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, September 25, 2008

How do I record over a CD-RW?

I tried to record over it, but that didn't work it says to make it a blank CD first.

Once you fill up a CD-R, that's it. A CD-RW allows you to re-write data and use the disk over and over again.

Keep in mind, that unlike a floppy or Zip disk, you cannot erase just one file from a CD-RW. You must reformat the entire disk to re-use it. The disk makers say you can do this up to 1000 times.

The process for reformatting varies according to your CD burning software, but most programs will have an "Erase Disk" button somewhere.

Windows XP has built-in CD burning. If you put in a CD-RW that you want erased, double-click, or press enter on the CD recording drive, then under "CD Writing Tasks", click "Erase this CD-RW". The CD Writing Wizard will walk you through an easy 2-step process giving you a blank CD-RW to use.

Backing up a hard drive is when CD-RW's really come in handy, because you can reuse them.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Internet Resources for Teaching Math to Visually Impaired Students

Math class can be difficult for anybody. Even sighted students need to use special tools and techniques to help them translate information on a page into an internal visualization. For blind and visually impaired students, these tools and techniques are just a little different. Fred's Head has compiled a list of websites that contain information about these tips and tools in order to help teachers get their blind students into the loop.

This first site is aimed at teaching visually impaired students.

Teaching Math to Visually Impaired Students

This is the mother of all math resources. Compiled by Susan Osterhaus, who has taught at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for more than twenty years, this site contains teaching strategies, resources, and information about various tools such as calculators and abacuses. Consult this resource and bring twenty years of experience into your lesson plans. Click this link to start Teaching Math to Visually Impaired Students: http://www.tsbvi.edu/math/ .

The rest of these sites are general math resources, not resources aimed specifically at visually impaired students.

Teaching Math to Young Children

This website is one of a series of webpages written by Rick Garlikov to help students understand math and to help parents teach math to their children. Click this link to start Teaching Math to Young Children: http://www.garlikov.com/math/TeachingMath.html.

Math Forum

This site provides math information organized by subject for K- College. In each category there are classroom materials, software, Internet projects, and public forums. Click this link to visit the Math Forum at http://forum.swarthmore.edu/.

The Eisenhower National Clearinghouse

This site provides K-12 teachers with a central source of information on mathematics and science curriculum materials. Click this link to visit the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse: http://www.enc.org/.

Illustrated Mathematics Dictionary

Easy-to-understand definitions, with illustrations and links to further reading. Start browsing the definitions using the letters, or use the Search function on the left side of the page. This dictionary is appropriate for elementary and middle school students. The dictionary is not animated or illustrated, but the practice exercises and demonstrations are illustrated. Click this link to visit the Illustrated Mathematics Dictionary at http://www.mathsisfun.com/definitions/index.html.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tips On Hiring Drivers

1. Interview drivers thoroughly before you hire them. Make sure they are reasonably familiar with the routes you'll be traveling and with your town in general. This obviously requires the blind traveler to have a good knowledge of routes.

2. Pay attention to the driving behavior of your drivers. Lots of horn blowing or sharp turns may indicate you should hunt for another driver.

3. Try recruiting among college students. They have time, cars, and a great need for pocket change. They also like a challenge!

4. Drivers' pay can vary by location. Expect to pay anywhere from $6 to $10 per hour. If you pay at the higher end of this range, you may expect the driver to provide the gas (except on very long trips). If you include the cost of gas in the driver's hourly rate of pay, this can simplify the bookkeeping end of the process. Tips are appropriate for good or extra service. A few dollars is a small price to pay for keeping a good driver happy.

5. If feasible, you may want to ask local law enforcement personnel about the driving record of anyone who you are considering for hire. At least, be sure to obtain the social security number, driver's license number, and full name and address of any one who drives for you. You might also want to write down the name of the driver's insurance company.

6. Drivers hired for infrequent and personal use are hired informally, and written contracts/agreements usually are not required. Liability is usually not a topic mentioned by prospective drivers.

7. Make your expectations clear. For example: don't make a habit of allowing a driver to run his or her errands on your personal time; don't make a habit of buying your driver meals or snacks; and make clear to your driver whether you expect driving only or driving plus assistance (such as shopping assistance). Pay drivers from the time they leave their house to the time they arrive back home. Give drivers adequate lead-time to schedule trips, and then stick to the schedules and routes you've stated. Remember that drivers have other commitments too.

8. You may be able to obtain volunteer drivers via Americorps or church and civic groups.

9. You may have to teach drivers basic sighted guide. If drivers drop you at the curb, you may have to teach them to give you directions for walking away from the car (e.g., "the door to the store is directly to your left" or "take a line of travel off the front of the car on your side"). The position of the sidewalk/door/curb in relation to the car is often is the best orientation information available.

[Editor's Note: It is important to verify that a driver is properly insured.]

Contributor: Betsy Walker

Friday, September 19, 2008

Homemade Multiple-Choice Braille Answer Sheet

Making a multiple-choice answer sheet a sighted person can use when administering a test to a blind applicant is sometimes a necessity. The following describes an answer sheet I made several years ago for a sighted person who needed to give an amateur radio examination to a blind applicant.

For this purpose, I designed and used a single sheet of paper that contained 25 numbered lines with five rectangular blocks per line. The top line contained the letters: a, b, c, d and e--with each letter positioned above the appropriate block. I prepared this exam sheet on a computer loaded with a braille translation program.

On each line, I wrote the appropriate number and followed it with a series of five "andxy" combinations. The braille and sign produced the left end of a rectangle, the "x" lengthened its sides, and the "y" served as the rectangle's right end. The braille translation software did its thing and--voila, there it was!

After creating and saving this original file, I found there have been numerous occasions when it has been convenient to retrieve and adapt this file to produce similar multiple-choice answer sheets.

Contributor: Fred Gissoni

MacVisionaries: Making The MAC Accessible

MacVisionaries is a UK company specialising in products and services to help blind people to use the Apple Macintosh computing platform.

With the release of Mac OS 10.4 Apple has produced the first ever computer that is usable by blind people out of the box, eliminating the need to purchase expensive screen reading software. Macvisionaries is very excited about this development, and the aim of this company is to provide help to users switching to Mac OS X in the form of additional software required by the blind, audio tutorials and an online community.

MacVisionaries' main focus has been their Discussion mailing list. The list is used by members from at least eight different countries, including some well-known names from the access technology industry. Theyalso added a couple of special-interest lists and made a few small changes to help manage the flow of traffic on the lists.

They also launched the MacVisionaries Switch Counter, encouraging VoiceOver users to stand up and be counted. The counter continues to rise, counting the number of people who bought a Mac or a copy of Tiger just to get VoiceOver.

Finally, they introduced their unique Accessibility Testing service, and some more information on the web site which should help new users get started with the Mac, and started selling the great new voices from Cepstral. They are also working to bring you a tutorial that people can listen to and learn how to use VoiceOver and the Mac.

For more information about Macvisionaries please visit their website at: http://www.macvisionaries.com.

The Mac-cessibility Site

This site is dedicated to offering information and links related to the use of Apple products by the blind and visually impaired. The inspiration for this site came with the increasing need for a collective resource of information and resources to educate and assist blind and visually impaired Mac users. Much information regarding these topics is scattered and fragmented, and a tremendous amount of misinformation has perpetuated around the Internet and VI communities about Apple and the accessibility of its products. The site hopes to provide a concise, useful, and accurate resource to remedy these misconceptions and encourage others to use the Mac OS X platform for work, school, or pleasure.

Click this link to visit The Mac-cessibility Site at lioncourt.com.

Gregg Kearney has produced a Daisy talking book of the manual for the VoiceOver screen reader for the Macintosh. Download the zip file at: http://kearney.servehttp.com/test/VOICEOVER.zip

A mailing list to discuss use of the Macintosh by the blind has been started. The list is macfortheblind, and you subscribe by sending a blank message to mac4theblind-request@freelists.org

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hey Look, It's a Braille Caravan!

This educational toy, made in the USA, consists of 30 goldenrod non-toxic plastic blocks. Each block represents the braille cell, designed with six black pegs that can be manually pushed up or down to form dots 1-6. Using a finger, stylus, or pencil, a young child can easily make letters, works, even whole sentences by manipulating the six dots on each block, and joining them in a "caravan."

This is the perfect tool, built like a toy, to get young blind children acquainted with braille at the earliest age; to introduce braille to a sighted parent in a friendly or non-threatening way; or to help a person who needs to learn braille later in life, even those who may have reduced tactile sensitivity.

Many have discovered that sighted kids also love playing with the blocks and handing them to their braille-reading parents (or grandparents) to check out what they wrote! They did this simply by studying the alphabet chart that comes with each caravan.

In each set, you get 30 "refreshable" braille blocks, a canvas carrying bag, a print Activity Guide, and an English Braille Symbols Chart.

Click this link to purchase the Braille Caravan by Creative Adaptations for Learning from the National Braille Press: http://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/CARAVAN.html.

If you wish to have the Activity Guide in braille , please call the National Braille Press at 800-548-7323, click this link to email orders@nbp.org. The braille version is free with purchase of the Caravan.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Leaders and Legends: John Robert Atkinson

John Robert Atkinson
Inducted 2002
Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field

J. Robert Atkinson (1887-1964) was born the sixth of eight children in Missouri. As a young man he rode the Montana range as a cowboy, molding his self-reliant character. While visiting Los Angeles, he was blinded in a gunshot accident. As an adult blind man in 1912 he decided his best course was to fill in the gaps in his education. He married Alberta Blada Atkinson in 1919.

An accidental gunshot wound left Montana cowboy J. Robert Atkinson blind and without direction. He learned to read braille and soon began transcribing books for his personal library.

Bob Atkinson had relearned how to read but to his disappointment, there were few brailled books available. Undaunted, Atkinson enlisted his family to dictate to him. Through the years he transcribed by hand until he had built a personal library of more than 250 titles.

In 1919, Bob Atkinson founded the agency which later would be known as the Braille Institute of America. With a $25,000 gift from Mrs. Mary Longyear and her husband, longtime benefactors to the welfare of blind people, he established his own Universal Braille Press. As a braille publisher, Atkinson boasted many firsts. The first King James version of the Bible, (all 21 volumes) was completed in 1924. He published the first brailled monthly magazine (styled after the Reader's Digest format) in 1926. He named it the "Braille Mirror" and it has been distributed uninterrupted without charge throughout the world. By 1931 he had copyrighted a braille/inkprint calendar. In 1938 Braille Institute published the first Merriam Webster dictionary in braille in 32 volumes, including for the first time a braille code for pronunciation.

From this early focus on producing braille materials, Bob Atkinson built his enterprise into a full-fledged publishing, library and rehabilitation agency that now takes up a full city block in Hollywood. He had to teach himself how to be a businessman, an inventor, a fundraiser and an advocate in his attempt to eliminate potential barriers to a full life.

His knack for invention also brought many advances. With the help of a mechanical engineer, he produced his own patented printing press. In 1924, he devised an improved stereotype machine for embossing plates, known as the Atkinson model. A year later, he developed an improved method for interpointing, embossing braille on both sides of a sheet. During the 1930's, he devised a way to compress the number of words per record and called his own talking-book system the Readophone. In 1946 he produced his own line of braille writers.

Bob Atkinson was elected as a founding trustee in 1921 of the newly formed American Foundation for the Blind. His legislative efforts influenced the passage of the Pratt-Smoot Act of 1931, which created the Division for the Blind of the Library of Congress, now known as the National Library Service (NLS). In 1939 he was elected as second vice president of AAWB, and he later served two terms as president. He was the recipient of the distinguished Shotwell Memorial Award for outstanding service to blind people in 1957.

Robert Atkinson John Robert Atkinson'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.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Image And Blindness: How do Blind people know what to wear?

People often ask me how I create my image when I am totally blind?

I am a girl who loves to go shopping, dye my hair, dress up, and all that so-called visual stuff and I have my own way of doing it.

Regardless of the fact that I am totally blind, I do still have my favourite colours and styles. For example, 2 of my prefered colours are purple and pink and I particularly like to wear long flowing skirts and high-heeled shoes.

One of the commonly asked questions has always been "how do you choose and buy your clothes"?

I have been very fortunate in life to have been blessed with a very close-knit family. Over time, they have often described what people are wearing around me or what people are wearing in theatre productions or on TV etc. These descriptions are what helped me to form a sense of fashion that works for me.

Now, family members and friends are very aware of what I like and it is them who often accompany me when I go shopping.

Thankfully, the majority of the shops that sell clothes have their stock on display and customers can handle and even try on pretty much whatever they wish to.

A few department stores such as Debenhams also provide a service where a sales assistant meets with a customer to create a profile which is used from then on to find and show the customer his or her prefered clothes etc.

While out shopping I often touch the clothes, shoes, handbags, jewellery or other items on display (as well as get an oral description from whoever I am with at the time) to get an image in my mind of how they might look before deciding what to try on or buy.

I have learned over the years that trust is also a very important part of my image because I would not have an image if I didn't trust the people who help to advise me on what to buy or have done to my hair and so on.

The females in my life will often describe to me the kind of hair colour styles that are seen around. For example, the style of this summer is the highlights on the top and solid colour underneath or on the ends of long hair. It was important for me to trust my mother when she said it would suit me and then to trust my long-term hairdresser when she helped to choose my colours and said that they would suit me which they thankfully did.

Although not as much as when I was a teenager, my image is still very important to me because I feel that it helps to shape my personality for me in terms of how I want others to see me. It is very difficult to measure yourself up to other people when you cannot see what they are doing with their images and I do often worry about how I fit into society in relation to fashion. I am a fairly confident person, but I would be lying if I said that comments from others around me don't help to reassure me of my fashion status. Basically, it helps to know what people who matter to me think of my image because I am not able to look in a mirror every morning to judge it for myself.

There are still aspects of fashion that I am personally unable to fit into. Although time has put me off the desire to wear make up, it is still a shame that I am unable to apply it independently on the odd occasion here and there. At such times, I usually have to rely on others to apply it for me and again trust them that I look okay. I have previously made attempts to find out if there are people out there who can assist in teaching blind people how to use make up, but have had no luck and have given up since.

Dr. Imke Durre, Climatologist

Overture

It's 9:00am in Asheville, North Carolina, and Dr. Imke Durre, a research scientist at the National Climatic Data Center, is already hard at work. She is organizing a collection of weather balloon measurements from around the world into a dataset. Analyzing this dataset will allow Imke and other climatologists to forecast possible trends or find evidence of global warming and other climatic phenomena. Periodically she runs her fingers along her computer's braille display to check her work and then, satisfied with her progress, returns to her programming.

Act One

Imke was born October 5, 1972 in Karlsruhe, Germany. She was born blind, with cataracts in both eyes. After undergoing surgery she could see from one eye, but secondary glaucoma set in when she was three and her sight was gone.

Imke grew up in a traditional family. Her father was a professor of computer science at the University of Karlsruhe and her mother stayed home, caring for Imke and her younger brother. Imke's parents did not shelter her from the world on account of her blindness; rather they made sure that she got the same experiences as other kids her age. She says:

"My parents have always provided every possible kind of support and encouragement. From when I was a small child, they not only allowed, but encouraged me to move around, play, and explore like my brother and other sighted peers, and they made sure I was never idle. When I was 7, my mother taught me how to climb one of the trees in our yard. The other two were soon to follow."
These childhood experiences also helped refine Imke's blindness skills. Her understanding of orientation and of the concept of space and things existing in space was exercised early. When she was very young she would make patterns of various shapes on a game board. "When I had finished the pattern," she recalled, "my father turned around the board to see if I still knew where each shape was located when the pattern was reversed."

As was expected of blind children in Germany, Imke began her educational odyssey by attending a school for the blind. Her parents wanted her to attend a regular school instead, and they started making arrangements. Imke's father knew there had to be a technological way to ease Imke's integration into the regular school system. His goal was a system that allowed Imke to attend classes without her teachers needing to know braille. Personal computers had recently become available, so he devised a state-of-the-art system that incorporated an Apple IIe® and a VersaBraille®. He had to invent software to allow the two units to communicate with each other. When finished, he had created a perfect tool for Imke's educational needs. She could read texts from the computer on the braille display of the VersaBraille®. She could type her homework and tests into the computer and print regular text hardcopies for her teachers. It wasn't until Imke was ten that the computer system was ready, and her parents finally found a local public school whose principal was receptive to the idea and willing to allow Imke to attend. Meanwhile, her parents saw her interest in numbers and geography and helped it along, creating or purchasing tactile maps for her. Imke's introduction to climatology came soon after she started attending the regular school. "It was when my mother read temperatures of different places from the weather page of the newspaper to me that I began to be interested in weather data." Her mother read her the weather page on a regular basis, and it wasn't long before Imke knew that she wanted to follow a career in atmospheric science.

From 1983-1987 she attended that local public school. Her mother was her transcriber, brailling texts and handouts or else typing them into the computer. In 1987 the family moved to the United States. Imke's new school had a vision resource teacher to take care of the transcribing duties, which allowed her mother to attend graduate school, pursuing a master's degree in special education/rehabilitation teaching of the visually impaired.

Imke spent her first school year in the U.S. in Texas, attending ninth grade at a Dallas junior high. This was a considerable change from her previous life in Germany. One example of the transition Imke had to make was in language. She went from hearing English during English class at her German school, spoken with a British accent, to hearing English during every class at her American school, spoken with a Texas accent. "I found myself pondering how to take accurate notes in math class when I wasn't sure whether the teacher was referring to the letter 'a' or the number 'eight'."

In addition to the dialect difficulties, Imke also had to face the expected problem of taking classes taught in a foreign language: vocabulary. How do you answer a true/false question when you don't know the meanings of all of the words in the question? How do you learn the meaning of a vocabulary word when you don't understand the words in the definition? For Imke, the answer was to apply herself, through extra time spent studying, diligent attention to details, and maintaining a sense of humor about it all.

The family moved again that summer, so Imke attended high school in Fort Collins, Colorado. She also let go of her old Apple IIe and moved on to IBM compatible PCs. She had one at home, and two at the school, one on each floor. The computers she kept at school were set up (with a monitor and printer) on sturdy metal carts-the kind usually used for audiovisual equipment such as overhead projectors. This allowed them to be wheeled from class to class. Imke continued to use her VersaBraille with these computers, and her vision resource teacher hired students to type worksheets and other handouts into the computer. Because the computer automatically displayed regular text and braille, this task didn't require knowledge of braille and was an easy job for anyone who could type.

Imke's fascination with weather combined with her drive to learn and crystalized:

"By the time I had reached high school, my goal was to major in mathematics or statistics, obtain a PhD in atmospheric science, and pursue a career as a scientist researching climate."
She kept her focus on this goal all through high school, proving that she had a real calling to the field of climatology. Imke raced through the math classes offered at her school, completing calculus while still a junior. Since the high school didn't offer any further math classes, Imke's calculus teacher arranged for Imke to take the next semester of calculus-- for both high school and college credit-- as an independent study course during her senior year.

At home, Imke continued to investigate weather data. She selected ten cities and every day she recorded their temperature and precipitation information, read to her from the daily newspaper by her parents. She kept track of these cities throughout her high school years, generating summaries of the data each month.

"I generated summary statistics... both because I enjoyed generating statistics and because this exercise allowed me to learn about geographical differences in average temperature, the amount of rainfall, and the frequency of extreme events."

In her senior year, Imke took advantage of her high school's internship program to get some real-life job experience: she became a volunteer intern for a local meteorologist. She was given a computer disk with 100 years of daily weather observations for Fort Collins and told to "create a climatological record book." This activity gave her some practical experience in collating and summarizing data, and, as we will see later, helped to get Imke her first real-life job in climatology.

She had an interest, motivation, and a plan. We'll find out about Imke's experiences with higher education after the intermission, where Imke is going to answer a few questions about climatology!

Intermission

What is Climatology?

"Climatology is the study of climate, that is, average or long-term weather conditions. Some important areas of study in climatology are seasonal, year-to-year, and decade-to-decade changes in weather, the potential causes of such changes, and the effects of climate variations and change on society and industry."

What does a Climatologist do?

"Climatologists analyze average weather conditions, research potential causes of variations in climate, assemble weather observations into datasets useful for the study of climate, and provide data and information on local, regional, national, and global climate conditions to researchers, industry, and the general public."

How much education does it take to be a Climatologist?

"One needs at least a Bachelor's degree in a physical science that includes coursework in meteorology and/or climatology. A Master's or PhD degree in atmospheric science or a related field provides a larger variety of career options than a Bachelor's, particularly if one is interested in pursuing research. Students interested in the field of climatology may be able to obtain internships or summer jobs with climatologists at a local university, their state's or region's climate center, or other agencies."

Act Two

After graduating from high school Imke attended Yale University, where-- according to plan-- she majored in applied mathematics, with a concentration in geology and geophysics. College life required a great deal of change and adjustment. Like many other young freshmen, Imke had to get used to living in the dormitory; used to living away from her home, her family, and her friends.

"One place where my blindness affected my social life was in the dining hall. When choosing a place to sit, I was not able to look around for people I knew. As a result, I prefered to sit at one of the long tables in the center of the dining hall, where I met many interesting people."

Naturally, she gradually built new friendships. She became involved in extracurricular activities, and even got used to the dining hall food.

Academically, Imke now carried a laptop computer and the refreshable braille display from class to class. She used it to take notes, do her homework, and to take tests. Technological advances in scanners and in optical character recognition (OCR) reduced the need for braille transcribers or typists. Yale's disabled student services office arranged to have her course materials scanned by students, allowing Imke to access them as electronic texts.

"On occasion, I also used taped books, but I much prefered electronic texts over tapes, particularly in the natural sciences. I asked professors to read aloud anything they wrote on the board, so that I could take accurate notes during class."

One semester, on the first day of class, a professor, who obviously did not notice that Imke had no residual vision, suggested that she change seats, as she would not be able to see the board from where she had chosen to sit. Surprised and more than a little amused by this statement, Imke moved to a different, more centrally-located seat. "It did not occur to me until later that what I should have asked him is whether he could show me a place from where I could see the board!"

During the summer breaks at Yale, Imke got summer jobs near her family's home. In 1992 and 1993, she worked at the Colorado Climate Center in Fort Collins. In 1994, her family having moved to Phoenix, Arizona while she was away, she worked for the National Severe Storms Laboratory on site at the Salt River Project, a Phoenix power company.

Imke landed the Fort Collins job by identifying and seizing an opportunity. It was during June, 1991, just after Imke had graduated from high school; Fort Collins was undergoing a heat wave. One morning there was an article in the paper in which the local Assistant State Climatologist, when asked what was the earliest date that Fort Collins had a temperature over 100 degrees, was quoted as saying that he could not immediately provide that information. Imke wasted no time taking advantage of this opportunity.

Remember that "climatological record book" she created as part of her internship? She went to her computer and accessed that data. Within a few hours she had put together a summary of the statistics and submitted it to the newspaper. Her summary appeared in print the very next day.

"A week later, I received a letter from the climatologist, thanking me for my contribution and encouraging me to contact him if he could ever be of assistance. I called him up and received a tour of the Colorado Climate Center that same summer, a summer job for the next two summers, and a friendship for eternity."

Imke received her BS in 1994 and then-- still according to plan-- moved to Seattle to pursue a PhD at the University of Washington. "I chose UW," she explains, "primarily because of the quality of its atmospheric science program and the experience of the professor who was to become my thesis advisor, a decision I have never regretted."

Living in Seattle and attending graduate school was new and exciting, but it was not as big of a change for Imke as one might think. UW is a much bigger university, with more than 40,000 students compared to Yale's 10,000, but a graduate student is busy being immersed in a specific field and out of necessity tends to associate mainly with the relatively small community of their department. "I quickly bonded with my classmates with whom I attended first-year courses. I also made friends with officemates and other students in the department."

Imke also rented an apartment just off campus, which resulted in a marked change from her lifestyle in the dormitory at Yale. She put her independence and self-sufficiency to the ultimate test--living alone. Grocery shopping, housekeeping, paying bills-- all of these needed to be dealt with in addition to her classes at the university. Of course, Imke was prepared for the responsibility. "Since my graduation from high school, my parents have... helped and encouraged me to become independent and self-sufficient." Living on one's own also provides valuable life experiences, such as the time Imke unknowingly shared her apartment with a pigeon for four days, or the time she picked up a mysterious something off of the floor only to find out that it was a live wasp that did not care for or appreciate Imke's attempts to identify it.

Imke's first two years of graduate school were spent in intensive coursework. She found the work to be similar to college, and she spent her time studying and doing homework. One big difference occurred at the end of the first year. All of the first-year students had to take an intense, two-day "qualifying exam" on the topics covered during the entire year of classes. During that first summer, and when she wasn't busy with coursework during her second year, she conducted research on various aspects of climate variability, searching for a suitable thesis topic. At the beginning of her third year, she started to examine temperature variations in locations throughout the United States during the past 50-100 years. This research ultimately led to her PhD thesis. The number of classes Imke took gradually decreased until she finished her required coursework during her fourth year.

Despite her intense coursework, Imke also was active in the various extracurricular parts of graduate student life. Examples of these activities include: organizing her department's annual "Research Orientation Seminar" for new students; meeting with prospective students visiting the department; and working in the department's outreach program to local schools.

Outside of her department-related activities, Imke devoted a lot of time and effort to the University of Washington's DO-IT program (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology). This program is designed to help high school students with disabilities pursue academics and careers, and also promotes the use of technology to maximize the independence, productivity and participation of people with disabilities. Imke used her personal example and her optimism and sense of humor to mentor young students struggling to get on the path to success.

In addition to her mentoring duties, she also traveled to local elementary schools and gave disability awareness "show and tell" sessions, demonstrating adaptive technology and giving many kids their first interaction with a blind person. She also has participated in DO-IT's Summer Study programs, teaching classes such as "Up, Up, and Away into the Atmosphere" and "Cooking With Sunshine." Imke's Summer Study involvement also included leading discussion groups regarding accommodations for people with visual impairments.

And in her spare time, once her coursework had tapered off, Imke enrolled in a correspondence course to become a Library of Congress certified proofreader of braille books. She completed the certification in early 1999, but she had actually started working earlier, in 1997, proofreading braille math and science textbooks for the Arizona Instructional Resource Center, where her mother is the director. At about this same time, Imke began championing refreshable braille displays and promoting their use by students. In collaboration with her mother, Imke released COBRA-- the eight-dot braille code that she had been using in one form or another since 1983. Using eight-dot cells allows the COBRA user direct braille access to electronic texts and allows print readers to instantly read the student's text output. Find out more about COBRA at: http://www.shellworld.net/~cobra.

Despite all of this extra-curricular activity, Imke never neglected her studies.

A major requirement of a PhD degree is the dissertation or PhD thesis. This is much more than a simple research paper, as it has to add something new to the field of knowledge. First, Imke had to get her research approved by a committee of professors, then write the dissertation, then present her project in an hour-long department seminar and defend it before the same committee of professors who had approved the research. Imke proposed her thesis to her committee in January of 1998 and successfully defended it in September of 2000. She was now Imke Durre, PhD, and in October of 2000 she took a position as a post-doctoral research associate at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

Act Three

The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency under the Department of Commerce. Imke came to NCDC as a post-doctoral research associate supported by the National Research Council and assumed a permanent position as Physical Scientist there at the end of July 2001. "I spend much of my workday writing and executing computer programs that process climate data or perform statistical analyses on such data," Imke said, when asked to describe her work. "After running a program, I evaluate the files generated by the program for accuracy and decide what the next step in the analysis should be."

Where does climate data come from? Imke's current project deals with data collected by weather balloons.

"Weather balloons are helium-filled balloons launched once, twice, or more times a day at more than 1000 locations around the world. Instrument packages, called radiosondes, are attached to these balloons and are used to gather observations of temperature, humidity, wind speed, and wind direction as the balloon rises up to an altitude of 20, 30, or more km into the atmosphere."
NCDC has an archive of these observations collected during the past 60 years. Imke is currently creating a new and improved dataset of these weather balloon measurements, putting the data into a form that is more easily used by researchers and other interested parties.

Imke also keeps up-to-date with new developments in the climatology field. She reads the professional journals and occasionally submits articles of her own. She attends meetings and she consults with her colleagues at NCDC and, via email or telephone, with scientists from around the country and all over the world.

Imke still uses a refreshable braille display to access her computer. She explains that "the braille display provides me an accurate representation of computer programs and tables of numbers which would be more difficult to navigate with speech output." The internet is also a useful tool:

"In keeping up with the scientific literature, I rely heavily on online versions of journals in my field. When an article I need to read is not available online, I request a print copy of it from the in-house library and scan it into the computer."
Imke also uses a Tektronix Phaser 850® printer. Because it "applies a waxy substance to the page," the Phaser is suitable for printing tactile graphs.

When she's not hard at work on things climatological, Imke enjoys playing the piano, reading, cooking, playing cards, Scrabble® and other games, and solving puzzles. She also makes time to volunteer in a special needs classroom at a local elementary school, and even though she now lives in North Carolina, Imke still is involved with UW's DO-IT program: "I am still an online mentor for the DO-IT program" she explains. "As Lead Mentor for DO-IT participants with visual impairments, I monitor and initiate discussions on the electronic mailing list for this subgroup and also communicate one-on-one with students in the program." She also continues to proofread braille math and science books.

We turn our closing words over to Imke, who has some "mentoring" for our readers:

"I would like to encourage students who are blind to pursue their career interests, however unusual they may be. As you pursue your educational and career goals, take responsibility for your own success, learn from your mistakes, be open to the advice from others, and be ready to adapt to unanticipated situations."

Internet Resources about climate:

The National Climatic Data Center web site includes links to reports on current climatic conditions under the link "In the Spotlight."
http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov

The web page of Imke's project (Warning! - Very technical!).
http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/cards/cards_homepage.html

The Climate Diagnostic Center's list of resources.
http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/USclimate/websites.html

National Weather Service.
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/

Curricular Resources in Weather and Climate at the Community Learning Network.
http://www.cln.org/subjects/weather_cur.html

Encyclopedia of the Atmospheric Environment.
http://www.doc.mmu.ac.uk/aric/eae/enter.html

Eisenhower National Clearinghouse: a list of websites with climate lesson plans for educators (K-12).
http://www.enc.org/professional/timesavers/lessonplans/science/0,1578,1%2DClimate,00.shtm

Resources in Atmospheric Sciences prepared by Dr. Bart Geerts and Dr. Edward Linacre. Contains short articles on climate and weather, links to information on the internet, and real-time weather displays.
http://www-das.uwyo.edu/~geerts/cwx/www/g002.html

Friday, September 12, 2008

Transition Tote System and Organizational Skills for Students with Learning Disabilities

The Transition Tote System is a kit produced by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) which contains lessons and an organizer case that are helpful to visually impaired students and adults as they explore, and prepare for, the world of work. All versions of the kit include three major components: the student manual, the tote case and a 3 1/2-inch disk. Basic principles underlying the system include those relating to organizational skills, social and self-advocacy skills, and personal responsibility.

Note: The previous Transiton Tote System has been discontinued. We are happy to report that a revised edition is in process! For information about the revision, please see the fiscal year 2011 APH Research Department report. Remember, you can always check the APH Shopping Site for the latest product information.

Organizational Skills for Students with Learning Disabilities: The Master Filing System for Paper

Think of it: Electricians arrive at a customer's home to do work and ask if they can borrow tools. A lacrosse team runs onto the field for the big game without their helmets or chest pads. Paramedics respond to a 911 call but leave the first-aid kit at the fire station. Unacceptable? Of course. The electricians would go out of business. The lacrosse players would be benched. The paramedics would be suspended. To do their jobs, these people need instant access to specialized equipment and tools. So do students. Yet we often hear: "I forgot my book." "I lost my binder." "I didn't print out my homework." "Can I borrow a pen?"

Students who have learning disabilities and weaknesses in executive function frequently struggle to keep track of the tools they need for schoolwork. Notebooks, handouts, homework^DDLeven pencils and pens^DDLseem to vanish inexplicably. Why is it so essential that students learn to manage their materials? First, efficient access to needed materials allows more time-on-task for learning. Second, good organizational skills contribute to students' feelings that they are in control of their learning.

The Master Filing System for paper is one effective strategy that helps students with learning disabilities manage their materials. Though the research on the effectiveness of teaching materials management skills is slim, the work that has been done indicates that these skills are essential for academic and career success.

Click this link to read more bout the Organizational Skills for Students with Learning Disabilities: The Master Filing System for Paper.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Accessible Ecards for Everyone

Here's a great way for blind or visually impaired people to send postcards (or ecards) to friends and family. Simply have a friend help you find that killer digital photo of you, choose a song that fits what's going on in the picture, and send a super-clean, customized ecard through Postcard.fm.

Upload the image file and MP3 to the free, no-registration-required , Postcard.fm with a message, and mail it out. The recipient gets a link to your e-postcard page, with no ads in sight. This means you can be as cute, clever, snarky, or affectionate as you want, rather than sending a picture of something that you can't see to your friends.

Click this link to create your personal ecard with http://www.Postcard.fm.

APH's Braille+ Mobile Manager Instruction Now a Hit on YouTube!

As you probably know, APH's Larry Skutchan has presented several webcasts on the APH Braille+ Mobile Manager - with more to come. These sessions are archived on our website.

Screen shot from one of Chase and LeAnna's videos

This very popular product has now found it's way to YouTube, thanks to an ingenious teacher and student.

Chase Crispin

Chase Crispin, a 5th grade student in Nebraska, enjoys working with his APH Braille+ Mobile Manager, teaching people about computers, and learning about new technological devices.

LeAnna MacDonald is a teacher of students with visual impairments, a low vision therapist, and an orientation and mobility specialist in the Omaha, Nebraska area.

Together, they have teamed up to bring us a series of short training sessions on the Braille+. Chase is the "on-air talent" and LeAnna serves as the "videographer."

By going to the first lesson, you will see the others listed as related videos. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjQSU88j1kg&feature=related

Screen shot from one of Chase and LeAnna's videos
Screen shot from one of Chase and LeAnna's videos

The sessions available include:

  • (1) APH BraillePlus Mobile Manager: Installing the Battery
  • (2a) APH BraillePlus Mobile Manager:Part 1 Buttons & Keys
  • (2b) APH BraillePlus Mobile Manager:Part 2 Buttons&Keys
  • (3a) APH BraillePlus Mobile Manager: Setting the Time
  • (3b) APH BraillePlus Mobile Manager: Synchronizing
  • (4d), APH Braille+: Changes in Address Book

Chase is a natural who tells us that after this series is completed he plans to produce additional instructional videos on other APH products - and then work here someday.

You can view all nine videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/BraillePlus

You may contact LeAnna at lmacdonald@westside66.org

This information and the link to these sessions will be archived on our site.

THANK YOU LEANNA AND CHASE FOR YOUR EXCITING AND HELPFUL VIDEOS!! We can't wait to see what is next!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Helping Hands For The Blind: Cookbook Club

Helping Hands for the Blind provides a "Cookbook of the Month Club." A person becomes a member by purchasing one book a year. Cookbooks are produced in interpoint braille. The club also has special offers.

Helping Hands for the Blind: Cookbook Club
20734 C Devonshire St.
Chatsworth, CA 91311
Toll Free: 888-386-3442
Phone: 818-341-8217
Fax: 818-341-8217
Email: boacosta@pacbell.net
Web: http://www.helpinghands4theblind.com

Friday, September 05, 2008

Accessible Online Libraries and museums

How would you like to browse through hundreds of books and artwork, while visiting some of the world's most accessible libraries and museums without leaving your chair? The following is a list of online libraries and museums that are accessible to people who are blind, or visually impaired. The first two libraries recently won The biennial Jodi Mattes Accessibility Awards for website accessibility in museums, libraries and archives; (2005).

  • Library and Information Services, Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead: www.webwords.org

    This website provides audio extracts of some 500 audio books, allowing visually impaired people - and every user - to choose their prefered narrator.

  • www.revealweb.org.uk

    The Revealweb library catalogue brings together over 100,000 materials for the first time in accessible formats. It can be used by the public and library staff alike, and makes finding out about reading materials considerably easier for visually impaired people.

  • the Museum of Modern Art, New York: www.moma.org/visit_moma/audio.html

    the Museum of Modern Art now offers free audio guides to its collection and temporary exhibitions. "MoMA Audio" includes guides intended for the general public, for children 5 to 10 and for the visually impaired. The museum also has free audio files drawn from the program that can be listened to and downloaded onto MP3 devices from its Web site.

  • The Norton Public Library: http://www.nortonlibrary.org

    The Norton Public Library through its membership in the SAILS Library Network has launched an online digital library that offers patrons immediate access to e-Book and Audio book titles. SAILS is the first library network in Massachusetts to offer OverDrive Audio Books in Microsoft Windows Media Audio format. Norton residents can now download, listen and enjoy unabridged spoken word audio on their PCs, laptops, PDAs and many inexpensive MP3 players.

    The online collection is available at www.nortonlibrary.org. The portable digital format of e-Books and Audio books offers countless advantages for business travelers and students, It's a valuable tool for those learning to read and gives the visually impaired even greater access to materials. users also find the fact that there is no need to return items extremely convenient; when the loan period is over the file expires and the materials are automatically checked back in. Access couldn't be easier. Using your Norton library card, library users can check out and download a variety of titles including popular fiction, business and reference titles and read them on their phones, Pocket PCs or listen to them on their MP3 players. OverDrive, Inc., a leading worldwide digital media vendor, developed the technology and supplies e-Book and audio titles to SAILS' new digital library.

  • Read Easily: Ebooks Online Library: http://www.readeasily.com

    A digital library "designed to provide you an adaptive reading experience! Just click above on 'set display' and select the font size, font color and background color." It's not a very extensive collection, but what's there will be valued by people with low vision.

  • The Canadian Digital Library: http://www.cnib.ca/library/

    The Canadian Digital Library is one of the most advanced online libraries of alternative formats in the world. It is a model for 175 international libraries producing alternative-format information for people who are blind or visually impaired.

    Highlights of the online digital library include:

    • Accessible. The CNIB Digital Library was designed from the outset to ensure it met the accessibility needs of people who are blind or visually impaired. It works with major adaptive technology products including screen reading products and braille displays.
    • Comprehensive and easy to use. All of the Library^D>'s online services including the CNIB catalogue and digital repository of books are on one unified, bilingual, Internet gateway.
    • Vast repository. More than 10,000 audio, text, and braille titles are available online for instant reading. Clients can search and order from a collection of more than 60,000 titles.
    • Exciting new access. Clients can listen to a CNIB Library talking book (with human voice narration) right from their computer simply by selecting a link for the title of that book.
    • Newspapers, magazines, databases. Full-text versions of thousands of magazines and databases and the current editions of more than 40 daily national and community newspapers are available.
    • The Children^D>'s Discovery Portal. Children who are blind or visually impaired will be able to play online games, participate in online polls, get homework help, read books online, and chat with other kids across the country. For some, this may be the first opportunity they have ever had to meet another child who is blind.

    To try out the CNIB Digital Library, visit the Web link below, and select the "guest" option on the login screen. Some functions are for CNIB Library clients only and require a password to access.

    If you would like to register, or receive a tutorial, contact:

    Canadian Digital Library
    Toll Free: 800-268-8818
    Phone: 414-480-7668
    Email: readserv@cnib.ca

  • The Connecticut State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped: http://www.cslib.org/lbph.htm

    The Connecticut State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped contains about 55,000 different titles allowing anyone who may have a difficult time reading the printed word to receive books on tape on a regular basis. About 80 percent of their patrons are seniors who are not legally blind but have some type of problem reading.

    Patrons sign up through an application process that includes a recommendation from a social or health care worker. The patrons discuss their reading preferences with a reader advisor who can offer tips and suggestions on a variety of reading topics.

    On a regular basis, patrons are shipped books on tape directly to their homes. The tapes are specially designed to allow for more chapters than an average book on tape. They listen to the books with specially-designed tape players provided by the library.

    Every step of the process is free of charge to patrons, including the shipping of the tapes back and forth from the library.

    The library has over 200,000 items with more than 60,000 titles. It also has books in Braille and twin vision books that have print and Braille so that parents or grandparents can read books together.

    The library is used by patrons from around the state. Patrons do not come to the library to check out books however they can receive extensive catalogs of titles in print or on tape to review which selections they would like.

    For more information on the Connecticut State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, call (860) 566-2151 or (800) 842-4516.

  • The International Electronic Book Library: http://www.braille.org/braille_books/

    The International Electronic Braille Book Library, is a project of the International Braille Research Center. It is a collection of Braille Electronic Books -- over one thousand book titles from different nations and cultures.

    There are two ways to read the books in this collection:

    1. You can read them online if you have access to a Refreshable Braille Display.
    2. You can download the book files into a disk to read off-line. For instance, you can load the book into devices such as Braille notetakers, or you can make a hard copy of the book using a braille printer.
    The International Electronic Braille Book Library allows you to download individual parts of a book, an entire book, or an entire collection of books by a specific author. These electronic braille books are ascii text files, which appear as grade II English Braille when displayed.

  • National Library for the Blind (UK): http://www.nlb-online.org.

    The National Library for the Blind (NLB) is a registered charity providing a free postal service to blind and partially sighted people worldwide. NLB houses Europe's largest collection of tactile books and music and offers a range of innovative electronic library and information services via the website at www.nlb-online.org.

    Discussion boards, which can be found at www.nlb-online.org, give visitors the chance to air their views on reading, technology, libraries, books and lots more! They are hoping that the discussion boards will allow NLB members and site visitors to discuss the issues they feel are important. It will hopefully give people a forum to chat about reading and to swap useful ideas and tips - they are open to new topic suggestions too, and look forward to hearing feedback from users of the boards.

    The discussion boards are a major part of NLB-Online which also includes access to various library services, plus a free accessible information service menu which includes:

    • Jobstuff: www.jobstuff.nlb-online.org Jobstuff is an online discussion forum where you can come and discuss topics related to employment for visually impaired people.
    • the Vision Support Guide: www.vsg.nlb-online.org Information about eye conditions, services and useful organisations for visually impaired people and those who support them.
    • A-sites: www.a-sites.org Links to hundreds of accessible websites from high street shopping and finance to sport and technology. Browse the list and make your own suggestions.

    The site also includes E-reference services including free access to online newspapers, magazines, dictionaries and encyclopaedias. To register, send an email to elsenquiries@nlbuk.org .

    For further information on the National Library for the Blind please contact Claire Briscoe, Press and Public Relations Officer, in the UK at 0161 355 2050 or via email at claire.briscoe@nlbuk.org.

  • the Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library: http://www.perkins.org/index.php

    For the 17,000 Massachusetts residents who cannot see or handle a standard printed page, the Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library provides a way to keep reading. The library is affiliated with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress. Anyone who is blind, visually impaired, or who has a physical or reading or learning disability may apply to use the library. An estimated 175,000 people in Massachusetts are eligible for this program, but just 19,000 - only 10 percent - of these people are BTBL patrons.

    An indispensable part of the talking book program are the special four-track cassette players and the volunteers who keep them humming. A group of South Shore volunteers, the Telcomm Pioneers, keep the talking book players running for the thousands of patrons of the Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library. More than 140,000 talking book machines nationwide are repaired by volunteers each year. The $5 million in repairs saved by these volunteers is used to provide more talking book titles.

    The Perkins Library offers over 62,000 book titles on tape and 100 magazine subscriptions in English and many foreign languages. Registered users may borrow talking books and related equipment, Braille books, large print books and audio-described videos in person or through the mail. Library borrowers also access Newsline, through which they can listen to over 150 daily newspapers via touch-tone telephone.

    For an application or more information, use the contact information below.

    Perkins School for the Blind
    175 North Beacon Street
    Watertown, Massachusetts 02472
    Phone: 617-924-3434
    Fax: 617-926-2027

  • The KnowUK Library Resource: http://www.knowuk.co.uk

    KnowUK is a unique online service developed to provide libraries with a complete collection of current, useful and UK-specific reference information from over 100 of the most widely used reference publications in the UK.

  • Project Bartleby: http://www.bartleby.com

    Named after Herman Melville's short story "Bartleby, The Scrivener," Project Bartleby [now just called Bartleby.com] is an online library developed at Columbia University. Project Bartleby was the first site in the world to publish the entire contents of a classic novel (Whitman's "Leaves of Grass") on the web. The site proclaims it is the "preeminent Internet publisher of literature, reference and verse providing students, researchers and the intellectual curious with unlimited access to books and information on the web, free of charge." And the site has a lot more than the 11 books with which they started. In fact, Bartleby.com now has a searchable database of over 370,000 web pages, including the largest database of quotations ever published (over 86,000 quotations) and the largest freely available verse database (over 10,000 poems).

    So many high-quality sites have disappeared from the net over the past 10 years. It's nice to see that one of the best reference sites in the world is still going strong.

  • National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS): http://www.loc.gov/nls

    Web-Braille is the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) system for distributing books via the internet. Grade 2 braille books are available to download or online use by eligible individuals, libraries, and schools with braille embossers, refreshable braille displays and other braille-aware devices. To retrieve Web-Braille files, one can use whatever braille equipment and browser with which one is most comfortable.

    Web-Braille contains over 2,600 braille books beginning with BR8827. NLS will continue to add new books to Web-Braille as the press copies are approved for shipment. New books are accessed through the online version of Braille Book Review (BBR). BBR will include links to the Web-Braille versions of titles listed.

    To get a user ID for Web-Braille, contact your local NLS library. You will be asked to select a password and provide an e-mail address.

  • Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD), from NLS: https://nlsbard.loc.gov

    NLS has hosted a pilot site for the downloading of books for the blind and visually impaired. NLS appreciates all who have participated in the pilot test. Your feedback has allowed them to continuously improve the original site and to look into many expansions, such as the inclusion of braille books. The pilot phase has ended, and this site has been launched.

  • The Museum of Broadcast Communications: http://www.museum.tv/home.php.

    The Museum of Broadcast Communications is one of three museums devoted to broadcast in the USA and is home to the Radio Hall of Fame. Learn more about the Museum's history by mousing over the "Museum" tab and clicking "About Us". In the About Us section you'll also notice on the side a section called "Explore More-there you can find the link to the Encyclopedia of TV.

    Encyclopedia of TV - in this section you can browse the first two editions and check out the Encyclopedia of Radio and Advertising from links within the section.

    Back up at the Menu you'll see Collection, Exhibitions, and Education. I'd like to tell you about these sections some as well.

    Collection - See newly added articles to the collection with Recent Additions, or search the archives for something more interesting.

    Exhibitions - Check out the Great Debate and Beyond where you can trace the history of televised Presidential Debates, or head over to the Radio Hall of Fame and check out all those who've gotten admitted into the hall of fame.

    Education - that's what museums are for right? To keep us educated and preserve the past, well, this is where you can learn about incorporating this site into your teaching plans, or just learn some new and interesting things.



ASK A LIBRARIAN!

Wouldn't it be great if you could talk to a librarian while searching through these online libraries and museums? The following short list is just a small sample of where you can turn to have your information needs met by professional librarians.

Main Gallery of the Museum at APH

APH Museum

The history of the education of people who are blind is presented in APH's unique multi-media museum. Artifacts, photos, and electronic displays present such topics as the development of braille, the history of the braillewriter, and the history of Talking Books. All displays are accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. To tour the museum online go to http://www.aph.org/museum/index.html.

Museum Hours

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday-Friday, except holidays.

APH Facility

APH is located in the historic Louisville neighborhood known as Clifton, with easy access to nearby I-64, I-65, and I-71. Motor coach parking is available on the street. Our building is wheelchair accessible.

For more tour information, contact the APH Public Affairs Department at 502-895-2405, ext. 356 or 1-800-223-1839.

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
E-mail: info@aph.org
Web site: http://www.aph.org

Online Access to Talking Book Archives

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has launched its web-based Talking Book Archives http://www.afb.org/talkingbook, celebrating the birth of the Talking Book. Thanks to a generous grant from the Carnegie Foundation, who funded AFB's first efforts to use audio technology for blind readers in 1932, an electronic finding aid to this historic collection is now available online. The archival finding aid is accompanied by a multimedia exhibit, including audio clips from celebrated narrators, letters, press clippings, and photographs from the collection. This exhibit was funded by The New York Times Company Foundation.

Visitors to the website will find various informative sections that focus on AFB's work with Talking Books over the past 75 years:

  • The AFB Talking Book Exhibit section uses images of letters, advertisements, and photographs, as well as audio clips, to explain how the idea of the Talking Book became a reality.
  • The AFB Talking Book Archives section offers a fully accessible electronic guide to the Talking Book archival collection and allows scholars, archivists, and other visitors to search the collection and view selected scanned images of items that are transcribed and fully accessible.
  • Visitors can help AFB honor 75 years of Talking Books by posting thoughts and memories in the Post Your Tributes section.

The development of Talking Books was a crucial step in providing access to books and information to people with vision loss. This invaluable service continues today through the work of the Library of Congress' National Library Service for the Blind and Visually Handicapped.

Click this link to visit the Talking Book Archives at http://www.afb.org/talkingbook.

Gulliver's Travels Again Available from APH...70 Years Later!

Terry Hayes Sales

Gulliver's Travels, recorded in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the National Library Service at APH in November, 2006 is now available from the APH Museum. The book was recorded in the original 1936 studio at the Printing House in a fourteen hour talking book marathon by narrators from five local studios as well as community volunteers. Familiar APH voices on Gulliver include Terry Hayes Sales, Milton Metz, Mitzi Friedlander, Barry Bernson, Lou Harpenau, Roy Avers, Butch Hoover, and Jack Fox. APH President Tuck Tinsley and our then Executive in Residence Cay Holbrook also took turns.

Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift, was the first talking book produced at the Printing House. It was originally recorded in 1937, narrated by Louisville radio pioneer Hugh Sutton. The 2006 version is abridged. As museum director Mike Hudson joked, "We started recording at 7 a.m. Fourteen hours later we finished the third section. We thought we'd leave the final voyage to the Houyhnhnms for the NLS centennial celebration in 2031."

The commemorative version includes the work of over forty Louisville area narrators, including APH professionals and volunteer readers from the Audio Studio for the Reading Impaired, the Kentucky Talking Book Library, Central Kentucky Radio Eye, and Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic. The file is stored in an MP3 format on a compact disc playable on Microsoft Windows Media Player. The format may be incompatible with other media players. Copies are available for $5.00 by calling Mike Hudson at 800/223-1839, ext 365. Proceeds from the sale will help fund future museum education programs.

Photo: APH narrator Terry Hayes Sales

Social Networking Sites for the Blind

Blind Spots

We've all heard of social networking sites. You may not know the term, but you certainly know some social networking sites like Classmates.com, Flickr, or MySpace. Now there's one for the blind.

Draconis Entertainment, http://www.draconisentertainment.com has launched its latest service http://www.BlindSpots.net. This is a social networking site devoted to the blind, visually impaired, their friends, and families. At BlindSpots you can showcase your talents and wares, keep a blog, and make new friends. Other features are already available, and more will be coming soon.

To learn more, click this link to visit http://www.BlindSpots.net.

Blink Nation

From the site:

"This is Blink Nation, a screen-reader-friendly social network specially tailored for blind users. We strive to make an environment that is feature rich but clutter free. As you browse this site, you'll probably notice several, major differences from other, less organized web pages you've visited. For instance, you'll notice we've replaced long lists of links with drop down menus and accompanying Go buttons. We've removed annoying images, so that you won't be left in the dark on any useful information or tripping over useless decorations. We've marked distinct sections in the content so that you can quickly navigate between headers. We've reduced the use of tables for clarity's sake. And we make a point to only use dynamic content that plays nicely with your screen reader."

"Blink Nation is an on-going project to create new features and content for blind users. This site will continue to evolve and grow as our community grows. The beauty of a social network is that it's all about you and your individuality. This is a place to express yourself, keep track of old friends, and hopefully make a ton of new ones. As a social network for the blind, we also hope this can be a place where you find help, support, mentors, and knowledge that would be useful outside the virtual world as well."

Click this link to be a part of http://www.blinknation.com.

Other Social Networking Sites

Whatever sport you're into - walking, golf, fishing, football, biking, NASCAR, cricket, etc. Mashable can help you find an online community of equally avid fans to chat with.

Click this link to visit Mashable's pick of twenty social networks for sports.

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