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.)


Monday, January 11, 2010

Labels That Can't Talk

by Donna J. Jodhan

You got it! Labels cannot talk to me whenever I need to know the contents of a can, box, or anything else. In general, I am able to tell the contents of a box usually by its size and sound. That is, when I shake it. For example, a box of cereal is bigger than a box of shake and bake. However, when it comes to those cans and tins, that's when the fun begins.

Being able to read and decipher labels is one of the biggest problems for me. Not only do I often have difficulty deciphering the contents of a tin, can, or box. It extends to being able to read the label itself. That is, knowing the description of the contents of the package in question. Two irritants; being able to read the ingredients on the package and knowing the actual contents of the package.

My woes often extend to being able to read labels on other types of packages and this includes CDs, labels on electronic products, and so on. Labels can not talk so I need to get sighted assistance to read them. A few years ago a bar code reader was developed to help blind and visually impaired persons read labels on boxes and tins and cans. Some have told me that for the most part, this nifty little device is extremely helpful but it is also very expensive like so many other gadgets that have been developed for us. The bar code comes with a database of over 5000 entries and it is possible to add other entries but in order to do this one has to depend on sighted assistance. As long as there is a bar code on a box, tin, can, or package, it is possible to add it to the database if it is not already there.

The bar code reader has made things easier for us but due to its exorbitant price I am unable to take advantage of it. You can learn more about the bar code reader and more by visiting the Independent Living Aids website at

Since writing this, I am extremely excited to tell you that there is another product out; much cheaper, and has the potential to make the lives of blind persons much easier. This product is called the Pen Friend, it was developed in Britain, and is available right here in North America. Check it out as soon as you can! You can start by going to Great articles on how to lable a variety of items can be found right here in Fred's Head. Click this link to learn how to label items from Fred's Head..

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:

No comments:

Subscribe to receive posts via email

* indicates required

Browse Articles by Subject

Follow us on Twitter


Write for us

Your input and support in the evolution of Fred's Head are invaluable! Contact us about contributing original writing or for suggestions for updating existing articles. Email us at


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.