Showing posts from July, 2011

Chat with Your Facebook Contacts through AIM Instant Messenger

I remember reading a press release from AOL that talked about them working with Facebook and their Chat application programming interface to develop a way to integrate Facebook friends with an AOL buddy list. I knew AOL's Instant Messenger (AIM) was known to work very well with screen readers. I had not been keeping up on the latest versions of AIM, so I decided to download a fresh copy, create a username and password, and see if I could really chat with my Facebook friends with ease. Getting Started with AIMTo get started, I opened up my browser. I use Internet Explorer 8 on a Windows XP laptop with Jaws 11. I am sure you'll have very similar results if you use Firefox or Opera with Window Eyes, System Access, or NonVisual Desktop Access. If you are not using the most recent release of your screen reader, you may want to see if there are any scripts available to improve your experience. For all the Mac users out there, it is my understanding that AIM for the Mac is accessibl…

Keep Your Pet Dog Dry with the Dogbrella

Hmmm, walking around with your dog can be a very pleasant experience, especially when the weather is fine and dandy. What happens when the skies go all dark, and the heavens pour? Most folks would then stay at home and do some obedience training or play fetch, but those who are adamant on going out for walks will definitely find the Dogbrella! This inverted bumbershoot forms a waterproof cocoon around a small dog, enabling canine and master to maintain a walking regimen in inclement weather. The umbrella's 29" diameter canopy is made from 8-gauge clear polypropylene that sheds rain, sleet, and snow while allowing an unfettered view of your walking companion. Not only does the umbrella eliminate the excuse "it's too wet for a walk" from a dog owner's lexicon (to the delight of most canines and the amusement of most spouses), it prevents moisture from getting spread throughout the home, along with the unpleasant scent of a wet dog. The tip of the umbrella hoo…

SpeedDots Clear Embossed Screen-Protectors Help Blind/Visually Impaired Navigate iOS Devices With Ease, a California-based company, announces the official release of the SpeedDots Screen Protector, a tactile approach to Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch for those who are blind or have low vision, permitting easy navigation and orientation to some of Apple's most popular touch-screen devices. Using single dots to denote the virtual keyboard, along with a few commonly-found buttons and controls, blind/low vision users can input information more quickly and efficiently than ever before. "All of our employees are blind, and we all use iPhones," says company founder, Doug Langley, "Apple's Voiceover screen-reader makes all of these devices accessible out of the box. We wanted to find a way to not only make iOS devices even more efficient, but simultaneously strive to bridge the gap for blind people transitioning from other platforms who may be reluctant to embrace a touch-screen environment." The small, Sacramento-based company has two versions…

Slide, Twist 'N Solve: A Tactile Brain Teaser from APH

Have fun challenging yourself or your friends while improving your sensory development and shape identification!The attached pieces of this accessible puzzle easily slide and twist. Raised tactile patterns make it easy to identify various patterns; high contrast colors make it ideal for those with low vision. Compare your results to the solution key attached to the back!UsesFine motor developmentMotor planningTactile stimulationSensory developmentMatchingHand-eye coordinationShape identification/discriminationProblem solvingFun!WARNING: Choking Hazard—Small Parts. Not intended for children ages 5 and under without adult supervision.Recommended ages: 6 years and upNot available with Quota funds.

Catalog Number: 1-03991-00
Click this link to purchase the Slide, Twist 'N Solve: Tactile Brain Teaser.

APH Shopping Home: American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
Toll Free: 800-22…

Making Notes A Matter Of Record

Most blind persons--and many dyslexic students as well--rely heavily on audio recording for capturing lecture information. Many will record the entire lecture, while others will quietly whisper notes of the kind they might write with pen or pencil if they were sighted. In my experience as a rehabilitation counselor--and also as a "taker of notes," I have found that note taking has major advantages over recording the entire event. In most cases, taking notes makes the note taker an active participant, rather than merely an equipment attendant. This is because one's mind must be "turned on" along with the recorder. Note taking enables the user of such notes to distill the information conveyed during meetings or lectures down to essential points that should be understood and/or retained for future reference. At review time, you will find that a digital recorder can hold the notes of many lectures. This makes the process of reviewing for an examination much more ef…

Outdoor Talking Products

Grilling and Swimming, two great ways to get through a hot summer day. I can't think of a better backyard activity than swimming in the pool, and cooking a great meal on the grill. Here are some talking products that will make both activities easier for people who are blind or visually impaired. Talking Pool/Spa ThermometerThis unique thermometer will actually speak either the pool or spa and the ambient temperatures every hour! Imagine being able to get a water temperature update at the top of the hour when your getting ready for the day, or at night when you're planning on swimming or relaxing. If you would like to hear an update before the hourly announcement is made, simply press the Talking button, and the unit will announce the water and ambient temperatures. In addition to the hourly announcement feature, there is also an alarm feature that will announce the current time and both the probe and air temperatures repeatedly for the first minute, and then it will anno…

Food Safety Tips

There are three Main Rules for Food Safety:

Keep everything clean in the kitchen.
Keep cold foods cold.
Keep hot foods hot.

Beware of hidden dangers

^DBL Spoiled Food and Food PoisoningSpoiled food is easy to spot since it usually looks and smells bad, but food poisoning is another story. Food poisoning is a bacteria that cannot be tasted, seen, or smelled. The following points will help keep a person safe:

Always use paper towels when working with, or cleaning up after raw meat and even vegetables. Vegetables maybe shipped from other countries and some of their safety standards are not as strict as the United States.

Keep pets out of the kitchen while cooking, especially if they are generally outdoor animals.

Keep kitchen linen's washed regularly since bacteria tends to hang out in sponges, towels and cloths that are used over and over. Throw out dirty or mildewed dish sponges or clean them in the dishwasher.

Clean and wash hands with soap, that says "antibacterial".

Always wash…

Must Haves for Any At-Home Chef

By Mike Lansing With the holidays on their way soon, many people will be beefing up kitchens to handle the increased demand for 'fit for a king' meals. Not being a professional Chef shouldn't stop you from being able to cook like one. But, you'll need the right tools to create those tantalizing dishes. Read on and find out the five tools that no kitchen cook should be without.

Mixing BowlsMake sure that you have a good, quality set of mixing bowls on hand - the bigger the better! Many dishes need to be beaten, blended or mixed. You'll be glad you didn't skimp on the mixing bowls when you need to perform any of those tasks. Most professional chefs prefer to use stainless steel mixing bowls. However, there are many quality plastic sets available, like the ones made by OXO. But be aware that plastic bowls can become hard to clean over time, especially if used for heavy duty sauces, and may need to be replaced.

Pre-Seasoned CookwareCast iron skillets, pots and pans …

Talking Cooking Thermometer from APH

Use this large-display talking thermometer for cooking, hobbies, gardening, and much more!Easy to UseSimply press the on/talk button on the front and within one second the thermometer is readyApply probe to medium to be measuredWait a few seconds to allow probe tip to reach full temperaturePress the same on/talk button to hear the temperatureAlways clean probe after each useSlide probe into convenient protector provided to store for next useFeaturesSpeaks the temperature at a touch of a buttonEasy-to-read LCD Display, large 3/8-inch digits, great for low vision users!Accurate temperature reading within secondsSelect Fahrenheit or Celsius with a touch of a buttonContoured design fits comfortably in your handAutomatically turns off after 10 minutes to maximize battery lifeHinged battery door, permanently connectedRequires 2 AAA batteries (included)Measures 9.25 inches long x 2 inches wide.Note: This thermometer is not for medical use and is not available on quota.

Catalog Number: 1-039…

Braille Institute's VisionSim FREE App for iPhone, iPad and Android Devices

Braille Institute has launched a mobile app that they hope you will find useful when talking with families, friends and other professionals about the effects of vision loss. Braille Institute's VisionSim FREE app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices was developed to allow people with healthy vision to experience the world through the eyes of a person experiencing one of four degenerative eye diseases: macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts. The mobile app works by using the phone's camera function to simulate varying degrees of vision loss. It was created with the input of industry leaders as well as doctors who ensured accuracy in the simulations.

For more information on how to download the app from Apple or Android markets, click here: Contact:

Nancy Niebrugge
Asst. VP of Programs and Services
Braille Institute
741 N. Vermont Avenue, LA, CA 90029
Phone: 323-663-1111, ext. 3113

Light Boxes: Materials, Activities, and Guides from APH

When used with unique sets of materials designed by APH, Light Boxes help students use their residual vision by developing awareness of light, color, and objects. The Light Box and materials assist in the instruction of tracking, scanning, eye-hand coordination, visual discrimination, and visual perceptual skills.REVISED! Light Box The newly revised Light Box has a lighted translucent white work surface, providing a high contrast background for opaque materials and a source of illumination for colored transparent and translucent items. Includes dimming control to meet the needs of individual students. The Light Box can be used flat or tilted at three angles. Built-in ledges hold overlays in position. Cool, fluorescent bulb is housed in a tough plastic body measuring 25 x 15 x 5 inches. Includes cover.ImprovementsNow 29% lighter, weighs 9 1/2 lbs.Brightest setting using dimmer control is now 15% brighterPower now provided by an included AC adapter; can be used internationally**Adapter …

GAMES for People With Sensory Impairments

A valuable book that initiates exploration and stimulates the reader’s creativity and resourcefulness!Physical education teachers and activity/recreation directors find GAMES for People With Sensory Impairments: Strategies for Including Individuals of all Ages to be practical, relevant, and realistic. Adapted physical education (APE) professors find it to be a valuable tool when teaching future APE teachers. For novices, this publication provides a wealth of information on what to do, how to do it, and why. The authors, Lauren Lieberman and James Cowart, draw on their extensive experience in teaching students of all ages who have visual impairments, blindness, deafblindness, and multiple disabilities.The book's Game Finder helps teachers locate games and activities that are appropriate for their students. The Game Finder Key identifies each game by name, category, sport skill, physical and motor fitness, and fundamental motor patterns and skills. The games and activities included …

The Blind Chick’s Walk Through Comic Con 2011

Fashion from the Geeks by Sassy Outwater I wasn’t planning on being there—that’s what they all say—but received an unexpected (but much appreciated) invitation to attend San Diego Comic Con this weekend. I was a Comic Con virgin, and boy was I in for quite the ride! For those not geeky enough to know what Comic Con is,it’s basically a big big media and geek fest where people go to celebrate comics, TV, anime, video games, fantasy and scifi books, or anything historic, out of the ordinary or just plain weird. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s a veritable buffet of possibilities for blind people… that is, if you walk around with a friend unafraid of approaching costumed geeks and saying loudly: “My friend is blind. Can she feel you up?” Translation: “My friend is blind. Can she touch your costume?” I touched knights in full armor (which they made themselves),helmeted stormtroopers from Star Wars, giant two-legged long-haired bears, TiFighters from Star Wars, the baroness from …

Cordless Phones for the Home That Talk

NOTE: This is just a sample of the phones you'll find at that feature talking caller ID. For more options, click this link to visit and search for the word "talking" in the search box. Accessories and additional phone systems can be found there. Note that not all features of the following phones are accessible. Navigating menus might not be possible by someone who is totally blind.
Panasonic KX-TG6445T DECT 6.0 Expandable 5-Handset Cordless Phone System with Dual Keypad, Talking Caller ID, Answering Machine and Talking Alarm Clock Overview: DECT 6.0 Technology means less Interference: Engineered to work in 1.9GHz frequency, our DECT 6.0 phones won't conflict with common wireless devices such as 2.4GHz routers, wireless keyboards and mouses, microwave ovens and other household items. And because it's digital, you'll enjoy long range and clear sound while deterring eavesdropping.
Call Block: Store the Caller ID info of any and all unwan…

My Favorite Scrap Books

by Donna J. Jodhan As long as I can remember, and with or without sight, scrap books have always been one of my favourite pastimes. When I was a kid, my cousins used to clip all of my favourite pictures and photos out of magazines and newspapers and then patiently paste them into scrap books for me. I only had to ask and Nancy and Brenda would do it for me. There were pictures of the Kennedy family; in particular the Kennedy brothers. The Osmonds, and the Royal family. I could barely see these but it did not matter. I had to have them. Later on, my best friend Charlene continued the tradition for me and my favourites expanded to include Paul Anka, Englebert Humperdink, Julio Iglesias, Wayne Gretzky, Princess Diana, and of course my hero Pierre Trudeau. I expanded my favourites when I got my vision through a cornea transplant and for 25 glorious years I was able to cut and paste for myself. There were many other favourites that I collected as well. I collected memorabilia on…

Socializing in the Workplace

by Donna J. Jodhan For a disabled employee, socializing in the workplace can often be very challenging; but at the same time, it can also be a challenge for the mainstream employee. For the disabled employee, the question in one's mind is how much assistance could they ask for before it becomes either a nuisance or an annoyance and for the mainstream employee the question would be how much assistance should they be offering before it too becomes either an annoyance or a nuisance. Socializing in the workplace should not be limited to just thinking of it as hanging out at someone else’s office or cubicle. No, it should be expanded to think of it in other ways. These would include: Having lunch together at the company's cafeteria or out at a restaurant.
Attending a company function
Taking part in outdoor events One of the things that I found most interesting when I worked for a company was having to find ways to negotiate a buffet table. Some coworkers were very conscious of…

Behind the scenes at APH: Reflections on my experiences as an Executive in Residence

Jane Erin Jane Erin, Ph.D., The University of ArizonaIn the spring of 2010, I began to talk with APH personnel about how I might gather data related to student performance on the Woodcock-Johnson III (WJIII) achievement test, which had recently been published in braille. I had no inkling that this project would lead to the unexpected opportunity to become an Executive in Residence during 2010-1011. It was a little like winning a trip to Disneyland, with the promise of new adventures in the development of materials and equipment. Was I visiting Fantasyland, Adventureland, or Tomorrowland? What wild rides would I experience? And what would I discover about the larger-than-life characters that I had met each year at the Annual Meeting of APH?As I complete my experience now as the fourth Executive in Residence at APH, I still view many aspects of my experience as a visit to a magical place. APH graciously accommodated my preference for intermittent visits to Louisville during 2010-2011. …

Tennis SERVES Teaches Tennis to Students With Visual Impairments

The mission of Tennis SERVES is to teach people who have visual impairment or blindness to play and enjoy the game of tennis, with a dream of one day seeing tennis played in the Paralympics. Sejal "Sage" Vallabh, a Massachusetts high school tennis player, discovered tennis for the visual impaired while working a summer internship in Japan.Last November, APH Project Leader Tristan Pierce received an email message from Ayako Matsui, Secretary General for the Japan Blind Tennis Federation and co-author with Tristan on APH’s 30-Love Tennis manual, about a young woman in the Boston area who wanted to teach tennis to students with visual impairment. Tristan contacted Sage to let her know who in Massachusetts had purchased APH's 30-Love Tennis Kits. Since then, Sage organized her Newton North High School teammates to volunteer and teach students in the Boston area. Read about this remarkable group of teens who have introduced tennis to many of their visually impaired and blind…

A Note from Dr. Jane Erin

To the Staff at APH, As an Executive in Residence at APH during 2010-2011, I want to express my appreciation to all of the staff for your thoughtfulness and hospitality during my time in Louisville. Even though my experience took place during one- or two-week visits throughout the year, every return trip felt like coming home. APH is a model of collaboration and high quality work. The care that goes into the conceptualization and planning of each product is extraordinary, and employees seem constantly committed to the common goal of creating excellent materials to promote learning. As a visitor, I always felt welcomed and included. Project leaders made time to spend with me, no matter how busy they were; Ralph, Bob, and Tuck made sure that I was able to see how the processes of planning and production developed throughout the organization. People whose names I did not know greeted me warmly in passing, and people whom I had known for years took on new dimensions as I realized the s…

A STEPP in the Right Direction for Accessible Textbooks

The STudent E-rent Pilot Project (STEPP) is an eTextbook rental program offering cost-effective textbooks that "all" students can read. Cost-Effective: Save an average of 50% or more off the retail cost of a new hardcopy textbook purchase.
Convenient: Access eTextbooks on almost any device, anytime, anywhere.
Conscious Choice: Practice environmental stewardship; save our trees.
Accessible textbooks for the blind and visually impaired. STEPP was launched by the Alternative Media Access Center, in partnership with CourseSmart and the AccessText Network, through a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education (DoEd). This program is designed to meet the textbook rental needs of any postsecondary student and aims to help improve low-cost access to higher education textbooks for all students, including those with print-related disabilities. STEPP leverages the expertise of its three collaborative partners to offer …

How a Blind Gamer Plays Zelda by Ear

by Jason Schreier When Terry Garrett plays Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, he pays close attention to the videogame’s sounds. The beep of a blinking bomb, the desperate cry of a friend in need, the pounding of a Mudokon’s hammer: They all provide crucial details that enable Garrett to get through the game’s punishing levels. When he needs orientation, Garrett listens carefully for “sound landmarks” like running water or footsteps shifting from grass to earth. And as he works his way through the side-scrolling puzzler’s world of weird creatures, Garrett pieces the noises together and sees the game’s levels laid out in his mind. Proper listening is essential for Garrett to enjoy the game — after all, he is blind. Garrett lost his sight in 1997 at age 10. That same year, his older brother brought home Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee. Entranced by the game’s charming narrator, Abe — a Mudokon slave with his lips sewn shut — Garrett set out to make his way through Oddworld’s danger-filled settings…

Repair Your Mobile Device at

iRepairFast is a company that provides repair services for owners of portable devices. They have five years of proven experience and specialize in iPhone, iPad and iPod touch repair. The company can replace smashed or cracked screens using original OEM iPhone replacement screens and free USPS shipping is provided along with a guaranteed 24-48 hour turnaround for all repair jobs. The company also purchases used phones. If you are thinking about replacing the mobile device you already have with a more powerful one, then iRepairFast will make the transition that much smoother by buying yours on the spot, and for good money too. All you have to do is to head to the "Cash for Phones" menu and specify what type of phone you want to sell. The company will then get back to you with a quote. It is also worth noting that the company can also repair Android phones, Blackberry devices and Windows phones. If you have one of these, simply pick the "Custom Repairs/Android Repairs&q…

The Wild Blue and Purple Yonder: Blind chicks and makeup mess- ups: apprehension and prevention

by Sassy Outwater If You Give A Blind Chick New Makeup… She’ll Paint Her Face Purple: it’s the Pitfall of Pretty Colors. They look good, when they stay where you put them. When they don’t… the results can be catastrophically funny, or downright humiliating. Nothing like doing your best to gussy up for a date, and finding out your best efforts made you look like a Halloween costume gone horribly awry. As you probably can guess… The title of this article did happen. I recently attended a party with some friends and decided to use a new shade of pretty purple eye shadow. I used a cream to powder base eye shadow from Bare Minerals, the same type of eye shadow I’ve been using for over a Year. Just a new color. Safe bet? Wrong! I wear the brand routinely, I know what I’m doing with a makeup brush—that’s supposed to exempt me from having to worry about excess powder falling on my cheeks. I’d feel it if it fell. Right? Um… not so much! My friend was gently scrubbing at my face with a ma…

How to Listen to Just the Audio from a Video Podcast on Your iPhone

Sometimes you're not in the best situation to watch video podcasts, and if you can't see, why stream video unnecessarily and waste your battery by letting the video play on-screen. Rather than wasting a bunch of time syncing multiple copies of the podcast and switching between them, you can use this simple home button shortcut to solve the problem. All you have to do is play the video podcast like you normally would, lock your iPhone to pause it, and then double tap the home button to bring up your iPod controls. If you initiate playback from the lock screen, the video will start to play but you won't be able to see it and you can listen to just the audio as if there were no video at all.

New Ways of Identifying

by Donna J. Jodhan Now that I am barely able to see, I constantly have to find and come up with new ways of identifying things to others. It is no longer possible for me to identify things by color so I need to let my fingers do the identifying for me. The other day for example, I told my brother that his sweater was hanging in the coat closet and when he asked me which sweater we both hesitated at the same moment. His first words were "O, you don't know which one" but my comeback was "the woolen one, with long sleeves, and workings on the front." When I was able to see, and had enough vision to identify colors, my mom and others usually identified things to me through color. It was the yellow book, the black shoes, the bottle with the green liquid, the tin with the red top, and so on. Now, I have to come up with other ways to identify things to them and in turn, they are constantly coming up with ways to identify things to me. We usually communic…

Navigating the Workplace

by Donna J. Jodhan One of the first things that a disabled employee needs to do before starting a new job in unfamiliar surroundings is to learn how to navigate their workplace. For those who are blind or visually impaired, it is even more crucial and I can tell you from first hand experience that it really helps to learn the layout of one's workplace before starting off on the first day. No shocker and no shaker. For someone with no vision, the techniques used are a bit different to those with a bit of vision and in this editorial, I am going to list some of the more general things that the employer should or could do well to be aware of and I am going to present the facts as they pertain to blind and visually impaired employees. For the employer:Make sure that the path to the employee's cubicle or office is clear of obstacles that could be a detriment to the employee; such as boxes, cases, ladders, etc. If ladders or tables need to be placed in the path, then the em…