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.

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Skype in the Classroom

Teachers already use Skype to connect with other classrooms around the globe, bring in guest speakers without asking them to travel, and take virtual field trips. Now, Skype is making it easier for them to do so.

The company has launched Skype in the Classroom, a dedicated teacher network. Using the platform, teachers can create profiles that describe their classes and teaching interests. They can also search a directory of teachers from all over the world by student age range, language and subject.

Many teachers use the network to coordinate Skype projects with other schools. A “project” tab allows users to post and search for projects that require collaboration.

Accommodating teachers is a natural move for Skype. Several independent sites have already established Skype teacher phone books, class collaboration directories and virtual language exchange programs to accommodate the growing number of educators who are using the videoconferencing platform as a learning tool.

Click this link to check out Skype in the Classroom:

Access to Science

The Access2Science web site is devoted to articles and links on accessibility of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This site is intended to provide practical information to people with print disabilities, to the parents, teachers, and peers of people with print disabilities, and to agencies and researchers wanting to know the state of the art. This site will be kept up-to-date.

The editor-in-chief has given this site a jump start by compiling Latex commands in accessible tables, something that should be of great help to many blind people who write in Latex or use Latex to read or author math in MathType. He has also written up a series of QuickNotes on frequently-requested topics involving math and science access in MS Word. Articles under preparation include:

  • Accessing the "R" statistics software application, by Dr. Jonathan Godfrey.
  • Infty reader, the scientific OCR application, by the Infty group.
  • ChattyInfty, the accessible scientific word processor by the Infty group.
  • Accessible lab apparatus, by Dr. Cary Supalo
  • An archive of useful web sites devoted to math, by Ms. Roopakshi Pathania
  • Creating Excel Charts, by Ms. Roopakshi Pathania

The editors welcome articles on other topics. Editors are all volunteers, are blind, have earned PhDs, and are executives in companies or agencies that market information accessibility products or services. Click this link to visit

Too Cold to Use a Cane? Not with This Tip!

I have to thank Carolyn Neifert, a reader of Fred's Head for this tip. She emailed me, wanting to know if I had written a tip about using an ice scraper to keep the hand warm while holding a cane in winter.
It turned out that I hadn't written the article, but she found it in the MDE-LIO (Michigan Department of Education - Low Incidence Outreach) November 2007 Newsletter. It's a great tip, so I had to share it with all of you. Here it is, exactly as they printed it:

Winter Orientation and Mobility Tip

Cane mittens can be made or purchased but here's a quick fix for those cold winter lessons. Using a car ice scraper that comes with a mitt, remove the scraper and the cane can be inserted in the opening. The mitt will offer additional protection for the hand while using the cane. The mitt is a one size fits all with elastic at the top to hold it in place. A glove can be worn on the hand for additional warmth before inserting in the mitt. The car ice scraper is available in many stores including some dollar stores. (One was purchased this season at Dollar Tree).
Carolyn says, "I haven't tried it yet, and I may make some changes like adding hook/loop material or snaps so it can attach to the cuff of the coat, and be one less thing to have to keep track of. I think it will come in handy when someone doesn't want to take the time to put on gloves or mittens, but still have a warm cane hand for short periods of being outside, like going from the school bus into school, or from the car to the store, or out to the mailbox".
Thanks for the great tip Carolyn, and for researching the article for us.

How to Apply Makeup

We all like to look good, and a little makeup can help us look even better. When applied correctly, makeup can accentuate our best features.

If you are just learning to apply makeup, all the information in this record may seem overwhelming. However, keep in mind that applying makeup takes lots of patience for anyone new to it. After a while you will learn a routine. Just remember that you will have to practice, make mistakes and try again.

We have divided the makeup application process into 9 steps. To navigate this page easily follow the links to the step you are most interested in checking out.

Things to keep in mind...

Step 1: Preparing your face

Step 2: Preparing your eyes

Step 3: Applying eyeshadow

Step 4: Applying eyeliner

Step 5: Applying mascara

Step 6: Applying foundation and powder

Step 7: Shaping and coloring your eyebrows

Step 8: Applying blush

Step 9: Applying lipstick

Things to keep in mind...

1. There are tons of different kinds, colors, and brands of makeup. To start your collection, you may want to buy neutral colors that go well with your complexion as well as with most basic items in your wardrobe.

2. To learn which colors go best with your complexion and facial characteristics, you may want to start by visiting a makeup consultant at the mall. They will give you advice for free in hopes that you will purchase one or two items from their product line. Or, you can ask a friend or someone you trust to tell you which colors go best with you.

3. When you are just learning how to apply makeup, it is best to practice when you don't have to go anywhere and you have plenty of spare time. Practice putting it on, see how it looks and feels, and take it off. Then, when the time comes, you'll do a great job without getting frustrated if something goes a little wrong.

4. When applying any makeup, including eye shadow, you will need to make sure all edges are feathered so the colors just fade awwway gradually. You do not want any distinct lines showing where a color starts or stops. Most sighted people mainly use brushes and sponges to apply and blend their makeup to avoid getting it on their hands. However, there is nothing wrong with using your fingers to apply or blend down the colors. Besides, it gives you a better "feel" for how much makeup you are using. Just keep some tissue on hand to clean your hands after using them.

6. A little makeup can make you look good, but more is not always better in the case of makeup. Too much makeup can make you look bad. To learn how much makeup looks good on you, talk to your friends and try different things.

7. If you are planning to wear a pull over shirt, put it on before you start your makeup routine and put something on to cover it.

8. Finally, remember that although we are covering all areas of makeup application in this record, you don't have to go through every step. Some people don't need, or don't want to use foundation. Some people don't like, or are allergic to eyeliner. For some occasions you need more makeup because you are dressing up more than for others. Therefore, use only the makeup that you feel comfortable wearing. So, here we go...

Step 1
Preparing your face

1. Wash your face with warm water and soap, or with a facial cleanser.

2. Apply a light cream or moisturizer. Be sure that the moisturizer is fully absorbed, otherwise your face will feel oily and there may be problems when applying your foundation.

Step 2
Preparing your eyes

1. Apply foundation to the eyelids going all the way up to the browbone, and let it set for 3 to 5 minutes. When applying foundation, do not apply it in thick layers, it looks bad when it is too thick. A small touch of foundation should be more than enough to cover your eyelid.

2. Apply powder to the area of the eye where you just applied foundation. Most people use a brush for this purpose. If you want to make sure the powder is covering the whole area, run your index finger slightly over the eyelid. You will be able to feel the powder, and your finger may help make it spread more evenly. If your eyelid feels a little sticky, that is a sign that you didn't put on enough powder.

Step 3
Applying eye shadow

Most people use 3 colors of eye shadow: a dark, a medium and a light color. However, you can use more or less than three if you wish to do so.

1. The medium color is supposed to show only from just below the eyelid crease to the browbone. However, the best technique for blind people is to first shade the entire lid with this medium shade covering the whole area, then apply the darker color.

2. The dark color is applied only to the eyelids from the lashline to the crease in the eyelid. It is best to start in the middle of the eyelid and work out towards the outside.

3. The lighter color is our highlight. This lighter color is applied to the browbone and extends a little past the outer end of the eyebrow. This gives a pearly finish to the eye.

Step 4
Applying eyeliner

There are 2 kinds of eyeliners: liquid and solid. The solid comes in a pencil and it is the easiest to use. It is less messy and easier to apply correctly. When you purchase an eyeliner, make sure it is a pencil that is nice and creamy. Some pencils have a foam rubber smudger on one end. You may want to consider buying one of these.

1. To apply the eyeliner, run the pencil right along the eyelash line. This is right above the upper eyelid lashes and right underneath the lower eyelashes. It is best to only line directly above and below where the lashes are growing. Do not extend your line too close to the inner corner of the eye, it does not look right.

2. When you have finished lining, lightly smudge the line you just drew so that it doesn't look like a distinct line. If your pencil doesn't have a rubber smudger, you can always use a Q-tip.

3. Every so often run your index finger parallel to the line, moving it towards the outside of your eye. This gets rid of the excess eyeliner. You may want to do this periodically throughout the day, to make sure the line still looks like a line, and it hasn't smeared off.

Step 5
Applying Mascara

Applying mascara is one of the most troublesome parts of applying makeup. Mascara is usually black or dark in color and sticks to anything it touches. When you try to wipe it off it smears even worse. So, you need to be very careful when applying it to your lashes.

1. The first coat of mascara should be light. To get rid of extra mascara during the first coat, pull the mascara brush from the tube and lightly wipe it across a tissue.

2. To apply mascara you must run the mascara brush from the lash roots to the lash tips, coating the length of each lash hair. To avoid touching any area around your eyes with the brush, try placing the brush at the lash roots, slowly pulling it away from you as you close and open your eye. As the lash brush travels up the lash hairs you need to slightly move it right and left to make sure you cover around each hair with mascara.

3. Right after the first coat of mascara is applied, put the wand back into the mascara tube, pick up a lash comb or an old cleaned off mascara wand and run the bristles carefully through the still wet lashes. This will separate them nicely. You will probably need to do this more than once to get the hairs separated.

4. Depending on how dark and thick you want your lashes to look, you may want to apply two or even three coats of mascara. Just remember to let each coat dry before applying the next one.

5. In the event that you get unwanted mascara on your face or your hands, use lotion to remove the stain. Using a tissue, water or soap may just cause the stain to smear even worse.

Step 6
Applying foundation and powder

1. Most people use liquid foundation because it is the easiest to apply. You can use your fingers or a sponge to apply it. Using your fingers allows you to get a better feel on how it is being applied.

2. Pour a small amount of foundation onto your sponge or into your hand. A drop about the size of a dime or nickel should be enough.

3. Dab it on your forehead, nose, cheeks, jaw, chin, neck, lips, and blend it in using a circular motion. There are different ways you can do this- some people put stripes of foundation over the different areas and blend them together. Others start at the nose and work outwards. It doesn't really matter how you do it as long as you cover your whole face AND neck and blend it all well.

When applying foundation give special attention to the hairline areas, the area right in front of the ears, and the neck area. Blend all edges carefully, especially around the throat, where the foundation stops. It's very important that you put the makeup PAST your jawline. Just don't use too much or it will look bad. Don't worry if you put foundation in your eyebrows.

4. The foundation should be a very thin layer, it shouldn't be very noticeable or feel "heavy". If you feel you put too much foundation, just use a towel and lightly rub off some of the excess in a circular motion.

5. When you are finished applying the foundation, don't touch it! Don't powder it! Don't do anything with it for 5 to 10 minutes. It needs to set in order to give it a more even, finished look.

6. After 5 to 10 minutes, it's time to apply powder. You can do this with a sponge or a brush. When you finish applying it, you may want to run your fingers over your face. Just go lightly over the areas that you powdered. This will even out any excess accumulation of powder.

Step 7
Shaping and coloring your eyebrows

According to some experts, the eyebrows are the most important feature in defining the face. The shape and grooming of your eyebrows will make your eyes look bigger and open up your face more naturally.

Shaping your eyebrows

Most people have a good natural shape, it just needs to be defined better.

1. There are several methods to shape your eyebrows. The most commonly used is to pluck the eyebrows with a pair of tweezers. Remember to pluck your eyebrows at least a few hours before you plan to wear makeup. This gives the skin a chance to close up and get rid of the redness.

2. The goal is to get rid of the hair underneath your natural arch. So, simply start plucking from the middle of your face (closest to your nose) and work your way to the part closest to your temple. Remember always to pluck only from the bottom.

3. Your eyebrows grow naturally toward the outside of your face. To make sure you got rid of all unwanted hair, run your index fingertip under your natural arch from the outside, where your temple is, toward your nose. Running your finger against its natural growth will allow you to feel even the finest hairs you may have missed. Once you find them, pluck them.

4. A few people have what is called a uni-brow. If this is the case, you will need to pluck in between your two eyebrows to separate them.

Coloring the eyebrows

1. Using a lash comb or an old clean mascara wand, brush your brows

2. The brows can be colored using eyeshadow or an eyebrow pencil. If you are using a pencil then all you will need is the pencil. If you are using eyeshadow then you will need the shadow and a pointy eyeshadow brush. In either case pick a shade that matches your hair color or just a shade lighter.

3. After applying some color to your eyebrows, take a q-tip, or the tip of your finger and blend the color evenly.

Step 8
Applying blush

One of the easiest ways to get a healthy look is with blush. However, improperly applying blush can really mess up an otherwise good makeup application. So, follow these steps carefully, and ask for advice from your friends on how much blush looks good on you. Remember that blush is supposed to portray just a hint of color.

There are two types of blush, powder and cream. The only difference between the two is the method of application, the powder uses a brush and the cream uses two fingers.

Your skin tone and hair color are the determining factor in your choice of blush. A way to find the perfect color blush for your skin, look at your cheeks after you have exercised. That is what your natural blush color should look like. However, if you are uncertain about which blush color to choose, start with a peach. A peachy shade is considered the universal shade.

1. Before applying blush, you need to find the apples of your cheeks. The easiest way is to just smile. You will see the fleshy part that stands out the most. This is the apple of your cheeks. This is your starting point for applying your blush. The ending point will be your hairline.

2. Draw an imaginary horizontal line under your nose going all the way across your face. Then, draw a vertical line from the middle of each of your eyes down to the horizontal line that you drew under your nose. These two lines will form a right angle. Your concentration of blush color and blending will primarily be within this right angle. Do not go below the horizontal line with the color. Apply blush in layers until you get the strength of color that suits you.

Once you find a blush that suits your skin color, you may want to keep purchasing the same brand and color. That way you can count the number of coats you need to look just right.

Step 9
Applying lipstick

Applying lipstick is, usually, the last step of makeup application. Lipsticks come in a variety of different colors. Most people try to match their tone of lipstick with the color of the clothes and fingernail polish they are wearing. So most likely, you will have more than one lipstick in your makeup collection.

1. With a lipstick, outline your lips by following their natural shape. Then apply lipstick to the rest of your lips.

2. To make sure the lipstick is spread evenly, press your lips together and rub them against each other.

3. To prevent lipstick from getting on your teeth after you apply it, put a piece of tissue between your lips and press them together. This will get rid of the excess lipstick.

4. Trace the outside of your lips with your index finger. This will get rid of any lipstick outside your natural outline.

5. Since lipstick containers look similar, you can mark the different colors by putting a sticker or a braille label at the bottom of the tube. For instance, use the letter "P" for pink and "R" for red.

Here we go! We are finished with all the steps. Now all you need is to fix your hair your favorite way and, if you like, apply a little perfume.
Good luck, and don't ever be afraid to try something new!

See Eye-To-Eye Cosmetic Lens

Sheesh! The things you don't know about because you're a guy!

I guess you girls who are visually impaired have difficulty applying eyeliner and mascara because you can't get the applicator behind your glasses? If you remove your glasses, you can't see.

That's where the " See Eye-to-Eye" (TM) product may be of assistance. It's a cosmetic lens, much like the magnifying readers you may already have, but has no top frame and only ONE lens hinged at the bridge. The frame stays out of your way and you can simply rotate the lens from one eye to the other to apply eye make up.

When you purchase the See Eye-To-Eye cosmetic lens you automatically receive a matching carrying case. Use your See Eye-To-Eye at home or for touch ups on the go.

For durability and strength, the See Eye-To-Eye rimless lens system is made using polycarbonate lenses. Polycarbonate is considered to be the most highly impact resistant lens material in the world.

To properly use your See Eye-To-Eye cosmetic lens you will need to order the proper magnification. They currently offer three magnifying powers +2.00, +3.00, and +4.00 and if your need ever exceeds their standard power range, your local eye care professional can fit your See Eye-To-Eye with a stronger lens.

To place an order or just learn more, use the contact information below: Toll Free: 866-733-2393
Phone: 469-384-3608
Fax: 468-384-0063

See Eye To Eye, LLC will gladly exchange any see eye-to-eye product that is not ordered in the proper magnification (less shipping and handling charges.) See Eye To Eye, LLC is committed to help in the fight against breast cancer and donates a percentage of all sales of See Eye-To-Eye cosmetic frames to support breast cancer initiatives.

Chrome Pivot Arm 5X Lighted Wall Magnifying Mirror by Kimball and Young

Perfect for applying make-up, tweezing, etc.

The Kimball and Young Chrome Pivot Arm 5X Lighted Wall Magnifying Mirror offers a 5X magnification in a beautiful chrome finish. This premium quality low vision magnifying mirror enables you to apply make up, shave and any other activity that requires special care and magnified viewing. It can be found in many of the finest hotels and resorts around the world.

This beautiful wall mounted magnifying mirror comes in a polished finish and extends up to 13" from the wall and makes a beautiful addition to any bathroom.


  • Single-sided 5x magnification
  • 7.75" diameter
  • 13" extension
  • 25 watts incandescent illumination
  • Single sided, tilts for viewing
  • 6 foot cord
  • Wall mount on/off switch
  • Frame Diameter: 7.75"
  • Viewing Diameter: 5.75"
  • Mounting Plate Dimensions: 4.75" x 3.25"
  • Retracted Width Wall Space: 7.75"
  • Retracted Height Wall Space: 7.75"
  • Extended Distance From Wall: 13"
  • Retracted Distance From Wall: 4.75"
Click this link to purchase the Chrome Pivot Arm 5X Lighted Wall Magnifying Mirror by Kimball and Young from SHOP.COM.

Beauty Sense

Just because you are blind or partially sighted does not mean that your image is any less important than anyone else's. Whether your issue is with makeup application, or just finding a beauty routine which is right for your lifestyle, makeup artist to the stars, Jenny Jordan has the answer to your problems.

Action for Blind People, a UK-based organization wants to help you look your best by offering a page of Jenny's tips and beauty secrets. Topics discussed include: tips on makeup application tools, recommendations on makeup brands, makeup no-no's and advice on permanent makeup.

Jenny Jordan is a leading freelance makeup artist with nearly 20 years' experience. Her work graces the pages of magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Marie Claire. She has worked with photographers such as David Bailey and Lord Snowden and made up many famous faces including Marie Helvin and the Duchess of York. Click this link to visit the Beauty Sense page of the Action for blind people website. Click this link to visit the Action for Blind People website:

ColorOn Instant Makeup Applicators

Make-up skills are not something genetic, so the simple fact that you're a girl doesn't ensure that you can actually apply that expensive blush you just bought and make it look like the models you see on TV. What to do when you want to look fabulous, can't see very well to do it yourself and can't afford to pay for a professional make-up job?

Until recently, I would've said "don't ask me", but it appears there's a solution: the ColorOn Instant Makeup Applicators. You get an oval applicator which you just press onto your eye, then you adjust the look with the included brush and setting powder and you're set. Click this link to visit Carissa's Beauty Blog to see a video demonstration of the product.

There's a wide range of colors to choose from and most of them are lovely combinations of colors (the zebra print is a bit toooo much, though).

I would get a set at least for last minute party preparations. Beats running around like a headless chicken while simultaneously trying to get dressed, put on make-up, call 2 friends and finding that pair of shoes, hey, I'm married, I've seen this before ladies. Click this link to purchase the ColorOn Instant Makeup Applicators from

Internet TV Show for Dads

This site has nothing to do with blindness or visual impairment. It does offer some great information for men.

Dadlabs is a great resource for today's modern fathers and is full of parenting and spousal advice. The site has close to three-hundred videos with topics ranging from "The Pregnant Man, from Conception to Delivery" to "To Pee or not to Pee in the Pool". The shows have a certain degree of humor, making them more palatable to the average man, but also deal with some very important issues. Videos can be viewed at and can also be searched for on a variety of other video sites like YouTube. Far from being only a video site, Dadlabs also has a forum where dads can go to discuss specific problems regarding fatherhood, a blog, and a store.

"An edgy, fun and informative show for dads and the women who tolerate and/or love them. Humorous tips and advice from dads on parenting, fatherhood, children, and coping with wives and mothers. Tune in as the Dads tackle the issues of today: from breast feeding in public to head lice to poop in the tub."

As families become increasingly egalitarian and the line between the role of the mother and the father continues to blur, fathers need a place to educate themselves quickly and share their experiences. The modern family has changed significantly over the last generation and fatherhood material needs updating. What better way to address this need than through on-demand videos?

I loved the videos I watched and had no problem accessing the site with my screen reader. I will most certainly be adding this one to my RSS reader.

Click this link to visit

Pill bottle magnifier

What can we say? There's almost nothing as important as being able to read the text on a medicine bottle. This clip-on 2x magnifier fits most prescription bottles. Just clip magnifier to bottle & swing lens outward to magnify text. Folds inward for compact storage. Measures 4" x 1½" x 2¼".

Click this link to purchase the Pill Bottle Magnifier from

How to Build a Large Pill Organizer

I like the idea of a pill organizer. Having a way to keep track of pills is a great way to insure that you always take the right pill at the right time.

Some pill organizers are difficult to use. They often have small doors that are hard for the elderly or physically disabled to open or can be confusing to someone who is blind or visually impaired. Others simply don't hold enough pills and you find yourself filling the organizer as often as you take pills from it.

Here's a great way to create a large pill organizer for use around the home. It starts with a trip to your local Dollar Store or other discount store.

You can purchase disposable plastic storage cups that fit nicely into the cups of a muffin pan. With the lid of each cup labeled for a day of the week in large letters or braille, the muffin tin and cups can become a giant, easy-to-fill pill organizer.

Filling this organizer once a week will narrow the opportunity for mistakes while opening and removing pills from bottles.

Seven Day Talking Pill Reminder

The Timex Weekly Medication Manager is designed to make it easy to take medication on time. The timer unit allows for you to choose and set up to four daily reminder times. You can also decide whether you want a visual, talking or beeping alarm. The Weekly Medication Manager has seven daily pill boxes which store in one tray. The tray can be mounted on a wall or cabinet for easier storage. The Program timer reminds you when to take your medications. Each detachable pill box has four dosage compartments.

Uses two AAA batteries (not included) as well as 2 LR44 batteries (included). Limited one year warranty.

Click this link to purchase the Seven Day Talking Pill Reminder from the SightConnection website.

The MedCenter Jumbo Pill Organizer

The MedCenter Pill Organizer is another talking system with each day of the month numbered and colored with either red or green. You can organize your daily dose times according to morning, noon, evening, and night. The entire month can be scheduled so you never have to worry again about what to take and when. The best part is the talking alarm clock will announce the date out loud and when its time to take your pills, up to 4 times a day. It won't stop till you press the red acknowledgement button. This is perfect for those who have an elderly parent with a visiting nurse situation or if you want to make sure your kids take their Flintstones.

Click this link to purchase The MedCenter Jumbo Pill Organizer from

NOTE: The two talking products in this article have not been tested, so I can't say if the clock or timer features can be set by someone who is blind or visually impaired.

How To Measure Liquid Medicines

To measure liquid medicines, obtain a syringe from any pharmacy. This is the type without a needle. Have a sighted person pull out the plunger to 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1 teaspoon scoring each measurement where the plunger enters the syringe.

To measure the liquid, insert the syringe into the liquid and pull the plunger back until the thumb nail locates the knife marking indicating the desired measurement. For example, 1/2 teaspoon would be the second knife marking.

To feed the medicine to a child without spilling it, put the syringe into his/her mouth and squirt the liquid out.

Baby Bottle with Medicine Dispenser

Administering medication to babies is no easy task. They spit, they refuse to swallow, they do anything not to ingest the often less-than-sweet tasting drug. This is of course instinctive, and really a good thing, since it's meant to protect babies from eating anything suspicious. But it does not make giving children meds any easier. This invention, however, may well do the trick.

The Medibottle is a baby bottle with an inset syringe. The idea is to mix the medication, a little at a time, with milk or baby formula so baby will not notice. It just could work.

Click this link to purchase the Medibottle from

EZ Track Medical Record Keeper

EZ Track Medical Record Keeper

The EZ Track Medical Record Keeper is a large print organizational tool for keeping medical records. It provides a system for storing and organizing information on personal identification, medical history, insurance, medications, physicians, and other medical records. The product is on non-glare paper, with 22-point black type. It's housed in a three-ring binder for easy access and re-organization. Extra sheets for physician's notes and personal notes are included. Handy folders are included for insertion of invoices, reminders, and prescriptions. Tab pages divide the product into easy-to-locate divisions.

Medical Record Keeper:
Catalog Number: 1-07930-00
Click this link to purchase the EZ Track Medical Record Keeper.

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:

iSleepDiary: the Website to a Good Night's Sleep

Many people who are blind or visually impaired have issues with sleep. No one seems to know exactly why, a good study still needs to be done to find an exact cause. Until then, we have iSleepDiary.

If you are looking into the best way of counting sheep, this site is exactly what the doctor ordered. As its name denotes, it is a repository of information regarding the fine points of an activity that is more important to the body than actual nourishment. It is also an activity which can be easily disrupted, and whose balance (if altered) will ensure your whole day is pure shambles, because you did not renew your energies the way you should have the night before.

This site deals with sleep by having the user answer a series of direct questions, and the results are used to create a diagnosis that would put Gregory House and his team to shame. Well, maybe not, but the diagnoses are quite comprehensive. And (best of all), the information you provide is stored and displayed as graphs as time goes by.

I do have sleep issues, and I know the condition can hinder social interaction and the professional performance of any individual. Hopefully, this site (and others like it) will help all of us lead a more balanced life.

Click this link to track your sleep patterns with

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Bionic Eye

Officials in Australia have unveiled a prototype for a bionic eye device – an instrument that looks like a pair of sunglasses, but could one day help the visually impaired regain their sight.
The device features a minute video camera attached to a pair of dark glasses. The camera records images, which will then be sent wirelessly to an implant which will stimulate electrodes on the retina. Once stimulated, the retina will then be able to discern points of light, which the brain will then be able to reconstruct into images, thus effectively creating simulated vision for those suffering from macular degeneration or other genetic ailments.
The bionic eye prototype was created by researchers from the University of Melbourne, and is being tested by individuals from the school, as well as the Bionic Ear Institute, the Center for Eye Research Australia, the University of New South Wales and National Information and Communications Technology Australia. The country’s government contributed $42 million to help fund the project.
Experts are calling this the biggest advance for low-vision individuals since the invention of the Braille alphabet some two centuries ago. It is currently undergoing tests, and the first actual human implant of the device is tentatively scheduled to occur in 2013.

Article Source:

Bionic Eye

by Dr Paul Willis If you have ever taken a guided tour through a cave, there comes the inevitable moment when, deep within the earth, the guide will turn off the lights just to show you how dark it is. And it is completely dark. Absolute pitch black. For a moment you have lost your sight and for many it is a dizzying experience. You become keenly aware that your other senses are working just fine: you can smell the perfume of that lady in the tour group, you can hear the uneasy shuffling of your fellow tourists, you can feel the tightening grip of a loved-one on your arm as they experience the unease of total dark. But you cannot see a thing. For a brief moment you have an insight into what it must be like to be blind.
 Restoring sight to the blind has long been one of the greatest desires of humanity. Several religious texts from around the world list the miraculous curing of blindness as testament to the truth of their faith. I think this says more about the universal recognition among a variety of cultures that blindness is both utterly incurable and that a cure is highly desired. It is a statement of the importance we place in sight. 
Well good-old Aussie know-how has been brought to bear on the antediluvian problem and a cure for many types of blindness is now on the lab bench awaiting commercial release in just a few years time. The Bionic Eye is basically an ocular version of the technology developed for the cochlear implant. Watch the program for more details as to how it works and what it’s like for the blind to ‘see’ again.
But I must tell you what I experienced test-driving this amazing technology. I didn’t get the full implant but I was provided with a head-mounted display of the information processed from a camera mounted on my head. The problem is the implant currently consists of only 98 electrodes (a 1000 electrode model is in development) so the camera image needs to be manipulated into a simple 98 ‘pixel’ image that relays the information you need to navigate through the environment. Extraneous information has to be filtered out and useful information, such as how close the object is, needs to be encoded into the simplest possible format. The result is a black and white image that looks very different from what you would see with the naked eye. The question is can people be trained to interpret these images effectively enough to use them to walk around without bumping into things?
 So on went the headgear and then a coverall hood so I could see nothing other than the images from the head-mounted display. Then I was let loose in a simple maze. You can see what happened in the accompanying video clip.  
It was a thrilling experience. I actually had the feeling, not of learning to see in a new way, but more akin to developing a new sense like echolocation or psychic insight. And I was surprised how quickly I was able to take to this new sense and use it to get around an unfamiliar environment. It was inspiring to think that humanity has now arrived at a point where technology will be able to restore the sight to many blind people. It is nothing short of miraculous.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Website with Information on Cell Phone Accessibility

by by Susanne Croasdaile is a site created by "CTIA-The Wireless Association," an international nonprofit membership organization representing the wireless communication industry.

One of the things they focus on is wireless accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Check out their guides "for consumers with disabilities to search for accessible wireless products and services":

Click this link to visit

Article Source:
The Assistive Technology Blog

Portable Sound Sources from APH

Portable Sound Source 2003

Produces an audio tone that provides directional cues for orientation and mobility, sound localization training, or for playground games. Recommended for all ages.

  • Powered by four C-cells (included) that are easier for you to replace compared to previous models.
  • Rate of tone: 36 to 360 pulses per minute
  • Pitch: 600 hertz to 1200 hertz
  • Large speaker
  • Measures 8 x 9 x 3 1/2 inches
  • Weighs approximately 6 pounds
  • Print instructions
Catalog Number: 1-03040-02

Catalog Number: 7-03045-00
Click this link to purchase the Portable Sound Source 2003.

Portable Sound Source, Sport Edition

Portable Sound Source Sport Edition

Create audio tones that provide directional cues for orientation and mobility, sound localization training, or playground games and sports. This new, lightweight Portable Sound Source: Sport Edition comes with a remote control and carrying strap. The carrying strap can be used as a belt for hiking or a game of Follow the Leader. Other uses for the sound source are: identify home base, a safety zone, or a basketball goal.

  • Receiver is powered by 5 AA batteries (not included) that are easy to replace
  • Transmitter is powered by a 23A 12 Volt alkaline battery (included) and is programmable
  • Rate of tone is variable using step increments from 36 to 360 pulses per minute
  • Pitch is variable using step increments from 600 to 1200 hertz
  • On/off switch and rate, volume, and tone knobs are mounted on the front face for easy operation
  • Large speaker measures 3.5"
  • Dimensions: 7 1/8" x 4 7/8" x 1 9/16"
  • Weight: approximately 1 1/2 pounds (with batteries)
  • Large Print Sound Localization Guidebook

Recommended ages: 6 years and up.

Cover of the Sound Localization Guidebook

Note: The Sound Localization Guidebook provides teachers of young learners who are visually impaired with specific activities that may be used to develop sound localization skills. Group games are presented to practice those skills. The braille version guidebook is sold separately.

Portable Sound Source: Sport Edition, with Sound Localization Guidebook in Large Print and Remote Control:
Catalog Number: 1-03045-00

Sound Localization Guidebook, Braille:
Catalog Number: 5-03045-00

Replacement Items

Sound Localization Guidebook, Large Print:
Catalog Number: 7-03045-00

Remote Control for Sport Edition:
Catalog Number: 1-03045-01
Click this link to purchase the Portable Sound Source: Sport Edition.

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 "Swish" of the Hoop

By Lori M. Miller
Whether I have just laced up my Jordan classics to play one on one with my niece and nephews or I'm taking a moment to teach my three year old how to dribble a basketball, I am always thinking of ways to improve my game of basket ball. I grew up with an older sibling who played basketball at the junior high and high school level. I remember sitting in the bleachers cheering on the home team with chants of D, D, D. Defense and so on. It was my sisters friends who excepted the challenge of teaching a totally blind Kindergartener how to dribble. From that point on, I aspired to be like the other neighborhood kids out on the summer days shooting hoops. Our basketball goal was mounted on a single pole at the edge of our driveway. I adapted to the environment using echo location to hear the pole, or physically walking up to the pole, touching it, and then backing away a number of steps. A natural crack in the driveway just about where the free throw line would be served as a great tactile marker to feel with my foot and from there, it was bend at the knees, shoot, and SCORE. Early on I used a two-handed technique but while in high school I was taught how to shoot one handed.
I found knowing the fundamentals of basketball to be an integral part of my participation in Physical Education classes which ultimately and positively impacted social development too. . Since I could dribble, I could participate in dribbling relays right along with my peers. I also enjoyed being included in games like H O R S E and Around the World. It was fairly simple to participate in these games because either you picked the spot, or you had to shoot from the same location that someone else had.
One of the major challenges along the way has been to exactly pinpoint where the hoop is. I don't always want to have to get close enough to the goal to line myself up from it. So, I implemented having another person tap the rim with my cane. In my experience, this isn't always practical to have another person assigned to this task, so I've experimented with placing an electronic metronome on the backboard is a consistent sound source that doesn't echo too much. I found that placing something on the basket was extremely helpful if the basket is in a gym and mounted a long a wall which makes it difficult to echo locate where the pole is. With a repetitive and consistent sounding source I can move around the court and shoot from any where.
When shooting, it is nice to have verbal feedback so you can learn how to adjust your shot i.e. whether it is too hard of a shot, just short, rolled off to the left, etc. Quickly the sounds of the ball and how it contacts the rim can auditorially be distinguished and I can independently listen to the shot and know whether I swooshed it through the net, or if it careened off. Listening to how the ball makes contact with the rim or backboard can also assist in rebounding so you can get a jump in the direction that the ball is likely going. A solid thud usually means the shot was to hard and too short hitting the rim and your reflexes better be quick because there's a good chance the ball is coming right back at you.
This brings us to the times when the ball disappears into the wide open spaces. I have spent many a frustrating time walking in a grid pattern searching the yard behind my basketball goal. I have also used my cane to feather it along the ground with the cane parallel to the grass as to cover the most ground as possible. My cane has also come in handy to poke under suspect bushes or the undersides of cars where basketballs often like to wedge themselves. As a child our driveway sloped to the street, so I knew that if the ball didn't bounce in the grass then it was going to roll down the drive to the street and ultimately wind up at the sewer grading at the corner where I could run down and retrieve it.
In college where I was training to be an elite athlete in goalball and alpine skiing, I searched for alternative training regiments. . I found myself many evenings in the recreation gym with a basketball running back and forth and dribbling for aerobic exercise and fitness. I continue to try and improve my game as I have expanded my dribbling to learning how to do some fancy dribbling. I also alternate hands in an effort to balance my skills. By alternating, I don't alternate with every dribble, instead I try to spend equal amounts of time dribbling with one hand and then the other as I run up and down the court and pivot to go back the other direction.

Potential adaptations and personal observations:

Taped line with cord under the tape to promote tactually identifying locations on the court. For instance, at the free-throw line. Cord similar to what is used to make goalball courts works well. Various colors of tape may also assist for someone who has usable vision. If playing on a gymnasium court, check that the tape used isn't going to leave residue on the floor. Tactile lines may be useful in various locations. Various cord diameters to make tactile lines can be found at most retail stores.
Sound source: Identify a sound source that omits a sound that is appealing to the ears and conducive to the environment and then attach it to the basketball goal. Experimenting with the placement may maximize accuracy when shooting the ball. I personally like putting hook/loop material on a small electronic metronome.
When passing to another player, call their name to evoke a response. The player may respond verbally, clapping hands, tapping foot, etc. A bounce pass allows the player who is receiving to track the sound of the ball.
Some basket balls can be heard more easily. By this I mean when the ball bounces and is in the air, you can hear the air inside the ball. This can be helpful when passing and dribbling. Bells may increase some sound in the ball, but it does affect the weight of the ball and how it reacts. I prefer to listen for the natural sound of the ball. It seems that some balls can be heard more easily than others. I have experienced difficulty hearing leather basketballs.

Basketball Return Net

Do you love shooting hoops all day long? Shooting the hoops maybe, but I'd be bet not chasing after the ball. What happens when you miss the net (and by a mile, to boot)? It seems like I spend more time running after the ball than actually playing the game.
This is where the Basketball Return Net comes in. It allows you to practice from just about any distance or direction without having to go through the hassle of chasing down balls when you can spend that time shooting. You will need to mount it to rectangular backboards up to 60″ wide, where the net will extend 15′ from the hoop with its corners attached to a couple of moveable, weighted bases. Those bases will need 50 lbs. of sand. This gadget facilitates the quick return of free throws and perimeter shots.

Click this link to purchase the Basketball Return Net from Hammacher Schlemmer.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Popcornflix was created for people who want to watch "Great Movies. Free."

Popcornflix has full-length movies that will make you laugh, make you cry, scare the heck out of you, or inspire you to hug the person you love. They have compelling documentaries, foreign films, unique original web series, and a place that showcases the brightest film makers of tomorrow. No movie is more than two clicks away and they are all FREE.

Screen Media Ventures, LLC, founded in 1999, is the largest independent distributor of motion pictures to the world wide television market. The company is one of the leading motion picture distributors of theatrical, home video, digital and television both in the U.S. and internationally. With over 1500 movies, Screen Media has one of the largest independently owned film libraries in the motion picture industry.

Grab some popcorn and snuggle up to the monitor for some online movie enjoyment with

Things Go Wrong a Guide to Fixing Kitchen Disasters

by Chef Peter Martin

Let's face facts; we have all had our fair share of kitchen disasters, even us "professionals", though we might not admit it. From food being too salty, to scorched soups, to broken hollandaise, disasters do, and will, happen.

The good news is that many of these so-called "disasters" can be fixed relatively easily, with only a few that are beyond salvaging. Below is a list of some of the most common kitchen disasters and how to fix them.

Too Salty

From thinking the recipe said tablespoons instead of teaspoons, to being distracted and salting something twice, this is one of the most common food disasters.

Luckily there are numerous ways to solve this issue. You can try neutralizing the salt by adding sugar and cider vinegar. Add 1 teaspoon, each, at a time until you have reduced the level of saltiness. Another method that has been around for a long time is the potato method. If making a soup and it > is too salty, add 1 peeled potato, cut into large chunks. Allow the soup to simmer for 15 minutes then remove the potato. It will absorb some of the excess salt. I find this method only to work if the soup in question is just slightly over salted. The final, and most effective, way to reduce saltiness is to add more of all the other ingredients to dilute it. At least you are guaranteed leftovers!

Too Spicy

You're making your favorite chili when you taste it and realize that the jalapenos you used this time were way hotter than you expected.

Not to worry, there are a number of fixes to foods being too hot. The first thing to always do is taste your chile peppers. Peppers will fluxuate in the amount of heat they have and the only way too really know for sure how hot they are is to taste them. If they seem a little hotter than normal you can cut down on the amount you use and you can also make sure that you remove all of the inner membranes and seeds. This is where the majority of the heat lies in a pepper.

Failing that, don't fear, all is not lost. Of course you could just add more of everything else if you want, but what if you don't want 3 gallons of chili or 1 gallon of salsa? There are still a number of options open to you. There are really three things that will help counteract the heat of chilies. They are sugar, acids, and dairy products. That said, you have a whole arsenal in your kitchen to combat spicy foods. Try adding a can of crushed pineapple to your chili. It will virtually disappear, leaving very little traces of itself while helping to counteract the heat. Give that super spicy salsa a few squirts of lime juice to help tame it, or, if appropriate add some dairy, in the form of sour cream or yogurt into a spicy sauce. At the table, offer sour cream and cheese to help counteract the heat or offer chopped cilantro which also seems to have a cooling effect on the mouth. Also remember that milk or dairy based drinks are the best way to cool a burning mouth.

Highly sweetened, non carbonated drinks are second best. Stay away from water as all it does is spread the heat around in your mouth while doing very little to counteract it.

Burnt Soups and Sauces

This is one of the few times that, if you do not act quickly, your food is bound for the garbage can. There is absolutely no way, at least that I have ever heard of, to salvage a soup or sauce that tastes scorched. I have been told by numerous sources that laying a piece of bread on top of the soup will draw out the scorched flavor, but I have yet to actually see this work.

Your best bet against this is vigilance. If you notice that your soup is starting to stick and burn to the bottom of your pan quick action can save it. > Quickly remove the pan from the heat and plunge the bottom of the pan into cold water. This is to stop the cooking process and prevent any more from burning. Then, carefully, pour the soup or sauce into another pan leaving behind the last little bit on the bottom.

Whatever you do, don't scrape anything from the old pan into the new pan. You want all the burnt stuff left behind. Taste the soup, if you don't taste any burnt flavors then you reacted quickly enough, if not then there is only one thing to do, start over.

Curdled or Broken Sauce

You slaved away all day working on that special meal and just before serving it you notice that your hollandaise sauce has broken or that your cream sauce has curdled. Not to worry, all is not lost; in fact both of these problems can be taken care of pretty simply.

For a broken hollandaise you are going to take 1 egg yolk and whisk it over a water bath until it is thick and pale, just like when you started your hollandaise. Next you are going to use the broken hollandaise just like you just the butter the first time. Slowly add the broken hollandaise to the yolk, whisking vigorously as you go. This will bring your sauce back together. It might be a little more dense than it normally would be, but it will still taste great, and chances are your guest will never even know.

To fix a broken cream sauce, take ½ cup of heavy cream and reduce it down to 1/3 of its original volume. Slowly drizzle in the curdled sauce while whisking vigorously. This should bring the sauce right back to its creamy, silky consistency. You can avoid a cream sauce curdling by adding just a little starch to it in the form of a roux or cornstarch slurry.

Miscellaneous Kitchen Fixes

  • Melted Chocolate becomes hard and grainy (seized): Try adding a teaspoon of shortening or oil per ounce of chocolate. Doesn't always work but worth a try before throwing it away.
  • Runny (or Soggy) Mashed Potatoes: Try adding a few dehydrated potato flakes to the your runny mashed potatoes (yes even potato flakes have a use or 2) or try adding some powered dry milk.
  • Gummy Mashed Potatoes: Unfortunately there is no fix for overworked, gummy mashed potatoes, but don't throw them away!!! Cool them down, add some minced onion, a couple of egg yolks and some seasoning, form into patties, pan fry and you have some wonderful Potato cakes.
  • Hard to peel Hard boiled eggs: Crack the eggs and place in a bowl of cool water for 5 minutes. The water will seep into the cracks and help loosen the shell from the egg.
  • Slightly stale Bread: You can breathe new life into day old bread by lightly sprinkling it with water, wrapping it in foil and baking it in a 300 degree oven until warm.

Kitchen disasters will happen. It is inevitable, but with these guidelines you should be able to recover from many of them. There will be times when things can't be repaired though. It is then that your creativity can shine through. Cake fallen in the center? Turn it into a trifle. Cookies spread out too much and are now hard and brittle? Chop them up and add to ice cream. Most of the time things can be rescued and dinner will be saved.

Moki Helps You Find Movies And TV Shows You Can Watch Online

Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, there are so many different services for watching TV content on your computer that an application for making sense of all available offerings is indispensable. is an accessible guide to all the movies and TV shows that can be watched online. All the silver screen and TV content that can be watched on the WWW can be accessed through You are told about the free content available on Hulu (and the paid content available on Hulu Plus), and all the subscription stuff from Netflix and Amazon Prime, along with all the movies being shown on iTunes and Amazon Video On Demand

Additionally, users of can rate and review all the shows and movies that they are watching. Users can even import their ratings from Netflix to And the site also works the other way around - you can take all your ratings, and have them shared with your Netflix friends.

Click this link to search the net for movies and TV shows with

Friday, March 25, 2011

Audio Description

by Donna J. Jodhan

One question that I often get asked is this one: How does a blind person follow a movie? That is, how can they follow what is going on in a movie when there is no talking or other noise to tell them what's happening? Enter the world of audio description.

Up until about a decade ago, audio descriptive movies or audio descriptions were novelties to us or rather a luxury but today, it is becoming more and more popular.

What is meant by audio descriptions or audio descriptive movies? Very easy. More and more movies, DVDs, and videos are now being produced to include audio descriptions and this means that audio descriptions are given for those scenes where there is no audible sound. This is most helpful to blind persons who are unable to see what's going on. So for example, in a movie, if someone is walking along and there is only the sound of their shoes, audio description would be provided to tell the blind person what's included in the scene as the person is walking.

I am going to leave you with an url to check out. One that belongs to one of the top audio descriptive producers in the world. Click this link to visit

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:

The World of Mobile Devices

by Donna J. Jodhan

So much has opened up for blind and sight impaired persons with the advent of more accessible mobile devices. Devices such as the accessible cell phone that is now able to accommodate access software, GPS devices, PDAs, and now the iPhone and the Ipad.

These are very exciting times and for me it often feels like being a kid in a candy shop not quite knowing what to do or which device to choose and as time marches on, it is only going to get more confusing and even more exciting.

Up until just a few years ago, the world of mobile devices seemed to be a mere blip on the radars of most blind and sight impaired persons but that has all changed and we as blind persons can only hope that with time mobile devices are going to become more accessible to us. It is only natural that some devices may be more accessible than others.

What we have today is a mish-mash of accessibility. Some devices come with software that enables blind persons to navigate menus fairly easily and the help facility is extremely navigable and accessible. Other devices come with manuals on CDs that are also quite informative and accessible while others come with some form of accessibility but they still need to affect improvements in order to make things more usable.

Many mobile devices are multi purpose and this helps to simplify things both for the sighted as well as for the blind. What we have today are devices that offer bundles of functions that includes anything from emailing and surfing to downloading and word processing and texting and picture taking to the playing of music plus so much more. It is only going to get better with time but here is my wish list for the future as it pertains to blind persons.

We need for manufacturers and developers to make their devices accessible all the way. There needs to be a way for blind persons to be able to afford more of these devices. More training needs to be made available to blind persons so that they will be able to take full advantage of them.

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:

Speak n Brew: Voice Operated Ten Cup Coffee Maker

Making coffee just got easier, especially for people who are blind and those with low vision. Set the clock and brew time with only your voice, no programming to learn.

The Speak n’ Brew Voice Operated Coffee Maker allows anyone to brew hot, fresh coffee with the touch of a button, or set the brewing time by simply speaking.

Features include:

  • One touch or voice set brew start
  • Permanent filter in removable basket
  • Warming plate with auto shut off
  • Ten cup glass carafe
  • All stainless steel body
Click this link to purchase the Speak and Brew from

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Easter Egg Decorating Kit with Tactile Elements

For generations, Easter Sunday and the approach of spring have been celebrated with the decorating of dyed eggs. This deluxe kit makes creating colorful one-of-a-kind eggs fun and easy for everyone in the family, including those who are blind or visually impaired.

Kit includes

  • Six dyes in red, yellow, blue, green, orange and purple, let you create colorful shells.
  • Four markers in blue, green, orange and pink.
  • A transparent crayon.
  • Foam alphabet stickers, animal stickers, wiggly eyes, flower and butterfly stickers, pink and green flock stickers and miniature pom-poms.
  • Comes with a wire egg dipper.

Printed instructions provide helpful tips and decorating ideas. A Williams-Sonoma exclusive.

Click this link to purchase the Easter Egg Decorating Kit from the Williams-Sonoma website.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cutting, Slicing, Grating, And Peeling Foods

The actual process of peeling, slicing, or grating is no different for the blind than for the sighted. As in all phases of cooking, safety depends upon competence and care rather than upon sight. It is much easier and more satisfactory to grate or cut into a large bowl rather than onto a flat surface. The food is then automatically collected and easily manageable.

If you are a beginner who has had little or no experience in using a knife, you may find it easier and safer at first to cut downward toward a cutting board. The experienced cook uses a knife in various positions, however; and the newly blinded experienced cook will probably not change her ways of using a knife.

A suggested method for chopping vegetables into small pieces is as follows: Slice the vegetables into a large bowl. Then use a "Kwik-Kut Food Chopper," which resembles a round cookie or biscuit cutter but is very sharp on the bottom. (This cutter is available on the general market.) Chop the cutter up and down through the slices, moving around within the bowl and continuing until the pieces are the desired size and uniformity.

If you have a recipe where you need to cut up uncooked beef, partially freeze the beef before you start cutting. When the meat is partially frozen and firm, the meat can now easily be cut into strips or cubes as needed for the recipe that you are preparing.

This excerpt from an article by Ruth Schroeder and Doris Willoughby first appeared on the National Federation of the Blind's website and is reprinted with special permission.

Slicing and Dicing

A good sharp knife is used to shape a food product and reduce its size. Having the same size and shape ensures even cooking. Items are shaped by slicing, chopping, dicing, mincing and other special cutting techniques.

Slicing is used to create three specialty cuts: chiffonade, rondelle, and diagonal. Slicing skills are also used to produce oblique or roll cuts and lozenges.

A chiffonade is to finely slice or shred leafy vegetables or herbs. You first wash and destem the leaves, such as spinach. Stack several leaves on top of each other and roll them tightly like a cigar. Then make fine slices across the leaves while holding the leaf roll tightly.

Rondelles are disk-shaped slices of round vegetables or fruits, such as carrots. Diagonals are oval-shaped slices of cylindrical vegetables or fruits. The cut is similar to cut rondelles except that the knife is held at an angle to the item being cut.

Oblique cuts are small pieces with two angle-cut sides. You hold the knife at a 45-degree angle, and make the first cut. Roll the item a half turn, keeping the knife at the same angle, and make another cut. The result should be a wedge-shaped piece with two angled sides.

Lozenges, not cough drops, are diamond-shaped cuts prepared from firm vegetables such as carrots, turnips, and potatoes. Slice the item into long slices however thick you want it. Then cut the slices into strips. Cut the strips at an angle to produce diamond shapes. Sounds easy, doesn't it.

Horizontal slicing is used to cut a pocket into meats, poultry, or fish. This is usually referred to as butterflying.

Chopping is cutting an item into small pieces and size and shape are not important. This is much easier than the other ways of cutting. Mincing is the same except the pieces are smaller.

Dicing is cutting an item into a cube. Chefs in restaurants would want each side to be equal. Before an item is diced, it is cut into sticks, such as juliennes and bâtonnets. The sticks are 2 inches long, with the sides either 1/8"for juliennes or 1/4" for bâtonnets. Brunoise are cubes of 1/16", small dice are 1/4", medium dice are 1/2", and large dice are 3/4". Paysanne is a flat, square, round or triangular item 1/2" x 1/2" x 1/16".

Tourner is a cutting technique that results in a football-shaped finished product with 7 equal sides and flat ends. This is a difficult cutting technique, that takes a lot of patience.

Parisiennes are spheres of fruits or vegetables cut with a small melon ball cutter.

Now that you know all the different types of cuts, my advice would be to find machines that slice and dice, such as a mandoline. They are much quicker and usually safer.

A Guard for Cutting Ingredients

I've written in earlier posts that I am not the cook of the house. My wife would be the first to tell you that. However, on the rarest of occasions, I do enjoy going into the kitchen and attempting a meal.

My wife is always sure I'm going to chop off my fingers when I'm cutting things, so she would be happy if I got this. The Cooks' Cutting Guard is a great device for any kitchen.

When cutting ingredients with a knife, slip this stainless-steel guard low onto your middle finger and slice without fear of accidental encounters with a sharp blade. The edge of the curved shield holds food in place. The adjustable ring fits most hands. Dishwasher safe. 2" in diameter.

Click this link to purchase the Cooks' Cutting Guard from the Williams-Sonoma Online Catalog.

Box Grater with Sliding Safety Holder

This is a fabulous find! The Microplane box grater has sharp stainless steel teeth and features a sliding safety holder to secure food and protect fingers. Now you can grade every last bit of cheese without fear of slicing your fingers. Although, it would mean less snacking while you cook (because, of course, you just have to eat the piece that is too small to grate, right?)

Click this link to purchase the Box Grater with Sliding Safety Holder from the Fresh Finds website.

Managing Hair Supplies, Not Fishing Tackle

If your daughter or wife have tons of brushes, hairclips, rubber bands, jewelry, you know how crazy it can be keeping it all together in one location and not all over the house. Here's an easy tip that will help them keep things organized and might win you some browny points for being so thoughtful.

The next time you're out shopping, stop by the local sporting goods or department store and pick up a tackle box with pop up trays.

Now they can use all the cubbies for putting smaller items like barrettes and bands, and a brush or two in the bottom. Because it's portable, they can take it to friends houses or on trips and have everything they need.

Tennis Balls Can Hide Your Valuables

You like to travel, but you know that if you take your nicer jewelry it might disappear. Here's a great tip that might put your mind at ease.

A great way to hide little valuables is in a tennis ball.

Cut about a two inch slit in a tennis ball.

Now when you squeeze opposing sides it will open up like a mouth.

Toss in coins, jewelry, anything small inside and release.

Now it is just an unsuspecting ball, not your valuables. NOTE: Keep the ball away from your dog guide and be sure to place it somewhere that it can't roll away from you and be difficult to find. Maybe in the corner of a suitcase for example.

Monday, March 21, 2011

WII Game for the Blind

At the end of 2008 the collaboration partners - MAD multimedia, Principal Blue, TNO and Royal Dutch Visio – had decided to give the concept of Serious Gaming a new dimension. Within two years and with a subsidy from Innovative Action Programme in Groningen (Dutch: IAG2) the first official Nintendo Wii game was developed for children with or without visual impairment. The process used for this development is called co-creation, a technique in which the end user is involved in the development of new products and services. Visually impaired, blind and full sighted children contributed to the content and form of this game, while physical therapists, exercise specialists and teachers monitored the motoric aspects.

In "The Explorer and the Mystery of the Diamond Scarab", you play the role of Ben the Archaeologist who is searching for the Temple of the Diamond Scarab. Once he is in the temple he meets Tiri, an enchanting Egyptian princess. Going through a maze of underground passages they look for ancient Egyptian treasures and confront various challenges. The Guardian leads them step by step to the exit. The game is played on a Balance Board, a standard Wii accessory. With this you can move through the maze, find treasures and enter challenging situations. Since this is the first game in the world developed jointly for visually impaired, blind and fully sighted children, the game can be played in Dutch and in English.

To learn more, please visit

MOLinsight: A Web Portal for the Processing of Molecular Structures by Blind Students

The MOLinsight web portal is a gateway to open-source software as well as software freely accessible to students that can be integrated in strategies for blind users to process chemical structures. Here you can find documentation for available programs  and a guide to decide about the tools for specific tasks.

Software found on the site includes:

  • NavMol
  • BrailChem
  • Marvin
  • OpenBabel
  • Molecular editors for non-blind users 

"How to do common task" articles include:

  • Guidelines to interpret a molecular structure
  • Guidelines to build a molecular structure
  • Verify if two chemical structures in different file formats are the same
  • Get information about general properties of a molecule (e.g. molecular weight, exact mass, number of atoms, estimated logP)
  • Interpret the stereochemical features of a molecule
Click this link to visit

vOICe Learning Edition Browser for the Blind

by Thomas C. Weiss
The vOICe Learning Edition’s Internet Sonification Browser for persons who are blind is meant for use in conjunction with a screen reader. People can use the key combination of Control-F2 to mute it, if needed. For the purpose of reading text on web pages, a person can use a regular web browser such as Internet Explorer along with a screen reader; however, the vOICe Sonification Browser makes Internet graphics accessible by allowing people to hear the images that are contained within HTML pages. The vOICe Sonification browser is activated through pressing Control-U, or by traversing the File menu.
Pressing the Control-U key combination gives the person using the software an Internet Access dialogue through which they can enter either the direct URL of an image file or the URL of a web page. The vOICe will, in care an image file URL, first download the image to the person’s current working directory, and then from there automatically sonify the image. In the case of a URL for an HTML web page, the page is parsed by the vOICe for any links or images, presenting a numbered list in the next edit box within the dialogue. Upon tabbing to that, the person may utilize the up and down arrow keys, as well as the page up or page down keys, to move within the list.
Pressing ENTER on any line causes the corresponding item to be loaded. If the selected item references an image file, the image will be downloaded to the person’s current working directory and sonified. If the item selected was a link to an additional web page, the new page is loaded resulting in a new list. The lists of items are always organized so that one line provides the filename while the next line gives a further file description if it is available. For example; if this involves an image, the image filename on one line is then followed by the IMAGE description related to the image on the next line. If it involves a link, the link text is displayed on the following line.
Back and Forward buttons, ALT+b and ALT+f, may be used in order to move either backwards or forwards through web page URL’s, much like you would in a common browser. It is important to note that you must press the ENTER key in order to activate the selected web page URL. Other than image file URL’s and web page URL’s, a person may also provide the URL’s of ZIP files, WAV files, and MP3 sound files. In these cases, the vOICe downloads such files to the person’s current working directory. The vOICe Sonification Browser may also be applied to online visual training materials designed for learning to see with sound via distance learning.
If you visit the vOICe Internet Sonification Browser web page and load it using their sonification browser, you will find an image named, ‘linup.gif,’ which is a single bright line that runs upward to the right. When you activate the image reference you will hear a single tone that rises in pitch in the repeating visual sounds. You will also find an image named, ‘lineflat.gif,’ that displays a bright, horizontal line with constant pitch, as well as an image named, "linea.gif," that displays a stylized capital letter, ‘A.’ There are additional shapes and pillars to be heard on the site too.
While the majority of web pages can be handled without issues, there are exceptions because not every web page contains HTML code that is written correctly. There are also a number of unique situations that have yet to be supported. People may find that they need to press the ENTER or "Get it" button twice before an image actually appears. At this time, the only supported proxy servers are CERN proxies.
The use of sound in order to interpret images on a web page is both wonderful and unique. There are undoubtedly many questions on the minds of people interested in this form of technological approach. The vOICe Internet Sonification Browser creators have produced a web page filled with answers to some of the more common questions they have encountered in relation to their product, you can find it at the vOICe FAQ Page.
If you would like to try this magnificent software for yourself, you can find it at

Article Source:

Friday, March 18, 2011

Early Braille Trade Books Wright Group—TWiG Books Kit 2, Upper Emergent

Finding the right book for young students is now easier!

Young readers will be inspired by these emergent-level nonfiction books about the natural world and everyday life. These books are easily integrated across the curriculum especially in science and social studies.

The Early Braille Trade Books Project provides commercially available books with braille labels for beginning readers. This kit includes books, braille labels, and access to an interactive website, please visit:


  • Contracted or uncontracted braille labels
  • Match books to a student based on braille knowledge
  • The interactive website allows you to:
    • Search for books by genre, core curriculum, or expanded core curriculum
    • Access a book summary and activities designed for braille readers
    • Maintain a listing and percentage of contractions learned by each student -- great for documentation at IEP meetings
    • Share or transfer student records to other teachers

TWiG Books Kit 2 Includes 11 books, braille label packs, and a Quick Start Guide:

  • Amazing Magnets
  • Baby Animals at Home
  • Balancing
  • Boats
  • In the Rain Forest
  • Our School
  • Spider Legs
  • To the Ocean
  • Touch
  • Whisper and Shout
  • Who Says?

Note: Customer applies the included braille labels. A user ID and password are required to access interactive website.

Contracted Braille Kit:
Catalog Number: 3-00207-00

Uncontracted Braille Kit:
Catalog Number: 3-00208-00
Click this link to purchase the Early Braille Trade Books: Wright Group - TWiG Books Kit 2.

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:

Blind entrepreneur builds business for the blind

An 18 year old was born blind but she has her sights set on a bright future.

Bronwen Tagoe never developed eyeballs but she didn't let that hold her back. Instead she grew into a pianist, artist and an entrepreneur. She helped her mother, Deb, start the business Braille-a-wear in 2006.

Deb says, "The kids were wearing daddy's princess or Gap slogan shirts. And I said we have to come up with a shirt you could read."

Braille-a-wear sells t-shirts, hats, bags, jewelry and more. Each has a slogan in print and Braille so everyone can read them.

"Right now I work out of my garage, my home, my computer, conferences - we even go to the streets if we have to," Deb adds.  "People say I like your shirt, we've got one in the car!"

In addition to the family business, Bronwen also focuses on playing the piano and her art. She learned every song from Bach to Beethoven by listening. She spends time on her art by taking lessons in 3-D sculptures and canvas.

"I can build texture in some of my paintings," Bronwen says.

And in the meantime, Bronwen along with her supportive mom, are building a mini-empire.

Click this link to visit

Copyright © 2011, WPMT-TV

Word 2010 Keyboard Commands With Jaws 12.0, Window-Eyes 7.2, and System Access

At last! National Braille Press has the most common keyboard commands for the very latest – and reportedly quite confounding - version of Microsoft Word, in one handy volume.

These commands work with Word whether you are using a screen reader or not, and regardless of which screen reader you use. Major headings include Word commands, JAWS commands for Word, Window-Eyes commands for Word, and finally System Access commands for Word. In addition to keystrokes, it also includes step-by-step instructions for customizing the keyboard and the Quick Access Toolbar.

Click this link to purchase Word 2010 Keyboard Commands from the NBP Braille BookStore.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Blind photographer can 'hear' a good photograph

River Alandra blind photographer Hertfordshire

River Alandra has been completely blind most of her life but refuses to let it stop her from pursuing her hobby.

Her sense of hearing is so acute she can ‘see’ wildlife by listening to the sound of a swan moving through water or a bird flapping its wings.

‘I use my cane to measure distances so that I can focus correctly,’ said Ms Alandra, 47, who is accompanied by her black labrador guide dog Dallas.

‘It does take me a lot of work to get a good photo but I never alter them digitally. I dream about capturing a dragonfly on camera but it’s nearly impossible for me because they are so fast.’

Ms Alandra, who is studying for a masters degree in conservation, took up photography in 2006.

Blind nature photographer River Alandra’s exhibition In bloom: One of the photographs in River Alandra’s exhibition (Picture: SWNS)

She uses a Panasonic Lumix FZ100 which she has modified with braille dials.

Her friends have selected 14 of her pictures for the exhibition in her home town of Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire.

‘It’s not really the best hobby for a blind person,’ concedes Ms Alandra, who lost her sight at the age of six after getting bleach in her eyes in an accident at home.

‘But I love the challenge and it really tests my patience and tenacity.’

© 2011 Associated Newspapers Limited

Archery for the Blind

Blind Archery is the most recent sport to have official status within the International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) and is now under consideration for full Paralympic status. It is accepted that there will only be two divisions to start with, male and female, and with the requirement that all archers wear blackouts or shades.
Visually impaired archers shoot with either recurve and/or compound bows. Recurve bows increase in tension as the arrow is pulled backward, thus making it difficult for users with limited mobility or strength. Compound bows are used by archers who are unable, for whatever reason, to draw a recurve satisfactorily.
Blind archers must have a spotter with them at all times for safety. The spotter tells the archer where the arrow strikes the target. they are not allowed to tell the archer where to aim. A clock face system; 3 o^D>'clock blue 7 o^D>'clock red etc; is used to give arrow location. In addition, changes to the assistive technology such as those listed below can only be made by the archer once they begin.
British Blind Sport, a U.K. non-profit lists some adaptations and accommodations that people who are blind or low-vision use to participate in archery which include tactile locators, foot locators, and the use of "spotters". They also have some Rules for Blind Archery.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Need to Remember the Buttons

by Donna J. Jodhan

So many times I, as a blind person am challenged to remember the position of buttons and keys. That is, I need to pay particular attention to where each button and key is. Thank God, telephone keypads are all the same but when it comes to other things! That's a different story.

Unfortunately, elevator buttons are not customized across the board and if there is either no Braille or raised print to represent what the button is, then I am in big trouble. Most computer keyboards are similar but sometimes the differences in the positions of the keys are enough to throw me off. The same goes for calculators and remote control devices. The keyboard on an IBM Think Pad for example, is different to the layout of a keyboard on a Toshiba laptop.

My dire wish would be for manufacturers to standardize the position of the layout of buttons and keys. Washers and dryers are also a problem for me in that I have to memorize the buttons. Radios are the same for me. However, most cassette recorders are standardized when it comes to the layout of their buttons and keys but guess what? These are fast becoming obsolete. I am going to give you the url of a website of a company that is doing wonderful things to standardize the layout of buttons and keys of all of their equipment. Visit to learn more.

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:

Accessible All the Way

by Donna J. Jodhan

For the past few years, I have been witness to several technological evolutions when it comes to the development of accessible devices for blind and vision impaired persons. This includes such things as mobile devices, some hand held devices, and certain types of kitchen and utility devices. Accessible cell phones for blind and vision impaired persons have come a very long way. The same could be said for such things as GPS devices, PDAs, bar code readers, color detectors, and more.

We have seen the evolution of talking microwaves and timers, other kitchen devices, some remote controls, MP3s, iPhones, and so on. This is all good but there still needs to be more work done in order to make devices more user friendly and accessible to blind and vision impaired persons.

I do not doubt that if appropriately sensitized, developers and manufacturers will continue to make their products more accessible but there needs to be a greater push towards this trend; accessibility all the way.

We need to convince developers and manufacturers that there are huge benefits to be derived if they make their products accessible all the way. For not only would it benefit those who are blind and vision impaired, it would also benefit such groups as: The print disabled, those who are deaf/blind, and those with learning and cognitive disabilities and with a rapidly aging population these groups are only going to multiply in numbers.

We need to use these factors to our advantage and start pushing now for accessibility all the way. It is not too late and while we're at it we can expand our efforts to push for accessible pin number devices. In this instance, we can include the lobbying of banks and other financial institutions, and manufacturers of pin number readers, point of sale devices, and banking machines.

Who are the ones that are in the best position to push for accessibility all the way? Governments, consumer groups and associated organizations and agencies, and those agencies that work directly with those listed above. Can it be accomplished? My answer is a definite yes and in order to start the ball rolling we as consumers need to make our voices heard by governments, developers and manufacturers, and yes! The media.

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:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Musical Instruments For The Blind

Blind children can learn to play a musical instrument just as well and often even better than, sighted children provided the desire and interest is there. Blind children often have a strong sense of rhythm and musical sensation since their hearing is more in tuned with the world.

Of course the assumption should not be made that just because they are blind they should play a musical instrument. However if a child or an adult who is visually impaired decides that playing a musical instrument is something they would find beneficial, then by all means, there should be every consideration made just as you would for a sighted individual.

There are instruments which are better suited for the visually impaired than others. Most string instruments are a good musical instrument for the visually impaired because the strings can be easily felt in order, especially for the violin, viola, and cello.

The piano and woodwind musical instruments can also make very good choices for the visually impaired when learning to play a musical instrument. They are considered the easiest of the musical instruments to memorize tactilely and are fairly versatile in the musical arrangements they can be applied to playing. However, there is of course no restriction to the possibilities.

It is usually not necessary to find the visually impaired musical student a specially trained music teacher. A teacher that is creative and patient (which we would hope all music teachers are) should be able to help the visually impaired student feel the musical instrument of their choice in order to learn to play it competently. Musical instruments often are able to be handled by the visually impaired simply because their design and structure is quite unique from a tactile standpoint.

Children and adults from all walks of life should learn to play at least one musical instrument. Learning to play a musical instrument teaches so many skills at once that it can be difficult to find a downfall to learning to play a musical instrument regardless of who you are, where you come from, or what type of disability you may bring to the table. It should never be assumed that simply because an individual doesn't see the world that they can't fully participate in it. Learning to play a musical instrument is just one way of reaching out through the world and bringing the world as we know it to life.

Hetzler's Fakebook is a resource for beginning through intermediate fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin and dulcimer players who want to learn traditional music.

The basic premise of this site is this: If you can hear the music, adjust the tempo and see it written out you will learn faster. The site features over eighty pages of information and five hundred tunes. It offers an adjustable tempo MIDI player, standard notation sheet music and provides contextual history where available.

Click this link to visit Hetzler's Fakebook:

Thirty-Three Guitar Lessons for the Blind and Visually Impaired

These are links to some guitar lessons on Blink Nation, a social network for the blind. They have been written by Corey

Guitar Lesson 1: Introduction

Guitar Lesson 2: Tuning The Guitar

Guitar Lesson 3: Basic Finger Exercise and Intro to Intervals

Guitar Lesson 4: Intervals Continued and a New Finger Exercis

Guitar Lesson 5: Identifying Notes on the Guitar Neck

Guitar Lesson 6: Using a Pick

Guitar Lesson 7: A More Complete Notation For Blind Guitar Players

Guitar Lesson 8: The C Major Scale

Guitar Lesson 9: The C Major Scale as a Finger

Guitar Lesson 10: Taking Our Picking More

Guitar Lesson 11

Guitar Lesson 12

Guitar Lesson 13

Guitar Lesson 14

Guitar Lesson 15

Guitar Lesson 16

Guitar Lesson 17

Guitar Lesson 18

Guitar Lesson 19

Guitar Lesson 20

Guitar Lesson 21

Guitar Lesson 22

Guitar Lesson 23

Guitar Lesson 24

Guitar Lesson 25

Guitar Lesson 26

Guitar Lesson 27

Guitar Lesson 28

Guitar Lesson 29

Guitar Lesson 30

Guitar Lesson 31

Guitar Lesson 32

Guitar Lesson 33: Q & A with Corey

No-C-Notes: Alternative Method of Reading Music

No-C-Notes Bridges the gap between Visually Impaired Musicians and Printed Music Notation. No-C-Notes is an easy and cost effective way of using sheet music notation. Used by the singer, songwriter, teacher or instrumentalist who wants their sheet music spoken, not written. There is no need to learn clefs, staffs, ledger lines, note heads and flags and other visual sheet music notation as this method reads the actual tone and timing without having to know its placement on paper. Whether used for voice, keyboards, guitar, strings or woodwinds, it gives musicians a common verbal language of reading their sheet music to one another.

No-C-Notes audio music description can replace printed, Braille or Big-Note sheet music. Musicians listen to their sheet music being read verbally in the same manner as you would use an audio book. Readings can be saved any audio method such as MP3, CD or audio cassette.

Currently available is lead sheet music in audio MP3 format, along with a how-to CD included audio descriptions of 166 chords. Other services include transcribing music score and instruction books into an audio book complete with midi recording of music along with reading of all tones, timing, phrases, chords and lyrics along with any fingerings, accidentals and text. Seminars available across the U.S. for music teachers and educational institutions. Contact Christina and check out the website for offerings.

No-C-Notes Music
Christina Cotruvo
PO Box 3583
Duluth, MN 55803

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