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Showing posts from April, 2011

Let's Learn Shapes with Shapely-Cal

Blind children learn by touching. And what better way to learn about squares, triangles, circles, and wavy lines than by getting acquainted with Shapely-CAL! Let's Learn Shapes with Shapely-CAL, developed by Creative Adaptations for Learning (CAL), is a book of poetry - in large print and braille, plus raised, textured illustrations that can be read by blind children and adults without the intervention of a sighted person. Learners can “see” how shapes combine to form objects, complex scenes and actions, while enhancing pre-braille readiness skills. In this delightful 21-page tactile shape book, Shapely-CAL rises up to introduce your child to all the many shapes that make up our world - from raindrops to footballs. Every child in the classroom, blind and sighted, and every member of the family will have hours of fun with Shapely-CAL.

Click this link to purchase Let's Learn Shapes with Shapely-Cal from National Braille Press.

Teaching Children who are Blind to Understand Reading Concepts

by Kristie Smith-Armand, M.Ed, CTVI

A few weeks ago I was honored to be a presenter and a vendor at TAER’s conference in Dallas, Texas. Before I signed up to be a trainer, I asked myself what I would want to hear as a participant and thought about what I was most passionate about along with my friends who are vision teachers. One thought kept pounding into my brain- “Teaching a child who is blind to truly understand concepts during reading.” My mother, who is a vision teacher as well as a reading specialist, has pretended to be a seesaw when Tim and Pam rode on one in the Patterns series, played hide and seek and role-played many other scenes that were being portrayed in a book. I learned once again from my mother about how important understanding is before you can ever ask a child to read with fluency and understanding Braille. During my training on this topic, I quoted the best: Dr. Phil Hatlen, Dr. Virginia Bishop and Myrna Olson on Braille reading. Amazingly each had similar…

How to Pick Up Dog Poop

How to Pick Up Dog Poopfrom wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Unsightly, smelly, a breeding medium for germs and disease, and a huge hassle on the sole of a shoe, dog poop is not a desirable feature in any neighborhood. Dog feces plays a significant role in water pollution,[1] especially in cities, and the bacteria that makes its way into streams, lakes and the water table can make people sick. Indeed, a single gram of dog feces can contain 23 million fecal coliform bacteria that can cause cramps, diarrhea, intestinal disorders and kidney problems.[2] In 1991, the EPA even designated dog poop as a "nonpoint source of pollution" putting it right up there with oil and toxic chemicals.[3] Yet about 40 percent of Americans don't clean up after their dogs![4] And in Buenos Aires, a latecomer to cleaning up dog poop from the streets, an estimated 650 people end up hospitalized every year from slipping on dog poop.[5] Removing dog poop and …

Outline Maps of the United States in Braille and Large Type

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State Maps CollectionBold line/tactile maps of U.S. regions and states!Each State Maps Collection is a set of embossed and printed outline maps for a region of the United States. Use as starting points for lessons on individual states. Add to the images with tracing wheel lines, craft ink, glued-on textures, or whatever materials you regularly use to produce tactile graphics. Add braille labels as needed. Because of their printed outlines, these maps are also useful to low vision readers.Three printed/embossed copies of each state are provided in a kit, as well as a regional map showing all the states in that collection in relation to each other. Also included is a set of print-only maps that can be copied or used as masters for "swell paper" tactile graphics.The four State Maps Collections are:Northeast Region: 1-04110-00 -- Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, …

Dress for Hot Success: Spring and Summer Fashion Trends

By Sassy Outwater Ladies and Gents: The key to 2011 fashion is time travel! The days of comformity have passed, ushering in the dawn of self-expression and offering up something from each of the past five decades to spice up your style. Whether you like a little sixties glamour, some seventies sophistication or a little punk hippie bohemian… Go for it! Retro, unique and chic are the rules for Spring and summer clothes and accessories this year. Which is also great for your closet, since mixing and matching eras is the name of the game. The one big no-no this year is too much of anything. Less is more. Here’s a quick breakdown of the hottest clothing and accessory trends for guys and gals, with a few blind-friendly style tips. Gentlemen: Back away from those skinny jeans and get ready to rock your flares. Flare-legged jeans and pants are in this Spring for you. Summer suits in lighter richer tones broadcast fun and business simultaneously, so don’t be afraid to practice knotting a ti…

Bureau of Engraving and Printing Launches EyeNote App to Help the Blind and Visually Impaired with Money

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) has developed a free downloadable application (app) to assist the blind and visually impaired denominate US currency. The app is called EyeNote(tm). EyeNote(tm) is a mobile device app designed for Apple iPhone (3G, 3Gs, 4), and the 4th Generation iPod Touch and iPad2 platforms, and is available starting today through the Apple iTunes App Store. EyeNote uses image recognition technology to determine a note's denomination. The mobile device's camera requires 51 percent of a note's scanned image, front or back, to process. In a matter of seconds, EyeNote(tm) can provide an audible or vibrating response, and can denominate all Federal Reserve notes issued since 1996. Free downloads will be available whenever new US currency designs are introduced. Research indicates that more than 100,000 blind and visually impaired individuals currently own an Apple iPhone. The EyeNote app is one of a variety of measures the government is working…

Medicare Rights University

The Medicare Rights University (MRU) provides expert online education on Medicare benefits, regulations and consumer rights. It is an excellent learning tool for professionals, caregivers and consumers. MRU uses the many resources of the Medicare Rights Center to deliver detailed, comprehensive instruction. These resources include a national Medicare helpline, an education department and a team of legal experts. Courses and webinars cover such topics as: Enrollment periods
Medicare costs
Skilled nursing facilities
Part D drug coverage
Preventive care
Medicare eligibility
Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage
more … Available Course Medicare Basics This course provides you with the information and skills you need to help older and disabled Americans understand the Medicare program. Throughout this course, you will learn more about the details of Medicare costs and coverage, enrollment and options.
Understanding Medicare Options This course provides you with the information and skills…

Money-Saving Uses for Mouthwash

Mouthwash is useful for so much more than just rinsing plaque away! When it was first invented, it hailed as a surgical antiseptic, and as such it has unique properties that can save you lots of money. So before you head to the store for an athlete’s foot treatment, sanitizer, or astringent (or over a dozen other things), check out this list to see how you can replace them with mouthwash. Note: For almost all the tips here, you want to use mouthwash that is alcohol-based (that’s one of the secret ingredients), and in most cases without sugar. With its antiseptic properties, mouthwash is brilliant for cleaning and light medical uses. It's also great for travelers, since it's so multifunctional. Check out these creative uses for mouthwash that will keep you fresh, in more ways than one. Nail Fungus Eradicator: Nail fungus problems can make your toenails or fingernails thick and discolored, and once you’re infected it’s incredibly difficult to eradicate. Make up a 50/50 solutio…

Deciding When to Take Your Guide Dog With You

by Alena Roberts As you’re reading this, I’m likely either on a ride or waiting in line at the new Harry Potter theme park in Orlando. I’m here on vacation, but my guide dog Midge is not with me. I decided that it was best for both me and her that she stay home, even though she would be welcome at the theme park. With that in mind, I decided to write about how guide dog users decide when and when not to bring their guides with them. Obviously, every user will be different, but I think it’s important that as guide dog users, we remember that our dog’s feelings about the places we take them do need to be taken into consideration. In the almost 6 years that I’ve had Midge, I’ve only left her for multiple days three times. On each occasion, she has been left with someone I trust and someone she trusts and knows. Here are the things I consider when deciding to leave my guide for an extended period of time. Will I be going somewhere where I plan to use my guide, or will I primarily use a…

ViewPoints with Nancy and Pete Torpey

Each week, Nancy and Pete Torpey use this program to share their life experiences and information they have gathered over the years living with vision loss - from the everyday to the high tech. The conversational nature of the show will have listeners connecting with them right away. The Torpey’s both have PhD's in Physics and retired from Xerox Corporation after over 25 years in corporate research. Nancy is sighted and Pete is blind, and they've been learning together for many years. Pete and Nancy have two adult children, and they love to travel, hike and enjoy music together. "We started this show at the encouragement of the station manager of our local public broadcasting service. The half hour show airs weekly on the radio reading service, has been picked up by several affiliate stations (including the Canadian reading service), and is available as a podcast."

Click this link to visit the ViewPoints website: http://wxxi.org/reachout/viewpoints.html.

APH Talking PC Maps Software

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APH Talking PC Maps Software provides spoken and on-screen map data and 12 million points of interest for U.S. states, territories, and Canada on one flash drive. It speaks on any Windows® computer, whether or not the computer has screen reading software installed. APH Talking Maps is a joint venture of APH and the Sendero Group LLC.This software does not give information about a user's actual physical location; it is not a GPS system. Instead, it provides a verbal description of physical space and what it contains. It gives persons with visual impairments the same information available to sighted persons through incidental learning when they look at maps, street signs, and signage on buildings.This software helps your student:Virtually explore streets and learn their layout by moving to the next intersection or by making left or right turnsSet a destination and track the distance and compass heading to that destinationSave, reverse, review, and print or emboss pedestrian or vehic…

About Face

by Kiesha Meikle When it comes to the magic that is make-up, it really is amazing what you can achieve with the right products and the right technique. After all, where would Marilyn Monroe have been without her signature beauty spot, or Sophia Loren without her winged eyeliner and would we have been so taken with Judy Garland’s perfect pout if she had not found ‘her’ shade of red lipstick? This said, there is a real difference between loving a look and being able to recreate it on yourself. And it really doesn’t matter if you are blind, partially sighted or fully sighted, the truth is, unless you are a trained make-up artist you will smudge, drip, smear and slip many times until you are able to master a new technique and actually make it your own. For this reason, I learnt long ago to invest in a multipack of moist correction wipes (or wet wipes to you), which are now an absolute essential part of my make up bag. Sometimes, it is not how you put your make-up on; rather it is how y…

Fashion forecast

by Kiesha Meikle Oh the fickle world of fashion. Once again the season is changing and with it the trends. Have you been keeping up? Well don’t panic if you haven’t, because if you have your own personal style then that’s ok - following trends can simply be a way of finding new elements to add to your look. However, if you are keen to stay at the forefront of fashion then be warned, as timing is everything. Did you know that wearing a new trend too soon is just as bad, if not worse, than wearing something considered passé? I made that mistake at London Fashion Week… nuff said. I thought I would give you a heads up so you are prepared for Spring/ Summer 2011, and not a minute before. If you have a carer, family or friend shopping for you just pass this on, that way you can blame them if you are arrested by the fashion police! CraftKey elements: Tassels, feathers, crochet, macramé and appliqué, shift dresses, plaiting, weaving and knotting. Top tip: This is not a trend to be overd…

FreePhone2Phone Makes Free 10-Minute International Calls, After an Ad or Two

For the cost of listening to one or two audio ads, 20 seconds or less each, you can make a free international phone call. It only lasts 10 minutes, but for certain types of phone users, that's more like a feature than a restriction. And it actually works. The hardest part of using FreePhone2Phone is likely entering in the international and area codes to complete your call. Find your local access number on FreePhone2Phone's site, dial it, listen to an ad, enter your number, then (perhaps) listen to one more ad. Then your call is connected, and that's about it. FreePhone2Phone is, as you guessed, free to use in the U.S., with advertising. Only a few countries allow for calling cellular phones, but most land line numbers are free to call. Calling the same number twice in one day also cuts the call limit to five minutes.

Click this link to visit http://www.freephone2phone.com.

Nature's Finest Bounty

Nature's Finest Bounty is a new website offering both premium organic coffee and an opportunity for blind and visually impaired entrepreneurs. The coffee is available in ten flavors and is available in both whole bean and ground form. Money raised benefits the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan. In addition, the site is looking to sell products made by blind entrepreneurs ranging from preserves and soaps to music and artwork. For more information on this, email marywurtzel@att.net.

Click this link to visit the Nature's Finest Bounty website.

Capture the spirit of Nobel achievement Through Sound

Alfred Nobel was both a creative genius and an idealist. The inventor of dynamite and over 300 patents left an enduring legacy to the world by establishing a fund which would award annual prizes in five specified fields: physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace. Economic science was added in the 1960s. But what does it take to win a Nobel Prize: genes or genius, education or environment? On this website, you can hear Nobel Prize-winners speak! Listen to the sound samples on this page with Windows Media Player. You can hear: Harold Pinter (1930 - 2008)
Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856 - 1924)
Theodore Roosevelt (1858 - 1919) Click this link to hear the sounds of Nobel Laureates.

How to Create Accessible Microsoft Office Files

By Cory Bohon Accessible Office Documents Picture Whenever you are creating content for mass consumption (be it students, co-workers, or the Web), you should consider the accessibility of what you are creating. For example, if your content has audio, have you created a transcript or captions so that people who are deaf can access it? If your content has important visual information, have you formatted this information in a way that is compatible with the assistive technology used by people who are blind or have low vision? Microsoft Office files are the predominant document types handled by individuals in both academia and the corporate world. Files with .doc/docx, .ppt/pptx, and .xls/xlsx are a proprietary format, so how can you guarantee the accessibility of these files when sharing with others? As it turns out, the newest versions of Office are accessibility-friendly, allowing you to create accessible content. Furthermore, these versions even have an evaluation feature that will …

Cardnap: an Ebay for Gift Card Balances

As every store is eager to let you know, gift cards can't be refunded for cash. So what should you do with that nice-but-misguided plastic? Cardnap offers a spot to sell your balance at a slight loss, as well as pick up other, more helpful gift cards at a discount. Cardnap's primary function is to report on the best discounts, and the best selling prices, at gift card swapping spots like Plastic Jungle, Cardpool, and others. Type in a store name, browse through the discounted offerings, or hit the Sell section to see how much you can get for your remaining Cheesecake Factory balance. Free to use, the site claims no affiliation with any of the sites it scans, and there's a handy balance checker you can use for any card.

Click this link to visit http://cardnap.com.

What Records to Keep Year-To-Year

A Tax Tip Article from The Tax Institute at H&R Block. You have forms, statements, policies, records and more.  Keeping it all organized can be quite a chore.  What do you keep?  And for how long?  Here are a few tips for managing your document storage. Keeping tax records in case of an auditAccording to the IRS, you should keep your tax records from 3 to 7 years depending on your situation.  Additionally, the IRS recommends keeping copies of your W-2 forms until you’re eligible for retirement.  Having these documents can help you be prepared in the event of an audit.  In fact, many people do not realize that a tax examiner will not have your old returns.  Instead, they will ask you to bring your past tax returns to the audit. If you need a copy of an old return, your H&R Block Tax Professional can help.  Or if you did your taxes online with H&R Block At Home, you can access a past return at http://www.hrblock.com. You can also request of a copy of a past return from …

Learning Ally is the New Name for Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic

Name change reflects nonprofit’s strategy to support a broader population of individuals with learning differences and reading disabilities. Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), a 63-year old nonprofit organization serving over 300,000 individuals across the U.S. with learning differences and reading disabilities, announced that it has officially changed its name to Learning Ally, effective April 11, 2011. The new name is accompanied by a tagline, "Making reading accessible for all", and was selected after months of research and focus groups were conducted with hundreds of RFB&D student members, parents, volunteers, education professionals and other stakeholders. “Changing the name of a long-established national institution such as RFB&D is not something we entered into lightly,” says Andrew Friedman, Learning Ally’s President and CEO. “Our members themselves were the key driver of this transformation. For one thing, our mix of users today includes …

One More Look at The Adventures of Abby Diamond

by Kristie Smith-Armand, M.Ed, CTVI

Abby and the gang go to the beach and find more mysteries than they ever counted on. “Another Holiday” We were on a break from school when I got a call from Alison. “Hey, Abby,” Alison said. “Got any plans for the next few days?” Man, I loved when I heard these words from my friend. You see, Kaitlyn, Alison’s mother, had sent us on some really cool trips like to Hawaii and Charleston, South Carolina. “No,” I blurted too quick. “Are we going somewhere?” Alison began laughing. “Abby, you can always make me laugh and the answer to your question is yes although we won’t be traveling very far.” “Yea, I knew it!” I squealed. “Where are we going this year?” I asked. You see another great thing about traveling with a rich movie star was that she would foot the bill regardless of where we were going. “Well, Kaitlyn’s movie premiere is in Houston Saturday night, so since we are off this week, she said that we could go with her. We’ll driv…

The 6Dot Braille Labeler

by John Christie In the past, blind people have used a variety of methods to put Braille labels on a variety of devices. Most of them required you to use a stylus and slate. However, the 6dot, made by 6dot Innovations, may revolutionize this process. The light-weight product comes with a 6-key interface. This ensures that you can produce all the Braille characters and contractions that a regular Braille writer would produce. The 6dot Braille labeler produces crisp Braille, which is great for use in harsh environments. Each label is cut so that you can remove the adhesive backing.  It comes with an integrated cutting system so that scissors are not necessary. This makes it easy to label a variety of products such as a microwave oven, CDs, or a filing system that you would use at work to keep papers in alphabetical order. In addition, if you live in an apartment, you might want to label your apartment number on your mailbox. The 6dot also has a light touch keyboard. This means that y…