well as prefix and suffix listings.

Scalars Publishing Company
P.O. Box 382834
Germantown, TN 38183-2834
Phone: 901-737-0001
Fax: 901-737-2882

Burning Data to a DVD in Windows XP

Windows XP gives us an accessible way to burn data and audio files to a CD. In fact, burning data to a CD can be done right from Windows Explorer. Audio CDs are burned with the help of Windows Media Player, which can be a bit more confusing for someone using a screen reader, but it can be done nevertheless.

One of the most frustrating things that still remains for Windows XP is that you can't burn data directly to a DVD. This is very unfortunate because of the amount of storage space on a DVD. Well, the folks at are out to change this with a FREE program.

Free DVD Burner is an ideal tool to burn data DVD/CDs. It can easily burn files onto most DVD/CD discs such as CD-R,CD-RW,DVD-R,DVD+R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW.

With Free DVD Burner, you can use a screen reader and burn DVD/CDs from files and folders for backing up your data on DVD/CD. Free DVD Burner allows you to burn data DVD/CDs in a few minutes and it's completely FREE. Simply select the files and folders you want to put on a DVD/CD and press the "Start Burn" button and let the program do the rest.

Click this link to download Free DVD Burner from

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Leaders and Legends: Richard Welsh

Richard Welsh
Inducted 2008
Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field

Richard Welsh was born in 1944 in Pittsburgh, PA. He completed his undergraduate seminary studies with a degree in philosophy at St. Vincent College. In 1968 he received a master's degree in mobility from Western Michigan University and in 1973, a doctorate in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Pittsburgh. He has three adult children and five grandchildren. He remarried in 2001 to fellow professional, Mary Nelle McLennan.

Richard Welsh's experience in orientation and mobility began as an instructor from 1968 to 1970 at Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children and continued as an instructor at the mobility training programs, first at the University of Pittsburgh and then Cleveland State University from 1970 to 1978.

For the next twelve years Rick served as Superintendent of the Maryland School for the Blind. From 1990 until 2003 he was an administrator of the Pittsburgh Vision Services which was formed by consolidating the Greater Pittsburgh Guild for the Blind and the Pittsburgh Blind Association. He retired in 2003 due to a life-threatening illness.

The remarkable and significant contributions to his chosen profession center around Rick's visionary leadership, his ability to see the big picture, to identify needs and to implement the necessary action plans. He was instrumental in establishing the O&M profession's Code of Ethics. Recognizing the lack of a comprehensive body of knowledge essential for the O&M profession, he with co-editor Bruce Blasch wrote the authoritative textbook Foundations of Orientation and Mobility, first published in 1980. He has also written many articles and chapters in texts on mobility and on the psycho-social aspects of rehabilitation of the visually impaired.

In 1984 he provided invaluable leadership in the consolidation of two prior, long-standing professional associations, AAWB and AEVH, to form the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER). He served as its first elected president and, through his tireless efforts through multiple committees, gave the new organization a strong foundation. In addition to these various roles, he served as executive editor of RE:view, AER's journal.

Rick has also been president of the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC.) APH and AFB have also benefited from his expertise as he served on their boards of trustees and various committees.

Among the many honors and awards Rick has received are the Migel medal from AFB in 2004, NCPABVI Leadership Award in 2003, AER's Ambrose Shotwell Award in 1996, AER's Lawrence Blaha Award in 1988 and the C. Warren Bledsoe Award from AAWB in 1981. Professional awards have been named in his honor, and he was recently named the 2008 Distinguished Alumni of the University of Pittsburgh School of Education. Rick has been described as "larger than life," a visionary leader, very humble, approachable and a wise mentor and role model who quietly listened to others and made them feel valued.

Richard Welsh Richard Welsh's Hall of Fame Plaque

Plaque sponsored by the Blind and Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh

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: Sally Mangold

Sally Mangold
Inducted 2008
Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field

Sally Mangold (1935- 2005) was born and began school in Walnut, IL. After her parents moved to California she attended the California School for the Blind and finished high school in the cooperative Oakland program. She completed her undergraduate work in education and earned her master's degree in special education from San Francisco State College in 1956 and a year later, married a fellow grad student, Phil Mangold. In 1977 she completed her Ph.D. from a joint Special education doctoral program between San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley.

Sally and her husband developed an outstanding resource program for visually impaired students in the public schools of Castro Valley, California, that served as a model for others. She was gifted with what has been described as a pragmatic approach to instruction especially her techniques in teaching Braille reading. After eighteen years in Castro Valley, she was invited to join the faculty at San Francisco State University.

While a professor at San Francisco State University from 1977 to 1995 she was a pioneer in the Distance Education Program, an innovative model for preparation of teachers of the visually impaired. Throughout her life Sally had a passion for Braille Literacy. In 1973 she developed the "Mangold Developmental Program of Tactile Perception and Braille Letter Recognition," a tool widely used to teach tracking and beginning Braille which has been translated into seven languages.

Together with her husband, Phil, in 1974 she founded Exceptional Teaching Aids, a company which promoted and sold products for visually impaired students and their teachers. Some of the products they sold were designed and developed by them and others were included when, sensing a need, they found products to meet that need. The company has grown so much that it now offers over 500 products for the visually impaired and children with other special needs.

In 1997 Sally was awarded a National Science Foundation grant that enabled her to develop the Speech Assisted Learning (SAL) System, a portable, interactive, computer-based Braille tutor which enabled many blind teens and adults to teach themselves Braille. Her dream of opening doors for Braille learners who wanted to explore the fields of science, math and engineering motivated the emergence of SAL2. Her 45 books, articles, videos and technological innovations raised national and international awareness of the importance of Braille literacy.

Dr. Mangold was an effective communicator and popular speaker, her last was to keynote the APH 2004 Annual Meeting. Among her many honors and awards are the AER Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Award in 1996, the Holbrook-Humphries Literacy Award in 2001, AFB's Miguel Medal in 2003 and APH's Creative Use of Braille Award in 2003. Sally has been described as having grace and humor, with an upbeat, positive, energetic genuine love of people. She was a creative, energetic teacher who had high standards for her students and she never ran out of ideas of ways to help struggling students. Her frequent advice was "listen to your students, ask them what it is they want to learn."

Sally Mangold Sally Mangold'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.

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