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, December 23, 2009

Accessible Christmas Carols

Christmas comes but once a year, and it never fails, someone will invite you to go caroling! You're blind, so naturally, you know how to sing and you have perfect pitch, right?

We've all heard the same Christmas carols for years, but we don't always know the words. How embarrassing it is to be in a crowd of friends and not know the words! Even worse, having to ask someone to write them out in a Word document so you can braille them before you leave.

At, you'll not only find the lyrics to your favorite Christmas carols, but each page has a midi of the song so that you can sing a-long! Copy and paste the words into a document for later braille translating and do a little practice before your friends arive.

Some of the pages have an iPod Nano ad on them that has sound, but if you click the Sound Off button in the right corner of the ad, you can listen to your music with no interruptions. With well over 50 Christmas carols, it is well worth it!

I hope you enjoy these Christmas carols as much as I did. This is a great way to sing Christmas carols with your family all gathered around you this holiday season. Enjoy!

Click this link to visit

Christmas Music on the Web

What if you could have an endless supply of great holiday music all day long without having to change a CD or cue up a playlist? Thanks to the Internet and AccurRadio, you can! There are several channels that stream music to fill your home with the festivities of the season.

To get to AccuRadio's Holiday music, click this link: You will be greeted with a choice of holiday music genres. You can pick everything from Jazz to Christian to Pop and more. I started out with "Old Fashioned," to bring back the memories of my parents Dean Martin Christmas albums. I think my favorite section, though, is the one called "Seasons Greetings." This is the main channel and features the best music from all of the other channels. With each channel, you can deselect artists that you would like to avoid. So if Burl Ives annoys you, just delete him from the list.

To get your holiday music started, just click on your favorite section. An ad will pop up before your music loads. Clicking on the add will support the website but not affect your music.

For those who use screen readers, there are some graphics at the top of the page, just arrow down and you'll find the links you need to start listening to the various stations. When you choose a station, a new window will open and the stream will start. While the stream is active, the links to control what's playing are at the bottom of the page.

How to Organize a White Elephant Gift Exchange

A white elephant gift exchange is a lighthearted way to have fun with your friends, family or work colleagues. White elephant gifts are traditionally gifts considered extremely tacky, or that do not fit the tastes of the recipient, and that are given by a friend or close relative and therefore cannot be returned or exchanged at the store without potentially offending the giver. The thought behind a white elephant gift exchange is to give everyone a chance to rid themselves of these tacky gifts--and invariably gaining a new one! This is also known as a Yankee Swap, Dirty Santa, or Pirate Gift Exchange.

  1. Organize the event. Give everyone invitations, along with a description of what a white elephant gift exchange is. Tell them to bring along the tackiest, most useless, and least fitting gift they've ever gotten stuck with, and to wrap it up or put it in a gift bag.

  2. Keep gifts anonymous. Put all the gifts in an area where it will be hard for others to see who brought what. In other words, don't have your guest walk through the party crowd with gift in hand before you get to the pile of gifts. The idea is for people to not know who the gift is coming from.

  3. Start the picking! Select who will open a gift first. You can have people draw slips of paper with numbers on them, roll dice, go by age, go alphabetically by name, or in a circle starting with who ever is closest to the door. In any event, figure out your system and have the first person choose a gift to unwrap. Feel free to crack jokes and make fun of the gift, since it'll probably be something no one would put on their Christmas list.

  4. Have the next person choose and open a gift. Now this is where it gets interesting. The person has a choice of whether to keep the gift they opened, or to "steal" an already opened gift from a previous person. If they steal a gift, they take that gift and give their unwanted gift to the person they stole from. That person then gets the option of stealing from someone else, and this continues until somebody decides to stick with their gift.

  5. Go to the next person in order and repeat. The exchange continues until every gift has been opened and the last person keeps their gift.

A gift that has been stolen three times is considered "frozen" or "locked" and cannot be stolen a fourth time. No one can steal back the gift that was just stolen from them.

While it is acceptable to re-gift an unwanted trinket, in practice many people end up purchasing new tacky items just for the party. The goal is to choose wacky, funny or entertaining gifts. If you're really stumped, just pay a visit to your local dollar store. Some ideas for white elephant gifts include:

  • Hideous jewelry
  • Perfume or lotion with an unpleasant scent
  • Cheap, ugly statues or other decorative knick knacks
  • Weird art
  • An obnoxious T-shirt or tie
  • A poorly made, straight to video/DVD movie, preferably with the star being at the center of public ridicule
  • An obscure or outdated book

Many variations of these rules exist. For example, many people playing the game do not intentionally choose gag gifts. On the contrary, many set a price limit (e.g., $10) and ask that people bring gifts with broad appeal -- a calendar for the upcoming year, candles, a card game, or chocolates, for example.

Another variation is that the next person in turn does not automatically choose an unopened gift and decide whether or not to keep it, but whether to choose a new gift or to steal one that was already opened. If they choose to steal, the person from whom they stole must make the same decision. This continues until someone chooses to open a new gift. This way, it is always a gamble when you choose to open a new gift, because you may get something no one else will want, and you'll be stuck with it. However, this variation can move the game along faster.

Many families also use this to buy nice gifts such as fire pits for the back yard, artwork for the house, etc. It's a great way to get laughs and nice things you will actually use and not save for next year's white elephant.

Parents and teachers can use this variation for children's holiday parties as a lesson in thoughtful re-use: Children bring a gently used toy, wrapped as a gift. The children may take a gift from another child, but it is not described as "stealing." All of the children leave with a gift that is new to them, there is no money spent in the process, and children learn both the fun of giving and how not to get too attached to a particular toy they may have their eye on throughout the gift exchange.

Zoom into Any Screen on Your iPhone

Here's an iPhone feature that could have completely slipped your radar: zooming in and out of your screen.

The zoom feature, which can be turned on in the Settings menu, uses a three-finger tapping system to zoom in on any screen. Just double tap with three fingers to zoom. To move around when zoomed in, drag three fingers around the screen. And to change the zoom farther or closer, double-tap and drag three fingers up or down.

This feature only works with the iPhone 3GS and new iPod Touch, not older models. To activate the zoom feature, tap Settings, General, and then Accessibility.

Christmas is for Me

by Donna J. Jodhan

I have had the good fortune to enjoy many wonderful Christmases; with and without vision and it does not matter! Christmas is for me. The smells and the sounds, the laughter and the merry making.

When I had enough sight, I used to enjoy going out to window shop. To see the bright colorful lights, the flickering candles in the Church, Santa's bright red suit, and streets crowded with throngs of folks of all ages. I also loved to smell the scent of rich pine, cakes and goodies baking in ovens, and taste the various Christmas foods and drinks. I also loved to walk in the snow and watch those big white snowflakes race each other to the ground but most of all, I loved to ice skate around those huge outdoor rinks decorated with Christmas lights.

That was then and this is now but not much has changed for me. True it is that I can no longer see the flickering candles, the colorful Christmas lights, and the big fat snowflakes, but this does not prevent me from enjoying this special time of the year. My sense of smell is still in tact along with my sense of taste and I use my memories of years gone by to help me along. I focus on the times when I could see and inter mingle those memories with the now. I am blessed! I am lucky! With or without sight, Christmas is for me! I am a kid at heart, playing with my talking games, playing my electronic keyboard, and my Christmas CDs.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, Joyeux Noèl, and Feliz Navidad to you all!

I'm Donna J. Jodhan, an accessibility and special needs business consultant wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all:
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility:
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Finding, Researching and Downloading Books, Dictionaries and Encyclopedias on the Net

As technology advances, we're seeing more and more libraries offering digital downloads of their catalogs. Online libraries of material have become more popular as sighted folks discover iPods and electronic book readers and search engines now offer the ability to search printed texts and even download electronic versions of the texts. Online dictionaries and encyclopedias are making it possible for people who are blind or visually impaired to independently search for reference material.

As a result, I am going to combine several Fred's Head records into one large resource document that will help you find and download books from a variety of search engines and websites. I encourage you to visit the Fred's Head Database or the Fred's Head Companion blog and search for the word "book" to see other resources. I will also reference many online dictionaries and encyclopedias that are free and accessible.

Louis Database of Accessible Materials for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Produced and maintained by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), the Louis Database of Accessible Materials for People Who are Blind or Visually Impaired contains complete bibliographic and location information for more than 163,000 titles of accessible materials from over 200 agencies throughout the United States. These items include books in braille, large print, sound recording, and computer file; braille music; and American Printing House for the Blind (APH) products.

Louis is updated daily and is searchable free via the APH website. Persons without Internet access who require reference assistance can contact APH using its toll free number.

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


The STudent E-rent Pilot Project (STEPP) is an eTextbook rental program offering cost-effective textbooks that "all" students can read.

  • Cost-Effective: Save an average of 50% or more off the retail cost of a new hardcopy textbook purchase.
  • Convenient: Access eTextbooks on almost any device, anytime, anywhere.
  • Conscious Choice: Practice environmental stewardship; save our trees.
  • Accessible textbooks for the blind and visually impaired.

STEPP was launched by the Alternative Media Access Center, in partnership with CourseSmart and the AccessText Network, through a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education (DoEd). This program is designed to meet the textbook rental needs of any postsecondary student and aims to help improve low-cost access to higher education textbooks for all students, including those with print-related disabilities.

STEPP leverages the expertise of its three collaborative partners to offer a national solution to promote cost savings for students while eliminating traditional barriers to textbook access. Click this link to "STEPP" towards universal access:

The Free Library

The Free Library offers full-text versions of classic literary works from hundreds of celebrated authors. It also includes a massive collection of periodicals from hundreds of leading publications covering many areas.

Click this link to visit

Search Your Library with WorldCat

I love discovering new ways to search the Internet. Not only is it entirely helpful in finding cool Websites to share with all of you, but I just love the developments that are being made to make searching more fun! Today, I found a search engine that allows you to search libraries near you for books, media, etc.

Simply type a title, subject or person into the search field and click the Search button. Want more options? Then click the Advanced Search link underneath the search field. In the advanced search, you have more options, such as looking by author, keyword, ISBN, ISSN or OCLC number. You can also limit your searches by language, format and publication date.

If you register for a free account, which took no time at all for me to do, you can make your own list of items the library has that you want to check out over time. You can also share these lists with friends or family.

To register, click the link at the top of the page and then fill out the following information: username, password, e-mail address, agree to the terms of use and then click "I Agree." Next, confirm that you requested the account in the verification email that comes to the email address you provided. Once you're logged in, you can use the sections under the My WorldCat tab, which will give you access to edit your profile, change your password, etc.

You also have the option to put WorldCat on your own Website so that others can discover it from your page. Or, you can add it to your browser's toolbar with an easy and quick download.

What other features do I love? Well, Ask a Librarian is a very nifty option. It allows you to get help from a librarian in your search results. You can also review materials and rate them. Or, you can get information on the Details section of an item in a Wiki type style.

I hope you'll get a lot of use out of this search engine. I mean, how else can you stay in touch with libraries all around you with the simple use of a search field? Enjoy it! Click this link to visit

Finding eBooks On the Internet

In the last decade the Internet has rapidly become one of the most important ways of accessing information for people who are blind and visually impaired. As the Internet has grown in size and popularity, so has the availability of accessible electronic books in a number of different formats.

Today, we know that there are thousands of eBooks that can be accessed. but how do we go about finding specific titles? And once we find them, how do we download them? And how do we read the different formats?

Finding eBooks on the Internet tells you how. Finding eBooks on the Internet is a publication of the National Braille Press. This book shows you the step-by-step process of how to obtain public domain books from sources like Project Gutenberg and the eText Spider, how to acquire commercially available accessible books from companies like Baen, and how to go about getting books in accessible formats from sites like Web-Braille and

What makes this a unique book is that it is written by Anna Dresner, who uses assistive technology herself. The book includes keyboard commands for both JAWS and Window-Eyes. This publication is available in braille and large print.

Finding eBooks on the Internet by Anna Dresner
National Braille Press
Toll Free: 888-965-8965

Etext Archives, Academic Resources, & Linguistic Links

Welcome to Camera Obscura's meta-index of academic and scholarly resources. All of the archives and resources indexed in this document are either easily navigatable with speech or have been extensively re-indexed so that the information they contain is easily and immediately accessible via speech-synthesis and/or text-based access. This document also contains speech-friendly submission forms for many standard reference works, as well as telephone and address directories and resources which are easily navigated using speech-synthesis and a text-based browser.

The purpose of this meta-index is to facillitate easy and immediate access to the wealth of etextual resources on the internet to blind and visually impaired individuals using speech-synthesis and/or refreshable braille.

Click this link to visit Camera Obscura's meta-index of academic and scholarly resources.

Find Books with Google

The Google Book Search is a feature you can use to search the Internet for copies of books. You can search among various subjects that interest you and when you're done, you can also find out where you can borrow them or even buy them. The book search works just like a search engine. You type your area of interest into the search box and in a matter of seconds, you will see lists and lists of books that fall under that category.

When you do a book search, you will see that under each listing, there is an "About this book" link. This gives you basic information on the book, including the title, author, publication date and the length. Some of the books also have some additional information, such as key terms, phrases, references, chapter titles and even a list of related books with the same subject.

It's important to note that not every book will come in the full text version. Each book is assigned a different preview length and these are displayed clearly for each listing in your book search. Each book will either have a full view, a limited view, a snippet view or there may be no preview available. The full view option is usually active when the book is out of its copyright date or if the publisher gave permission to allow viewers to read the book in its entirety. If this is the case, you can read it as many times as you'd like.

If the book is a limited view copy, you can only see certain parts of the book. With this feature, the publishers of the book has joined Google's Partner Program and they allow you to see a few of the pages from the book but there is a limit to what you can see online.

In the snippet view, you can do special searches for information within the book. >From those results, up to three snippets of the text will be shown. If the book you have found has no preview available, you won't be able to see any parts of the book, but you can read the information provided under the "About this book" link.

Every book you find with the Google Book Search has links included that will take you to places where you can buy or borrow the book. There will be listings for book sellers if you want to buy the book or you might be able to find it in a library. If you're really interested in a certain book, you'll definitely want to check that out. Now, you may be wondering where the books come from to make this search possible. Well, they mainly come from the book publishers and from libraries.

Click this link to start searching

Books Should Be Free

Books Should Be Free hosts hundreds of free audio books in a wide range of genres. All of the audio books in the collection are either public domain or Creative Commons works. All of the audio books can be downloaded directly from the website or from iTunes.

One of the aspects of Books Should Be Free that I think some students will really appreciate is the large display of book covers that they'll see when browsing by genre. It's true that we should teach students not to judge a book by its cover, yet at the same time a good cover might get students interested in books they would otherwise ignore.

If you have a student in need of an audio book to support their reading, Books Should Be Free could be a good place to start your search.

Click this link to visit

New Free Books

Here's a website filled with links to free, legal, complete eBooks still covered by copyright. Novels, mystery, romance, saga, self-help, history, and more. They are legal, in most cases from the author's own website.

Click this link to visit

Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts

This site has about 14,000 classic public domain documents from American and English literature as well as Western philosophy.

Click this link to visit the Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts.

The Etext Archives

Home to electronic texts of all kinds, from the sacred to the profane, from the political to the personal

Click this link to visit the The Etext Archives.

The Dusty Library

This website is filled with public domain books, poems and short stories. All books are screen reader friendly and the site's font size can be changed for people with low vision.

Click this link to visit the Dusty Library at

500,000 Free E-Texts at the Internet Archive

The Internet Archive is home to more than one million digital resources. More than half of the digital resources on the Internet Archive are e-texts. There are seven sub-categories of e-texts. I spent some time exploring the "American Libraries" sub-category and found quite a few texts that could be used with a United States History class for example. I also found a number of resources that would be appropriate for use in an American Literature course.

The Internet Archive is a great place for students and teachers to find digital resources that can be used under a Creative Commons license. The e-texts are especially valuable as supplementary materials for a variety of courses. The e-texts are available as PDF files to save and use on your local computer. In the more than 500,000 e-texts in the Internet Archive there is bound to be something for almost everyone.

Click this link to visit the Text Archive section of the Archive website.

Find Books with Microsoft

Microsoft's version of a book search engine is called Live Search Books and they are going up against their competitor, Google. The concept of the book search goes along the same lines as the Windows Live Search in how it searches the Internet for information. The Live Search Books uses the same process when scanning the Internet for books.

This program goes hand-in-hand with Microsoft's book scanning project that they have been working on for some time now. Users can search for books by using a regular search engine. When someone performs a search, keywords are used to filter out the results. The search only includes the books that have been scanned via the scanning project.

Live Search Books has a feature called "Search inside a book," which gives the users the opportunity to search the full text of the books. Right now, the search includes books that have no copyright date and only books that have been scanned from the collections of the British Library, the University of California and the University of Toronto. Other locations, such as the New York Public Library, Cornell University and the American Museum of Veterinary Medicine, are said to be included in the very near future. Other copyright books from publishers who have given permission will also join the search soon.

The one big difference between Microsoft's and Google's book searches is that Microsoft only offers the full text of the books. They can be downloaded onto your computer in the PDF format, so if you would like to search for books yourself, be sure to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed before you begin.

Click this link to start searching with Microsoft.

Specific Sites for Books

The following is a list of independent company websites that offer books for download. These books may be text or audio.

Free Book Resources

The Story Home's The Story Home is a collection of classic and original children’s audio stories.  Every other week a new story is added by storyteller Alan.  All audio stories are FREE!! 

The stories can be listened to right from The Story Home website or by subscribing to The Story Home on iTunes podcast. Students will love listening to audio stories on The Story Home.  Set up a listening center in your classroom where students can listen to stories.  As they listen, they could practice various comprehension strategies. If you have an iPod program at your school, load up the iPods with stories that students can listen to at home.  Find stories that correspond with your classroom curriculum and introduce new concepts with an audio story.

Click this link to visit


The ReadPrint website is a free library of online books for students, teachers, and the classic enthusiast. Thousands of novels, poems, stories and easy to read books are online.

Click this link to visit

Fantastic Fiction

Fantastic Fiction allows the user to look up books by author, for example, and learn all the titles the person has written. It lists a series in chronological order. It also lists the author's book recommendations.

Click this link to visit

Learn Outloud

Here's another valuable source. They do sell books, but they also have a large collection of audio and video presentations for free download. Every Friday they provide a free downloadable book; and every month, they have a free book of the month. Each Wednesday, they recommend a free podcast.

Click this link to visit

Repeat After Us

From the site:

"Created by a high school student, RepeatAfterUs is an award-winning online library with the best collection of copyright-free English texts and scripted recordings. Our free audio clips provide an excellent resource for students and literature lovers of all ages.

Click this link to visit Repeat After Us at

Planet eBook

Planet eBook is a free service where teachers and students can find classic literature titles available as free downloads. Planet eBook adds new titles at regular intervals. Subscribe to the Planet eBook blog or newsletter to keep track of the latest additions to the collection. For browsing purposes, Planet eBook offers previews of titles through the Issuu pdf publishing service. Using the previews students can get an overview of a title without committing to downloading the entire ebook.

Click this link to visit
Classic Reader is another great site for free and accessible books:

Literal Systems

Literal Systems is another great resource for free, downloadable audio books. You'll find that the navigation is simple with the menu on the right side of the page, for those of you with some vision. There you will find the following sections:

  • Download Audio: Here you will find the titles that are currently available to listen to on the site. Choose a title and you'll be taken to its page. There you will find the links you need in order to listen to it under the Download section. The credits for it are shown above it as well. There is only a small selection of titles at the moment, but I have every hope that the list will grow and grow as time goes by. These performances are truly enjoyable to listen to. I was impressed by the quality of sound and of the ability of those reading them.

  • Home Page: This will take you back to the main page of the website.

  • The People: Here you can learn about the people behind the recordings on both the technical and performance end. I think it is nice to be able to see the face behind the vocal talent, as well as, the people who make it all happen!

  • Contacting Us: You'll find contact information here with a phone number and an e-mail form.

  • Auditions: Here you can find information about the auditions they are holding. I'm guessing they're for voice talent.

  • Volunteers: Here you will find information on what they are looking for in volunteers to help make the site more interesting and keeping it up to date.

  • F.A.Q.: Here you will find the most frequently asked questions submitted to the site. I suggest checking it out if any questions pop into your head while you're visiting.

I truly enjoyed listening to the offerings here and I hope you will too. Check out Literal Systems by clicking this link:
Here's a site that they link to that may also have some audio files of interest:

Baen Books Offers Free Downloads

For several years, Baen Books: has provided fantasy and science fiction titles for download in unecrypted formats, including RTF, at reasonable prices. Now the company is offering all its electronic titles free to people who are blind, dyslexic, paralyzed, or are amputees. Disability must be documented. Read this article to learn more.

Talking Pages

Talking Pages is a non-profit web-based lending library that lends audio books to those who are blind or visually impaired.

You can select the audio books you want to borrow from their catalog. They will then ship you the audio books you select, along with a return label and postage. There is no fee for using the service; the costs are covered through donations.

Users of Talking Pages must sign up for library cards that permit users to borrow audio books and also check the status of what books they have currently on loan.

Please note that this service is available only to persons living in the United States.

Click this link to visit the Talking Pages website at

Listen To Spoken Word Internet Radio Station

I discovered a free radio station dedicated to broadcasting stories, drama, poetry and interviews. They broadcast popular audio books by best-selling authors, as well as promoting new and unsigned writers from around the world.

  • Easily listen to radio online from work or home
  • Free non-music entertainment for the more discerning listener
  • Listen to popular audio books narrated by professional actors
  • » View the week's programme schedule to see the great variety of choice offered

The Audio Book Radio Email Newsletter is a way to keep you up to date on programming information, news about the radio station and providing access to audio books free download clips of the latest audio books and forthcoming titles heard on the station.

Click this link to visit the Spoken Word Internet Radio Station:

The Online Books Page

Aman Singer emailed Fred's Head with this site. Besides listing and searching Project Gutenberg, several government and religious sites, and a variety of other resources, this site provides direct links to smaller resources like The Calibration of Women Writers and Banned Books Online. The search and browse functionality are both excellent and the page as a whole lists over 25000 books on the web.

Click this link to visit The Online Books Page:

Books for the Blind Online Library

In 2005, this service went live with a few dozen books in e-text format for reading by screen-reader or e-braille or screen-magnifier. It now has nearly a thousand titles. Recently, a lot of work has been done with the SpeakOn program to make it easy to get books and have the computer read them to you almost instantly.

A user said, "I've been playing with the system using an infra-red numeric keypad and can sit away from the PC and get a book in a few seconds. SpeakOn turns the computer into a sort of Talking Book machine - I'm using the Daniel voice which is pretty good".

Library membership is restricted to the visually impaired who are also UK or EU residents. Click this link to learn more about this online library for the blind:

Read Free Full Text Books Online

Here's a site with thousands of books that are easy to read online, or save to your computer or portible reading device. The books are listed in alphabetical order and would be great if you're looking for something different, maybe for a book report?

Click this link to visit

World eBook Library Consortia

Housed in World eBook Library Multi-Terabyte server network is the world's largest digital archive of PDF eBooks and eDocuments. This collection hosts more than 250,000+ PDF eBooks and eDocuments. As a member you can have complete access to the entire collection. The collection is constantly growing.

  • More than 250,000+ unabridged original single file PDF eBooks by the original authors
  • Adobe PDF eBooks Included Software Reads Books To You
  • Fully Searchable, Quotable Text, & Bookmarking Capability
  • It's like having over 250,000+ Books in your living room
  • Enough for several Lifetime's Worth of Reading

Click this link to visit the World eBook Library Consortia:


Growing up some of my favorite stories were those of Robin Hood, King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, not to mention pirates, fairy tales, and such. Now at Legends you can explore these stories that have not only lasted through time but have inspired people enough that we still enjoy them.

Explore Robin Hood, King Arthur, Beowulf, Pirates and Privateers, Ballads and Broadsides, Swashbucklers and Fops, Fairy Tales, Shakespeare's Stories, Sagas & Sea Kings, Paladins and Princes, Poets and Painters, and Erin and Alba.

I was so happy I found more stories that I could explore than I already knew. Like Sigurd the Dragon Slayer, old ballads, and poetry even.

Then you can also check out Legendary Resources, Search Legends, What's New, and Notes on the Illustrations.

"Search Legends" is a Google based search engine that will search both the site, and the World Wide Web if you want it to. It's a very nice search engine.

I found the Notes on the Illustrations section to be interesting and informative.

I hope you enjoy these adventures as much as I did. Click this link to visit the Legends web site:

Wired For Books

In order to use this site you need to have RealPlayer which is a free download, you will find the link to download Real Player near the top of their page.

Why would you want to have Real Player for this site? Well because you get to listen to famous, and not so famous, people read works of literature.

In the "Kid's Corner" you can listen to the tale of Peter Rabbit, and right next door you could listen to Alice 's Adventure's in Wonderland. Not to forget great literary works like Macbeth, The Illiad or the The Aeneid.

There is also poetry from "classic English poems, including poetry by Blake, Burns, Byron, Donne, Herbert, Hunt, Keats, and Shakespeare," to the "Den of Lions" poems, and the poetry of Emily Dickinson.

Not to mention all the wonderful non-fiction and fiction that you can listen to! This site gets an A++ in my opinion for being so diverse, and for bringing so many wonderful poems, and stories together in one place for people to listen to.
Click this link to visit the Wired For Books website:

Free Classic AudioBooks

This site has MP3 and M4B files of books that are out of copyright, a great resource for struggling readers! Most titles are for secondary students, including Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Picture of Dorian Gray, and Romeo and Juliet (the only Shakespeare title so far). Check back often for new titles.

Click this link to visit

Project Gutenberg

The philosophy of Project Gutenberg is to make information, books and other materials available to the general public in forms a vast majority of the computers, programs and people can easily read, use, quote, and search.

Included in the materials are U.S. Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the whole US Constitution, the Bible, Shakespeare, literature, reference resources and general works.

Click this link to visit the Project Gutenberg home page: Don't forget to check their section of books that have been converted to audio at

Another way to access the books in this library is to point your browser to where books can be converted to other formats.

Audio Books From Librivox

Here's a worthwhile project you may wish to participate in: "LibriVox wants all books in the public domain to be available, for free, in audio format, on the internet. We ask volunteers to record chapters of books in the public domain, and release them into the public domain."

They also have books that you can receive through their podcasts, how cool is that?

Click this link to visit the LibriVox website:

Bibliomania - Free Online Literature and Study Guides
  • Free Online Literature with more than 2000 Classic Texts
  • Literature Book Notes, Author Biographies, Book Summaries and Reference Books
  • Read Classic Fiction, Drama, Poetry, Short Stories and Contemporary Articles and Interviews
  • Study Guides to the most read books and Help for Teachers
  • Research their Reference Books, Dictionaries, Quotations, Classic Non-fiction, Biographies and Religious Texts
  • Buy the books personally read and recommended by Bibliomania

Click this link to visit Bibliomania:

FREE computer books and Internet books online with hard copy buying options

Here's a great collection of computer ebooks for your reading pleasure.

Click this link to find hundreds of computer and technology related books:

Doctor Who E-Books

In the 1950s kids hid behind the sofa when Professor Bernard Quatermass battled aliens on the BBC whilst ITV gave us Pathfinders in Space - the brainchild of Canadian Sydney Newman.

Fast forward to 1962 and Newman, now promoted to Head of BBC Drama, needed a new Saturday night family series to fit snugly between Grandstand and Juke Box Jury.

Concepts pitched for the show included telepathy, flying saucers, scientific trouble-shooters from the future - and a time machine. We all know who won.

The main stars of the show would be a couple of school teachers - the square-jawed Ian Chesterton and the improbably bouffant Barbara Wright. The teen audience could identify with Susan Foreman, one of their pupils. Even if she was an alien.

Finally, a mysterious anti-hero in the mould of Conan-Doyle's Professor Challenger would complete the line-up. He would be known only as 'The Doctor'. Doctor Who?

Travelling in their time and space machine, the TARDIS, the Doctor and co. began their adventures on November 23rd 1963 by voyaging 100,000 years into Earth's past to help some slightly dim cavemen discover fire.

That's how it all began, and the series is still alive and well today. The BBC has created a site where you can read the continuing adventures of Doctor Who. All e-books feature brand new artwork and extensive notes by the original authors. If you are a fan of this cult classic show, this is the site for you.

Click here to visit the BBC Doctor Who page at

Books in a Podcast

Here are some sites that podcast audiobooks:

Subscription Services

Even though braille and recorded books have existed for decades, supply is limited, production costs are high and using them can be cumbersome.

Many sight-impaired people use inexpensive scanners to prepare their own reading material for computer-synthesized speech. The page-by- page process often takes two to three hours per book.

The high-speed machine used by can scan an entire book in 10 minutes. The technology can scan both sides of a page simultaneously after a book's binding has been removed.

With, members submit their own scanned books for the collection and download as many as they like for use with Braille printers, computer-synthesized speech programs or other reading aids. Members pay a $25 initial setup fee and annual $50 dues.

To join, members must send a letter from a doctor or other professional that attests to their disability. After paying the fees, they get a copy of Victor Reader Soft software that translates digital files into computer-synthesized speech.

Word about has spread to students and teachers who prompted the organization to add a staff member dedicated to working with schools.

About 95 percent of members are legally blind or dyslexic, while the remainder live with physical disabilities that prevent them from turning the pages of a book.

Driven by member submissions, the popular collection leans toward romance and science fiction. Volunteers search the files for errors and add titles, like the complete set of Pulitzer Prize winners or college reading lists.

Some members even convert files to the MP3 format so they can load them onto an iPod.

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Disabled, operated by the U.S. Library of Congress, has offered Braille and recorded books since the 1930s, but it often takes two to three years for a best-seller to be made available to the public via that service.

While the service distributes books to a network of libraries around the United States, users can face a months-long waiting list to receive a book. offers quicker satisfaction.

Another advantage over recorded books is the ability to skip chapters or search for keywords, especially helpful with textbooks, news or nonfiction material.

The organization has appealed to publishers to donate digital copies to when books are released, in keeping with the 1996 federal law that requires digital textbooks to be made available to disabled students at the same time as print versions.

Click this link to visit the website.

Diesel eBooks

Search and download over 35,000 titles, including 750 free downloads.

Click this link to visit the Diesel eBooks website:

Jiggerbug an online audio book rental service, delivers their extensive collection of best-selling audio book titles to subscribers - digitally!

Based on the Netflix model, current Jiggerbug subscribers enjoy quick and simple mail service delivery of their favorite book titles on either CD-ROM or cassette tape. A newer service gives Jiggerbug subscribers the option to instantly download their favorite titles in an easy-to-use, take-it-with-you digital format. Powered by OverDrive technology, digital delivery is ideal for commuters, frequent gym goers or anyone who wants to create more time in their day by multitasking with an entertaining best-seller, self-help title or any of the thousands of book options available.

Growing time demands make it difficult for many to enjoy the latest "must-read" titles. To bridge the gap between time and desire, Jiggerbug's audio books offer a solution - allowing people to listen to their favorite book or subject during times that may otherwise be wasted ( lengthy bus commutes, gym time, etc. ). By freeing-up the hands, Jiggerbug is freeing-up time for busy executives, multitasking moms and housewives or anyone who wants to make more efficient use of their day. Audio books ( available on tape, CD or Instant Download ) are also the ideal answer for the elderly, beginning readers, or anyone with sight restrictions. With the Digital Download service option, ordering is as easy as:

  1. choose a title and checkout
  2. instantly download the title for immediate playback
  3. at the end of the loan, the title is automatically returned to the collection - with nothing more to do.

Powered by OverDrive, audio titles will be available in the industry standard WMA format for easy playback on your home computer or on hundreds of portable devices, including MP3 players. The OverDrive Audio Book technology contains advanced accessibility features that make it easy for blind and visually impaired listeners to enjoy titles. Users simply choose their favorite book from Jiggerbug's expansive collection of titles, download the book for instant, on-the-go playback using an audio device or listen offline on the subscribers PC.

For more information, click this link to visit

Pay Per Listen: An Electronic Download Service of

PayPerListen, a service of delivers an extensive selection of audiobooks in an electronically downloadable format at approximately 75-80% less than the cost of typical CD's and cassettes.

The PayPerListen.comSM and SM combined services employ state of the art electronic ordering, file transfer technology, and encrypted security to bring to you a downloaded title which is immediately available and there is no delay or additional cost for shipping regardless of where you may be throughout the world!

They call their titles "Electronically Downloadable Audiobooks," and the selection is great. There are also some helpful articles to help with the download process., a Consumer Shopping Service for Audio Entertainment is a premier audio download and traditional media service providing consumers with an easy way to access thousands of best selling audio books, classic radio shows, theatre performances, and a growing collection of audio newspapers, magazines, lectures, self help and wellness courses, modern day radio shows and other spoken word entertainment. is a unique one-stop shop that provides customers with both digital downloads for immediate listening as well as the ability to purchase CDs and audio cassettes for those more comfortable with traditional media.

SoundsGood supports digital downloads that are compatible with MP3 players, CD players, PCs and some high-end smart phones that support the Windows Media audio format.

SoundsGood offers a wide range of audiobook titles ranging from New York Times best-sellers to the obscure. incorporates software designed by OverDrive, an audio playback technology designed for enhanced audiobook listening in combination with the Windows Media Player. Benefits of the OverDrive system include the ability to bookmark audio points, utilize visual chapter marks to more easily jump between chapters, and to audibly slow down or speed up the reader's pace of the story playback. Such features will allow the consumer to very simply mark where they are in an audiobook, find their way back to the point, and skip ahead or back if necessary. The system is also fully enabled to provide ease of use for the visually impaired and blind community.

Click this link to visit

Ebooks in Spanish and German

Those looking for electronic books in Spanish, German and to a lesser degree in other languages can explore Tiflolibros, a growing library from Argentina. Their German collection is growing very rapidly! Here is the English information page, with links to the main page in Spanish.

Online Dictionaries and encyclopedias

The Internet is a rich source for dictionary and other reference materials. If you have screen access software and an Internet connection, there are a number of sites that you may want to check out.

Before we go too far, let me suggest that you take some time to read this great page called How to use Dictionaries.

Acronym Finder: has more than 480,000 human-edited entries, Acronym Finder is the world's largest and most comprehensive dictionary of acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms. Combined with the Acronym Attic, Acronym Finder contains more than 3 million acronyms and abbreviations.

Do you need a dictionary in a foreign language? If so, then you need to search Dictionaries > By Language in the Yahoo! Directory: has links to over 500 dictionaries so you're sure to find what you're looking for!

Are you trying to keep up with the latest slang terms? If so, then you need to search Slang Dictionaries in the Yahoo! Directory:

“…translate and learn words in their original context.” The mission of is to create an on-line environment that allows anyone learning a language to quickly look up and learn the vocabulary most important to them.” In addition to dictionaries in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Polish and Swedish, you can put in a URL and all the words on that page become clickable with definitions popping up everywhere!

Wikipedia is a multilingual, Web-based, free-content encyclopedia written collaboratively by volunteers and operated by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation based in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Wikipedia began as a complement to the expert-written Nupedia on January 15, 2001. It has steadily risen in popularity, and has since spawned several sister projects, such as Wiktionary, Wikibooks, and Wikinews. It is edited by volunteers with wiki software, meaning articles are subject to change by nearly anyone. Wikipedia's volunteers attempt to uphold a policy of "neutral point of view" under which views presented by notable persons or literature are summarized without an attempt to determine an objective truth. Due to its open nature, vandalism and inaccuracy are constant problems in Wikipedia.

Wiktionary is a sister project to Wikipedia, intended to be a free wiki dictionary (including thesaurus and lexicon) in every language. It was set up on December 12, 2002. gives you access to the American Heritage Dictionary, the Columbia Encyclopedia, the Roget's Thesauri, Quotations, English Usage, Modern Usage, Strunk Style, Cambridge History, the King James Bible, Oxford Shakespeare, Gray's Anatomy, Farmer's Cook Book, Host Etiquette, Brewer's Phrase and Fable, and other interesting books.

The Merriam-Webster online Dictionary:, gives you access to definitions from the Merriam-Webster Collegiate® Dictionary and Thesaurus. This Web site also features the "Word of the day," "Word games," and "Word for the Wise."

The Free Dictionary: was featured in the Rvers Computer Help Newsletter. It has a dictionary and other related services. is a unique site. When you type a word to be looked up, retrieves and displays definitions from different sources at once. For instance, the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, WordNet 1.6, and Acronym Finder.

The Internet is also a great resource for more specialized reference materials. To find these materials just go to your favorite search engine --Google, Yahoo, Altavista, etc. and do a search on the word "dictionary". You will find resources ranging from technical terminology like >, an on-line dictionary for computer and internet terms, to, the most complete dinosaur dictionary on the web. You can also find books for medical terminology, law, measurement conversion, foreign languages, biology, semantics and more.

Most Web reference materials are free and easy to use. Just type a word or words in an "Edit box" and do a search. The results will be displayed in an HTML format. The main disadvantage that free Web materials have over the commercially available software is the amount of unwanted information within the results page, such as advertisements and navigation links. If you plan to use these reference materials frequently, you will be better off purchasing the CD-ROM, or subscribing to their service in order to get a clean version and save time searching. However, if you just want to search these materials occasionally, take a look at your screen access manual. Your software should have useful tips and features that will allow you to navigate a Web page efficiently by skipping unwanted information.

The Encyclopedia Britannica

Since its first publication in 1768, The Encyclopædia Britannica has been considered the world's most comprehensive reference product. Unfortunately, for more than 200 years this reference material was not accessible in its entirety to people who were blind or visually impaired.

With the advances in the field of technology and the power of the Internet, this research tool is now available to blind computer users.

Encyclopedia Britannica Online includes the complete encyclopedia, the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and the Britannica Book of the Year. The Encyclopedia Britannica Online can be used to search an Internet directory that includes more than 130,000 links to Web sites selected, rated, and reviewed by Britannica editors.

Through this service, one can find more than 72,000 articles, updated and revised by EB editors and contributors. The Encyclopedia contains over 10,000 illustrations, including photographs, drawings, maps, and flags. The Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary contains more than 75,000 definitions, including pronunciation guides and word histories.

Encyclopedia Britannica Online offers different kinds of subscriptions to Individuals or families, and site license subscriptions to multi-user organizations. Including corporations, libraries, primary through secondary schools, colleges, and universities. Pricing varies by market and size of organization.

For more information contact:

Encyclopedia Britannica
Toll Free: 1-800-621-3900

The Canadian Encyclopedia

Search or browse by broad topic for almost any aspect of Canadian history and culture. You can also explore a timeline of Canadian history, the 100 greatest events in Canadian history, interactive resources, or quizzes that test your knowledge of Canada. The site also includes the full text of the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Click this link to visit the Canadian Encyclopedia:

Using is fun, easy, and with free, instant access to reliable facts, definitions and information on over a million topics, it's sure to keep you coming back for more learning, not searching!

Click this link to visit

Flags of the World

Want to learn about flags? If you answer yes this site is for you. I had no idea the number of flags found in the United States. Even cities have flags! You can also view maps of various places as well. Click this link to visit Flags of the World.

We got this comment on another article and I wanted to add it to this one because its another great resource.


While searching the web for ideas on what to do this 4th of July, I came across your blog, The Fred's Head Companion. I really liked your 4th of July post and I would like to share with you a site that I found helpful. Http:// is a free online searchable library with thousands of articles you only need a library card to access. I went there and searched for "4th of July" and came up with dozens of articles on 4th of July activities.

Click this link to search You may want to add it to your favorite links or mention it in your blog; I think your readers would find it very useful. Thank you for the blog and Happy 4th!


Sarah Deak


Welcome to Scifipedia! This is where you can find almost anything about the Science Fiction genre. And even better, if what you're looking for isn't here, you can easily add the information yourself.

I was absolutely thrilled by how much there was to explore. There are over 3,000 entries here and the collection is growing daily.

  • Today's Featured Article: The site features a different article about something in the genre.
  • This Day in SCI FI: Where you'll find out about the birth and deaths of people who've worked in the genre in some way or another.
  • Did You Know? Here you can get a dose of SCI FI trivia.
  • Hot Topics: These are some of the most popular topics on the site at the moment. When I was there, Fanguage was one of them. It explained some of the languages used by fans of SCI FI.
  • Editor's Journal: Here you can find an entry from one of the editors about something SCI FI.
  • Shout Outs: Here is where the editors thank fans for their hard work in making this site more complete. It is a big public thank you to the people who put forth their efforts.

Now, that's just the information on the main page. On the side menu, you will find links to the many different forms of media that Science Fiction has found a home in and the articles that fit into each category. You'll also find, if you scroll down a little bit, the most recent additions to the database, as well as, an FAQ section and a helpful Tutorial feature.

Click this link to visit SCIFIPEDIA at

Double Tongued Dictionary

Welcome to the Double Tongue Word Wrester Dictionary where you will find slang, jargon and less frequently used terms defined for you. For a full explanation of what is included in this dictionary, check out the About section, which is where you will also find information about the author of the site.

On the main page, you will find the newest entry defined near the top. You will also find a listing of the newest entries so you can easily check out what was recently added. You will also see that there is an Alpha Index on the side of the page and beneath the newest entries, a listing of newest citations.

There is a menu bar with these options: About, Categories, Citations, Cohort, Word-a-Day, Entries, Feeds, Login and Search. Let's look at each one of these options in more detail.

Categories: This is another way for you to browse the entries on the site. Only here, you'll do it by finding the words that relate to the name of the category. So, if you wanted to see advertising slang or jargon, you could do so by clicking on the Advertising link in the category section. You will also be able to check out Register, Language and Class as a way to view words just beneath the categories section. Register deals with certain types of words like colloquial, derogatory, euphemism, jargon, slang, etc. Language is where you can check out words from the many different languages around the world. Class is a section devoted to abbreviations, acronyms and eponyms.

Citations: Here you can check out the citation queue for recently added words. The most recent will be on this page to go back further. Either click the numbered links just under the citation queue area or click the Last link for the last page of entries.

Cohort: Here you will find links to sites in different languages and the option to nominate sites to be listed.

Word-a-Day: You can sign up to get the daily email from this site. It contains a definition or several definitions and comes directly to your Inbox each day. To find out more about it and how to sign up, check out this section.

Entries: This is another way for you to view the words that are added here. The newest entries are shown on this page, as well as the option to check out the ones that were added previously. It uses the same navigation system as the Citations section.

Feeds: If you are into RSS feeds (and who isn't) you can find four from this site that you can subscribe to. Entry Feed gives you the 10 most recent entries. Complete Feed gives you the 10 most recent dictionary entries. Citation Feed gives you the last 20 citations that haven't been fully developed yet and the last is a feed to the author's blog.

Search: Here you will find the search engine that offers you several ways to search the site. It even offers advanced search options to really help you find what you're looking for.

Click this link to learn some new words from the Double Tongued Dictionary:


Babiloo is a program developed to read offline dictionaries. Supports SDictionary and StarDict formats. HTML displaying for supported dictionaries. Download more dictionaries within the application.

Click this link to learn more about Babiloo:

We found another site offering a large collection of electronic books. offers largely public domain books from nearly 100,000 authors. It's a bit cluttered with ads, but worth a visit, especially if you're looking for an obscure classic.

Click this link to visit

How about that for research? If you know of any sites that I've left out, please click here to email me at and tell me about them.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Watch Your Favorite TV Shows Online

Favorite-TV Shows is a website that streams episodes of various American TV shows online. This website has a wide selection of videos with the latest episodes from current-running TV series such as Heroes, Glee, Fringe, True Blood, and Family Guy.

Simply pick the show and choose the season and the episode you want to watch. Episodes stream using Flash technology, the player controls are not accessible to screen readers, but I did get the episodes to play and the sound was good.

You can view episodes from TV shows that are not aired anymore like That 70’s Show, Ally McBeal, Arrested Development and my personal favorite, Star Trek. Streaming is free and you don't need to sign-up in order to access the shows.

Click this link to watch your favorite TV shows with

If you're outside of the US and sick of not being able to see good TV online or just tired of waiting for Hulu to get your favorite shows, you'll want to check out TVGorge and its huge archive of shows.

TVGorge breaks through international barriers by bringing fresh American TV content to viewers outside of the United States and other approved viewing areas. Want to see the season premier of LOST without waiting several months for it to be released in your viewing area? You can watch LOST as well as 125+ other popular television shows like Dexter, Dollhouse, Entourage, and Archer.

How does TVGorge bring in such fresh content? They use an indexing engine to scan for the online content offered by other sites and then organize the content with accessible episode guides and other information, all repackaged for the enjoyment of people inside and outside the reach of traditional streaming services like Hulu.

Click this link to watch your favorite TV show with All About TV Shows New and Old

Now that you've watched your favorite show, why not learn all you can about it. Do you know about the Internet Movie Database? If you do, chances are you will take a liking to this site. We could say it does for TV shows what IMdB does for movies. They say it's “an open database for television fans.”

Click this link to visit

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

101 Historical Moments You Can Relive on YouTube

Events from both political and cultural history, captured and stored on YouTube, including Pearl Harbor, the Oklahoma City bombing, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 1929 stock market crash, Billie Jean King in the "Battle of the Sexes," the first MTV program, the O.J. Simpson trial, the 1960 presidential debate, Woodstock, and the space shuttle Columbia disaster. I am a big fan of history, so you can bet I'll be spending some time here.

Click this link to check out the 101 Historical Moments You Can Relive on YouTube.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Problem with PDF Content

by Donna J. Jodhan

That's the crazy thing that so many content designers just do not understand. They continue to put all of their efforts into designing pretty PDF content but at the end of the day it is totally inaccessible to blind and visually impaired people. Why you ask? Very simple. PDF content is made up of an image that cannot be deciphered by screen readers. In other words; PDF files are image-based instead of textual-based. Blind and visually impaired persons use screen readers to surf the Internet.

More and more online forms are being designed in PDF format and as a result of this, blind and visually impaired people are being deprived of their right to privacy and confidentiality. How is this? Simple! If a form is in PDF format it means that blind and visually impaired people need to depend on sighted assistance to help them complete it. It is frustrating, scary, and a downright violation of our right to confidentiality and privacy. There is a way for all of this to be dealt with and it starts with the content developer using the appropriate tags to format the PDF content so that it is made accessible and usable.

What most content developers still fail to understand is this: if they take the additional time to tag their PDF content appropriately, they will not only be making it accessible to the blind and visually impaired; they will also be making it accessible and usable to the print disabled, the technically shy, and to those who are not technically savvy. Before you start to wonder who all of these people are, please allow me to elaborate.

The print disabled: those who are unable to read because of either physical, mental, or visual challenges.

The technically shy or not technically savvy: those who have difficulty coping with modern technology and who work better with more simple environments. In short, the millions of aging baby boomers who did not grow up with the Internet at their fingertips.

I personally find PDF content to be frustrating, a useless and time-consuming obstacle for me to deal with, and a downright insult to my right to privacy and confidentiality. Let me give you a URL that you can visit in order to learn why PDF content does not benefit the blind and visually impaired. Visit

I'm Donna J. Jodhan, an accessibility and special needs business consultant wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all:
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility:
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns:

Response to The Problem with PDF Content

by G F Mueden

I suspected Donna J. Jodhan of inaccuracy and checked with Lighthouse's Dr. Arditi. Here's what he had to say.

"In 2000-2002, while I was at IBM, I helped out Adobe a bit with their project to make PDFs accessible. Not all PDFs are accessible, and making them accessible requires a teeny bit of extra work, but the quote is incorrect in asserting that PDFs are only image-based. As [your] last line points out, searching works, so they are not totally image-based. An accessible PDF has a layer of text with tags that is mapped to the image. JAWS and other screen readers can manage quite nicely with these files. In the days of yore, PDFs were totally inaccessible, but that hasn't been true for nearly 10 years, though many continue to bash them."

Dr Arditi of Lighthouse Int'l in NY thinks this disparagement goes much too far. that great improvements have been made but they are not always implemented. I think that those who have difficulty should always give specific examples when reporting difficulties. We should try to find to whom these difficulties should be reported.

Click this link to check out Adobe's blog on accessibility:

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all:
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility:
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns:


by Kerry Isham

On my first day at APH
Tuck Tinsley gave to me
a braille copy of my Newsweek.

On my second day at APH
Tuck Tinsley gave to me
two Talking Glow Dice,
and a braille copy of my Newsweek.

On my third day at APH
Tuck Tinsley gave to me
three Rib-It-Balls,
two Talking Glow Dice,
and a braille copy of my Newsweek.

On my fourth day at APH
Tuck Tinsley gave to me
four NIMAC Updates,
three Rib-It-Balls,
two Talking Glow Dice,
and a braille copy of my Newsweek.

On my fifth day at APH
Tuck Tinsley gave to me
five Green Machines,
four NIMAC Updates,
three Rib-It-Balls,
two Talking Glow Dice,
and a braille copy of my Newsweek.

On my sixth day at APH
Tuck Tinsley gave to me
six talking watches,
five Green Machines,
four NIMAC Updates,
three Rib-It-Balls,
two Talking Glow Dice,
and a braille copy of my Newsweek.

On my seventh day at APH
Tuck Tinsley gave to me
seven large print textbooks,
six talking watches,
five Green Machines,
four NIMAC Updates,
three Rib-It-Balls,
two Talking Glow Dice,
and a braille copy of my Newsweek.

On my eighth day at APH
Tuck Tinsley gave to me
eight test transcribers,
seven large print textbooks,
six talking watches,
five Green Machines,
four NIMAC Updates,
three Rib-It-Balls,
two Talking Glow Dice,
and a braille copy of my Newsweek.

On my ninth day at APH
Tuck Tinsley gave to me
nine InSights artists,
eight test transcribers,
seven large print textbooks,
six talking watches,
five Green Machines,
four NIMAC Updates,
three Rib-It-Balls,
two Talking Glow Dice,
and a braille copy of my Newsweek.

On my tenth day at APH
Tuck Tinsley gave to me
ten tactile graphics,
nine InSights artists,
eight test transcribers,
seven large print textbooks,
six talking watches,
five Green Machines,
four NIMAC Updates,
three Rib-It-Balls,
two Talking Glow Dice,
and a braille copy of my Newsweek.

On my eleventh day at APH
Tuck Tinsley gave to me
eleven Toodle Tiles,
ten tactile graphics,
nine InSights artists,
eight test transcribers,
seven large print textbooks,
six talking watches,
five Green Machines,
four NIMAC Updates,
three Rib-It-Balls,
two Talking Glow Dice,
and a braille copy of my Newsweek.

On my twelfth day at APH
Tuck Tinsley gave to me
twelve tours a-touring
eleven Toodle Tiles,
ten tactile graphics,
nine InSights artists,
eight test transcribers,
seven large print textbooks,
six talking watches,
five Green Machines,
four NIMAC Updates,
three Rib-It-Balls,
two Talking Glow Dice,
and a braille copy of my Newsweek!

Convert Email To HTML Pages

I've been looking for a service like this for the last few weeks. I was using a service called Twittermail to convert email messages to links that I could share with the Fred's Head followers on Twitter. The service has pprooved unreliable by not always sending my links to Twitter. I'm looking forward to giving this service a try.

ForwardOn is a web service that provides an alternative way to share your favorite email messages with others. Instead of forwarding them to your friends individually, ForwardOn lets you send them to and convert them to html pages by publishing them to your personal account. Your messages will be presented on a clean formatted web page along with any attachments like videos, pictures or audio. Using the website is very easy and requires sign up.

You can also browse email messages shared by other users, check out most popular shared items, rate them and leave comments. ForwardOn also has a reward system where, depending on the popularity of your posts, you can get points which can be redeemed as prizes or donations to several organizations.

Click this link to visit

Next time you receive an email cool enough to share with those who follow you on Twitter, a site like Tweet Your Mail will let you do the sharing and save a considerable number of steps in the process. This web-based tool will let you tweet email messages by sending them to a master address ( Upon doing so, a web page of your original mail will be created and a tweet directing your followers to it will be sent to Twitter. All it takes is creating a free account!

Click this link to convert email messages to tweets with

Locate Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free

I'm always looking for a good deal and this site has them.

If you eat out with your family on a regular basis, KidsEatFor is definitely for you. It's a website that helps you locate restaurants where kids eat for free. Just type in your address or zipcode (US only) and hit “search”, KidsEatFor will then give you a list of nearby restaurants that offer kids specials.

In case you know a restaurant in your area that is not listed, you can submit it for inclusion. You can even sort results by days of the week to get in on those daily specials. The restaurant’s address and phone number is also presented.

Click this link and feed your kids ffor free by searching at
You might also want to check for kid-friendly deals at other restaurants as well.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Large Display Online Stopwatch

TimeMe is a free web-based timer and large display stopwatch for your browser. It can be used to time meetings, class tests or any other events. Due to its huge display it can be easily used in conference rooms with many people, at home for a low vision alternative to inaccessible timers or classrooms with low vision students.

The watch can be set to count up or down and an alarm can be set to go off when the timer stops. Users may also adjust the timer's display (size, color, width) and sound alarm settings to fit their needs.

Click this link to visit the Time Me site:

MaximEyes Video Magnifier

Photo of the revised MaximEyes unit showing the corded Pentracker and the joystick controller

The newly upgraded MaximEyes Video Magnifier from EITAC Solutions Group is offered exclusively by APH. It offers access to printed materials, multimedia, as well as improved productivity. With up to 60X magnification, you are able to display an enlarged view of materials placed on the work surface. A new, larger 22-inch widescreen display provides a clear image for reading and writing.

The improved MaximEyes has a unique interface that uses a new joystick controller that replaces the mouse from the previous model. You can manipulate the optional camera in any direction, zoom in or out, or control any of the wide variety of features.

With an optional Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) camera, not available from APH, you can see information such as a lecturer being presented in the distance. Three inputs allow connection to other media sources, such as a VCR, DVD player, or compatible computers.


  • Corded PenTracker for improved writing capability
  • NEW! Improved design
  • New! AutoTrack™ reading feature, no x-y table
  • Access to remote audio-video presentations through the provided inputs
  • NEW! Quieter motion control system
  • NEW! Better lighting


  • NEW! Larger 22-inch widescreen display
  • Up to three additional video and one audio input
  • NEW! Joystick controller for easy control of camera movement, magnification, and more
  • Unique PenTracker technology, includes one corded PenTracker
  • NEW! SMALLER BASE: Base of unit measures 17" wide by 15 1/2" deep -- requires less space than other CCTVs that require a moveable x-y table
  • Can utilize an optional Sony® EVI-D70 Pan-Tilt-Zoom camera (available from commercial vendors)
  • One year limited warranty (optional extended warranty available)
MaximEyes Video Magnifier Unit:
Catalog Number: 1-03915-01

Optional Extended Warranty (extends the included one-year warranty for an additional year, giving you two years total. Must be ordered within 60 days of the date your product was shipped):
Catalog Number: 1-03918-00

Replacement PenTracker™, Corded:
Catalog Number: 1-03917-00

Joystick Controller:
Catalog Number: 1-03914-01

PenTracker, Cordless:
Catalog Number: 1-03916-00
Click this link to purchase the MaximEyes Video Magnifier.

UPS shipping fee added to all orders within the contiguous U.S. All other shipments will include actual shipping rates based on the point of destination.

NOTE: MaximEyes™ Video Magnifier, extended warranty, replacement PenTracker™, and freight & insurance delivery ARE available for purchase with Quota funds.

MaximEyes™ and PenTracker™ are trademarked products of EITAC Solutions Group, LLC in West Lafayette, Indiana.

MaximEyes Helps Real Students in the Classroom

Emily Eagle smiles as she tries out her new MaximEyes Video Magnifier. Emily is a 5th grade student in Texas.

Here's a heartfelt letter from student Emily's mother, Sue Eagle, shortly after Emily received the MaximEyes Video Magnifier from APH.

My daughter, Emily, is a proud user of the MaximEyes CCTV. We are just so impressed with your product! The technology and ease of use far surpasses our wildest dreams, and Emily has just blossomed since getting the MaximEyes in her classroom. All we can say is, "Oh my goodness!" We were blown away and know that this [the remote camera] will only help Emily feel more immersed in her classroom and see things all the other kids can see like posters and even what the teacher writes on the board or [what is on the] overhead projector, things she could not see before. Emily is a bright young lady and the MaximEyes with the camera now gives her all the tools she needs to excel even more to get the most out of her school experience. She now truly feels like she is a part of the class and not on the outside "looking" in. ...Your life's work is opening up the world to a sweet young lady and we truly appreciate you and your company...from the bottom of our hearts. I have attached a photo of Emily [using] her MaximEyes and you can see the joy on her face!

Additional MaximEyes Information for Trustees

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

Sony EVI-D70 Pan-Tilt-Zoom Camera:
Optional Accessory for MaximEyes Video Magnifier

One of the most exciting optional accessories for use with the MaximEyes Video Magnifier is the SONY® EVI-D70 pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera. This is the only external camera that works with the MaximEyes. The camera allows the MaximEyes user to access picture-in-picture features to:

  • View the teacher and read a textbook at the same time
  • View the blackboard and a worksheet at the same time
  • View a video or PowerPoint® and a paper document at the same time, etc.

The Sony EVI-D70 pan-tilt-zoom camera is also ideal for applications such as videoconferencing, distance learning, and internet communications -- just about any application that requires a high-quality color video camera with remote pan-tilt-zoom. The hands-free PTZ camera combines a high-speed, quiet pan-tilt motor with a wide-angle view and 40x zoom (10x optical + 4x digital). It has innovative features such as auto focus, auto white balance, and automatic exposure control to keep the video image sharp when the camera changes positions.

APH does not sell the Sony EVI-D70 pan-tilt-zoom camera. Listed below are several websites that carry this camera. Prices vary. APH does not endorse any particular vendor.

There are other vendors, not listed, who sell this product as well. If you make a purchase from a vendor and you have a positive experience, we at APH would appreciate it if you would share the vendor's name and product price with us.

Early Braille Trade Books

Sunshine Kit 1

Finding the right book for young students is now easier!

The Early Braille Trade Books Project combines commercially available books with braille labels for beginning readers. This kit includes books, braille labels, and access to an interactive website, please visit:

  • Contracted or uncontracted braille labels
  • Match books to a student based on braille knowledge
  • The interactive website allows you to:
    • Search for books by genre, core curriculum, or expanded core curriculum
    • Access a book summary and activities designed for braille readers
    • Maintain a listing and percentage of contractions learned by each student -- great for documentation at IEP meetings
    • Share or transfer student records to other teachers
Sunshine 1 Kit Includes

14 books, label packs, and a Quick Start Guide:

  • Along Comes Jake
  • Bread
  • The Cooking Pot
  • Mr. Grump
  • The Monkey Bridge
  • Noise
  • Nowhere and Nothing
  • Old Grizzly
  • Ratty-Tatty
  • The Seed
  • Spider, Spider
  • The Tiny Woman's Closet
  • What Would You Like?
  • Where Are You Going, Aja Rose?

Notes: Customer applies the included braille labels. A user ID and password are required to access interactive website.

Contracted Braille Kit:
Catalog Number: 3-00201-00

Uncontracted Braille Kit:
Catalog Number: 3-00202-00

Contracted Braille Label Packs (labels only):
Catalog Number: 3-00201-CL

Uncontracted Braille Label Packs (labels only):
Catalog Number: 3-00202-UL
Click this link to purchase the Early Braille Trade Books: Sunshine Kit 1.

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

APH Weeks Before Christmas

'Twas weeks before Christmas, Santa's short on time,
"I need accessible gifts for those who are blind!"

He's been watching the weather for snow and for ice.
He checks the time with his talking ZeitGeist.

"What can I do?" he pleads to his spouse.
"Dear, shop online at American Printing House."

"You know I forgot about the shop APH site.
It'll sure come in handy on a night like tonight."

"I'll grab my list and fire up the Mac,
Accessible gifts I'll have in my sack."

Look at the books, what a selection!
I'll pick this one from Chrissy's Collection."

"I know one book I'll sure be taking,
It's a good one to read, APH History in the Making."

"For Bobby, Tommy, Missy and Sue,
I'll make reading easier with the handy i-vu."

"Sam wants games, that's really nice,
I'll add to his list APH's Talking GlowDice."

"For those who aren't technologically set,
I'll have for them APH's Handi-cassette."

"A netbook is cool for Betty and Christa.
I'm sure they could learn from Verbal View of Vista."

"John and Sally really like to stay fit!
To them I'll give this cool Fitness Kit.

"Everyone knows the importance of braille.
Practice makes perfect with the Compact Swing Cell.

"Keep track of appointments and dates,
You can't go wrong with QuickBraille stylus and slate."

"In the stockings this year, I'll know what to hide,
APH's redesigned Signature Guide."

"It looks like I'm done, man I'm so tired.
It's back to my chair to relax by the fire."

Santa closes his eyes and starts to snore.
He's glad he remembered

Packaging Information Available from Horizons for the Blind

From the site:

"Welcome to directions for me, your one stop source for accessible packaging information. This site will provide a consistent, quality source of complete packaging information for everything from preparation instructions to ingredient lists to Nutrition Facts labels for many common grocery, health and beauty products.

We encourage you to support our corporate partners who have made a commitment to the blind and visually impaired community. If you don’t see a specific product listed on this site, please contact that company directly to suggest that they partner with us to make their packaging information accessible to a large and often ignored market.

Directions was designed to be 100 percent accessible for text to speech users and also braille output devices. If you have difficulty finding any information on this site, please contact us at"

Click this link to visit the Directions for Me website:
The Texas School for the Blind also has a site with prep instructions for packaged foods, including a George Forman Grill section:

Earn Your Doctorate With a Specialization in the Education of Students who have a Sensory Impairment

APH is pleased to announce the funding of the National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities (NLCSD) by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. The consortium consists of 24 universities with doctoral programs that have an emphasis in one or more of the three sensory impairment areas: blind/visually impaired, deaf/hard of hearing, and deafblindness. For more information, contact Dr. Kathleen M. Huebner, NLCSD Project Director, Salus University,

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The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) makes every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the Fred's Head articles; however, APH makes no warranty, guarantee, or promise, expressed or implied, concerning the content or accuracy of the information provided in Fred's Head. APH does not endorse any technique, product, device, service, organization, or other information presented in Fred's Head, other than products and services directly offered by APH.

The products produced by the American Printing House for the Blind are instructional/teaching materials and are intended to be used by trained professionals, parents, and other adults with children who are blind and visually impaired. These materials are not intended as toys for use by children in unstructured play or in an unsupervised environment.

The information and techniques contained in Fred's Head are provided without legal consideration (free-of-charge) and are not warranted by APH to be safe or effective. All users of this service assume the risk of any injury or damage that may result from the use of the information provided.

Information in Fred's Head is not intended as a substitute for professional advice or treatment. Consult your physician before utilizing information regarding your health that may be presented on this site. Consult other professionals as appropriate for legal, financial, and related advice.

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Any submissions to Fred's Head should be free of copyright restrictions and should be the intellectual property of the submitter. By submitting information to Fred's Head, you are granting APH permission to publish this information.

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Opinions appearing in Fred's Head records are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Printing House for the Blind.