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Showing posts from October, 2009

Site Where the Music Matches Your Mood

When we feel down and out, there's nothing like a sad song to help us drown in our tears. Some people give uplifting numbers a try in order to escape a bad moment they feel they couldn't get out of otherwise. Whatever your situation, I have a site for every mood, even the romantic one. Stereomood.com is a sort of web-based emotional radio that will let you set your emotions to music. It's as simple as it sounds. All you do is choose a mood and away you go. If you feel broken-hearted, you can simply blast “One” by U2, if you feel unstoppable, you can play The Proclaimers “I’m On My Way”, all lovey-dovey, try “Unchained Melody”. Music is such a part of our lives, there's no escaping its effect. This site gives us the chance to discover some new favorites based on what we're feeling at the time we visit.

Click this link and let your emotions guide you to new music at http://www.Stereomood.com.

Classic Cinema Online

Whether you're in the mood for some classic animation or some old-school spooky films to get you into the spirit of things, Classic Cinema Online has hundreds of films in dozens of categories. The movies are not audio described but are certainly worth a listen for their archaic dialogue and small budgets. Classic Cinema Online has gathered together hundreds of films in categories ranging from Action to Westerns and even old cinema shorts and news reels. They routinely feature selections of movies based on the time of year, holidays, and other notable events. Even if you can't sit down and watch a film from yesteryear, browsing the awesome movie posters is worth the price, free admission.

Click this link to visit http://www.ClassicCinemaOnline.com. Watch Full Length Horror Movies OnlineAre you a fan of watching horror movies? If you are, then you should check out Free-Horror-Movies. This website streams various horror flicks using a DivX web player or a flash plugin. Their se…

Music Literacy: Its Role in the Education of the Blind

This book is a fascinating historical journey tracing the emergence of various musical notation systems for the blind in Europe and the United States. It includes twenty-eight illustrations, a great addition to your library! From the author: "This book is a revision of my Master’s thesis of the same name. During three years of research, information was obtained from sources in Great Britain, France, and the U.S. Music education in institutional and public school settings is discussed. Illustrations show a variety of means by which literary and music materials were presented to the blind in the 19th century and the early 20th century, as well as writing instruments used to produce the symbols. The role of the American Printing House for the Blind in producing books and music is discussed. Factors influencing the delay in acceptance of the Braille codes in the U.S. are considered. An interview with Dr. Abraham Nemeth, the creator of the Nemeth Braille Mathematics Code who is…

Products Sold with Inaccessible Manuals

by Donna J. Jodhan This is probably one of the most frustrating things for me; products that cater to the needs of blind and visually impaired persons being sold with manuals in inaccessible formats. Just a darn shame that manufacturers and vendors continue to sell us products without manuals in accessible formats. There are some companies that have made the effort or gone the extra mile to provide accessible manuals but you know what? It should not be viewed as a nice to have; it is only logical and courteous that when a product is sold to us that manuals in readable formats be provided. How would it be if a product were to be sold to a mainstream person and that the manual were to be provided in Braille? Or not at all? I don't think that the mainstream person would put up with this. So why should we? Over the years, I have bought timers, calculators, and other products that have not been accompanied by manuals in readable formats and my humble opinion is that there are…

Talking Brix

Here's another item that I believe could be helpful to the blind. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how they could be used in a classroom or around the home. Use the comment section to reply. Easy as 1-2-3, still affordable at 4-5-6! Simple communication has never been more affordable with AbleNet’s Talking Brix! Use one Brix for personal reminders, or attach as many as you like, creating simple, scalable communication grids. Talking Brix are thin, light communicators with built-in magnets, perfect for carrying in a pocket, or placing around the room! For table-top users, Talking Brix use an ingenious tab and slot connector to link to other Brix. Create multi-message communicators in any arrangement you like. At a cost-conscious price, one, two, three or more messages are within your budget! Each pack of 3 Talking Brix includes 1 each in Red, Blue, and Green. Shipping early 2010. Dimensions: 2.56” by 2.56” by 0.6” (L times W times H), Activation Area: 1.8”. Talking Brix fe…

Social Security Accessibility

The Social Security Administration must give the nation's 3 million blind or visually impaired recipients the option of receiving benefit notices in braille or by audio computer disc, a federal judge in San Francisco said on October 20, 2009. Ruling in a nationwide class-action suit, U.S. District Judge William Alsup said that by sending notices only by mail and phone calls, the agency is violating a law that guarantees the disabled equal access to its programs. He ordered the government to make the additional choices available by April 15, 2010. The case involves some of the 100 million notices the Social Security Administration sends each year to its 61 million beneficiaries, advising them of scheduled appointments, program changes, tax filings and possible benefit cuts. About 250,000 Americans receive benefits because of blindness, and another 2.7 million blind or sight-impaired people get Social Security for other reasons. Under rules authorized by Congress in 1988 and 199…

Blind Adrenaline, Do You Have Enough for These Games?

BlindBargains.com points us to another great gaming site for the blind. Blind Adrenaline has added another great game, online Blackjack. Both standard and tournament mode games are available with the ability to create your own private and public tables. In addition to Blackjack, they offer Texas Holdem, Draw Poker, and Hearts. The Blind Adrenaline Card Room offers multiplayer versions of these games, compatible with major screen readers or Windows text-to-speech. A free 14-day trial is available.

Click this link to visit http://www.blindadrenaline.com/cardRoom.

Dirpy Converts YouTube Video to Audio

Dirpy is a site that allows users to upload YouTube videos and extract the audio. This is ideal when all you need is that hard to find song/blurb/quote that can only be found on YouTube. I'm not sure what kind of permission rights come into play, but anything "common craft" should be just fine. What makes Dirpy so good is how easy it is to use. Just upload a YouTube video (via a URL), adjust your settings and file size, and click download to Mp3. How cool is that! As of this article, Dirpy was operating in Beta, so aspects of the site may be down for brief periods of time for updates and maintenance.

Click this link to visit http://www.dirpy.com.

Why I Learned to Ice Skate

by Donna J. Jodhan Growing up in Canada often means that ice skating is par for the course but for blind and visually impaired kids? Many of you may think that it is not possible but I am here to tell you that it most definitely is. Now, please do not go limp on me here! You're probably trying to figure out in your minds how or why would someone want to skate on ice if they are unable to see where they are going? Why would they want to put themselves through share torture? How on earth would they be able to retain their footing and keep from falling? These are all very logical and legitimate questions and I'll be very honest with you. I took the step to learn to ice skate in order to improve my confidence. Skating without much vision can be very daunting and scary and it was for me when I first started but I was determined to overcome my fears. When I first learned to ice skate, I had some vision so it was not too bad for me and it has helped me tremendously to con…

Are Agencies Really Acting in Our Best Interest?

by Donna J. Jodhan This question has lingered in my mind for many years now and it is a very troubling one. I know that there are many persons with disabilities who continue to ask the same question and I am afraid that the reader may not like the answer. That is, if you are a person with a disability, you would most likely agree with me but for the mainstream reader, you may be either surprised or dare to call me a pessimist or even a grouch or maybe something stronger. It does not matter which country we look at here, the answer would still be the same. As a generality, most persons with disabilities truly believe that agencies that are supposed to be working on behalf of their best interests, often really do not. Many have told me that they do not believe that agencies have the right to speak on their behalf and I do agree. However, what bothers me greatly are those agencies that deliberately turn away from providing appropriate and useful services for us. In my case, I a…

Accessible Interface to YouTube

From the site: "This website is designed to provide an accessible version of the popular video-sharing website YouTube. In addition to traditional accessible design practices such as semantic, well-structured markup, high-contrast colour schemes and standards compliance, newly-available technologies such as WAI-ARIA have been implemented to allow users of assistive technologies to benefit from rich functionality such as dynamic page updates. Unlike the regular YouTube site, videos here don't auto-play. You can start them by hitting the Play button or, alternatively, by using a keyboard shortcut. The combination Alt+Z will play a loaded video (or pause one currently playing), while Alt+X will skip 15 seconds backward and Alt+C will skip 15 seconds forward. To begin viewing videos, use the search form at the top of the page. It should be noted that this website has been built as a technical exercise, so certain functionality may operate differently from how you might expect…

Google's Accessibility Site

Google offers accessibility features for many of their websites such as Gmail, Google Maps, and Youtube. Now, you can learn about these and other features from one location, through Google's accessibility resource page. It includes resources for many Google products as well as the latest blog posts across Google's network pertaining to accessibility. From the site: "Information access is at the core of Google’s mission, to make the world’s information universally accessible and useful. That’s why in addition to crawling, indexing and ranking billions of websites, images, videos and other content, we also work to make that content available in all languages and in accessible formats. We want to make information available to everyone, and that includes people with disabilities, such as blindness, visual impairment, color deficiency, deafness, hearing loss and limited dexterity. We’ve found that providing alternative access modes like keyboard shortcuts, captions, high-c…

Growing Up with Sighted Parents

by Donna J. Jodhan In a previous blog, I talked about blind persons being parents. I grew up with two wonderful sighted parents who allowed me to go out there and take the world by the tail or the bull by the horns. For the most part, it was a delicate balance of ensuring that I fitted in and at the same time being realistic enough to understand that being blind had its limitations. The great thing was that my parents never really said no to my requests for adventure but they were naturally cautious and timid towards certain things. My dad allowed me to reach for the stars when it came to education but he was always leery when it came to my choice of career. My mom on the other hand was a bit more outgoing and made very sure that I fitted into the sighted world. With two loving brothers for company, a gentle granny who prodded me along, and wonderful cousins, I managed to grow up in a very unique type of environment. It was not always easy for me at times and these were t…

AFB eLearning Center on Aging and Visual Impairment

Developed and produced by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Senior Site, this web-based training program is for service providers who work with older adults experiencing vision loss. The material presented will benefit anyone working with adults with vision loss. The content is designed for professionals who are not trained in vision loss, as well as those who have either formal or informal training in blindness rehabilitation and seek a refresher on the many aspects, implications, and far-reaching effects that vision loss has on an individual, the family, and society. The content in this training program is based on two premises: Older persons with vision loss should have services and opportunities for learning to help them maximize independent living potential and quality of life.
These services should be provided by individuals who are knowledgeable, interested in the welfare of those whom they serve, and committed to the concept that older people with vision loss can …

Free Recorded Media for Visually Impaired People from the Braille Institute of America

From the site: "Our digital catalog of audio and video content at Braille Institute includes instructional clips of classes, workshops and seminars designed to educate, inform and enrich the lives of people who are visually impaired. If you find these clips useful and you are a Southern California resident, we invite you to take the next step and sign up to participate in any of our numerous free programs offered through one of our five regional centers. Simply find an audio or video clip that interests you and click to listen!

Click this link to visit the Free Recorded Media for Visually Impaired People page at the Braille Institute of America's website: http://brailleinstitute.org/recorded_media.

SELECT Versatile Video Magnifier

The Select is a desktop video magnifier for people with low vision. With the Select, you can easily read books and newspapers, write letters, manage your finances, do hobbies and much more. Featuring a flexible 3 in 1 camera, the Select is ideal for near, distance and self viewing. Easily view a classroom board
Magnify your television screen
View across the room and see any object
Enjoy reading a novel, the latest newspaper article, or today's headlines
Stay active by doing crosswords
Reconnect with that long-time hobby
Keep up with family and view the latest photos
Read recipes
Keep track of your finances The Select Desktop Video Magnifier is designed to fit the individual end user with fully adjustable positioning of both monitor and camera. Position the auto focus camera for distance and side viewing, straight down for reading documents or even aimed back at the user as a mirror image. Provides choice of true color, enhanced black on white and reverse white on black contrast viewing. …

Printable Money and Large Checks

Printable MoneySo you need to teach your students how to work with money? Do you have a hard time finding play money in stores? Why not simply print your own money! Teaching and learning how to identify and use money is an important skill to learn at an early age. These printable worksheets, lesson plans, and interactive lessons will help students master concepts of counting money with coins and bills, whether they are just beginning to learn to count coins, or if they need additional practice. Worksheets are customizable for varying abilities and ages. Early students are encouraged to learn money skills with this reproducible play money. This site offers play money in the form of coins or bills. Pages of play money can be printed, which could later be brailled for a blind student, or printed in large print for the visually impaired. Other lessons that can be found on this site include: Basic Money Skills Lessons
Earning and Spending Money Lessons
Saving and Investing Money Lesson…

Listen and Think Auditory Readiness (AR) Level

Develop and improve listening comprehension and thinking skills. Covers basic listening skills such as understanding placement (e.g., up and down), using the senses, comparing, and classifying. The AR level includes: Introduction and lessons on CDs
250 Simple Multiple-Choice Answer Sheets
Regular print teacher's handbook
Eight plastic crayons Recommended Ages: 5 to 7

Listen and Think Auditory Readiness (AR) Level
Catalog Number: 1-08510-01
Click this link to purchase Listen and Think Auditory Readiness (AR) Level.

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

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ III): Tests of Achievement 2001

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With permission of Riverside Publishing Company, the American Printing House for the Blind now offers a full-color large print edition of one of the most widely used diagnostic tests for ages 2 through adult. The WJ III is commonly used to identify learning disabilities and for gathering details on individual strengths and weaknesses in preparation for educational planning.For more information on WJ III features, the Compuscore® scoring and Profiles system, or the regular print battery and materials, go to www.riverpub.comFeatures of WJ III Large Print Edition:Minimum sans serif font size of 20 pointsFormatting for maximum readability by persons with low visionSpace-saving 8 1/2" x 11" page size, in two volumesSpiral bound books that can lie flat on the table or be used with a book standPre-printed tabs for easy location of testsFull-color graphics on high contrast paperGlaReducers: non-glare acetate sheets in yellow and pink (also sold separately)A roomy canvas bag, conveni…

Early Braille Trade Books, Sunshine Kit 2

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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, a quick start sheet, and access to an interactive website, please visit: http://tech.aph.org/ebt/FeaturesContracted or uncontracted braille labelsMatch books to a student based on braille knowledgeThe interactive website allows you to: Search for books by genre, core curriculum, or expanded core curriculumAccess a book summary and activities designed for braille readersMaintain a listing and percentage of contractions learned by each student -- great for documentation at IEP meetingsShare or transfer student records to other teachersSunshine™ Kit 2 Includes 12 books and label packs:The Big Laugh · The Green Dragon · Griffin, the School Cat · The Horrible Urktar of Or · Just Like Me · My Feet Are Just Right · Sione Went Fishing · A Spinning Snake · Trees are Special · Y…

Guiding Light Mailbox: Good for the Visually Impaired, but Not So Good for Your Neighbors

This is one of those gadgets that might be useful, but your neighbors are going to hate you for it.  It’s always a pain when you’re trying to find a house and everyone has numbers posted that can barely be seen.  It is equally difficult when you're leaving your house and trying to find your mailbox without stepping into the road. Well with this mailbox, you’ll make sure that anyone can find your house and that you can find the mailbox. It has a bright light behind the numbers, the light will allow for people to see your mailbox from half a football field away.  I’m sure the neighbors will just love that. At least it manages to keep that bright light up and running in an eco-friendly manner. It has a solar panel on the top.  You won’t have to worry too much about cloudy days causing issues for the light, it only takes about four hours of sunlight to keep it charged for four days.

Click this link to purchase the Guiding Light Mailbox from http://guidingmailbox.com.

Accessible websites, not a priority in bad economy?

by Donna J. Jodhan Very obvious to the keen observer! In a bad economy, making one's website accessible is definitely not a priority but then the question is: When would accessible websites become a priority? If the economy is bad then companies have some good reasons to give us. Such as: Saving jobs is more important, cutbacks on spending are the priority, a freeze on new projects is paramount in order to conserve funds, and so on. In a good economy, companies often give reasons such as: It is too costly to make websites accessible at the moment and projects that generate revenue need to be undertaken first, new employees are needed to design and develop websites and services, and accessible websites are too costly to implement. Besides, accessible websites would not be beneficial to the mainstream person. Too bad but what most companies fail to see is that if they take the time to make their websites accessible from the outset, none of these reasons or excuses would…