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.)


Friday, March 27, 2009

About Fred's Head

Fred Gissoni emerging from computer monitor Click this link to hear a message from Fred.

Created by and for people who are blind or visually impaired,
Fred’s Head is where you go when you gotta know!

Explore the collective ideas and experiences of blind or visually impaired people by visiting Fred’s Head! You’ll find hundreds of tips and techniques to help you solve everyday difficulties, and detailed explanations of more complex issues that may challenge you.

Why Is this Blog Called Fred's Head?

Fred's Head is a free service from the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) that publishes tips, articles, and resources by and for blind or visually impaired people. The Fred's Head blog was inspired by APH's legendary Fred Gissoni.

Fred has been providing technical support to APH customers and writing APH technical manuals since 1988. Prior to coming to APH, Fred had many accomplishments in the field of blindness. He has been working in the field since 1953 and has been a rehab placement officer, counselor, teacher, case supervisor, center director, and technical service unit director. He has written and taught courses for the Hadley School for the Blind and was a visiting instructor at the University of Kentucky. Fred was the co-inventor of a device that would eventually become the APH PocketBraille, one of the earliest braille notetakers.

Fred is known across the US for his vast wealth of knowledge about blindness, especially as it applies to daily living. Staff from the American Printing House for the Blind wanted to capture the knowledge in "Fred's head" and so the original Fred's Head database was established in the early 1990s. Many of Fred's tips, tricks, and resources were written as articles and published in the database, along with articles contributed by other APH staff and by Fred's Head users.

The Fred's Head Companion

In order to use the latest technology for people who are blind or visually impaired, APH began the Fred's Head Companion blog in 2004. In addition to the original Fred's Head Database, the Fred's Head Companion was a way to widely syndicate the information that was created for the original database. Through a variety of services, the records in the original Fred's Head database were delivered to a much broader audience through email, RSS aggrigators and to portible MP3 players as a podcast.

APH continues the tradition of sharing knowledge through the current blog, simply called Fred's Head. And Fred Gissoni, now in his 70s, continues to serve blind and visually impaired people across the US by being available for questions in APH's Customer Relations Department. The original Fred's Head Database was discontinued in March of 2009.

The Fred's Head Blog

Fred's Head, the free service from APH that publishes tips, articles, and resources for blind or visually impaired people, has changed format. The Fred's Head Companion blog has been renamed to Fred's Head (

Fred's Head is one of the first places you'll find announcements about new APH products. We also publish articles and links on dozens of topics of interest to blind people. A few of these are: adjusting to blindness, assistive technology, clothing, deafblind resources, dog guides, employment, family life, health, kitchen hints, organization skills, safety, and transportation.

All of the thousands of Fred's Head articles that were in the previous database have been published to the blog. You will still be able to search the blog for a specific article or topic. In addition, you can browse the articles using the subject listings that are located toward the bottom of every blog page.

The Fred's Head blog offers many functions that were not available in the original database. You can receive newly published articles via email, RSS, or Twitter. Articles are self-voicing, just click on the speaker icon and the text is automatically read to you. If you find an article you want to share, send it to a friend's in-box with just one click.

The Fred's Head Newsletter

So, you really like the information in Fred's Head? Are you one of those folks who click on the link to see the most recent entries? Do you find yourself visiting the Fred's Head website everyday to see what's new? Would you like a way to get the latest posts in your email? Thanks to the Fred's Head Newsletter you can! Click this link to learn more.

The RSS Feed

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated digital content, such as blogs, news feeds or podcasts. Users of RSS content use programs called feed "readers" or "aggregators": the user subscribes to a feed by supplying to his or her reader a link to the feed; the reader can then check the user's subscribed feeds to see if any of those feeds have new content since the last time it checked, and if so, retrieve that content and present it to the user.

You can subscribe to the Fred's Head Companion RSS feed by adding the following URL to your news aggregator:

The Companion Podcast

Wikipedia says that a podcast "usually consists of a combination of audio and/or video that is made available for download via syndication. It is this syndication aspect of the delivery that separates a podcast from a file available for download. The files are usually retrieved with software applications (generically known as podcatchers) such as Apple's iTunes so that subscribers can listen at their convenience on devices that have intermittent, slow, or are otherwise lacking Internet access. The podcatcher reads an RSS feed (whose entries point to specific podcasts, usually sorted by date) to identify and retrieve the podcast."

You can subscribe to the Fred's Head Companion Podcast by adding the following URL to your podcatcher:

Fred's Head on Twitter!

Wikipedia defines Twitter as "a free social networking and micro-blogging service, that allows its users to send and read other users' updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length."

You can follow Fred's Head in a number of ways using the free Twitter service: on our profile page at; by using RSS, SMS, email; or through a variety of third-party applications. To get started, simply visit Fred's Head and click on the "follow me on Twitter" link toward the bottom of the page.

YOU Can Contribute to Fred's Head

Fred's Head is updated nearly every business day. Michael McCarty, APH's Expert Database Coordinator, scours dozens of sources to add and revise content. And Michael wants to hear from you! Those from any walk of life can submit an article, tip, trick, technique, web link, or other resource. If we use your information, you'll be credited by name as having expanded the knowledge in Fred's Head.

If you would like to contribute, or have questions about Fred's Head, please contact:

Michael McCarty
Expert Database Coordinator
American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
1839 Frankfort Ave.
Louisville, Kentucky 40206
Phone: 502-899-2396
E-mail: or

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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.

Fred's Head articles may contain links to other websites. APH is not responsible for the content of these sites.

Fred's Head articles created by APH staff are (C) copyright American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. You must request permission from APH to reprint these articles. Email to request permission.

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.

Fair Use Notice: This website may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright holder(s). This site is operated on the assumption that using this information constitutes 'fair use' of said copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law.

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.