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.)


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Let's Talk Books in the Forums

By Peter Markovic continues to expand its website by adding a discussion forum. The forum will be the site's centerpiece for discussing all things related to not only audio books but also hard and soft cover books of any genre.

Everyone is welcome to take part, be they visitors or members, there are plenty of topics to discuss; audio book reviews, testimonials, general reading discussions, audio book of the month, audio book narrators, hardcover books, media devices and an area for off-topic discussions.

Forums are a great place for open discussions for people that have similar interests; it is also a great place to share good and bad reading experiences with others. It can also be very addictive as friendships with other people that share your love for reading and the joy of books. Many people find themselves visiting their favorite forums on most days to keep abreast of the most recent discussions.

The growth of internet communities is due in no small part due to the ease of bringing people together in a virtual world to participate in discussions and interactions that would be nearly impossible to do in real-life. It is for the same reasons that social interactivity thru online sites like face book continue to grow at such an astonishing rate, and is becoming a major driving force behind the Internet.

Forums are the first stop for many looking for solutions to various problems; experts who are more than then willing to assist others with advice for any given subject often frequent discussion boards. It can also be one of the first places to announce the latest news and is not surprising to find that when you are using a search engine the result might well be found in a forum!

That being said, as with any information found on the web it is however a good idea to verify its accuracy. You do not need to sign up to read the posts contained in the forum, but you will need to register to post. This process should only take a moment!

See you in the forum! Click this link to visit the forums.

Entombed: An Audio Adventure for the Blind

Entombed is a large dungeon delving RPG game for the blind or visually impaired. It's designed to be  exciting and replayable -- A game you can play for months or years.
Choose from dozens of races and classes to create the ultimate dungeon crawling group. Make use of powerful warriors, cunning thieves, dastardly necromancers and more! Discover hundreds of unique weapons, armor, and magic spells to help you on your way. Through tragedy or triumph your score will be displayed on Entombed's online score boards for all to admire.
Entombed features the following:
  • 20 job classes to mix and match. Like the strength of the warrior and the subtly of the thief? Combine them into one and reap the benefits of both! Over 350 combinations to try.
  • Over 40 monsters to defeat. From goblins to carnivorous mushrooms to fearsome giants!
  • Challenging boss battles to test your resolve.
  • Multiple dungeon paths to make exploration exciting and unpredictable.
  • 25 ever-changing dungeon levels.
  • Thousands of random weapons, armor, scrolls, and potions.
  • Mysterious dungeon secrets including hidden shops and locked chests.
  • Unlockable secrets including new playable races, job classes, and more!
  • Online leader board integrated into the game.
  • Beautiful music and quality sound effects.
  • Free version has over 20 hours of entertainment!
Features in the full version:
  • All dungeon levels are accessible.
  • The Barbarian, Bard, Assassin, Brawler, and Paladin jobs are available.
  • More boss battles.
  • Online scoring.
Head over to Entombed's download page and play right now or to the purchase page to upgrade the game to the full version! Entombed is one of the most in-depth, challenging and enjoyable audio games available for the blind and visually impaired! Charge bravely into the dungeon and discover your destiny!

Shortcut Keys for Internet Explorer

Use the following keys for faster navigation with Internet Explorer.

  • Ctrl+N Open a new window on the same folder.
  • Ctrl+W Close the current window.
  • Alt+Up Arrow Go up one level.
  • Alt+Right Arrow Go forward.
  • Alt+Left Arrow Go back.
  • Alt+D Move the focus to the address bar, and select the current path.
  • F4 Move the insertion point to the address bar, and display the contents of the drop-down list of previous addresses.
  • Alt+Enter Show properties of the selected file.
  • Shift+F10 Open the shortcut menu for the current selection (which is the same as a right-click).
  • F6 Cycle through the following elements: address bar, toolbar, navigation pane, file list, column headings (available in Details view only).
  • Tab Cycle through the following elements: address bar, search box, toolbar, navigation pane, file list, column headings (available in Details view only).
  • F11 Toggle full-screen mode.
  • Ctrl+Shift+N Create a new subfolder in the current folder.
  • Ctrl+Shift+E Expand navigation pane to the current folder.

Targets of Schemes and Scams

by Donna J. Jodhan

We are living in a world where schemes and scams continue to spiral out of control. There was a time when one could probably venture to say that seniors and persons who are blind or sight impaired were probably relatively safe from schemes and scams; but not anymore and as we continue to deal with hard economic times, you are going to see that schemers and scammers are not going to discriminate when they choose their targets. Many would probably be shocked if they really knew how often seniors and blind and sight impaired persons fall to those seedy individuals with their get rich quick schemes and scams with smoking mirrors but I am hear to tell them that this is no shocker. As a matter of fact, seniors and blind persons are probably the favourite targets of many schemers and scammers.

There was a time when Humanity generally had a conscience but not anymore. The thing to remember is this! There is no age limit to the typical schemer or scammer. They can be young as six and even as old as 86; a child, adult, male or female. Why, a few months ago there was a senior lady in our condominium building who managed to scam over $1000 out of tenants. She did this by knocking on doors and asking for money to help her pay for her medication. Schemes and scams can be anything ranging from an innocent phone call or email to a knock at your door, a solicitation in the mail to a gentle request for help while walking in the mall, or practically anything.

I have consulted my panel on why they think most schemers and scammers would want to target seniors and blind and sight impaired persons and the unanimous verdict was as follows:

Seniors, blind persons, and the disabled as a whole are probably two of the most vulnerable groups of our society. They are naturally timid and uncertain. They are seen to be easy targets because of their inability to see. The blind person in particular may not be considered to be very savvy when it comes to being able to spot schemes and scams very easily but this is rapidly changing.

What many schemers and scammers are very unaware of is that more and more seniors and persons who are blind are becoming savvier when it comes to being able to spot schemes and schemers, and scams and scammers. True it is that they will continue to remain physically weaker through a reality of life but we believe that as time rolls by, schemers and scammers are going to have a tougher time finding seniors and blind and sight impaired persons to be their victims. I would like to suggest that someone takes up the challenge to start organizing classes for seniors, the blind and sight impaired, and the disabled whereby they can help them to learn more about schemes and schemers, and scams and scammers. Are there any takers?

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:

The Mystery of Colors

by Donna J. Jodhan

To many of those who are unable to see colors, the word color remains a great mystery and at best a great desire to discover the unknown. As someone who was able to see colors all my life up until five years ago, I can faithfully tell you that it is practically impossible to teach someone who is unable to see colors what colors look like. This is one of the things that I miss the most; the inability to see colors.

One cannot hear colors or smell colors. One cannot feel colors or taste colors. One cannot sense colors or touch colors; but one can see colors if they are able to. I often wonder if there could be a way to teach a blind person what colors are all about but several of my friends who were born with no vision often remind me that colors do not really mean anything to them because they were never able to see them in the first place.

For me, colors mean the world to me and will probably always mean the world to me despite my loss of vision. You see, when I hear a word or think of something, I think of it through color. Whenever I smell or touch something I put a color to it. Whenever I play or compose music, my thoughts are covered with colors! I dream in color and I think in color!

Whenever I take those joyful jaunts down memory lane, I can see a sunrise as pure as gold. A sunset that is a soft pink. The placid sea that is a shade of royal blue and the sky that is a much lighter shade of blue. The big silver Air Canada jet bird, and the fast flowing silver water of the Niagara Falls. The big fat white snowflakes and the smiling red rose. My favorite color is yellow with blue running a comfortable second and red coming in third.

Colors will always play a very important part in my life. I used to depend on colors to identify objects but sadly no more. Now I use colors to remember persons and things and even as I write this there are some special memories that will forever remain imprinted on my mind such as: My beloved dad who passed on 21 years ago; in his light grey suit. My beloved brother Robert who passed on two years ago all decked out in his pilot's uniform; a handsome black uniform adorned with gold stripes. My beautiful mom standing before me in a turquoise dress forever and so much more.

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:

Franklin Bill Reader

While there’s little doubt that United States paper currency has gotten prettier, that doesn’t matter much for the blind and visually impaired. If you can’t see the bill, you still can’t tell whether you’re holding a one or a one hundred.

The Treasury says that by adding color to some bills, people with low vision have an easier time discriminating between denominations. But a 2008 court ruling found that the federal government discriminated against the blind by not making bills of different sizes, as virtually every other country besides the United States already does.

To help ease the way until the United States finally creates accessible paper currency, Franklin Electronics is marketing the Franklin Bill Reader, a handheld device that uses object recognition technology to identify a bill’s denomination and speak the result to the user in English or Spanish.

The Bill Reader can identify any paper currency between $1 and $100. It can recognize all current and recent series of bills; when new redesigned versions are issued, those identifying markers can be downloaded from the company’s Web site into the device (but only if you’re using a Windows PC).

The Bill Reader is controlled by voice commands, and its answers can be heard through the built-in loudspeaker or via a pair of wired earbuds.

Click this link to learn more about the Franklin Bill Reader.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Keep Track of Congress with RSS, Email or Twitter

Unless you watch C-Span twenty-four hours a day it can be difficult to keep up with the many bills that Congress passes in to law. Wouldn't it be great to find a site that would logically list the bills, and tell you who voted for what? There is a site that does this, and more. is a new project to provide current information on what Senators and Representatives are currently doing in Congress. The site maintains separate blogs, or web logs, for each senator and representative covering what they've done, or haven't done in Congress. You can find out what bills and amendments they've sponsored, and what action has been taken on that legislation

The best part of this site is that it uses Really Simple Syndication (RSS) to track each Representative, so if you have an RSS reader, you can subscribe to the individual feed for your Representative, and have these updates delivered right to your computer. that's so cool!

If you don't use an RSS, or Really Simple Syndication reader, you can always add the individual Representative's web log to your favorites and keep up with them by visiting that page from time to time.

Click here to visit the web site:

Here's another great way to keep track of Congress. From the website:

" is a nexus of information about the United States Congress, following the status of federal legislation and the activities of your senators and representatives".

"GovTrack is an independent website run by a graduate student in his spare time. Data is collected from the official government websites via automated processes daily".

Users of the site can subscribe to follow just the events that interest them. Events, like the passage of bills, are sent to users on a daily or weekly basis by email, or through RSS/Atom feeds.

Click this link to visit


Allows you to contact your government representative via Twitter and petition them. Phone numbers, fax numbers and websites are listed for each representative. You can also petition non-Twitter Congress representatives to join and have direct conversations with their constituents.

Click this link to Tweet Congress:

Audio Describe Your Photos

You've probably noticed that, while there's no shortage of Web services that will showcase photos or videos, not many of them allow you to narrate photos without forcing you to turn them into a video.

If you've ever wanted to add a voice note instead of a text caption to photos, or narrate a slideshow of your own photos, take a look at Fotobabble.

This service allows you to add your voice or sound to photos on the Web so your friends and family can see your photos and hear your voice at the same time.

To make use of Fotobabble's voice narration, you have to host a gallery at Fotobabble. Once you have photos uploaded there, you can record a voice caption or voice note and attach it to the image. You can then share it with friends, either by sending them a link to visit the image or pasting the embed code into your own site so visitors can play it without leaving the page. The service also supports one-click posting to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and over a dozen other social networks and services.

The service touts itself as a way for users to add a little personal flair to their photos and galleries in a way unlike any other photo hosting site, a way to send personalized multimedia greetings, or even as a way for burgeoning citizen journalists to record and recount what they saw as they snapped the photo they uploaded. One thing that is not unique about the site is that it's not accessible to screen reader users. Fotobabble is a neat idea; though it really just combines a Flash audio recorder and player with a pretty simple photo gallery. Could be fun for folks with low vision who are into photography.

Click this link to visit

Friday, February 19, 2010

Decorator Full Hallway Light with Sensor

Add an extra measure of safety and security to hallways and stairs by making sure you can see your way, even when the area is dimly lit.

The Decorator Full Hallway Light with Sensor wires in like a switch and uses bright white LEDs to light the way. The sensor automatically turns light on in the dark. The energy-efficient LEDs will last 20 years. Dimensions: 4 3/16″ H x 1 3/8″ W x 1 5/8″ D

Click this link to purchase the Decorator Full Hallway Light with Sensor from

Tips for Storing Books

The ideal place to store books is a pest-free location, like an attic or a garage, as long as those spaces aren’t subject to big temperature changes and are well ventilated. Never keep books in a humid place; the mold that grows in damp places will damage them, along with any other paper-based objects. Don’t wrap books in plastic bags, plastic wrap, or foil, which encourages even more mold.

Before storing, check the surrounding areas for signs of insects or mice. Pack books in small- or medium-size boxes or plastic containers, making sure they are weatherproof and moistureproof. New boxes work best. However, you can reuse old boxes if they are clean, dry, strong, and sealable. Skip boxes that have been used for food storage; the odors and residue can attract insects and rodents. Wrap each book in a paper towel or bubble wrap to protect the surface from dirt and residue buildup.

Store similar-size books together, either lying flat or standing upright, with their paper edges facing upward, which will prevent the books from warping and the pages from bending. Put the heaviest books at the bottom of the container, and pack paperbacks tightly, so they don’t fall over or collapse. Seal the boxes tightly with sturdy acid-free packing tape. Label clearly as needed. Keep the storage boxes out of direct sunlight and away from radiators or heating vents, as the increased temperature can crack bindings.

Finally, place the boxes of books on a shelf, so they’re protected in case of leaks or floods.

What Does Your Website Sound Like?

DLKW have created the Codeorgan, a programme that can take any website and turn it into sweet music.

The Codeorgan works by analysing the 'body' content of any web page and translates that content into music. The Codeorgan uses a complex algorithm to define the key, synthesiser style and drum pattern most appropriate to the page content.

You know I had to give this a try, so I entered the URL for Fred's Head. Click this link to hear how the Fred's Head code sounds. Let's give the American Printing House for the Blind site a try. Click this link to see what sounds like. Very interesting!

Click this link to see what your favorite website sounds like:

How to Monitor a Baby with Skype

Lots of people who are blind or visually impaired use Skype to talk to one another. Why not add this functionality? style='margin-bottom: 0px;'>
How to Make a Visual Baby Monitor with Skype
from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Ever had Little Johnny crying when you are on the other side of the house and can't hear him? Here is how to set up a baby monitor on Skype.


  1. Set up a webcam so it records the baby both visually and audibly.
  2. Download and install Skype. Create an account specifically for this task.
  3. Customize your Skype settings. Go to Tools --> Options
    • Under General Settings, choose "Start Skype when I start Windows" (or whatever your operating system is).
    • Under Video Settings, check "Automatically receive video and screen sharing from...people in my Contact list only."
    • Under Privacy, check to only allow people in your contact list. Then click on the "Show Advanced Options" button.
    • Select "people in my Contact list only" for all settings.
    • Under Call Settings, select "Only allow people on my Contact list to call me" then click on "Show Advanced Options".
    • Select "Answer incoming calls automatically" and "Start my video automatically when I am in a call".
    • Remember to Save all of these changes.
  4. Add your other Skype account to the contacts list. Add your baby's account to your contacts list.
  5. Turn down the computer volume. This is so it doesn't wake the baby when it turns on.
  6. Call the baby's Skype account. It should automatically answer and start the video.

  • You can also add more accounts to the baby's contacts list, if your spouse wants to check in on the baby from work, for example.
  • If you don't want to have a computer running 24/7, or the baby can't sleep with the noise, you can also consider buying a Videophone from Skype's online store.

  • Avoid placing the webcam in the baby's reach, as this can be a choking hazard.
  • Make sure that you allow only those people you want to see your baby in the contact list.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make a Visual Baby Monitor with Skype. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Touch of Yarn

This excellent beginning knitting book was written by a blind knitter and intended for both sighted and visually-impaired beginning knitters. The instructions are clear, friendly and straightforward; each chapter is followed by a project that allows you to implement what you have just learned. Concepts covered in the book include:

  • Slip knot
  • Cast on
  • Knit
  • Bind off
  • Yarn Over Increase
  • Elastic or Delayed Bind Off
  • Knit Two Together (k2tog) Decrease
  • Purl
  • Purl Two Together (p2tog) Decrease
  • Installing a Life Line
  • Reverse Knitting (tinking)
  • Repairing a Dropped Stitch (Knitting Back Up)
  • Joining pieces together with:
  • *Kitchener
  • *Three Needle Bind Off
  • *Mattress Stitch
  • KFIB, M1 and modified M1 Increases
  • SSK and SL1, K, PSSO Decreases
  • Converting flat patterns to knitting in the round
  • Picking up stitches
  • Tutorials on needles, yarn and organization

The author says: "I’ve spent almost a year writing what I believe is the most usable beginning knitting primer in the world. Why? Because I couldn’t find knitting lessons that were free of jargon. I couldn’t find a tutorial that broke every task into perfect detail and made me practice every step before I moved on. Because I couldn’t find a book that was easy to use and recapped things so I could find them quickly."I want your experience to be better than mine was from the first day you pick up your first set of knitting needles, those strange little pointy sticks. I don’t want you to be one of the sad and frustrated people that try with confusing or unclear instructions and wind up throwing the whole wad of needles, tangled yarn and, dare I say it, painfully awful knitting into a bag and giving it to a thrift store, like I almost did. There is no reason for it now."

This is the large-type downloadable version of the book. When you purchase it, you will receive a PDF copy that you can read in Adobe Acrobat. The book is also available in digital Braille Ready Format (BRF) for use in common braille reading devices or braille printers.

Click this link to purchase The Touch of Yarn from Lion Brand website.

Internet Your Way to a New Job (JOBONLINE)

Just a few years ago, you could upload your resume to one of the top jobs sites, click a few times to apply for some jobs, and consider your job search well underway.

Today, that isn't enough. The job market is increasingly competitive. Hiring managers are overwhelmed with applications - hiring has changed, and job seekers need to be prepared to use all the online job search tools to their advantage.

Online job searching often seems complicated, but it doesn't have to be - there are tips and tricks you can use to make the process run smoothly and simply. Author Alison Doyle tells you how to:

  • Create your professional presence online
  • Market yourself as a strong candidate for employers
  • Connect with contacts who will help you with your job search
  • Help prospective employers find you
  • Use sites like Facebook, VisualCV, and LinkedIn to your advantage

This book will provide you what you need to know and step you through the process of online job searching, professional branding, social and professional networking, and career building with uncomplicated advice, tips, and techniques on how to effectively find a new job and grow your career.

Click this link to purchase Internet Your Way to a New Job (JOBONLINE) from National Braille Press.

Reading Thermostats, Scales And Other Measuring Devices

Talking thermometers, scales, calculators, and other devices are available at many stores.

Setting thermostats and appliance dials

You can mark thermostats and dials on stoves, washers, dryers, televisions, and other appliances by placing dots of silicone caulking or plastic on dial settings. The dial is set by matching one of these dots with a dot placed on the backboard above the dial at the "On" location. Place these dots at frequently used settings. These can be used as reference points to estimate other settings. If desired, use a color that contrasts with the appliance to enhance visibility.

Two products ideal for marking dials and other household equipment are silicone caulking, available at most hardware stores, and believe it or not, fingernail polish! It can easily be applied in dots and is available in bright colors.

This tip is used by special permission from:

Oregon Commission for the Blind
535 SE 12th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214
Phone: 503-731-3221
Fax: 503-731-3230

Thermostat Magnifier

This device magnifies temperature settings on thermometer to almost 2x their size! Snaps easily and inconspicuously onto any existing Honeywell thermostat.

Click this link to purchase the Thermostat Magnifier from

Talking Cooking Thermometer

Use this large-display talking thermometer for cooking, hobbies, gardening, and much more!

Easy to Use
  • Simply press the on/talk button on the front and within one second the thermometer is ready
  • Apply probe to medium to be measured
  • Wait a few seconds to allow probe tip to reach full temperature
  • Press the same on/talk button to hear the temperature
  • Always clean probe after each use
  • Slide probe into convenient protector provided to store for next use
  • Speaks the temperature at a touch of a button
  • Easy-to-read LCD Display, large 3/8-inch digits, great for low vision users!
  • Accurate temperature reading within seconds
  • Select Fahrenheit or Celsius with a touch of a button
  • Contoured design fits comfortably in your hand
  • Automatically turns off after 10 minutes to maximize battery life
  • Hinged battery door, permanently connected
  • Requires 2 AAA batteries (included)

Measures 9.25 inches long x 2 inches wide.

Note: This thermometer is not for medical use and is not available on quota.

Catalog Number: 1-03992-00
Click this link to purchase the Talking Cooking Thermometer from APH.

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:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sewing a Seam

Sewing a straight and even seam can be challenging for anyone. Here are some tips on how to use electrical tape as a tactile guide.

  1. Place the fabric pieces, right sides together, matching the raw edges. Pin the two pieces of fabric together to hold them in place.
  2. Cut a piece of electrical tape and adhere it along the raw edge of the fabric on one side. Because the tape is plastic it feels smooth as opposed to the rough texture of the fabric. It creates a consistent and tactile guide along which to sew.

The tape can be reused until it loses its adhesive.

Electrical tape comes in a variety of colors so, for people with some vision, color that contrasts with the fabric may be useful. The combination of contrast and touch can make this task even easier.

You can find colored electrical tape in local hardware stores.

For more tips on mending clothes and other household tasks, read AFB Senior Site's article on Keeping House.
Click this link to check out Hadley School's course, Independent Living for the Visually Impaired.

Article Source:
AFB Senior Site - American Foundation for the Blind

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Recycle Your Old Glasses: Give the Gift of Sight

According to The World Health Organization, 153 million people have uncorrected refractive errors (near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism). Most of these vision impairments are quickly diagnosed and easy to treat with corrective lenses.

Still, millions of people in developing nations are pushed deeper into poverty simply because they don't have glasses. They can't learn, because reading is difficult. They can't work to the best of their ability, because they can't see clearly.

It costs Lions less than US$0.08 to provide a pair of recycled eyeglasses and change someone's life.

For children, clear vision means a better education, healthier development and a better quality of life.  For adults, it means greater employment opportunity and economic strength. For seniors it means less dependence on others.

Lions clubs collect millions of eyeglasses each year, making eyeglass recycling one of their most popular activities.

Imagine if you could help a child read. An adult succeed in his job. A senior maintain her independence. And provide a community with more opportunities to grow and thrive.

You can by dropping off your old eyewear at Lions-sponsored collection boxes in your community. Typical locations include libraries, schools, community centers, places of worship, coffee shops, optometrist offices and other public locations where communities socialize and get together. For information specific to locations in your community, contact your local Lions club.

You can also package your old eyeglasses and mail them to:

Lions Clubs International Headquarters
Attention: Receiving Department
300 W. 22nd Street
Oak Brook, IL 60523

Monday, February 15, 2010

Puppy Tweets Puts Your Dog on Twitter

Everyone's on Twitter these days. Why not use the service to your advantage with either the household pet or a new dog guide.

Let's say you just got home with your new guide and have to leave the house. How's the new boy going to react? Will he sleep while your gone? Will he bark? Unless you place a recording device in the room you won't know what happens while you're away and a lot of time will pass before you discover the behavior.

Puppy Tweets attaches to your dog’s collar and whenever your dog moves, barks (or just naps), the tag knows it and sends a WiFi signal to your computer which then sends you a Tweet via Twitter. It comes pre-loaded with 500 different phrases that put a funny spin on whatever activity the dog is doing (instead of “I barked”, it tweets “I barked because I miss you. There I said it. Now hurry home”. Cute!

Click this link to purchase Puppy Tweets for your pet or dog guide.

Full Screen Weather

As blind and visually impaired folks, we've always liked Weather Underground for its no-nonsense, real-time weather info. They've released a service called Full Screen Weather that mashes up Google Maps with weather data for nothing but maps and up-to-the-minute weather info.

Just point your browser to, enter your ZIP code, and get browsing. By default the map displays temperatures as measured from stations across Weather Underground's extensive reporting areas, but you can also switch to Precipitation and Cloud views (you can even play back cloud or precipitation movement over time). In the bottom-left of the window you get an overview of current conditions and a four-day forecast, with links to more extensive forecasts on Weather Underground proper.

For folks with low vision, the site is clean, simple, lightweight, and ad-free, which is to say, pretty great.

Click this link to visit

Friday, February 12, 2010

IEP Checklist iPhone Application

The Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC) is pleased to announce the development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) Checklist iPhone application.

The IEP is an individualized program designed to support the educational needs of school aged students with disabilities. This new IEP app helps parents of students with special needs become better-informed advocates by making IEP information easier to access. The IEP app is offered free of charge.

Below are brief videos that describe how the IEP Checklist works. Click this link to download the IEP Checklist iPhone Application.
For more information about The Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center, please visit or call 800-869-6782.

Give Us a Chance to Show You

by Donna J. Jodhan

It is always a pleasure for me to explain to those who have very limited interaction with those who are blind, that as blind persons we can still enjoy life. Yes, we may not have vision; many of us do not have any, and several of us have limited or partial vision. However, it does not stop us from being able to enjoy life in many ways.

No, we can't see the bright flowers, the blue skies, the rising or setting sun, the ocean, and much more! However, we can surely appreciate being able to smell and touch a flower, run our toes through the cool damp grass, appreciate the warmth of the sun, enjoy the singing birds, and so much more. We may not be able to appreciate the graphics and artwork of websites but you know what? We can still enjoy all that others can but we do it differently. By using our other senses. For as long as we can access websites, we will be able to appreciate and navigate like anyone else. For as long as others allow and enable us to access vital information on the Internet, then we too can have fun like anyone else.

Believe it or not, blind persons do enjoy life. We go to the movies, the theater, ball games, we ice skate, ski, play chess, and so much more. We can speak for ourselves, pay our bills, and most important of all, we can work! Yes, that's right! We have the skills and capacity to work. We are Human Beings with the same desires and aspirations as the mainstream person. No, do not think of us as wanting to just sit at home and do nothing. Do not think of us as standing on street corners with a tin cup in hand begging for handouts. Do not think of us as only being able to be good at playing music. There is much more to a blind person beyond what the eye can see. Give us a chance to show you.

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:

Remembering by Touch

by Donna J. Jodhan
Written at Easter 2009

Now that my vision has been reduced to almost nothing, I often use the touch technique to help me remember certain cherished images. Easter Saturday was a perfect example. When the doorbell rang and I asked who it was, the voice at the other end told me that it was a delivery man with some flowers for me. At first I was at a loss to think who would be so nice to be sending me flowers for Easter but I soon found out.

When I opened the door I asked the delivery man to read me the card on the delivery and it was from my dear mom. He quickly noticed that I was blind and asked if I needed him to put it on my table. When I told him no, he then proceeded to describe the flowers to me and a few minutes later as I quietly closed my door the tears came rolling down my cheeks. My dear mom had sent me an Easter arrangement. It was in a darling little basket, and that I could feel but I could not see the flowers themselves. So, after pulling myself together I proceeded to use my sense of touch to help me remember.

I gently felt each and every flower. Then I examined each leaf with my fingertips. I then bent and smelled the flowers and they had a fresh fragrant spring smell to them. I stood there for a few minutes with my fingers in the basket refusing to let go. I allowed my memory to take over and as I stood there, the colors came flooding back into my mind. I imagined yellow as vibrant as the sun. Purple as gentle as a dawning sky and white as pure as the Milky Way. I pictured the leaves as green as the grass grows and when I had them all pictured in my mind, I wept for joy! My mom had done me well! She knew how much I loved my flowers and she had taken the time to ensure that her basket to me was just right.

It reminded me of a few years ago after I had lost my vision; it was my birthday and I had received another delivery of flowers then. This time the delivery consisted of a huge vase of flowers and when I asked the delivery man to read me the card, he told me that it was from my brother Robert and my sister-in-law Charmaine. Like mom they had taken the time to send me flowers that they knew I so loved and when the delivery man described them to me, I again wept for joy and used my touch technique to help me remember. Later on a friend told me that my brother had specifically asked for flowers that bore fragrant smells so that I could appreciate them even more.

This is one thing that no one can ever take away from me. The ability to remember through touch. I can use the sense of touch to conjure up the most vivid of memories, the most cherished of thoughts, and the most imaginative of creative thinking and it is one of the things that keeps me going every day. I often tell people that it does not matter if I am unable to see something, I can use my sense of touch to help me enjoy it.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and encouraging you to go out there and tell the world that yes indeed! Blind persons can certainly enjoy things by using their sense of touch. 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:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Keep Track of Your Children with Squeeky Shoes

This is one of the reasons I love posting articles to Fred's Head. I received this email about a product not designed for the blind, but that could be of benefit to the blind.


I bought a pair of squeaky shoes for my daughter, primarily to help her enjoy the start of walking. She was a late starter, prefering to crawl until i bought her these shoes. They have a fun squeak in the heel which encourages a heel to toe walking action and now i can't get them off her!

My sister also loved them, she bought a pair for my niece which had the same effect of getting her up and about. A surprising side effect occured with their blind cat who can now hear my niece when she's on her way to pet him.

This got me thinking that maybe these shoes have a benefit to blind or partially sighted parents. I know that when i'm out, i know exactly where my daughter is and believe these shoes would benefit others.

I have launched a website at to promote the product and was wondering if you'd kindly place a link on your website? If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Patrick Thomas

Fully Accessible Talking Glucose Meter System

I received the following via email and wwanted to share it with you.

Prodigy Diabetes Care, LLC is known in the diabetes industry for the innovative Prodigy products we make along with our high quality, accuracy, new features and affordable cost.

Prodigy is the only manufacturer in the diabetes industry to respond to the challenge of producing a fully accessible talking glucose meter system, the Prodigy Voice, which offers a blind or low vision user total independence. Prodigy is honored to be the only company to receive National Access Awards from both the National Federation of the Blind and the American Foundation for the Blind for our Prodigy Voice. As Prodigy’s goal is to serve blind patients with diabetes; much of our profit goes back into research & development for more new products towards this end.

Statistics show that less than 5% of the blind and vision impaired diabetic community are now using a Prodigy talking glucose meter. It appears that our goals are the same, i.e. providing proper education and making quality products to equip and enable blind diabetics with the tools and resources they need to independently Live Well with Diabetes.

In 2010, Prodigy plans to release three innovative new products to serve the blind and vision impaired diabetes community. We are actively working to make our products readily available with home healthcare groups (mail order) and retail chain stores nationwide. If you encounter a location that does not carry our products, please request they do so and let us know so we can support your request as well.

Please contact me as soon as possible, or you can also speak with Bernadette Jacobs at 410-455-5311 or so we can continue our work on the Prodigy products made for the vision impaired people we both serve.

Jerry Munden (Living well with Type I for 30+ years ... and you can too!)
Vice President of Business Development
Prodigy Diabetes Care, LLC
9300 Harris Corners Parkway, Suite 450
Charlotte, NC 28269
Phone: 704-285-6454
Fax: 704-285-6495 Email:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Braille/Print Yardstick

Braille-Large Print Yardstick

Both large print and braille readers can use this yardstick. The yardstick is made of durable white plastic and is drilled for hanging. It has raised-line markings along one edge in 1/4" increments, with braille markings every inch. Black large print markings are along the opposite edge in 1/4" increments.

Recommended ages: 5 years and up.

Braille/Print Yardstick: Catalog Number: 1-03002-00

Related Product: Meterstick (Braille)
Catalog Number: 1-03000-00 -- $14.00
Click this link to purchase a Brailleand Large Print Yardstick.

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:

I'm in a Rainy Mood

I don't know about you, but I love the sound of rain. It can be so relaxing. Add in a little thunder and you've got the perfect weather for a night of sleeping.

I also like simple websites that do what they advertise. Putting these things together, I have found a wonderful site where I can relax and chill for a little while.

Rainy plays a 15-minute loop of a rainstorm as soon as you open the page, complete with rolling thunder and a few chirping birds for good measure. The rain sounds great behind music too!

Click this link to visit

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Flash Cartridge for the NLS Player, 2GB, Green

Flash memory cartridge for use with the NLS Digital Talking Book Player.

Not available with Quota funds.

Flash Cartridge for the NLS Player, 2GB, Green:
Catalog Number: 1-02610-00
Click this link to purchase the Flash Cartridge, 2GB, Green for the NLS players.

Related products

USB 2.0 Extension Cable, NLS Cartridge to PC Connection (3 ft.)
Catalog Number: 1-02612-00
Click this link to purchase from APH.

Digital Cartridge Mailer
Catalog Number: 1-02611-00
Click this link to purchase from APH.

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:

Child-guided Strategies: The Van Dijk Approach to Assessment

Child Guided Strategies for Children who are Blind and Visually Impaired cover
This product consists of an easy-to-use guidebook with an accompanying DVD that follows the assessment of a baby, a young child, and a teenager. The Van Dijk assessment is unique as it follows the lead of the individual learner. Critical to the process is the recognition that assessment and intervention must always occur "hand in glove" and that meaningful assessment guides intervention. This product contains the guiding principle and guidelines to conduct an assessment that follows the Van Dijk approach.
  • Behavioral State
  • Orienting Response
  • Learning Channels
  • Approach-Withdrawal
  • Memory
  • Social Interactions
  • Communication
  • Problem Solving
  • Print guidebook
  • Accessible CD with electronic assessment forms
  • DVD
Child-guided Strategies: The Van Dijk Approach to Assessment: Catalog Number: 7-31001-00
Click this link to purchase Child-Guided Strategies: The Van Dijk Approach to Assessment.

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:

Sound Adapted Tangle Ball Kit

Tangle Ball

Watch your baby be creative with his/her "first sound ball." This ball doubles as a teething toy and is great for educational play.


  • Spatial development and interaction
  • Creative play
  • Grasping skills for both hands


  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Sound localization skills
  • Fine motor skills
  • Interaction with others

Made of safe, soft plastic material.

Note: Interior ball can be removed if desired. Some customer assembly required.

Recommended ages: 6 months and up.

WARNING: Choking Hazard -- Small Parts. Not intended for children ages 5 and under without adult supervision.

Sound Adapted Tangle Ball Kit (3 Balls):
Catalog Number: 1-08111-00
Click this link to purchase the Sound Adapted Tangle Ball Kit.

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 Poetry Tool

Here's a great resource from the Poetry Foundation that allows you to browse first by poets, poems, audiovisuals, articles, and children's, then by further appropriate subdivisions; under Children's, for instance, you can browse "Poems to Read," "Poems by Age," "Poems by Category," and "Articles." You can also look for reading guides, live readings, book picks, excerpts from Poetry Magazine, and more.

Click this link to start using the Poetry Tool website:


Here's a site with downloadable audio recordings of the works of hundreds of poets.

Click this link to visit the Pen Sounds website.

Poetry Audio Recordings: A Guide to Online Resources

This is a guide to selected online resources for audio recordings of poets reading and discussing their work.

Click this link to visit the Library of Congress website to view this poetry resource page.

Lost Titles, Forgotten Rhymes: How to Find a Novel, Short Story, or Poem Without Knowing its Title or Author

Here's a Web Guide from the Library of Congress to help you find that hard-to-find read:

Click this link to visit the Library of Congress website to find lost titles.

Online Rhyming Dictionary

“ is a unique online rhyming dictionary that contains thousands of rhyme entries for almost any given word.”

When you choose a word by looking it up alphabetically, you will be provided with a dictionary entry, and you will have the chance to have the word translated into another language. The dictionary function is great!

Click this link to visit

Blind and Visually Impaired mobile phone buyer's guide

by Emma Tracey
Nowadays, mobile phones are geared up for so much more than calls and texts. For blind or visually impaired people though, only certain devices will be usable. Without getting too technical, here are five things to think about when choosing a handset.

Can I access the phone’s basic features?

A mobile phone is totally pointless if you can’t make or receive calls or texts. There is text enlargement software available for those of you with useful vision, Zooms being the most popular choice. Otherwise, it’s about ensuring that character size is acceptable, that the device is well lit and that there is good colour contrast. This information is available online, but hands-on testing in-store is always best. While there, check the phone’s in-built accessibility features, usually found within the settings menue.
Totally blind users will need screenreading software. Talks, Mobile Speak and the iPhone 3GS’s Voiceover are your main choices. Each option will only work on certain compatible phones, so always check with the software manufacturers and your mobile service provider.

Are the phone’s buttons obvious and easy to activate?

It’s all well and good being privy to your gadget’s output, but if you can’t communicate with the device, then it’ll be a frustrating, one-sided relationship. Be sure to check the colour contrast of the phone’s buttons and how they are spaced. Totally blind phone purchasers, consider whether the buttons are well defined, evenly spaced, and arranged in a sensible way so that you can hit the one you want without thinking about it.
Decide whether you would prefer a slider phone or one where the buttons are always on display. In a hurry, sliding the buttons out can be an extra bother. Devices with a qwerty keyboard are not as easy to operate one-handed. So not ideal if you want to use your phone on the fly. But qwertys are probably better over all for composing email and surfing the web.

Is the phone I want a touch screen device?

As when choosing any phone, VI folk should take some time to ensure that their touch screen device is big enough, easy to manipulate and includes the all important accessibility features like text enlargement, the ability to zoom in on what you want and your favourite contrast option.
Touchscreen technology is really growing legs and while handsets like the iPhone 3GS advertise their accessibility, phones with few or no pressable buttons will always require a fairly steep learning curve for a totally blind person. So don’t enter into it unless you are prepared to put in the hours. Some phones don’t call themselves touchscreen devices, but have a couple of keys which are touch sensitive. This is even more of a no-go for a blind person than an accessible touchscreen phone.

Is the battery life acceptable?

If you have some vision, you probably have the phone’s brightness turned up to the max and if you are blind, it’s working flat out to run the screenreader. Plus, let’s face it, if your mobile runs out of juice, chances are you won’t be able to access anyone else’s. There are battery extenders on the market, but it is definitely worth while checking the battery life of the phone and how long it takes to charge before purchasing. Also consider taking energy saving measures like reducing the brightness, or choosing a less power-hungry screensaver.

Can I afford it?

Unfortunately, every phone which can accommodate screen-reading and text enlarging software is going to be at the top end of the market. The iPhone 3GS is the only device so far which has a full range of accessibility features built in. All other handsets will require add on software, which has a market value over £100. Some mobile providers will foot the bill for this, but some won’t. If you are on contract, finding which accessible mobile phone is on the cheapest plan might be the deciding factor.
Alternatively, a quick internet search will produce details of websites and email lists such as RecycleIt and TheBargainStore, where blind and visually impaired people sell their unwanted niche gadgets to each other. Used phones, usually in good condition, with the screenreading software already preloaded, are often sold on these for very sensible prices. So definitely the way to go if you are on a tight budget.
Finally, be prepared for limited accessibility knowledge and awareness from the staff you will deal with when purchasing the new phone. Take this check list with you and stick to your guns. You will almost always know what you want better than they do.

Article Source:
BBC - Ouch! Greater Accessibility with PDF Forms is a website where you upload your PDF form and link to it so other people can fill it out and sign it online. No software is needed. Any PDF form can be used, even if it's not "interactive", so you can get started right away. You can even invite a group to fill out your forms and track the results. Anyone that collects signatures or filled out forms will find to be a valuable time-saving resource.

  • Upload a PDF form
  • Link to it
  • People click the link
  • They fill out the form  

Better than a Fax

Do you ask anyone to print a form, fill it out, and fax it back? You can get more forms returned faster using Just send them a link and they can fill it out and sign online. No printing or faxing needed and you also bring greater accessibility to those who are blind or who have low vision. Benefits:

  • Forms filled faster
  • Easier to read
  • Returned more often
  • Data can be searchable
Click this link to visit

Monday, February 08, 2010

Find Free Wi-Fi

Looking for free Wi-Fi in your area? Are you preparing for a trip? Well offers a really nice service where you can choose states from a menu, and MetroFreeFi will generate a Notes file for your iPod or compatible notetaker. Drop the files on your iPod or notetaker and you're good to go!

I thought I knew most of the free Wi-Fi spots in Louisville, but the MFF file showed me about a dozen I was unaware of. Some of the notes even detail special procedures for getting a WEP key for particular locations.

It's a free service, and well worth the time. Click this link to find Wi-Fi hotspots in your area:

“At you’ll find your local free wifi and power ready laptop spots. We have over 300 tried and tested cafes listed worldwide where you can power up your laptop, surf the web for free and enjoy a coffee.”

Click this link to visit

Friday, February 05, 2010

Removing a Stripped Screw with a Rubber Band

Almost everyone whose done some DIY project or handled an electric drill have found themselves at one time or another enjoying the ease of powered hand tools, only to apply too much torque and strip the screw clean. Here's what to do when you've stripped the screw and don't have a specialized extractor kit.

  1. The first thing to do is to immediately stop using the tool/technique which stripped the screw. Most of the time, this means switching over from a power tool over to a hand tool solution, as you can better control the amount of torque/pressure applied to the stripped screw.
  2. Switch to a short length screw driver with a bigger head; switching screw head types (Phillips or over to a cross-head attachment) may also work. If you've got a screwdriver kit which includes a Torx (6 points) or an Allen (hexagonal), these shapes may give enough grip to remove the stripped screw. Just remember to go slowly, apply as much pressure downward, and abide by "righty tighty, lefty loosy" so you don't make matters worse.
  3. Sometimes a screw is just stripped enough that none of the alternative sizes work. You've still got hope! A rubber band may aid in providing enough grip to remove, or at least loosen, the screw. Place a wide band rubber band inbetween the screw driver (we recommend bumping one size up from the screw head which caused the strip) and the screw, then apply hard, but slow force as you turn. If you're fortunate, the rubber band will fill in the gaps caused by the strip and allow extraction.
  4. Perhaps the rubber band trick worked…but only to a certain point and you're still not able to completely remove the screw. That's when a locking clamp-style needle nose plier can come to the rescue, grabbing and locking the section removed from a flush surface. We don't know how many times this affordable tool has helped us removed old or poorly constructed screws, but it's been enough times that we highly recommend stocking even the smallest of toolboxes or drawers with one.
  5. Finally, if none of these work, you can play the part of Rodin and chisel the screw some depth to provide more tension lost from the strip. But only with the most careful of force, as this may risk losing your screw completely into the surface! You don't want to hammer the screw into the wall/surface, so err on the side of caution. We recommend this as a last resort.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Think Beyond the Label

From the website:

Think Beyond the Label is committed to making the business case for employing people with disabilities. We are a partnership of health and human service and employment agencies with federal grants, coming together to build a uniform national infrastructure and approach that connects businesses to qualified candidates with disabilities. Our goal is simple: to raise awareness that hiring people with disabilities makes good business sense. Employees with disabilities have unique, competitively relevant knowledge and perspectives about work processes, bringing different perspectives to meeting work requirements and goals successfully. Hiring someone who “thinks outside the box” might be thinking too small when there’s an opportunity to hire someone who lives outside the box.

Health & Disability Advocates (HDA), a national nonprofit organization that promotes income security and improved health care access for children, people with disabilities, and low-income older adults, is spearheading the Think Beyond the Label campaign on behalf of more than 25 states and various national and regional organizations by serving as its fiscal agent.

For more information about HDA or the collaborative Think Beyond the Label program, visit their website at

Monday, February 01, 2010

The Windows 7 Magnifier

The Windows 7 Magnifier has been seriously updated with tons of new features that should have been included in previous versions of Windows. As larger monitors get more and more popular, a tool like this becomes a must-have for many savvy users. It also makes presentations much more enjoyable for both the presenters and the audients. For people with low vision, it is an indispensable feature! Microsoft finally covered that piece and it's FREE, built right into the operating system.

Simply use the keyboard shortcuts to launch and close the program, to magnify your entire desktop, internet browser, whatever you need.

  • Windows key + Plus to zoom in
  • Windows key + Minus to zoom out
  • Windows key + ESC to exit

You can also use the Lens option to only magnify an area around the pointer which works just like a real magnifier moving on your desktop, or select the dock mode to show the magnified section at the top of the dock area. You can switch them back and forth using the keyboard shortcuts while you are still in the magnifier view.

  • Ctrl + Alt + F, Full screen mode
  • Ctrl + Alt + L, Lens mode
  • Ctrl + Alt + D, Dock mode

The following video will demonstrate some of the basic features of the Windows 7 Magnifier.

We received the following comment from Karen via email.

For someone with a visual disability who needs high contrast or a theme other than an Aero theme, they will only be able to use the Windows Magnifier on split screen mode. I haven't tried creating an Aero theme using high contrast colours so don't know if it can be done. Would be worth a try.

See for more information on using Aero and full screen or lens views.

Also note that if you are trying to use full screen or lens mode with other adaptive technology such as TTS or screen reading you may only get split screen view since Aero uses a new method to access the video display to support full screen or lens view while existing adaptive technology is using MSAA.

Once you turn off adaptive technology the Aero theme should return and you can use Magnifier in full screen or lens view again. Sometimes this takes a few minutes. These views do work with Narrator.

Magnifier in Windows 7 is a great tool if you don't need other adaptive technology or can use it with Narrator or other on-board tools and more usable now that it has full screen and lens views.

Cheers, Karen

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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.

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