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, December 30, 2010

BBC Save Our Sounds documentaries

Join the Discovery team on their journey to explore soundscapes. Why are sounds that we take for granted slowly disappearing?

The two documentaries are presented by acoustic engineer Professor Trevor Cox. Each programme features a range of experts including architects, urban planners, environmental scientists and social scientists - all concerned with acoustic ecology in the urban soundscape.

In the first programme, your host Trevor Cox joins a soundwalk in central London and explores the world of acoustic ecology.

Trevor meets artists and city planners to discuss how sound influences our lives and affects our well being.

Are cities getting noisier or is it just that we're losing the quieter places we once had – the back streets and urban squares where citizens can go for a respite from the wall of noise? How has the soundscape in London changed and what sounds are in danger of being lost in the future?

In the second programme, Trevor Cox travels to one of the most densely populated and noisiest cities in the world, Hong Kong.

Trevor also meets UK scientists from the Positive Soundscape Project trying to shift the focus from managing noise in cities to incorporating the sounds that the public really want to hear in the urban environment, be it birdsong, buskers or even barking dogs!

The documentaries examine the impact of sound on people's lives, and question whether some noises, from street markets to bells and street hawkers, are actually at risk of disappearing. Some of which are distinct sounds connecting a city to its heritage and people.

Click this link to listen to the Save Our Sounds documentaries from the BBC.

AudioTag: Get the Title of Music Found in Files and Videos

We've all been there: you hear a song in a commercial, over the radio, or in a video clip and you can't figure out who the artist is. AudioTag scans your files or YouTube videos and returns a list of matches.

You can use AudioTag by uploading a file or using the URL for the file. AudioTag recognizes WAV, MP3, OGG, FLAC, FLV, MP4, and more. You can also paste the link of a YouTube URL into the AudioTag search box and have it scan the video.

AudioTag can sometimes have difficulty distinguishing between different versions of the same song. For example if you upload a song that is a cover of another song, there is a high probability that the response AudioTag returns will rank the original song higher than the cover, if the cover is shown in the search results at all. Still, if you have no idea what the song is called or who the performer is, knowing the original performer puts you much closer to solving the mystery.

Click this link to get the name of that song with

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Share Files on Twitter

Twitter is one of the most popular places on the internet today. It's a great way for the blind and visually impaired to share information quickly around the world, in real-time, easily and within seconds. Today, I'm going to show you some effective ways to share files with your Twitter followers. Check them all out and use the one which you find easiest to access with your screen reader or screen magnification program.

Sending Audio Through Qwitter

Qwitter was originally designed to be a client for the Twitter microblogging service. However, Qwitter has evolved into a revolutionary application, bringing the speech and sound-based navigation paradigm it popularized on the Twitter platform to several other services. Qwitter's primary advantage is that you can access these services without ever having to open up another window. You never need to leave the application you are working in.

Starting in qwitter 4.5, the ability to attach audio messages to your posts was added. Any new message dialog contains an attach audio button. Pressing this button brings up a dialog that gives you the option to either record your audio from within qwitter itself or attach an existing file.

Click this link to learn more about the Qwitter client for the blind:


Allows you to share files with your Twitter followers. There are three account types, two of them are free. One of the free accounts helps you directly link to your files and upload up to the 250 Mb per file limit.

Click this link to share files through TwitFS.


Allows you to share files on Twitter. Simple as that. Blast out your images, videos, music and more with just a couple of clicks, and your files are automatically posted on Twitter. Ten meg limit and files are removed after thirty days.

Click this link to visit


The easiest way to share your documents on Twitter. Files up to 15 MB, photos up to 10 MB and video files up to 25 MB. Very nice and simple service.

Click this link to visit


FileTweet lets you send files directly to your Twitter followers. All you need is a Twitter account, your files are sent via DM. Very nice and simple-to-use service with a nice interface.

Click this link to share files through FileTweet.

Allows you to directly share almost anything with your Twitter followers. Including Pictures, Videos, Documents, Audio files or even interactive polls! Very cool!

Click this link to visit

Braille Translation Software

Many braille transcribers use braille translation software to convert electronic files into a braille format ready to emboss. There are several different braille translation software products available today, and some of these are designed for translating specific media, such as music.
The following list contains the name, a short description, contact information and web address of some of the most popular software applications.
While these software programs are helpful, it is important to note that no program can, as of yet, output "braille-reader-ready" materials. Such formatting elements as tabs and indents, and special elements such as tables, captions, and graphs are handled by some programs better than others. Therefore, it is always important to have a human being review the program's output before presenting it to someone as finished braille.

Louis - The Macintosh Braille Translator

Louis is a full featured braille translator for the Apple Macintosh. Designed around liblouis and liblouisxml Louis is designed to produce braille in a wide range of formats and languages. Features include:
  • Full Mac GUI with VoiceOver.
  • Full online and local documentation.
  • Translation of MS Word, text, XML, HTML DocBook, DAISY/NIMAS, NewsML.
  • Ability to learn new XML based formats.
  • Support for a wide range of languages.
  • Support for MathML to nemeth translation.
  • Back translation.
  • Creating and saving custom configuration files.
  • Integration with TextEdit, including a TextEdit menu script.
  • Braille contextual menu for translating English text to U.S. Grade two braille in Cocoa applications.
  • Braille widget for quick translations and sign making.
  • Braille and BrailleShadow True Type fonts in the public domain.
  • Ability to run translations from the command line.
> Louis and the support programs are free and open source. The source code for Louis can also be downloaded from the > Louis website:


WinBraille is as easy to use as MS Word or any other text editor. With WinBraille, blind users will be integrated in networks and on the internet in the same way as seeing users already are.
WinBraille is available in two versions; the simpler Free version, and the more advanced PRO-version that requires a license.
WinBraille is based on templates. The result is easier, quicker and better braille translation. When translating text into Braille, WinBraille templates are your filter. The templates decide how your Braille document will be formatted and translated. Just set your template, and WinBraille takes care of the rest.


This software provides a simple, quick way to produce grade 2 literary English braille. With a braille embosser linked to a PC or laptop, anyone, whether they know braille or not, can make a braille copy of any text. Features include:

  • Fully automatic
  • Various braille paper size settings
  • Braille with or without capitals
  • Page header and paragraph layout options
  • Letter sign for acronyms
  • Easy brailling from the internet using the WebbIE text browser
  • Easy installation under any Windows operating system
  • British braille code
Choice Technology (UK) Ltd
7 The Rookery
Orton Wistow
Phone: 01733 234441
Fax: 01733 370391

Duxbury Braille Translator

Duxbury is a multi-platform, multi-language braille translation application for print-to-braille and braille-to-print translation, has formatting features to make the translation consistent with established conventions, and word processing features for making print or braille edits. The software is fully accessible with magnification software as well as screen reading software.

Duxbury Systems, Inc.
270 Littleton Rd., Unit 6,
Westford, MA 01886-3523 USA
Phone: (978)692-3000
Fax: (1-978)692-7912
Web: Duxbury Systems:


MegaDots is a DOS-based braille translator from Duxbury Systems. It has been developed for volume transcribers: individuals who have significant production requirements. MegaDots supports print-to-braille and braille-to-print conversion, with the additional benefit of easy application of styles to create proper formatting in either print or braille. The software is fully accessible and supports most popular screen enlargement programs. While MegaDots is a DOS application, most current MegaDots users work with MegaDots from their Windows desktop. MegaDots works with MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. Some inkprint printers are "Windows only," requiring the machinery of Windows to perform basic operations. These inkprint printers do not work with MegaDots. MegaDots works with all commercially available braille embossers. MegaDots speaks with screen readers that work with MS-DOS applications, including JAWS for Windows.

Duxbury Systems, Inc.
270 Littleton Rd., Unit 6,
Westford, MA 01886-3523 USA
Phone: (978)692-3000
Fax: (1-978)692-7912
Web: Duxbury Systems:


NFBTRANS is a DOS-based text-to-braille software program available for free download through the National Federation of the Blind website. While acknowledging that the program lacks some of the functionality of commercial software programs, its developers have created a very usable translation program for most situations, one that will give the user a feel for braille translation.

Web site:


Braille2000 is a tool for producing braille. It is fully Internet-aware, making it as simple as a mouse click to send a braille document to another person. Braille2000 is XML aware, it allows the user to read and write braille XML files as well as translate XML print text into braille. Braille2000 is for Windows95, Windows98, WindowsME, Windows2000, and WindowsXP. It is compatible with the now obsolete ED-IT PC software.

Computer Application Specialties Company
P.O. Box 22219
Lincoln, NE 68542-2219
Phone: (402) 423-4782
Fax: (402) 423-5154
Web: CASC Braille 2000:

Six-Key Input Editors

It is often necessary for a transcriber to manually input information into a file that's being converted from print to braille or vice versa. The following Six-Key Input editors assist in that process by converting standard keyboards into a six-key braille input device. These programs may also have features that support the translation of print to braille.


Sixin gives access to the PC for Braille users.
Sixin allows the braillist to use a standard QWERTY keyboard braille-style. With fingers on keys s d f and j k l and thumbs on the spacebar, either grade 2 or computer Braille can be written at speed and print appears on the screen. This text can be read with speech or a Braille display, and saved or modified as usual with a PC. Sixin is ideal for the student, the would-be speed writer or those having difficulties with QWERTY keyboards. It is best used with NotePad and may not work with all versions of MS Word.

Choice Technology (UK) Ltd
7 The Rookery
Orton Wistow
Phone: 01733 234441
Fax: 01733 370391


ED-IT PC is a six-key transcription program for sighted transcribers that can be used to handle all standard braille production tasks, including literary, textbook, math, and music transcriptions. It features powerful tools including automatic paragraph indent with word-wrap, automatic running heads, and automatic page numbering with dynamic reformatting to maintain proper page layout.

Computer Application Specialties Company
P.O. Box 22219
Lincoln, NE 68542-2219
Phone: (402) 423-4782
Web: Ed-it PC:


Pokadot is a six-key direct keyboard input braille transcription program for sighted braille transcribers. It can be downloaded for free from the Pokadot web site.

Phone: 360-574-6167
Web: Pokadot:

Braille Music Translation Programs

Goodfeel Braille Music Translator

GOODFEEL lets sighted people who read print music (but who may not know braille) prepare print scores for automatic transcription into braille. Blind musicians learn new material using the accessible notation editor and can even independently create printed scores for sighted musicians to read. Integrated presentation of print and braille on screen.
Scan, import or play music directly into the editor. Proof and revise if necessary. Emboss or read with note-taker/braille display. Convert from Finale, Sibelius, etc., via MusicXML import.

Dancing Dots
1754 Quarry Lane
PO Box 927
Valley Forge, PA 19482-0927
Phone: 610-783-6692
Fax: 610-783-6732
Web: Dancing Dots:

Opusdots Lite Music Braille Translation Software

Opus Technologies created OpusDots Lite for sighted teachers, family, friends and others who know print music notation but may not know braille. It is used for translating printed sheet music into music braille, and relies on "Scan and Click" technology with which the user can select musical elements from the scanned image. These are then entered and automatically translated into braille.

Opus Technologies
12222 Thunderhead Street
San Diego, CA 92129
Phone/Fax: (858) 538-9401
Toll-Free: (866) OPUSTEC
Web: Opus Technologies:

Toccata Braille Music Translator

Toccata is a fully-integrated program with its own built-in music notation editor and braille editor. The program can also import music from MIDI files, and uses the SharpEye optical music recognition program for scanning printed sheet music for editing and loading into Toccata.

Optek Systems
P.O. Box 277
NSW 1701
Phone: +612 9891 6600
Fax: +612 9891 6875 Email:
Web: Optek Systems: http://members.optusn
Toccata is distributed in the United States by Opus Technologies:
Opus Technologies
12222 Thunderhead Street
San Diego, CA 92129
Phone/Fax: (858) 538-9401
Toll-Free: (866) OPUSTEC
Web: Opus Technologies:

Accessible Notation Software

The following technology allows blind musicians to independently enter, revise and print music in conventional staff notation for sighted musicians to read and perform.

Lime Aloud from Dancing Dots

Using Lime with Lime Aloud, you can independently prepare printed scores of your musical ideas such as original compositions and arrangements or assignments for music courses.
Lime is software that lets you read and write printed music notation. Lime Aloud gives the blind musician excellent access to Lime's rich set of notation editing features. With the JAWS for Windows screen reader software installed, Lime Aloud provides the blind musician with verbal and musical cues that make it easy to use Lime independently and most productively.

Click this link to learn more about Lime Aloud from Dancing Dots.

Other Resources

The National Center to Improve Practice in Special Education Through Technology, Media and Materials (NCIP), located at the Education Development Center in Newton, Massachusettes has compiled a list of braille translation software programs and braille embossers on their website.

Education Development Center, Inc.
55 Chapel Street
Newton, Massachusetts 02458-1060
Telephone: (617) 969-7100
Web site: Education Development Center: /NCIP/library/vi/output.htm#anchor341123

RoboBraille: Email to Braille and Back Again

RoboBraille automates the translation of text documents into Braille and speech. The service is available free of charge to all non-commercial users. With RoboBraille, you can:

  • Translate documents into contracted Braille
  • Translate documents into speech
  • Translate text into visual Braille
  • Convert text documents between different character sets
  • Convert Braille documents to specific Braille character sets
  • Partition documents into smaller parts
Users, who do not need to register, send in documents as email attachments in Word, rich text, html or plain text formats. A unique software package translates the documents into contracted Braille or mp3 files in up to five languages. Documents are returned electronically and must then be rendered on a Braille embosser or displayed on a Braille display, where a Braille format is requested.
The RoboBraille service is run by an international consortium led by the Danish national body for young people and children with impaired vision, Organisation Synscenter Refsnaes. Languages currently handled are Danish; English; Greek; Italian; and Portuguese. The team also plans to add French, Lithuanian and Norwegian.
The development consortium comprises The Royal National College for the Blind in the UK, the Associazone Nazionale Subvedenti in Italy, the National Council for the Blind of Ireland in Ireland, the National Association of Housing for the Visually Impaired in Ireland, Pagkypria Organozi Tyflon in Cyprus and the Centro de Inovacao para Deficientes (CIDEF) in Portugal.
The team plans to expand the service, enabling users to convert documents to DAISY books, Braille maths and Braille music; and introduce a service for banks and tax offices to send electronic documents to print-impaired customers.

Click this link to visit RoboBraille at

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Oven Temperature Conversion Chart

The formula to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius is (°F - 32) / 1.8 = °C

The following list has two numbers, °F is listed first, then °C.

  • 20 -7
  • 30 -1
  • 40 4
  • 50 10
  • 60 16
  • 70 21
  • 80 27
  • 90 32
  • 100 38
  • 110 43
  • 120 49
  • 130 54
  • 140 60
  • 150 66
  • 160 71
  • 170 77
  • 180 82
  • 190 88
  • 200 93
  • 210 99
  • 220 104
  • 230 110
  • 240 116
  • 250 121
  • 260 127
  • 270 132
  • 280 138
  • 290 143
  • 300 149
  • 310 154
  • 320 160
  • 330 166
  • 340 171
  • 350 177
  • 360 182
  • 370 188
  • 380 193
  • 390 199
  • 400 204
  • 410 210
  • 420 216
  • 430 221
  • 440 227
  • 450 232
  • 460 238
  • 470 243
  • 480 249
  • 490 254
  • 500 260

Low Vision Train Trekking

by Maurie Hill

Vision comes in handy when traveling home for the holidays. But if you can’t drive, you’ll need to be a little more imaginative when it comes to getting from point A to point B. My husband recently drove me one hour to the closest Amtrak station where I hopped on the train from Bellows Falls to Montpelier, Vermont, a 2-hour and 20-minute journey. Though the journey was short, I gathered some tips for the low vision train traveler along the way.

If you’re a low vision traveler like me, the phone number 1-800-USA-RAIL makes you cringe. That number translates to 1-800-872-7245. Write this down in big dark print and put it in your pocket. Better yet, add this contact as “Amtrak” into your cell phone. It will be useful if you’re waiting on your train and want to know the estimated arrival time.

You can make reservations over the phone or on your computer using ZoomText to magnify your screen. Keep in mind that if you reserve online, you must pay online. If you reserve a seat over the phone, you can purchase the ticket when you get to the ticket office within 3 days of travel, or pay on the train if there is no ticket office at your station. Make sure you have your reservation number and train number with you in large print. Or better yet, record the numbers on your Victor Reader Stream – it’s also a digital audio note-taker.

Find out about the services and accommodations of the trains and train stations you’ll be encountering beforehand online. In my rural Vermont journey, the station hours were very limited and there were no ticket offices. The size of these old historical stations wasn’t correlated to the town’s current size and stature. Bellows Falls had an impressive station that was surely busy in its heyday. The Montpelier station, our state’s capital, was smaller than my living room.

When I took my seat, I was delighted to find that the comfort and roominess exceeded that of an airplane. And there was a power receptacle at my seat to do my last minute charging of electronic equipment. Sit back and relax for moonlight in Vermont.

Be safe when going to the café car; hold onto the railings between cars, the metal floors between cars can be icy or wet. And don’t take my relaxed “everything will be just fine” approach and forget to sort out transportation when you arrive at your destination. Evidently, just because a town is the state capital doesn’t mean they have a reliable taxi service. Keep in mind that your poor vision necessitates better planning. For example, don’t assume from a Google map that you can walk from the train station to your downtown hotel, especially at night.

Luckily, my return trip was in daylight so I could enjoy the scenic rivers and valleys. Though I’ve driven many miles in Vermont, you get a different perspective from a train and can listen to a good book in the meantime. My trip ended where it began, in Bellows Falls, over the sparkling ice covered dam where my husband was waiting, just like clockwork. It’s nice when planning pays off.

Article Source:
Zoomed In

Friday, December 17, 2010

Braille Contraction Lookup Dictionary

If you want to know how a word is written in contracted braille, check the accurate and easy-to-use BRL: Contraction Lookup Dictionary!

From the website:

"This is a simple program to provide you with the proper contraction for a given word. To use the program, simply enter your word into the text box, click on the "Get contraction" button, and wait until the contraction appears. If the contraction is not in the dictionary (containing over 45,000 words), you will get a message telling you that it is not available! If the word is not in the dictionary, or near the end of the alphabet, the program will take a little longer to run! The dictionary is case-sensitive!"

Click this link to use the BRL Contraction Lookup Dictionary.

Planning Ahead Turkey Tips

When buying a turkey, allow 1 pound per adult serving if the bird weighs 12 pounds or less. For larger turkeys, count on 3/4 pound for each serving. If you want leftovers, buy a bird that's 2 to 4 pounds larger than the size you'll need for serving.

Although not all turkeys are labeled indicating whether the bird is a hen or tom, select a hen turkey if you want more white meat and a tom if you want more dark meat. Also check for the "sell by" date on the label of a fresh turkey. This date is the last day the turkey should be sold by the retailer. The unopened turkey should maintain its quality and be safe to use for one or two days after the "sell by" date.

If you buy a frozen turkey, look for packaging that is clean, undamaged, and frost-free. Allow plenty of time to thaw a frozen turkey. For a whole frozen turkey, leave the bird in its wrapping and place it on a tray in the refrigerator. Plan on at least 24 hours for every 5 pounds and don't count the day you'll roast the bird. (Once thawed, turkeys will keep one or two days in the refrigerator.).

Article Source:
Cooking in the Dark Email List

The Christmas Feeling

by Donna J. Jodhan

Christmas for me is simply a plethora of feelings, emotions, and so much more.

Christmas for me is a season where so many memories race across my mind. I can tell you that Christmas for me can be viewed in two different ways; as someone who has precious little vision and as one who once upon a time had enough vision to see so much.

When I had enough vision to see many things, I could appreciate the flickering candles in Church, the flashing colored lights as I skated around an outdoor rink, crowded streets with scurrying shoppers, Christmas trees loaded with decorations and presents piled high beneath, tables loaded with dishes of food, and of course! Santa Clause! I used to spend so much time in the toy departments admiring the dolls and doll houses. Drawing sets and coloring books. I used to help decorate the house and always enjoyed putting up the angels, the lights, and most of all; the manger with all of the figures.

Now that my vision has dwindled to almost nothing, I have all of these memories to bolster my enjoyment of Christmas and in addition, I use my senses of sound and smell to help me continue enjoying. Fragrances of burning firewood, pine, baking cookies, and turkey and pork all help me to conjure up pictures and images of years gone by. Sounds of bells, kids laughing, Santa Clause ho ho hoing, and the scraping of blades on ice add to my happy memories. You see, I have so many ways to recreate, reproduce, and make new memories.

Christmas as a blind person could be really interesting. So much to enjoy and so much to share with others. Christmas through the eyes of a blind person could be a very different perspective for many.

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:

Tasting and Feeling Holiday Books

by Kristie Smith-Armand, M.Ed, CTVI

“I tasted life.”- Emily Dickinson

I once read a fascinating quote by Nais Nin- “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection”. When I read Mr. Nin’s words, I finally realized for the first time that this was the reason that I love to write so much. An author wants to share his or her feelings with the world be it happiness, sadness, new ways of thinking, etc.

This time of year is complex. As human beings we begin to feel excitement and then out of nowhere we have an immense feeling of sadness. Someone has gone on who attended the last Christmas, money is scarce, divorce, loneliness, etc., but when we walk around the mall, visit stores, look at Christmas lights, we can feel restoration that everything is going to be okay.

As I stated earlier, an author wants to share his feelings, so when I pick up children’s holiday books, I can feel, taste and smell excitement from the past. I believe this is one reason that I enjoy reading holiday books to my students. We are once again eight-years-old and ready for the magic to come back inside of us.

APH offers a wonderful children’s book in Braille called, Dear Santa, Please Come to the 19th Floor. The story is so touching because the character in the story, Willy, wants Santa to come and visit his friend who is in a wheelchair, but he wonders how this can happen on the 19th floor.

Every year when I taught in the classroom, I would read my favorite holiday books: Little Critter’s Christmas, Hanukkah Lights, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Polar Express, T’was the Night Before Christmas, The Snowy Day, The Grinch and a host of other great holiday books.

What made the books and writing come to life, however, was when the children (then and now) were able to enhance the story through smells, tastes, touches, and sounds. If the children could see I would add the sense of sight.

We’ve made Christmas Peppermint Bark to enhance the Christian belief that the peppermint has symbolism to Christianity. (Simply melt white chocolate chips in a boiler to melt. Break up peppermint into small pieces and mix together. Yum)

Read the following information to a child and make delicious candy canes:

A candy maker in Indiana wanted to make a candy for Christmas that incorporated symbols from the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ.

He began with a stick of pure white candy to symbolize the virgin birth and the purity of Jesus. He then shaped it in the form of a "J" to represent the name of Jesus and the staff of the "Good Shepherd." Finally, he added red stripes to symbolize Jesus' blood and suffering on the cross.

The candy maker hoped that each time someone ate his creation they would be reminded of Jesus and the great love God gave us at Christmas.

After we read this version of the legend of the candy cane, we feel the true meaning when we eat or smell the aroma behind the story.

I love reading The Polar Express to children and enhance the written word with hot chocolate. My students who are blind benefit also from helping me to make the hot chocolate. We are then covering compensatory skills as well as our reading objectives. I always make a bell necklace for my student, so that they may hear the delightful sound of the bell.

After we read, Little Critter’s Christmas, the students and I will wrap up lovely empty shoeboxes and fill the boxes with wishes and hopes for others.

Another idea is to take the children to the mall during this amazing time of the year. Before you go on the trip to the mall, use your Wheatley Tactile Diagramming Kit and illustrate how the mall is laid out. Discuss stores and events that will take place before you leave the school.

After the trip, students will write about the sounds, smells, tastes and touches throughout their experiment. A wonderful store at North Park Mall in Dallas, Texas actually has Braille on their lotions. Needless to say, our children chose this one as their favorite store.

Students have written about the Salvation Army bell ringing, the smells of potpourri, the tastes of hot chocolate, the sounds of kids running to talk to Santa, the sound of the train display, and other great events on our trip to the mall.

The kids will then make a tactual book as a reminder of their holiday trip. They are able to name and create the book for long-lasting memories.

Simply reading a book to a child is well worth their time, however, when you add the senses to enhance the written word, the brain stores the information more readily. By the way, the sense of smell is the strongest sense and will last a lifetime especially when fun and excitement are fully involved.

At the end of this sometimes difficult season, children will feel the words of Emily Dickinson, “I tasted life.”

Braillable Labels and Sheets

Braillable Labels and Sheets
These clear, blank self-adhesive labels can be brailled and used to label items around the home, school, and office, such as: household appliances; canned goods; greeting cards; books; CDs; folders. The labels come in a variety of packages and sizes for convenience. The pre-cut, peel-off Large and Small labels accommodate braille lines that are 15 cells wide, with four lines fitting on the large and two on the small labels. Full-Size and Pin-Fed Sheets offer more room for brailling and can be cut to the desired size. A printed SimBraille sheet is included with each package to assist in determining size and placement.

Assorted Label Pack (5 Large Sheets, 5 Small Sheets, 10 Full-Size Sheets, 30 Pin-Fed Sheets):
Catalog Number: 1-08871-00

Small Label Pack (10 Sheets, 18 labels (3.87 x 0.95) per Sheet):
Catalog Number: 1-08872-00

Large Label Pack (10 Sheets, 10 Labels (3.875 x 1.75) per Sheet):
Catalog Number: 1-08873-00

15 Sheets (8 1/2 x 11, full-size):
Catalog Number: 1-08874-00

30 Continuous Sheets (8 1/2 x 11, pin-fed):
Catalog Number: 1-08875-00
Click this link to purchase Braillable Labels and Sheets from APH.

Inkjet Hook Paper

Use this "grippy" paper in combination with APH's Braillable Labels and Sheets to create custom print/braille labels. Hook Paper is similar to the "rough" side of hook material that grips to the soft "loop" side of the material.
Step 1: Print images using an inkjet printer.
Step 2: Cut out print images or labels.
Step 3: Use in combination with a material hook-compatible surface (a soft "loop" surface).
Note: Use only with inkjet printers. DO NOT USE HOOK PAPER WITH LASER PRINTERS OR PHOTOCOPIERS -- to do so can cause the Inkjet Hook Paper to melt and damage the laser printer/copier.
Example Uses
  • Creating print/braille labels of street names and landmarks
  • Creating movable pieces for interactive games and puzzles
  • Creating tactile communication symbols/cards
  • Creating interactive tactile/print storybooks or sequencing stories
  • 10 sheets of Inkjet Hook Paper
  • APH Product Instructions, Print
  • APH Product Instructions, Braille
  • Vendor Product Instructions, Print
  • Vendor Product Instructions, Braille
Recommended ages: Preschool and up.
WARNING: Choking Hazard -- Small Parts (if cut from full size sheet). Not intended for children ages 5 and under without adult supervision.

Catalog Number: 1-04970-00
Click this link to purchase some Inkjet Hook Paper 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:

Feel 'n Peel Stickers

Feel 'n Peel Stickers

Multi-use tactile/visual stickers for students and adults. Bright, translucent colors, durable plastic. Examples of use:

  • Point Symbols: graphs, game boards, microwave buttons
  • Reward Statements: grading papers, rewarding behavior
  • Faces: attendance, reading list progress
  • Alphabet: labeling folders, identifying belongings, diagrams.

Suggested uses for the stickers provided on a large print/braille sheet. Recommended ages: 3 years and up. Assorted Stickers Kit (over 2,300 stickers): Catalog Number: 1-08843-00 Point Symbol Stickers(over 1,200 stickers): Catalog Number: 1-08846-00 Smiley/Frowny Face Stickers (over 200 stickers): Catalog Number: 1-08847-00 Reward Statements Stickers (200 stickers): Catalog Number: 1-08848-00 Braille/Print Alphabet Letters Stickers (over 600 stickers): Catalog Number: 1-08849-00 Click this link to purchase Feel 'n Peel Stickers from APH.

New Designs! Feel 'n Peel Stickers II

Feel 'n Peel Stickers II

Bright translucent and transparent colored stickers in a durable plastic can be used for:

  • Point Symbols: graphs, game boards, microwave buttons
  • Reward Statements: grading papers, rewarding behavior
  • Faces: attendance charts, warnings
  • Alphabet: labeling folders, diagrams, identifying belongings
  • Stars: rewarding behavior, grading papers
  • Numbers: marking appliances, adapting keyboards
  • Color Names: labeling crayons/markers, making clothing tags

Print/braille suggestion sheet included. The Assorted Stickers II Kit also includes two white-coated magnetic sheets for adhering stickers to metal surfaces (file cabinets, appliances, cookie sheets, etc.). Assorted Stickers Set II (contains five types of stickers listed below): Catalog Number: 1-08864-00 Numbers: Catalog Number: 1-08865-00 Color Names: Catalog Number: 1-08866-00 Point Symbols II: Catalog Number: 1-08867-00 Stars: Catalog Number: 1-08868-00 Reward Statements II: Catalog Number: 1-08869-00 Click this link to purchase Feel 'n Peel Stickers Set II.

Feel 'n Peel Stickers: Nemeth Braille/Print Numbers 0-100

Feel 'n Peel Stickers: Nemeth Braille/Print Numbers 0-100 are intended for the creation and adaptation of science and math related materials.

  • 4 sheets of Nemeth Braille/Print Number Stickers 0-9 (multiple stickers of each number are provided on each sheet of 169 stickers)
  • 4 sheets of Nemeth Braille/Print Number Stickers 10-100 (one sticker per number on each sheet of 91 stickers)
  • Suggested Uses Guide, Large Print
  • Suggested Uses Guide, Braille

Recommended ages: Preschool and up.

WARNING: Choking Hazard–Small Parts. Not intended for children ages 5 and under without adult supervision. Catalog Number: 1-08876-00 Click this link to purchase Feel 'n Peel Stickers: Nemeth Braille-Print Numbers 0-100.

Feel 'n Peel Sheets: Carousel of Textures

Carousel of Textures sheets, a part of APH's Feel 'n Peel series, can be used in numerous ways by teachers, parents, students, and adults. This kit provides an assortment of sheets in a variety of textures and colors.

Example Uses
  • Adapt games, puzzles, or storybooks
  • Make textured worksheets, bar graphs, pie charts, etc., for math, science, or social studies
  • Use as areal/fill patterns in collage tactile graphic displays and maps
  • Use for classroom art activities
  • Construct tactile shapes, numbers, or letters
  • Use as tactile marking mats for coloring activities
  • Translucent "Rough" Vinyl Sheets (non-adhesive backed) in blue, red, green, yellow, clear
  • Translucent "Bumpy" Vinyl Sheets (non-adhesive backed) in blue, red, green, yellow, clear
  • Corrugated Sheets (non-adhesive backed) in red, blue, purple, dark green, light green, orange, yellow, and pink
  • Craft Foam Sheets (adhesive backed) in red, white, black, yellow, green, and blue
  • Foam Glitter Sheets (non-adhesive backed) in gold and silver
  • Velour Sheets (adhesive backed) in green, blue, white, black, and red
  • Vivelle® Sheets (adhesive backed) in gray, lilac, blue, green, yellow, brown, orange, pink, and red
  • Double-Backed Adhesive Sheets (apply to back of non-adhesive backed sheets)
  • 1 Package of Sticky Dots™ Adhesive
  • Storage/Carrying Box
  • Suggested Uses Sheet, Large Print
  • Suggested Uses Sheet, Braille

Sheet sizes are as follows:
Translucent "Rough" Vinyl, "Bumpy" Vinyl, Corrugated, and Velour Sheets are 8 1/2 x 11 inches; Craft Foam and Foam Glitter Sheets are 9 x 12 inches; and Vivelle Sheets are 8.26 x 11.69 inches (A4 size).

Recommended ages: Preschool and up.

WARNING: Choking Hazard -- Small Parts (if cut from full size sheets). Not intended for children ages 5 and under without adult supervision.

Note: The textured sheets included in Carousel of Textures are not intended for thermoforming purposes.

Catalog Number: 1-08863-00
Click this link to purchase Feel 'n Peel Sheets: Carousel of Textures.

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:
Shopping Home:

APH Holiday Gift Guide 2010

These selected products make great gifts for family and friends!

The Weeks Before Christmas

by Michael McCarty, APH Social Media Coordinator

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

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

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

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

“I’ll grab my list and fire up my Mac,
Accessible gifts I’ll have in my sack.”

“Jamie's musical bent could take her far,
She'll listen and learn with audio guitar.”

“Look at the books, what a selection!
I’ll pick this title from Chrissy’s Collection.”

“I know one book I’ll sure be taking,
It’s a hardcover keepsake, APH History in the Making.”

“Sam wants games, that’s really nice,
So I’ve put on his list the Talking GlowDice.”

“This new netbook is cool for Betty and Chet,
I’m sure they could learn from Verbal View of the Net.”

“John and Sally really like to stay fit!
So they will receive this hot Fitness Kit.”

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

“Trevor needs to keep track of phone numbers and dates,
He can’t go wrong with QuickBraille stylus and slate.”

“In the stockings this year, I’ll know what to hide,
APH’s redesigned Signature Guide.”

“Lucky Lucy will open a card with some money,
The iBill will tell her ‘five,’ ‘ten,’ or a ‘twenty’.”

“To count down the days to the next Yuletide,
I’ll keep an art calendar close by my side”

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

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

Season's Greetings from All of Us at APH!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The APH Migel Library Goes Digital!

The APH Migel Library is working with the Internet Archive to make some materials available online. This means that you can read and download selected texts from the Migel Library via the internet. These materials are available in a variety of formats including DAISY and ePub. Because of copyright laws, we are not allowed to make everything available online. You will find materials published before 1924, government documents and other materials that are considered Public Domain. As of today, there are 136 items available online. We hope to add a few hundred more in the coming months.

You can access these documents in one of two ways. When searching the APH Migel Library website,, you will see a Full Text Link on the Book Detail page if we have made the item available online. This will link to the items page at the Internet Archive. From there, you will have a variety of formats to choose from for viewing or download. (An example can be seen here:,25657.aspx?FormatFilter=7) You can search the Migel website using the search term, "Full Text" to see the items currently available online. Alternatively, if you'd like to browse the actual collection of digital materials from the APH Migel Library, go to

We hope you find this digital access to some of the APH Migel texts helpful and welcome your feedback!

Download Free Magazines from APH

APH is proud to offer free downloadable Reader's Digest® and Newsweek® as an option to our subscribers and patrons of the National Library Service (NLS). If you are not a patron, visit the NLS website at and follow the instructions. There is no charge for this service.

To download magazines in Digital Talking Book (DTB) format visit and follow the Download Magazines link for quick facts and details on how to register.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Text-to-Speech Option Enabled for All Elsevier ePub Book Titles

Elsevier, the world-leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and solutions, has announced that it has enabled the text-to-speech option on all of its ePub book titles. The text-to-speech function enables an e-book to read aloud. This will facilitate access by readers who would otherwise face a range of access challenges through blindness, dyslexia, or motor difficulties.

With 10-15% of the global population struggling with some form of print disability, the accessibility of publications is essential to open up access for a broad array of people. Text-to-speech enables access by people with disabilities who might otherwise struggle to see, read, or interact with ebooks. Elsevier is committed to providing universal access to quality content in sustainable ways, and works to identify and close access gaps. For those who struggle to see or read text, ebooks that read aloud can provide a powerful form of access. This will make it easier for bright and talented people who happen to have print disabilities to become scientists in the future.

Recognised for its accessibility efforts by receipt of the first Publisher Lookup Award in April 2010, Elsevier continues to be very active in accessible publishing initiatives at industry levels, cooperating with industry bodies such as the International Publishers Association (IPA), the Federation of European Publishers (FEP), the Publishers Association (PA), the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers (STM).

Click this link to visit the Elsevier website.

Funnel-It Quick Bottle Transfer

Have you ever tried to poor shampoo from one bottle to another? How about something like oil? You can really end up in a mess!

Reduce the clutter of half used bottles. Funnel-It bottle drainer saves you money by significantly reducing waste, allowing you to easily transfer an old bottle to a new one without the mess.

Funnel-It is specifically designed to balance a bottle on top of another bottle while funneling the contents out. Perfect for condiments, shampoos, lotions, auto fluids, and other liquids. Simply insert into old bottle, connect to new bottle, flip and drip! Polyethylene, 2 x 2 x 5".

Click this link to purchase a Funnel-it from Taylor Gifts.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

GoGoStat: Parental Guidance for Facebook

Busy parents might friend their children on Facebook but not have the time (or the desire) to constantly police their children’s profile. The Parental Guidance Facebook app sends alerts to parents when children make potentially dangerous changes to their profile like posting obscenities, personal information, or inappropriate photos or becoming friends with someone outside their age group.

Parents can select which issues they’d like to be notified about and view a dashboard display of the items on their children’s profile that violate the rules they’ve set up. Best of all, this service is free!

Click this link to visit GoGoStat.


SocialShield not only tells you who your children’s online friends are, but checks each friend against more than 50 databases to make sure that he or she is not “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” If someone suspicious friends your child, SocialShield sends you an alert. The service also sends alerts for discussions involving your children that relate to drugs, sex, violence, alcohol or suicide.
Less threatening issues like curse words are posted in a warning section of the parent dashboard. The site keeps track of all discussions that your children post on social networks, but it posts this issue summary on top so that parents don’t need to look through all of their children’s interactions in order to spot potential threats. Parents can also use this dashboard to view photos that their children have posted and any photos of their children that others have posted. Price: $10 per month.

Click this link to visit

Digital Talking Tire Gauge

Maintaining proper tire pressure is essential if you want your car to run at its peak. In just three seconds, this gauge reports your tire's pressure on the LCD display and by voice. An automatic shut-off helps save power, while the key chain makes for easy carrying.

  • Set of two
  • Measures in PSI, Bar, Kg/cm2
  • Measures from 0.5 to 99.5 PSI
  • Stores memory of last measured pressure
  • Measures 3"L x 2-1/4"W x 3/4"H
  • 1-year Limited Manufacturer's Warranty
Click this link to purchase the Digital Talking Tire Gauge from


When SafetyWeb co-founder Geoffrey Arone was conducting college admissions interviews for his alma mater, he, like about 10% of college admission directors, started to Google applicants. The unflattering information he found inspired him to start SafetyWeb.

SafetyWeb helps parents protect their children’s online reputations by searching hundreds of social networking, photo and community sites for their children’s accounts. The service delivers a summary of what accounts their children are spending time on, what information and photographs are publicly available on these accounts, and who their friends are. Parents get e-mail or text message alerts when their children’s content relates to depression, profanity, bullying, drugs, alcohol or racism.

Parents can see who their children are communicating with on their mobile phones and when they’re using them. The company recently released a mobile app that allows parents to check in on their children’s online activities from anywhere. $10 per month.

Click this link to visit

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Living in a big city

by Donna J. Jodhan

In a city that never sleeps! Where everyone is focused on getting to their destination at any given time and where the main objective is to stay ahead of the game; we need to remember the needs of our disabled community. So many of us are taken up with doing our best to keep our heads above water so just imagine what it is like for the disabled.

Many of them have to struggle to stay as independent as they can but in so doing they need a bit of help and support. They need to be able to shop at supermarkets that provide shopping assistance. They need to have access to social amenities and sporting activities. They need to be able to get around independently on public transit and if there are challenges, then there needs to be some sort of volunteer service that they can access in order to help them cope.

More often than not, disabled residents of a big city have difficulty getting to medical appointments. Their social lives are greatly impeded because of distance and an inability to obtain adequate transportation. Above all, they do not have the financial ability to pay for what is needed. Then there is the difficulty of being able to negotiate busy streets that are not outfitted with audible pedestrian crossing signals. Malls and restaurants that do not have accessible ramps and washrooms. The same for cinemas and theatres. Sidewalks that are often cluttered with not just persons, but with objects lying around.

I think that you have the picture by now. Not easy living in a big city as a disabled person. p>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:

1-Foot Braille Rulers

1-Foot Braille Ruler

Plastic rulers taper on the edge. A metal caliper slide to aid in accuracy is included (also available separately). Recommended ages: 5 years and above. Two versions are offered:

  • Metric-English Measurement Ruler:

    Metric edge has raised lines every half-centimeter and braille numbers every two centimeters. Opposite English edge has raised lines every 1/4 inch and braille numbers at each inch.

    Metric-English Ruler:
    Catalog Number: 1-03100-00

  • English Measurement Ruler:

    Has raised lines. Braille numbers at each inch. Fourths on one edge, eighths on the other.

    English Ruler:
    Catalog Number: 1-03070-00

Caliper Slide for Either Ruler (package of five):
Catalog Number: 1-03091-00
Click this link to purchase the 1-Foot Braille Ruler.

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:

Sugar Free Cocoa

Here's what you'll need:

  • 2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/2 cup lower-fat powdered nondairy creamer
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 10 packets Equal or 1 Tablespoon Equal Measure
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

Here's what to do:

  1. Stir together milk powder, nondairy creamer, cocoa powder, Equal and, if desired, cinnamon.
  2. Cover and store in an airtight container.
  3. For each serving, add 3/4 cup boiling water to 1/3 cup cocoa mix; stir to dissolve.

Makes 2 2/3 cups mix, enough for 8 six-ounce servings.

Article Source:
Cooking in the Dark Email List

Talktatone Makes Free Google Voice/Gmail VoIP Calls on Your iPhone

Gmail users can make free Google Voice calls, but why should they have all the fun? Talkatone sets up free VoIP calls, over 3G or Wi-Fi, from your iPhone, iPod, or iPad through Google Voice for free.

Talkatone does quite a few other neat things with your Gmail account and free voice-over-IP technology, but the main reason it's exciting is a feature that's somewhat tucked away. Double-tap on the Contacts header, and you'll get an option to make a Google Voice VoIP call. Choose a contact or dial a number, and you're calling. If it doesn't work on your first shot, you may need to do a little Gmail-to-Talkatone setup, described at the CyberNet News blog. Otherwise, it's a remarkably simple way to make a free Gmail phone call outside of Gmail.

Talkatone is a free download for iPhone, iPod touch (second generation and later), and iPad, and requires iOS 4.0 and later.

Article Source:

Monday, December 06, 2010

APH’s Game Kit and the Sounds and Smells of Christmas

by Kristie Smith-Armand, M.Ed, CTVI

"The only real blind person at Christmas-time is he who has not Christmas in his heart.” Helen Keller

I love to shop during the holidays, looking for gifts for my friends, family and students. There is something truly magical about this time of year.

Shopping with my students who are blind is an, (excuse the pun) eye-opener. So many things that I fail to notice, my students will point out to me. For example: the smells, touches and tastes of Christmas. While I describe the beautiful sights, my students comment on the Christmas smells, sounds, tastes and touches.

The vision department once went on a shopping spree to North Park Mall in Dallas, Texas. A favorite of all the kids was a store named L’Occitane. L’Occitane had and has many wonderful smells and textures of different types of lotions, and get this, the labels are in Braille.

One student told me about the surprise later on. “Ms. Kristie, I could not believe that the lotion actually had Braille labels. It was so cool to be able to read the different labels,” Libby stated.

When walking through a department store, another student commented on the Smells of Christmas potpourri. “Wow, I can even taste the cinnamon smell on my lips.”

I asked my student this year what he noticed when shopping at the mall.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“Do you hear different sounds, tastes or smells?” I asked.

“Well, of course. I hear the Salvation Army man or woman ringing a bell for charity, choirs that normally are not in the mall, and cool Christmas and Hanukkah displays. Plus, it is a lot more crowded!”

When the vision department takes our students on trips to the mall we cover such compensatory skills as: counting money, self-advocacy, orientation and mobility skills, reading, socializing and a host of others.

Some school districts are not so fortunate as to be able to take their students who are visually impaired on trips to the mall, so I have designed a plan for them, too.

Since APH has an exceptional Game Kit that allows creativity to flow, I created a Christmas Mall Game called, “Sounds and Smells of Christmas”. Here’s how it’s played:

Sounds and Smells of Christmas Mall Game

  1. Choose one of the cool game boards that APH provides. I’m choosing the snake-like green game board with tactual dice, index cards with labels: ‘good luck’, ‘bad luck’, ‘challenge’, ‘reading’, embossed symbols from APH, game pieces and a spinner. The goal of the game is to reach Christmas Mall gold at the end of the game board. (Place a tactual piece of foil at the end of the board)
  2. Place embossed symbols around the board (I do every five spaces and place the symbol in the sixth space).
  3. Each player rolls to see who has the highest number. The player with the highest number goes first.
  4. The first player rolls the dice and advances that many places. If he lands on a tactual symbol he must spin the spinner.
  5. The spinner will be labeled with only one’s and two’s. If the player lands on a one, he draws a ‘Good Luck’ card, and if he lands on a two, he must face a ‘Bad Luck’ card.
  6. Examples of Good Luck cards: a. You just saved $50.00 for the pair of jeans you purchased. Move ahead five spaces. b. While eating at Thirsty’s, you gave the waiter a twenty percent tip, move ahead three. c. You gave money to the Salvation Army move ahead two.
  7. Examples of Bad Luck cards: a. You overspent on your credit card, go back five spaces. b. You bought yourself Christmas gifts instead of presents for others, go back ten.
  8. If a player rolls a double then he must answer a challenge question. Example of a ‘Challenge’ question- a. Your meal at Pizza Pies is $34.25. How much money will you give the waitress if you are leaving her a fifteen percent tip?
  9. Players that land on a brailled ‘R’ must read the index cards labeled “Reading”.
  10. Examples of ‘Reading’ cards: a. Read the following Dolch words within one minute. b. Read and identify the Braille labels on the lotion.
  11. The first person to reach the mall gold wins.
  12. Other ideas may include: identifying lotions, foods, soaps, etc. (simply rub the scent on an index card and create a new category).

Children love to learn when learning is fun. APH has invented the best game board for expanding ideas and developing concepts. The game board need not only be played at Christmas but throughout the year. Helen Keller was correct when she said that the only blind person is one who does not carry Christmas in his heart. Why not carry the Christmas season, fun, giving, games, and laughter throughout the year?

Friday, December 03, 2010

Hints And Comments For a Blind Person On Trimming a Christmas Tree

by Fred Wurtzel

It may be a little odd to some people, but some blind people have never decorated a Christmas tree. There was a recent request on a list-serve that I follow from a blind couple for directions on how to independently trim a tree. I have done this many times as a totally blind person, since losing my eyesight. It is not a science but there are some general principles which I follow.

We have been married for 34 years and have lots of ornaments collected over the years. Our first tree was just two feet tall, sat on a table, had maybe a dozen ornaments, and one string of lights. I bought it for $1.00 very near Christmas and all the needles fell off within a couple hours of bringing it into the house. We loved the tree, just the same.

Some people have theme trees and some people have all the same colored lights and ornaments. We are very eclectic. We have ornaments that remind us of people and events in our lives and they range from computers to pets, sports, food, reindeer to abstract curiosities. I like eclectic, myself.

Mary and I have a stylized star for the top of ours. It is pretty old and too heavy for some trees. I sometimes have to trim the point down to get a stem strong enough to hold it up. But, that is tradition for you.

We now have an artificial tree. I basically object to this, but I am too lazy to fight about it, since I will have to go out in the weather and cold and wet, bring the tree home, let it dry out, mount it in a stand and have it tip over a couple times before I get it right, then clean up all the needles after we take it down.

I love the smell of a real tree. I like the ecological reasons for having a real tree. Real trees create more jobs than artificial and the disposal is more ecologically friendly than a plastic, glass, or metal tree. So convenience and laziness, in me, is turning me into an environmental hypocrite. Just like a liberal like me, huh? (smile)

I prefer starting at the bottom with the lights. The lights go on first. Then garland if you use it, then ornaments, then tinsel if you use it instead of garland. Garland and tinsel are optional. Most people don't use both, though there are no rules. We started using garland because cats are vulnerable to choking on tinsel. A more earth-friendly alternative is to string popcorn with or without cranberries and use it instead of garland. This takes a lot of patience and that is why I don't do it.

One of the most annoying parts of lighting a tree is knowing if the string actually lights. Our color identifier has a light probe on it, so we can use it to know if a bulb is lit. You can also plug them in and feel if they get warm.

Most tree lights are wired in parallel, so if one goes out, they all go out. I find this to be the most annoying part of decorating. So plug in the lights before you string them on the tree to make bulb replacement easier.

Unless there is a window behind the tree, I do not totally encircle the tree. I start nearest the electrical outlet, then go straight across, proceeding toward the opposite side, near the wall opposite from where I started. Then go up six inches to a foot, depending on how many lights you have, and come back across, keeping the second string as near parallel to the first as possible. Keep repeating until you reach the top.

It is sometimes necessary to adjust if you come up with too few lights to reach the top, or have too many left when you reach the top, though this is not a major problem since you can simply reverse and go back down. You may end up with more lights at the top if you do this, which really isn't a big problem, depending on how fussy you want to be.

If possible, imagine where most people will view the tree from and consider that most of the decorations should be visible from that point of view and look relatively evenly distributed. My only rule is "Do my best, have fun, and don't worry."

With the ornaments, I start with the larger ones and try to distribute them evenly from left to right and top to bottom. I then fill in the blank areas with smaller ones. Hope this is useful!

Fred is an Elder at the First Christian Church in Lansing, Michigan and a former president of the Michigan Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). This article originally appeared on Grease and Sugar Monthly, his personal blog. We've reprinted it here for your convenience.

Healthy Sugarless Cookies

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. allspice 1-1/2 cups raisins
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup quick oats

Here's what to do:

  1. Mix dry ingredients and add remaining ingredients to moisten.
  2. Drop teaspoonfuls onto greased (or parchment paper lined) cookie sheets.
  3. Bake at 375 for 12 minutes.
Recipe source: AbakersDelight yahoo group (Vicky Hunt)

Article Source:
Cooking in the Dark Email List

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Teaching High Frequent "Dolch" Words from APH

by Kristie Smith-Armand, M.Ed, CTVI

“Once you learn to read, you are forever free.” Frederick Douglass

As a teacher for the blind and visually impaired, I felt obligated to argue a point with a future publisher for my novel series, The Adventures of Abby Diamond. Since Abby Diamond is a girl detective who is blind, braille and braille technology is constantly mentioned throughout the series.

The would-be publisher wanted to take braille out of my series and argued strongly that braille would soon be obsolete. My face turned bright red because I was furious. Not only did the new publisher want to change the names of my characters, he also argued what I knew not to be true- that technology would take the place of braille reading.

Needless to say, after talking with my friends who are blind, I refused to believe that anything can take the place of being able to read a book yourself in braille, large or regular print.

I stood my ground and self-published Adventures of Abby Diamond myself. Even though there are mistakes in editing since I am a one woman show with the series, I am proud when my students ask me to write more Abby Diamond novels. “Finally, we have a character who has a disability that is strong, smart and doesn’t take anything off of anyone,” a student told me one day.

I am blessed to teach a student who was new to middle school and to me last school year. Since he had very few braille goals, I asked him if he was fluent in braille and keyboarding. To my horror, he was not fluent in producing or reading braille but had been taught skills and test taking strategies through auditory and verbal responses only. He could and can certainly pass a test while its being read to him, however, if he does not have his Victor Reader or someone reading to him, he is lost.

The vision department did their part in teaching him braille and keyboarding skills, but the classroom teachers for three years in his elementary school, did not pursue or encourage him to produce the work. Time and being a good test taker came before encouraging independence in a child who was blind.

My student is now in the eighth grade, and he is struggling to keep up with his peer group. Since he has been my student, I have been reteaching him braille and keyboarding skills as well as technology with the help of the entire vision department.

The main struggle that he and I are having is obviously with his spelling. The Language Master is fabulous, however, his spelling is so poor because of lack of exposure to print that he cannot type the word close enough to have the Language Master to understand what he is typing.

“How do I help him?” I ask myself this question daily when I finally thought about the box of Dolch Word Cards in Braille (grade one and grade two) from APH. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? I also brailled a list of the top twenty-five high frequency words that my student will copy, read and keyboard.

My student asked me one day why he should do braille now when he can just listen and get the skill. I then asked him how he would function in a burning building when no one else may be around to direct him on how to leave the building. “You would not be able to read the signs in the elevator, numbers on the door,” I preached. “How about when you have a child. Will your child be read to by an electronic voice.” “Are you going to trust someone with your ATM card?” I asked. “You have to read braille to operate the machine.”

He sat and said nothing for a while until I told him that reading braille will help him to be more in control of his environment and make him more independent.

“Hmmmm,” he said. “I think I should learn braille and technology.” I hope it meant what he said. He could have or he may have been attempting to get me off my soapbox. Whatever the reason, he is at least beginning to understand the importance of being a fluent braille reader.

The Dolch Words from APH have helped my student with reading and spelling although we have a long way to go. He is beginning to recall the contractions and is able to spell some of the words whether he is keyboarding or using his PacMate.

I promised him and myself that as long as I am his vision teacher, I will not give up on him until he is fluent in braille and technology.

Our department feels responsible for making him literate. He continues to struggle and basically does not have a strong background in producing and being responsible for his work. In other words, he is as of now, illiterate. However, I have promised him, God, and his teachers, that I will not give up on him, and one day he will be a literate and independent young man.

I cannot think of a better way to summarize braille literacy than with the words of Dr. Seuss. “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

Cooking Tips

Here's a nice collection of cooking tips from the Cooking in the Dark Email List.

For Better Browning:

Meat will brown better if you blot any moisture off its surface. A paper towel makes a great blotter. -- Karen West, Duluth, GA

Better Bacon:

To perfectly cook bacon without the mess and cleanup of pan or griddle frying, use the oven. Preheat it to 350. Place the bacon strips on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, or until bacon is the way you like it. Transfer bacon to paper towel lined plate to absorb excess grease. Fold the foil around the grease and discard. -- Dorothy Osgood, Lincoln, ME

Flour duster:

Keep a shaker container filled with flour in your kitchen for use dusting everything from meat to sauces. It's also handy for flouring your work area when rolling out pie and pizza doughs. -- Joyce Hill, Dallas, TX

Drip Free Gravy:

To keep a gravy boat or cream pitcher from dripping onto the dinner table, rub a dab of butter on the pour spout. No drops on the tablecloth. This trick also works on syrup dispensers. -- Renee Rinehart, Odessa, FL

Easy Thawing:

There's an easy way to store ground meat so that it will thaw faster when you're ready to cook it. Put one pound of ground meat into large resealable freezer bag, then flatten it like a pancake. it stores better and thaws in half the time. -- Audry Devaty, North Olmsted, OH

Aromatic Rice:

to enhance white or brown rice, toss a few stems or leaves of fresh herb, such as basil, rosemary or thyme, in with the water before cooking. Cook rice according to package directions. The flavor of the herbs will subtly permeate the rice. -- Maria Thelma Mamaid, Dublin, CA

Avoid Soggy Rice:

When cooking rice, put a folded towel between the lid land the pot. That way, when the rice steams and creates moisture, the condensation doesn't drip back into the rice. It's absorbed into the towel. Cook the rice for the amount of time recommended on the package. -- Micky Stickas, Pawleys Island, SC

Hands Free Meatloaf:

If you don't like getting your hands messy when mixing meatloaf, put the ingredients into large resealable plastic bag. Close the bag, then knead everything together until the ingredients are well mixed. Kids like helping with this, too. -- Kate Berry, Montpelier, VT

Bamboo Skewers:

There are two problems when making kebabs. Fist, soaking wooden skewers so they don't burn takes too long. And second, the food spins around when you turn the kebabs. Presoak a bunch of skewers and freeze them in a plastic bag. Then use two for each kebab, spacing them about 1 inch apart and sliding food onto both skewers. No more spinning food. -- E. Hansen, North Quincy, MA

Skimming Fat:

to remove excess grease from browned ground beef or sausage, blot extra fat from pan using a piece of bread. This also works for skimming fat from top of soup or chili, and it's good for absorbing oil when cleaning the bottom of a pan. -- Kathy Driggs, Chicago, IL

Holding Onto Flavor:

To loosen the skin the breast of a hole bird and stuff with butter, slide the bowl of a dinner spoon upside down between meat and skin, moving the spoon carefully over the breast meat. This method doesn't tear the skin and leaves plenty of space to insert butter and other seasonings. -- Lee Findley, Portland, OR

Chilly Shrimp:

to keep shrimp cold on a buffet table, cover a frozen plastic ice pack with a cloth napkin. Set your platter of shrimp on top of the napkin. There's no melting ice and the shrimp will stay cold for hours. -- Petty Teters, Grass Vally, CA

Grilling Bacon:

If you need to cook just a few pieces of bacon, try using your George foreman grill. It cooks bacon perfectly, controls splattering and the grease drips right into the drainage cup. -- Bill Harding, Chatham, IL

Vegetable Rack:

Instead of a metal roasting rack, make a grid of carrots, celery, and onions. This acts like a mirepoix to flavor the pan drippings for gravy while elevating the meat for even roasting.

Peeling Butter:

If your butter is too cold to spread easily, use a Y-shaped peeler to shave it off the top, like slicing cheese. You'll get a thin strip that will soften quickly for easier spreading. -- Arline Photiades, Chicago, IL

Storing Ice Cream:

to prevent ice crystals from forming on ice cream, place a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap directly on the surface. Press it firmly onto the ice cream so that it forms a tight seal. Cover with lid and return to the freezer. -- Katie Kyles,St. Augustine, FL

Whipping Cream Stand In:

Most people don't keep heavy cream on hand for whipping, but many of us have vanilla ice cream. Put a scoop or two in a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment or use a hand mixer. Let ice cream thaw for a minute, then whip. It's almost a dead ringer for sweetened whipped cream. -- Chef Chris Foltz, Bend, OR

Herbs to Butter:

If you often have leftover herbs, make a compound butter with them and freeze. First, finely chop leftover herbs and mix them into soft butter. Then roll mixture in plastic wrap and freeze it. The herbs don't turn black, and the compound butter has many uses. -- M. Limpert, Grand Rapids, MI

Solid Omelet:

Here's a goof proof way to avoid runny omelets. Before beating eggs, turn on broiler. After forming the omelet in an ovenproof skillet, put your filling on top of the eggs and run omelet under broiler for 20 seconds. The omelet fluffs, cooks completely through and filling is heated as well. -- Cuisine Test Kitchen

Centering Yolks in hard Cooked Eggs:

For centered yolks in your hard cooked eggs, try this: Twenty four hours before boiling eggs, wrap two rubber bands around the carton to hold it shut. Then rest the carton on its side in the refrigerator. When you boil the eggs, voilà...perfectly centered yolks! -- Cuisine Test Kitchen

Cream Shake:

When you want whipped cream and don't have electricity or a mixer, place heavy cream in a chilled glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake, shake, shake. Whipped ream in 5 minutes. -- Kathy Berry, Barre, VT

Storing Cheese:

To store a chunk of Parmesan or Romano cheese, place it in an airtight plastic container along with two or three sugar cubes. The sugar cubes absorb moisture and will prevent the cheese from getting moldy. Replace the sugar cubes when they get soggy. -- Meltem Birkegren, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Perforating Cheese:

Before cutting into cheese topped baked dishes such as lasagna, first perforate the pieces using a fork. This simple step helps prevent the knife from pulling the layer of cheese off the top. -- Karen E. Sunman, SaddleBrooke, AZ

Cooling Rack Dicing:

To dice a lot of hard boiled eggs for salad, (egg, macaroni, potato), use a cooling rack with square grids. Peel eggs, then press them through the rack directly into a bowl. It saves time and the eggs come out perfectly chopped. Cleanup is a breeze, too, especially with a nonstick rack. -- Becky (Bee) Conrad, West Mifflin, PA

Zesty Cheese:

Need just a little grated cheese to top your pasta. Try using your zester. It's easy to use and faster to clean than a box grater. -- D.B.Gonzalez, Jr, West Mifflin, PA

Freezing Blue Cheese:

When you have leftover blue cheese, throw it in the freezer in a resealable plastic bag. The frozen blue cheese breaks off easily and always is ready to go on top of salads and other dishes. You also can peel it off in curls using a vegetable peeler or paring knife. -- S. Stansfield, Sussex, NJ.

Color Coded Eggs:

To distinguish between raw and hard cooked eggs, tint the water in which you boil eggs with beet juice or food coloring. The shells will pick up the color, and you won't confuse cooked eggs with raw ones. -- Gabriel Mangino, Broomall, PA

No Weep Meringue:

Weeping meringues use to be a problem, but no more. First, beat whites until they form soft peaks, then sprinkle sugar on top of the whites. Let the whites and sugar sit for 5 minutes without stirring. Finely, beat them together until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over pie filling and bake as usual. -- W. Saglett, Canandaigua, NY

Hole Some Meatloaf:

Do you hate it when meatloaf swims in fat? Try using a disposable foil bread pan with holes punched in the bottom. Place pan on cooling rack set inside a baking sheet, the fill pan with your meatloaf mixture and bake. The grease will drain out of the foil pan as the meatloaf cooks. -- Heather Turner, High Point, NC

Frozen Gel Packs:

Chilling the bowl helps cr

eam whip faster and increases its volume. If you're in a hurry, grab a frozen gel pack from the freezer and put it beneath the mixing bowl. The cream will whip like magic. Best of all, the packs are reusable. -- A. Persico, Bismarck< ND

Garlic Butter in a Squeeze:

Put cold butter and a couple of cloves of garlic into a garlic press. With just a squeeze, it makes perfectly manageable, soft garlic butter in seconds. -- Debra Lucas, Pelham, AL

Preserving Feta:

To keep feta cheese from spoiling quickly after opening, store it in salty water. Dissolve 2 t. salt in 1 cup water in a sealable container. Submerge the cheese in the water. The feta must be completely covered, so make more brine if needed. Seal the container and refrigerate it. The feta will keep up to three weeks. -- Kathleen Bailey, Anahola, HI Article Source:
Cuisine at Home 300 Best Cooking Tips

Geocaching for the Blind

Mike May develops GPS devices for blind and visually impaired users. To help users learn the devices’ cutting-edge technology and explore the world around them, he champions a form of geocaching. Watch this video and go along as Mike May and friends develop a treasure hunting course using adaptive GPS technology.

Click this link to watch "Geocaching for the Blind" on Youtube.
For information on GPS devices for the blind and visually impaired, explore

Miniguide US

Miniguide US

The Miniguide US is a tiny, hand-held electronic travel device that can enhance the effectiveness of a blind person's primary travel method. The Miniguide US uses ultrasound to detect objects, and gives tactual or auditory feedback by vibrating or chirping more rapidly as you approach an object. Ideal for use by deafblind persons.

When used with a cane or dog guide, the Miniguide US can help a blind person avoid obstacles and overhangs; locate landmarks; locate items such as mailboxes or trash cans; and find open paths through crowds at ranges from 20 inches to 26 feet depending on the size of the object.

NOTE: The Miniguide US should be used along with a sighted guide, dog guide, or cane because it does not detect drop-offs and does not provide sufficient information to ensure safety.

Miniguide US with Print User's Guide:
Catalog Number: 1-07006-00

Miniguide US with Braille User's Guide:
Catalog Number: 1-07007-00

Quick Reference Sheet Pack (5 print and 5 braille):
Catalog Number: 1-07009-00
Click this link to purchase the Miniguide US.

Remote Unit for Miniguide US

The Remote Unit is used in an instructional setting so that instructors can receive the same tactual feedback as their students.

  • Attaches to Miniguide US with a 12-foot-long cable (included)
  • Uses AAA battery (included, user-replaceable)
  • Comes with print and braille Quick Start and cassette and print Remote Unit User's Guide
Remote Unit for Miniguide US:
Catalog Number: 1-07009-00
Click this link to purchase the Remote Unit for the Miniguide US.

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, December 01, 2010

How to Lock iPad Screen Orientation

How to Lock iPad Screen Orientation

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
With the release of iOS 4.2, the physical switch which allowed you to freeze the iPad's screen orientation was turned into a less useful mute button. Fortunately, it is possible to lock your screen's rotation using a few easy clicks.


  1. From any iPad screen or application, double click on the big home button on the bottom of the iPad.
  2. Swipe the bottom menu that appeared after you double clicked the home menu to the left.
  3. Touch the screen orientation lock button on the bottom left, which you uncovered by swiping left above.
  4. Notice the button changes to lock after you have switched it.


  • This works in portrait or landscape orientation.

Related wikiHows

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 Lock iPad Screen Orientation. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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