Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

(See the end of this page for subscribing via email, RSS, browsing articles by subject, blog archive, APH resources, writing for Fred's Head, and disclaimers.)


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Respect in a Cubicle Environment

by Jane Thompson

Cubicle Manners and Etiquette

An exceptional article recently landed on my desk by Ellen Reddick. Ellen specializes in training, consulting and coaching in business professionalism and communications. The article tackles the difficult subject of cubicle manners and etiquette. Anyone who has worked in a cubicle knows that frequent interruptions, distractions and lack of privacy go hand in hand with an open space.

Reddick suggests that companies establish basic cubicle and etiquette rules. Ask for input and agreement in a meeting so everyone is included and on board. Write them down so they can be handed to each new employee. Post them on your internal Website for reference and refer to them when a situation requires a reminder. The most important thing to remember is, if you are the boss follow and respect the agreed upon cubicle etiquette. No one is exempt from common courtesy.

Suggested Cubicle Manners and Etiquette

  • Don’t eavesdrop. Although you do not mean to eavesdrop, often you simply can’t help it. When someone adjacent to you asks someone a question for which you know the correct answer, resist the urge to volunteer this information. This action will only confirm that you were eavesdropping, even if it was unintentional.
  • Be invited. Do not enter another cubicle unless you are invited. Do not stand outside a cube to conduct a conversation. Converse either in your cube or in that of your colleague.
  • Don’t be obnoxious. Do not use sign language or whisper to attract the attention of someone who is on the phone. Return later to carry out a conversation if you see someone dialing, checking e-mail or voicemail or involved in another activity.
  • Talk softly. Be aware of how your voice carries. Always use your “library voice” when speaking in a cubicle environment.
  • Do not play with electronics. Avoid using your speakerphone for conversations and voicemail retrieval. If you listen to music, use your headphones.
  • Keep private matters private. Do not exchange confidential information in a cubicle. If you would not want it published in the local newspaper, do not discuss it in your cube. Try to find a meeting room, or take your conversation outside.
  • Stay home. If you are ill, stay home. No one likes a martyr. No one appreciates taking your cold or flu home to his or her loved ones.
  • Keep snacking to a minimum. The smell, noise and mess of snack foods may be offensive to others. Also, some people are allergic to certain snacks such as peanuts, and popcorn can make others nauseous.
  • Decorate with taste. Whether you furnish your office space with lava lamps and throw pillows or company policy and throw charts, remember that your cube is viewed by others throughout the day.
  • Prevent distractions. If possible, arrange your desk to face away from your cubicle opening. Less eye contact could mean fewer interruptions.
  • Do not sneak up on others. Not everyone has a cute rear view mirror mounted on his or her monitor. Unless you can bring someone out of cardiac arrest, follow the practice of knocking on a cube wall, saying, “Excuse me, do you have a minute?” or likewise letting your presence be known.
  • Be cautious with plants etc.. Although serving as good noise buffers, plants tend to drop leaves and leak water – and not only in your cubicle. Don’t overdo it, a conservative approach is usually better than cultivating a jungle. Remember that others may have allergies to certain plants.
  • Respect privacy. When working in a shared space, suggest to the others that you take lunch breaks at different times to allow each of you some quiet time.
  • Avoid eating strong foods at your desk. If possible, eat your Limburger cheese sandwich or roasted garlic and onion pizza in a cafeteria or break room.
  • Get some exercise. Resist the urge to ask your cubicle neighbor a question “over the wall.” Get up and walk around the corner, send an e-mail or instant message, or call on the phone to ask if your colleagues are available. Besides disturbing them, you will be disturbing everyone else by blurting out your query or comment.
  • Mind your own business. Use a conference room phone, other remote phone or cell phone (outside the office) for private conversations. No one cares to listen to your wedding plans, confrontations with your spouse, etc.
  • Be aware of all scents. Take into account body odor, candles, flowers, perfumes, food etc. Scents travel as easily as sounds over cube walls and if your fellow co-worker has allergies, the odor may make them ill.
  • Sounds. Turn your cell phone ringer off and please do not leave it on your desk to vibrate away when you are gone. Don’t be discourteous to others with sounds. Turn your computer sounds down and be aware of the noise you create and make adjustments for your neighbors.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Homemade Baby Wipes

by Shannon Dunlop

Store-bought wipes have alcohol and other chemicals. Go the inexpensive and healthier route. Your baby will be relieved he/she will not get diaper rash!

You will need a roll of Bounty half sheets paper towels, baby oil, baby shampoo and water. The Bounty because they won't rip when wet.

  1. Fold about 80 half sheets: Fold each half sheet almost in half and stack them in a Rubbermaid container. You want them almost in half so you can peel them off one at a time.
  2. In a bowl, mix 1 1/2 water, 1 TBS baby oil, 1 TBS baby shampoo.
  3. Pour mixture over paper towels in container and put the lid on to let them absorb the liquid.
  4. Put some into a zip lock baggy for your diaper bag.

Curb Cuts No Good for Me

by Donna J. Jodhan

Curb cuts have turned out to be a big blessing for many; for those in wheelchairs, moms with strollers, and delivery staff hurrying along with heavy parcels. However, for blind persons, it is the opposite.

Why is this? Because when we go tapping along with our canes we depend heavily on landmarks such as; ridges, bumps, and anything else that is raised or has a slight step down or sink to help us identify where we are. Many of these curb cuts do not help us because the sidewalks slope down into the street and if we are not careful then we can easily find ourselves in the middle of the street before we know what is going on. So often, I have heard others like myself complaining about this and I am not sure what the answer is. Curb cuts benefit more persons than they do not and as blind persons are often in the minority, then we have to find ways to deal with this.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all:
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility:
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns:

No Way to Verify

by Donna J. Jodhan

We are living in an information society and a knowledge based economy where one heavily depends on the other. Without information we are nowhere and without knowledge gathered from information we are unable to make decisions of any kind. So, just imagine not being able to make vital decisions because we are unable to verify the relevant information.

Does this circumstance really exist? Indeed, it surely does and it is the case for millions of blind, sight impaired, and deaf/blind persons worldwide. Why does this circumstance exist? Well, it all has to do with the inability of blind, sight impaired, and deaf/blind persons not being able to verify online information. Why is this? Because a lot of the information is inaccessible to these persons in alternate formats and more often than not, they need to depend on a sighted person to read it to them. This means that there is no mechanism for these persons to verify the information because they are unable to read it for themselves.

What does all of this mean? It means that without any dependable way of verification, blind, sight impaired, and deaf/blind persons are practically held to ransom so to speak. They are unable to verify information and accordingly they are unable to make safe and sound decisions for themselves. It's something like this: If you are unable to read something for yourself it only goes to say that you really cannot verify it. So then what's next? A call for information to be produced in alternate formats in a timely manner.

What is meant by the term alternate formats? In Braille, large print, and in e text format; that is, HTML, TXT, Word, RTF, and PDF that is appropriately tagged so that screen readers can decipher them.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all:
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility:
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tips to Prep Your Mobile Phone During a Disaster

Here's some great tips to keep your cell phone running for as long as possible.

  • Until you lose power, keep your wireless phone batteries charged at all times.
  • Have an alternative plan to recharge your battery, such as using your car charger or having extra (charged!) batteries.
  • Turn off Bluetooth support to save battery power.
  • Keep your wireless phone dry.
  • Have a family communication plan in place. Designate someone out of the area as a central contact.
  • Program all of your emergency contact numbers and e-mail addresses into your mobile phone.
  • Forward your home number to your wireless number in the event of an evacuation.
  • Sign up for emergency text alerts, track the storm and access weather information on your wireless device.
  • Use the camera on your phone and send photos of damaged property to your insurance company.
  • Use texting rather than calling in an emergency. You’ll have a better chance getting through as well as freeing up voice lines for emergency personnel.

Find a Red Cross Shelter Online or with Your IOS Device

In an emergency, you may find the need to go to a shelter. The American Red Cross website lets you search for open Red Cross shelters by address, city, state, and/or zip code. Shelter information is updated every 30 minutes from the National Shelter System.

Click this link to visit the American Red Cross website to start the search for a shelter in your area.
Click here to download the Shelter View app for your IOS device.

Make Sure You're Prepared for Disaster with a 72-Hour Kit

If you don't have an adequate emergency kit in your home, here's how to put one together so you're prepared in the event of an emergency.

After a major disaster, emergency response units are usually spread pretty thin. Website recommends planning for 72 hours on your own. That means keeping in contact with someone outside the boundaries of the emergency, making a household plan, making your home safe, and putting together a disaster supply kit. will walk you through the entire process, so you can stay calm and collected and make sure you have everything you need, beyond the obvious food, water, first aid, into the other useful items like liquid bleach, duct tape, and a crowbar.

Also note that you can print the entire guide in PDF form—it's probably a good idea to print off a copy and keep it in your kit, especially the "what to do if" section, which offers helpful (and calming) advice for what to do in the event of an earthquake, flood, terrorist attack, contagious disease outbreak, fire, tsunami, and more.

Head over to and the site will walk you through the process of putting together your 72-hour emergency kit, and spread it around to everyone.

How To Make An Emergency Funnel

A funnel can be useful when transferring liquid from one container to another. This is certainly true when the receiving container has an opening that is smaller than that of the sending container. When the person transferring liquid is blind, he may not have the freedom to use both hands to stabilize the container from which he is pouring. One hand will be needed to direct the flow of liquid to the receiving container.

If one has need of a funnel but does not have one readily available, it is possible to make one for emergency use by cutting away the bottom portion of a two-liter soft drink container. Flattening the container makes cutting it with sheers or a paper cutter relatively simple. Then, its flattened walls can be pushed back to their round state.

In most cases this will not be a problem, but since the soft drink containers are made of plastic, be certain that the liquid being poured through the funnel does not contain material that will dissolve part or all of your funnel.

Contributor: Fred Gissoni

Emergency Procedures For The Blind and Visually Impaired

Accommodating People With Disabilities In Disasters: A Reference Guide To Federal Law

The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released a reference guide that outlines existing legal requirements and standards relating to access for people with disabilities. A Reference Guide for Accommodating Individuals with Disabilities in the Provision of Disaster Mass Care, Housing and Human Services is the first of a series of disability-related guidelines to be produced by FEMA for disaster preparedness and response planners and service providers at all levels.

The Reference Guide summarizes equal access requirements for people with disabilities within Disaster Mass Care, Housing, and Human Services functions. The Guide explains how applicable Federal laws relate to government entities and non-government, private sector and religious organizations.

A full copy of the Guide may be accessed at

Other Documents

The United States Fire Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have developed various training manuals that are to be used in emergency situations. The following links will navigate you to the accessible versions of these documents. If you wish to save the documents, please right click on the title and choose "Save Target As.." from the resulting menu.

How to Create an Emergency Road Kit for Your Car

Having an emergency road kit may mean the difference between sitting on the side of the highway waiting for a tow truck or being able to make your way to your destination.

  1. Use a cardboard or plastic box to keep everything in so it doesn't roll around in the trunk and you can easily find what you need.

  2. Buy a first aid kit, or create one yourself. Items to consider are bandages, first aid spray, roll gauze, cosmetic puffs or squares (for applying antiseptic), antihistamine, medical tape, aspirin, tylenol, or some ibuprofen.

  3. Include a AAA or roadside emergency card with a calling card (at least $10). Make sure you have the card information in braille or large print. Don't forget your magnifyer.

  4. Throw in all the necessary equipment to change a tire: working jack, spare tire (with air in it!), lug nut wrench or tire iron, pipe for leverage. Most of this should already be stored in its designated place in the car's trunk or hatchback.

  5. Include some kitty litter for traction on ice or snow.

  6. Have a flashlight and radio with fresh batteries.

  7. Include triangle reflectors and a strobe light. Some have options such as a magnetic base, 3 color lenses, built-in flashlight and a tripod. Small and light, most use 1 D battery & can be seen for 3 miles.

  8. Include rags and a funnel.

  9. Purchase all the necessary fluids: 2 qts. of oil (10W-30), a gallon of water and antifreeze, brake fluid, power-steering fluid (if applicable), and automatic transmission fluid (if applicable).

  10. Add flat and Phillips-head screwdrivers, pliers and an adjustable wrench (only to be used in an emergency. Adjustable wrenches can easily round the head of bolts).

  11. Spend the extra money and include cables no shorter than 12 feet. You never know the configuration of the vehicle you may come across.

  12. Pack a jug of water and a cup (or even powdered drink mix) in the trunk. It's refreshing if you're stuck for a while. Also, leaving and occasionally changing a case of soda is handy for less critical thirst-quenching occasions.

  13. Include Duct tape which can be used for leaking hoses, etc.

  14. Include a small box of wash & dri towels.

  15. Toss in work gloves or latex gloves, a blanket, spare fuses and a can of Fix-a-Flat.

If traveling in the winter, include a coffee can with candles, paper towels, and maybe a bag of coffee. If the car isn't running, the candles will generate some heat and light. They could also be used to heat the can for coffee. Don't forget to include a lighter or matches.

You may be way out somewhere and decide to nap with the engine running for heat or air. Keep an alarm clock in your car to wake you.

If a belt breaks, an old pair of pantyhose can be used as a replacement.

Invest in a mobile phone charger that plugs into the cigar lighter socket of your car. Murphy's Law ensures that the more severe your emergency, the flatter your mobile phone battery will be.

Talking First Aid Kit

Carl Augusto of the American Foundation for the Blind Blog posted the following about this great product.

I think it's always important to keep safety in mind, so I thought I'd let you know about a new product from intelligentFirstAidT, the First Aid "talking" Kit. The Kit includes nine injury-specific packs to help treat common injuries, including Bleeding, Head & Spine Injury, and Shock. The packs are individually labeled and color-coded, which I love because it would help someone with low vision easily distinguish the packs. The best part, though, is that with the press of a button, the audio component attached to each card provides step-by-step instructions to manage the wound. Situations often become chaotic when a loved one, an acquaintance, or even you, experiences a minor injury. With this tool, people with low vision can remain calm and have an idea of how to handle things without worrying about reading any print.

Check out the intelli gentFirstAidT website to purchase the product or get more information. The site even allows you to listen to a sample of the audio component of the kit.

Packing Your Diaper Bag

By Kim Prissel

While sometimes it feels like your diaper bag outweighs your baby, it is essential to pack necessary items for your outgoing trip. Leaving the house with the right items will help you accomplish the things you need to do away from the house with minimal difficulty.

Depending on the length of time you will be away from home determines how much you will need to pack. Having a roomy, expandable bag is the first step. Packing it in an organized manner is the next step. Being able to find an item in the bag with one hand can make a diaper change go much more smoothly. I've listed some items to pack in your diaper bag. Obviously, depending on the age of your child, this list will decrease:

Quick trip to the store with your baby

  • 2 diapers
  • Small packet of baby wipes
  • Changing pad
  • Pacifier, if used
  • Packet of crackers or cookie
  • Bottle, formula
  • Bib
  • Small toy that will clip onto shopping cart

Day trip or day with sitter

Add these items to the above list:

  • Information card
  • More diapers
  • Second small packet of baby wipes
  • Changing pad
  • Baby food, spoon
  • Bottles, formula
  • Bibs
  • Small hand-held toys
  • Blanket to nap on
  • Spare change of clothing
  • Spare pacifier, if used
  • Plastic zipper bags for transporting dirty items home

Week with sitter: Pack this into a bag that stays with the sitter all week

  • Diapers
  • Large packet of baby wipes
  • Diaper cream for rashes
  • Spare changes of clothing
  • Baby food, spoons, bibs
  • Bottles, formula
  • Toys
  • Blankets

    Additional items at parent's discretion

  • Acetaminophen
  • Gas Drops
  • Teething rings
  • Teething liquid

When your baby has a regular sitter for the week, it is much easier to only transport soiled items home each day. It is also helpful to have your sitter write down questions or events that occur during the day (such as feeding and nap times) and collect the slip with your baby. Pick up time can be hurried or distracted and things may be forgotten. This way Mom or Dad have time to answer questions, check out small injuries that may have occurred, and celebrate the new things that have happened that day.

Your "Information Card" should have the following items listed:

  • Emergency phone numbers, preferred hospital
  • Work, home and cell phone numbers
  • Allergies
  • Medications given and dosages


  • Secondary phone numbers (grandparents, or friends)
  • Insurance information
  • Blood type

Keep your Information Card in a sandwich-size plastic bag so it remains legible. Anytime the information changes, update your card. This card is invaluable during emergencies.

Forethought when planning a trip away from home, no matter how long it will be, can make for an easier day for you and your baby. It also gives peace of mind for you and your sitter when leaving your child for the day. With your sitter prepared for any occasion, your workday will have less phone calls, less worry, and more productivity.

Article Source:

Emergency Numbers Built into Every Cell Phone

World-Wide Emergency Number for Cell Phones

The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out of coverage area of your mobile network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked. Go ahead, try it out.

Emergency Battery Power

Imagine your cell battery is very low, you are trying to make a call but the battery just doesn't have enough juice. To activate that dead phone with an emergency charge, press the keys *3370# and your cell will restart with reserve power. The cell phone will immediately show a 50% increase in battery life. This reserve will be recharged the next time you charge your phone.

ICE Your Cell Phone (In Case of Emergency)

A Cambridge-based paramedic has launched a national campaign with Vodafone, a cell phone company in the UK, to encourage people to store emergency contact details in their mobile phones.

Bob Brotchie, a clinical team leader for the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust, hatched the plan a few years ago, after struggling to get contact details from shocked or injured patients.

By entering the acronym ICE for In Case of Emergency - into the mobile's phone book, users can log the name and number of someone who should be contacted in an emergency.

The idea follows research carried out by Vodafone that shows more than 75 per cent of people carry no details of who they would like telephoned following a serious accident. Someone might have "mom" in their phone book but that doesn't mean they'd want her contacted in an emergency, they may have chosen their wife instead.

Almost everyone carries a mobile phone now, and with ICE emergency workers would know immediately who to contact and what number to ring. The person on the other end may even know of their medical history."

By adopting the ICE advice, your mobile will now also help the rescue services quickly contact a friend or relative - which could be vital in a life or death situation.

The campaign is also asking people to think carefully about who will be their ICE partner - with helpful advice on who to choose - particularly if that person has to give consent for emergency medical treatment.

As many people say, they carry mobile phones in case of an emergency, it seems natural this information should be kept in the phone, available for fast retrieval.

How to assist people with disabilities in a disaster

People with disabilities who are self-sufficient under normal circumstances may have to rely on the help of others in a disaster.

Provide Assistance

Do you know someone with a disability?

  • People with disabilities often need more time than others to make necessary preparations in an emergency.
  • The needs of older people often are similar to those of persons with disabilities.
  • Because disaster warnings are often given by audible means such as sirens and radio announcements, people who are deaf or hard of hearing may not receive early disaster warnings and emergency instructions. Offer to be their source of emergency information as it comes over the radio or television.
  • Some people who are blind or visually-impaired, especially older people, can be extremely reluctant to leave a familiar surroundings when the request for evacuation comes from a stranger.
  • A guide dog could become confused or disoriented in a disaster. People who are blind or partially sighted may have to depend on others to lead them, as well as their dog, to safety during a disaster.
  • In most states, guide dogs will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with owners. Check with your local emergency management officials for more information.
  • People with impaired mobility are often concerned about being dropped when being lifted or carried. Find out the proper way to transfer or move someone in a wheelchair and what exit routes from buildings are best.
  • Some people with mental retardation may be unable to understand the emergency and could become disoriented or confused about the proper way to react.
  • Many respiratory illnesses can be aggravated by stress. In an emergency, oxygen and respiratory equipment may not be readily available.
  • People with epilepsy, parkinson's disease and other conditions often have very individualized medication regime's that cannot be interrupted without serious consequences. Some may be unable to communicate this information in an emergency.

Be ready to offer assistance if disaster strikes

If a disaster warning is issued, check with neighbors or coworkers who are disabled. Offer assistance whenever possible.

  • Prepare an emergency plan.

    Work with neighbors who are disabled to prepare an emergency response plan. Identify how you will contact each other and what action will be taken.

  • Evacuation.

    Be able to assist if an evacuation order is issued.

  • Provide physical assistance in leaving the home/office and transferring to a vehicle.

    Provide transportation to a shelter. This may require a specialized vehicle designed to carry a wheelchair or other mobility equipment.

  • Self-Help Networks

    Self-help networks are arrangements of people who agree to assist an individual with a disability in an emergency. Discuss with the relative, friend or co-worker who has a disability what assistance he or she may need. Urge the person to keep a disaster supplies kit and suggest that you keep an extra copy of the list of special items such as medicines or special equipment that the person has prepared. Talk with the person about how to inform him or her of an oncoming disaster and see about getting a key to the person's house so you can provide assistance without delay.

(Information for this article was obtained from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.)

Are You Ready for a Disaster?

The US Department of Homeland Security has launched a website to help people prepare for disasters. The Ready Campaign website,, helps people get started by taking three simple steps: Get a Kit; Make a Plan; and Be Informed. The site also features video demonstrations. Individuals can call 800-BE-READY for more information.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Want to See What Your Website Looks Like to the Blind? Meet the Fangs Screen Reader Emulator

From the author, Peter Krantz:

In 2005 I wanted to learn more about how screen readers worked. I discovered that the most commonly used tools were too expensive for web developers to buy. Alas, many of my web developers friends knew little about how their websites appeared to a user using a screen reader. By developing Fangs for Firefox in my spare time I hope to make it easier for people to understand how a web page may appear in a screen reader and make the web a better place for everyone.

Click this link to learn more or download the Fangs Screen Reader Emulator.

Sudoku Partner 6x6

Finally a tactile sudoku – have fun while exercising your brain!

Sudoku Partner 6x6 is a portable, reusable board for setting up and solving 6x6 sudoku puzzles. Its advantage over other sudoku solving boards is that it allows you to mark possible answers in each box to help you keep track of them, without hundreds of separate pieces. It is also useful for those who don't know braille but still want a tactile system for solving the puzzles.

Like a standard print sudoku puzzle, the board has an array of small and large rectangles. The small ones are called boxes and the large ones are called blocks. Each block is made up of six boxes—three boxes across and two boxes high. Tactually, the boxes are outlined in smooth raised lines and the blocks in heavier dashed lines.

Classroom teachers using sudoku in school may want to take steps to introduce students thoroughly to the solving board and the terminology before jumping straight into solving puzzles. It is especially important to make sure students can track left to right, up and down, and at the same time look for information tactually. Building success through gradual steps should keep the activity enjoyable for students, too. For these reasons, the booklet that comes with the kit includes a suggested teaching progression.


  • Two puzzle-solving boards
  • Booklets with rules, examples, and puzzles in print and braille
  • 150 puzzles provided with answers, at three difficulty levels

Recommended ages: 10 years and up.

Catalog Number: 1-03719-00
Click this link to purchase Sudoku Partner 6x6.

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: 800-223-1839
Phone: 502-895-2405
Fax: 502-899-2274
Web site:
APH Shopping Home:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Skype WiFi iOS App Provides Pay-Per-Minute Global Wireless Hotspot Access

Skype has launched their “Skype WiFi” app on Apple’s iOS App Store which grants access to over 1 million hotspots worldwide, for a variable fee. The app charges users Skype accounts, meaning hotspot access is paid for using available Skype Credit.

While it may not have much use if you’ve already got a decent data plan, the app is bound to be well-received by travellers who may incur hefty data roaming charges when using the Internet on their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad abroad.

There are no data caps or time limits, meaning users can use as much bandwidth as they like and only pay for the time spent online. Access rates will differ depending on location and service provider, with the base rate set at $0.06 per minute. A browsing session accessed via Skype WiFi will last 30 minutes, before the user is asked to reconnect to continue.

Getting online is easy enough, simply download the Skype WiFi app, login with a Skype username and password and tap Go Online. Provided the account has available Skype Credit (purchased directly from Skype) then the user will be able to surf at a wide variety of hotspots. Before connecting, the price per minute of the hotspot chosen will be displayed, to avoid any nasty surprises.

Click this link to check out the Skype WiFi for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store.

Applying for Disability Benefits for Children under Age 18

This document explains the steps involved in applying for disability benefits for children. An application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and a Child Disability Report are required. The Child Disability Starter Kit answers questions about applying for SSI for children and includes a worksheet that can help you gather the information you need to apply.

Click this link to view the The Child Disability Starter Kit.

Monday, August 22, 2011

How Blind People Read Books

by Donna J. Jodhan

When it comes to blind people being able to read books, we do it in several different ways. Here are a few examples:

  • We can read it in Braille,
  • We can listen to it on CD, cassette, or digital cartrage,
  • We can use our computers to download books and listen to them using special access technology called screen readers,
  • We use specially developed book readers to read books that have been formatted into DAISY formats,
  • We can also use scanners to scan books and listen to them from our computers.

A lot has been done, and continues to be done, when it comes to making books more accessible to blind people.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all:
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility:
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns:

When No One is Around

by Donna J. Jodhan

O boy! When no one is around to tell me what is happening, what is going on, or what is amiss! That is the world for a blind person like me.

When no one is around and I receive mail; I can usually scan it and decipher it but the scanner is not always accurate and I have to spend more than a bit of time to read it.

When no one is around and my screen reading software suddenly stops speaking to me; I have to frantically search for a neighbor or a friend to tell me what is going on.

When no one is around and my Internet connection unexpectedly dies; I need someone to tell me what's happening with my modem's lights. I have to hunt for sighted help.

When no one is around and I accidentally drop something on my carpet; if I can't find it then I need to either use logic to try and determine where it is, use my cane to try and locate it, and failing this I need to call in sighted help.

When no one is around and I need to set my chiming clock because the clocks either need to be put forward or backward; I need help to set the time because there is no way for me to feel the hands or the minute and hour indicators.

When no one is around and I need to sign a document; I have to find someone to help me locate the correct spot to write my signature.

When no one is around and I either spill things all over my counter or on the floor; all hell breaks loose and I have to call in the sighted brigade.

That's the picture for me as a blind person; but I cope with it and do the best that I can. Sometimes I can laugh at myself but at other times I am a bit less pleasant about it.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all:
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility:
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns:

The Brailler Depot

From the website:

The Brailler Depot was established to assist those in the industry of Assistive Technology. Our Mission is to provide Braille and Low Vision solutions that are efficient, affordable, and easy to use. We believe in the importance of braille literacy.

In the U.S. there are currently 1.3 million people who are visually impaired. The major benefit of special technology is that it aids to bridge the gap between everyday information and communication resources (computers, conventional books, etc.) that the majority of our society can use, and what the visually impaired can use.

The Brailler Depot founder, Knick Johnson, has worked as an electronics specialist at a leading industry recognized special technology company for over a decade and has extensive knowledge and expertise in Braille Technology, braille machines and blind equipment. With this wide range of knowledge and expertise as a foundation, we believe that we can offer solutions to anyone from the person that is just beginning to the technical veteran or company providing braille transcription services.

Products include:

  • Braille Printers
  • Video Magnifiers
  • Handheld Magnifiers
  • Braille Displays
  • Notetakers
  • Daisy Readers
  • Reading Machines
  • Perkins Braillers
  • Software
Click this link to visit or call 973-272-7667.

VA Paralympic Program Office Launches Website for Disabled Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has launched its Paralympic Program website as part of VA’s ongoing commitment to support the rehabilitation and recovery of disabled Veterans through participation in adaptive sports.

One of the highlights of the website is the “Success Stories” page, which features disabled Veterans and their stories of how participating in adaptive sports has positively impacted their lives. Veterans who participate in adaptive sports at any level, as well as Paralympic competitors, are encouraged to submit their stories and share their challenges and triumphs with the entire Veteran community.

The site also provides users with a comprehensive overview of the benefits of disabled Veterans participating in adaptive sports, sports by disability, training allowances, the VA Paralympic Grant Program, and resources for caregivers and VA clinical personnel. Another resource is the “Sports Club Finder” feature, a searchable database developed by U.S. Paralympics that connects disabled Veterans with local sports programs throughout the country.

Click this link to visit the website

Create Keyboard Shortcuts to Favorite Folders in Windows

Got a favorite folder that you're constantly opening in Windows? Want a faster way to get to the files than opening Windows Explorer and navigating to the folder?

Essentially, all you need to do is:

  1. Right-click on a folder or application from Windows Explorer or the Start menu to send it to the desktop as a shortcut.
  2. Go to the desktop shortcut's properties (right-click > properties) and click in the "Shortcut key" field.
  3. Press the key combination you want (e.g., Ctrl+Shift+P).
  4. Hit Enter or click OK

Running Shoe Finder

If you're in the market for a new pair of running shoes, this handy tool from Runner's World is a great place to start. Answer a few questions about your physical characteristics and your running style to get customized recommendations.

Getting professionally fitted at a sports shop or doctor's office is your best bet (if you're a serious runner) but for a do-it-yourself option, this is a thorough interactive shoe advisor. If you don't know answers to some questions like how high your foot arch is or what your motion mechanics are, you can follow the links to view videos on the subject.

Once you've answered all eleven questions, you'll get a selection of sneakers recommended for you, with the option to compare up to four side-by-side or tweak the criteria for the selection. Seems like a better way to shop for running shoes online than just reading reviews. Note that not all aspects of this site may be compatible with your screen reader.

Click this link to check out the Running Shoe Finder from Runner's World.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Store Knives Upside Down to Avoid Dulling the Blades

If you have a knife block and keep your knives in their slots, one simple way to keep the knives from resting on their blades and dulling as you slide them in and out is to turn them over and store them with the blade facing up.

It's a simple kitchen tip, but it's one that can keep your knives from dulling as you take them out of the knife block or put them back when you're finished using them. It also keeps the knives from resting in the block on their points or on their blades. Granted, if you get a magnetic knife rack, you can store your knives without worrying about the blades at all, but this is an easy way to keep using your knife block and prolong the life of your knives between proper honing or sharpening.

Is It Clean Mom?

by Donna J. Jodhan

This is one of my favorite questions and I constantly need to keep doing this because I am unable to decipher or tell when certain things are not clean. When it comes to dishes, glasses, and pots and pans, I can usually tell if things are clean by running my fingers along surfaces. If I feel bumps and sticky stuff, then I know that it is not clean but when it comes to stains it's a different story.

In the kitchen, stains are my main challenge because it is difficult to tell if a stain is there unless it is sticky or bumpy. When it comes to clothes, the same thing applies. When it comes to carpets and floors and furniture, it's all the same. So, if mom is around I can ask her but if she is not then I have to be super careful. Walls and doors are also something for me to be careful with. My fingers can usually tell if surfaces are dirty but in many cases it is impossible to feel spots and stains.

I'd like to see the development of some sort of device to tell blind persons when stains and spots are present. In the meantime, you can learn more about how blind persons deal with such things as spots and stains by reading the "Household hints" or "Housekeeping" catagories of Fred's Head.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all:
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility:
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns:

Distance Learning for the Blind

by Donna J. Jodhan

Call it a double edged sword; but distance learning for the blind can be viewed in two very different ways. On the one hand, it could open up tons of doors of opportunity for blind persons but on the other hand, it could pose new challenges for those with a vision loss.

In general, distance learning has helped to make education much more available and accessible to those living in remote areas, to those who have difficulty attending physical classes, and to those who are unable to afford the luxury of travelling from their homelands to developed countries. A great boon and a bridging of the gap for millions and distance learning is definitely growing in popularity.

For those who are blind and sight impaired, distance can be described as a double edged sword. On the one hand, yes, it makes education more available to these persons but when the websites that offer these courses are not accessible, or when the software being used by the distance learning providers are not compatible with the access technology being used by the blind and sight impaired student, here is where the barriers are. In addition, when the website designers and developers are unable to grasp the meaning of accessibility, blind and sight impaired students have to go the extra mile to explain their environment.

It is my experience that in several cases, there is a mixed bag when it comes to how the professors and tutors view the whole subject of accessibility. That is, making it possible for blind and sight impaired students to pursue distance learning. It should be easier for blind and sight impaired students to be able to access electronic texts but fairly often, this is sadly not the case. I'd like to suggest some tips for anyone who is reading this.

  • Electronic texts need to be made available in a format that could be read by blind and sight impaired students. These students use screen reading and magnification software to read. Blind students who use screen reading software need to be able to access textual formats; they are unable to read images, graphics, and icons. Texts in word and RTF or TXT formats are preferable.
  • Websites should be designed so that blind and sight impaired students can interact with them independently; without having to seek sighted assistance. Forms should be designed so that blind and sight impaired students can complete them independently; without sighted help.

Of course there are other things that I can suggest but for now I think that's a good start.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all:
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility:
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Needs Assessment of Social Security Administration Beneficiaries with Disabilities

I was asked to post the following information from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

Are you a person with a disability (including cognitive, hearing, vision, or physical) who receives benefits from the Social Security Administration? Benefits can mean SSI, SSDI, or retirement.

If so, we’d like to talk with you!!

Researchers at the UCSF Disability Statistics Center want to know more about your experience applying for Social Security benefits and your interactions with the Social Security Administration. We are conducting a needs assessment for the Social Security Administration so that they can communicate better with their beneficiaries who have disabilities. Phone interviews will be approximately a 30-45 minutes long.

For more information, or to participate, please call this toll-free number: 855-209-9538. Please speak clearly and slowly to leave your name and number. A UCSF researcher (Mel) will get back in touch with you to tell you more about this study. You may also email:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Website That Makes Sure You Go Back to School Without Forgetting Anything

Packing for a first year or return trip to college or a residential school program is stressful enough without trying to make sure you remember everything you needed to pack, buy, or have delivered to you when you arrive. College Packing List generates a checklist for you so you won't forget something important.

The webapp starts you off with the "dorm" category, and lets you add items to your shopping or packing list that you plan to take with you. Switch categories to kitchen, bathroom, classroom, or clothing for more suggestions on things you should take with you. Sign up for an account to save your packing list and your packing progress, or build a shopping list with suggested items you buy to take with you.

College Packing List doesn't do anything special that a spreadsheet or word document can't do if you put in the effort, but if you don't want to start from scratch building a packing list, it can be a huge help.

Click this link to visit College Packing List at

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Swirly Mats: Bringing the World to Our Kids

Picture of the Swirly Mat Set by Kristie Smith-Armand, M.Ed, CTVI

Since I am the teacher of the visually impaired, who usually has the pleasure of servicing our infants who are blind or visually impaired, I am always on the lookout for exciting new materials. Imagine my delight when I discovered a product from one of my favorite catalogs from the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) called the “Swirly Mats”.

Swirly Mats come to you with a protective box and coverings. Each mat is made from plastic with floating beautiful objects.

When you first look at the Swirly Mat, you will automatically place it in front of your eyes and explore the world outside. I have watched adults and children with, or without much sight, pick up the mat and move it around their surroundings while my students who are blind love to feel of the texture of the mat.

Children will often times place the mat on the floor and begin to ‘squish’ the jelly-like fluid with the colorful beautiful shapes furthermore enhancing lower visual and pincher skills.

You will observe different types of mats for different needs. My favorite (although I love all of the mats for different reasons) is the mat for children who have cortical vision impairment (cvi). The colors that are easily identified by the processing system of the brain are the colors: yellow, red, black and white. Since children who have cvi have a visual system that will easily draw them to the colors yellow, black, white and red, the brain easily recognizes the colors (especially if a black or dark blue blanket is placed in the background behind the Swirly Mat).

Another great idea for the Swirly Mat is to place the mat on the Mini Lite Box which illuminates and enhances the high contrast colors.

Therapy makes a huge difference in a child’s quality of life especially during the early years, and when educators and parents use such wonderful items as the Swirly Mat, they are developing bridges in the brain through repetition and quality materials that will develop a child for long-lasting learning.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Cassette Circulation/Storage Containers

Cassette Circulation Storage Containers

For mailing or storing cassettes. Plastic containers with snap closed straps and slots for mailing labels. Embossed: "Free Matter for the Blind or Handicapped."

Six-cassette capacity Container:
Catalog Number: 1-02630-00
Click this link to purchase Cassette Circulation Storage Containers.

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:

Friday, August 05, 2011

Can Blind People Travel?

by Donna J. Jodhan

This is one of the most frequently asked questions that I am asked and my response is this: Sure, blind persons can travel and enjoy what the sighted world does. However, we do things a bit differently. Here's how I do it.

Whenever I travel by plane; I first ask my travel agent to notify the airline that I will need assistance and this has turned out to be not much of a problem. Air Canada has been excellent to me and has provided me with first class services. They have always provided me with end to end services that include checking in, boarding, in flight, and disembarking services.

When I arrive at the airport in Toronto, this airport's special needs services department is ready to help because I have notified them before hand that I would need help from my cab to the airline's counter. I do not know if other airports provide this type of service but if they don't, then I have to depend on sighted assistance for someone to bring me to the check in counter. I find this a bit nerve racking but I have learned to live with it as I am a frequent traveler.

If I take a train, I usually notify the railway company in advance that I would need help so that they can provide me with boarding, in train, and disembarking services. Not a problem for me and whenever I get to a station in Canada, the "Redcaps" attendants are right there to help me from my cab to the ticket counter. Bus services are similar.

So you see, it is not as difficult as you may think.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all:
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility:
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns:

What Do Coworkers Think?

by Donna J. Jodhan

In the normal scheme of things, many persons would often say that they do not really care what their coworkers think about them but for many persons with disabilities, it may be a bit different. Now, when I say this I should probably expand a bit more. Most persons with disabilities strive fervently to ensure that they can fit into the workplace and this includes being able to get along with their coworkers. They often strive a bit harder to accomplish this and very often this means going a bit more than halfway in order to make friends and be able to socialize more freely. I do not want you to consider this as either a shocker or shaker.

I know that for coworkers of blind persons it means adjusting to a different type of worker; one who uses access or adaptive technology to perform tasks. One who gets around the workplace in a different way; through the use of such devices as canes, wheelchairs, walkers, and dogs. One who uses different techniques in order to find their way around. One who uses different techniques in order to socialize in fit into the workplace. One who uses a different set of strategies to interact with their coworkers.

Now, stop for just one minute and put yourself in the shoes of a coworker. What do they really think about all of this? Are they overwhelmed? Are they hesitant to learn how to communicate with a disabled coworker? Maybe and just maybe, could they often have feelings of being overwhelmed and sometimes put upon to go the additional mile to reach out? Or are they okay with all of this? Having worked for three of Canada's best of breed companies, I can safely say that reactions from coworkers are often a mixed bag. In addition, the need to adjust on the part of both coworker and disabled employee is very vital because without this adjustment, the workplace for all parties can often become a tense and unfriendly environment.

Too often, employers tend to inadvertently omit this piece of the puzzle when planning to hire a disabled employee. Relationships among coworkers are very important when it comes to creating a friendly workplace and it is even much more so for interactions between and among mainstream and disabled coworkers. One suggestion would be for some type of education to take place before the disabled employee starts work.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all:
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility:
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns:

How to redeem a code in the iTunes Store

Now that I have an iPad, I like receiving iTunes gift cards. I wasn't sure how to use them, and I thought there might be others who were wondering the same thing, so here's some instructions. How to redeem an iTunes Gift Card on a computer

  1. Install the latest version of iTunes. You can download iTunes (it's free) from the Download iTunes webpage. If iTunes is already installed on your computer, check your version and update if necessary.
  2. Open iTunes.
  3. In the Source list (on the left side of the iTunes window), click iTunes Store. If using a screen reader, tab until you hear options and use your arrow keys to get to the iTunes store.
  4. In the upper-right corner of the iTunes Store window, click the Sign In button. Screen reader users will tab until landing on the button. If you are already signed in, skip to step 6.
  5. Sign into the iTunes Store using your iTunes account information.
  6. In the QUICK LINKS window in the right-hand column, click Redeem. Screen reader users will tab to the Account Menu button and press the spacebar. Choose Redeem from the resulting context menu.
  7. In the resulting screen, enter your 16-digit code which starts with an "X". (If you have an iTunes Gift Card this is printed on the back of the card). Screen reader users will tab through the options and press enter on the Redeem button to add funds.
  8. Once you've successfully redeemed your code, the credit amount will appear next to your account name in the upper-right corner. Each time you purchase items, iTunes will deduct funds from the credit until it's depleted. If a pending purchase exceeds the credit amount, iTunes will ask you to enter a credit card number. You do not need to re-enter your gift card number to make multiple purchases.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Is the “W” in Braille Logical?

We often explain the Braille System by showing how Louis Braille arranged the alphabet into rows of ten. The first row only uses the top two rows of the cell and covers the letters a-j. The second row adds the three dot to a-j to create k-t. And the third row adds dots 3 and 6 to a-j to create the remaining letters. The symbol for “W” does not have the three dot, and is obviously out of order. We often say that there was no “W” in French and that the symbol for “W” was added later.

Note that there is a more interesting and correct answer to the question of why “W” does not follow the logic of Braille’s system. Actually, the “W” was there from the beginning, at least it is included in the first publication of the system in 1829. But it was in the Fourth Row of symbols. That row adds only the 6 dot to a-j and covers nine symbols common to French but not normally used in English, mostly accented vowels. At the end of the fourth row, basically a “J” with the 6 dot added, is the “W.” “W” appeared in French only in borrowed words from English and German, so Braille delegated it to a lower priority role. But it was not added later, it was just very uncommon in French, so was accorded a less important position in his table of symbols.

RNIB guide for museums and galleries

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has produced a new guide in order to help museums and galleries enhance accessibility to blind and partially-sighted visitors.

Shifting Perspectives contains information on how organisations and attractions can adapt services and implement facilities to meet the demands of visually-impaired people. The guidance includes details on how to create an access guide; providing audio-describing exhibits; making information accessible; and providing tactile images and touch tours. Case studies and personal anecdotes are also offered in Shifting Perspective in order to provide examples of how other museums and galleries have implemented measures.

Click this link to visit RNIB's website to learn more about Shifting Perspectives.

How to Practice Airplane Etiquette

How to Practice Airplane Etiquette

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
When traveling by air, you're sometimes forced to rub elbows (literally) with people you don't know. In close quarters and for extended periods of time, a little consideration can go a long way. To make a flight as smooth as possible for both yourself and others (and to avoid dirty looks) practice airplane etiquette as follows.


  1. Carry your bag in front of you and low to the ground as you walk down the aisle in search of your seat. Holding it up and at your sides will inevitably knock seated passengers on their arms, shoulders, and heads.
  2. Utilize the overhead space above your own seat row. Do not place your bags in the overhead at the front of the plane unless you are sitting in that row. Don't put your bag in a bin near the front of the plane for a quick exit -- it means someone else will have to wait until the entire plane has emptied to walk back to get their bag. Taking the storage space of other passengers is rude and can potentially delay departure as they search for storage.
  3. When the flight attendant tells you to turn off your cell phone- TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE.
  4. Keep your chair upright at least until you're told it can be reclined. Don't lean your chair back as soon as you get on. When you do recline your chair, do it slowly. Otherwise, you risk bumping the head of the unsuspecting passenger behind you who's getting something from the bag at her feet, or you could knock over the drink on his or her tray. If possible, wait until beverages are finished being served and cleaned up.
    • Check behind you—is that person tall, or do they have a child on their lap? If so, consider keeping your seat upright out of consideration, especially if it's a short flight. By reclining, you're taking space away from the passenger behind you; you may be more comfortable, but at someone else's expense. You can also ask them if reclining your seat would be all right. If you're someone who can't make yourself comfortable without reclining, then do your best to choose an aisle, bulkhead, or exit row seat when booking the flight so the person behind you has extra space.
    • If you're a tall/big person or have a child on your lap and know that having the seat in front of you reclined will make you uncomfortable, choose a bulkhead or exit row seat (unless you have a child, in which case you should never choose an exit row seat). Not only will you have more space, but the person in front of you will also have more space and may decide not to recline their seat out of consideration for you. If you sit in the middle, however, the person in front of you is cramped, as well, and will probably want to recline their seat, whether you like it or not.
    • If you are traveling with one or more children, keep a close eye on them. Children have a tendency to bump, kick, or yank the seat in front of them without realizing it throughout the flight, which can make the person in front of them very uncomfortable. It's difficult enough to control some children on a long flight, but it's even more difficult to deal with an angry passenger in front of you. If your child(ren) has difficulty flying, do everything you can to relax the child so you do not disturb other passengers near by. Bring plenty of books, games, snacks and other things to keep your child quietly occupied. You can also try walking to the galley area of the plane to stretch your child's legs. Change diapers in the restroom on the plane. In most restrooms there are changing tables and trash bins for diaper disposal. When breastfeeding, use a drape, both for your own privacy and for the comfort of other passengers.
    • If another passenger breaches etiquette by, for example, constantly thumping or yanking your seat back, and refuses your polite request not to do so, don't get any further involved. Ask a flight attendant to handle the situation, and if they can't or even won't (this does happen), ask politely but insistently for the chief flight attendant (purser) to handle it.
    • Don't get drunk during (or before) the flight. You may be having the time of your life, but your fellow passengers may not think so (there are airlines which don't allow any passengers on board suspected of being over the limit on alcohol consumption).
  5. Avoid grabbing the back of the seat in front of you. Grabbing the seat back as you walk in the aisle or in your row, can be unpleasantly jarring to the person sitting in it. Copy the flight attendants who balance themselves in the aisle by grabbing the luggage compartments above their heads, rather than the seat backs.
  6. If you have an empty seat next to you and there is an adult traveling with a baby in lap, it is nice to offer them your seat so they can spread out a little.
  7. Respect personal space.
    • No matter how much you love to make new friends on the plane, the person next to you might rather get some work done, or simply may not feel like being chatty. If a friendly comment gets a minimal answer, take the hint and leave them be. If you're traveling with children, try to avoid letting them think of passengers as playmates. Some passengers will smile to be polite, but may not be interested in playing "peek a boo" with the child.
    • If you want to watch a movie on your personal DVD player, keep in mind your screen is visible to those behind you. If your movie has nudity, graphic violence, etc. it may offend the more sensitive viewers (e.g. children) looking on. Using a smaller, handheld device to view movies, such as on an iPod Touch, may be more practical in this situation.
    • Watch your elbows. If you're reading a newspaper or using a laptop, try not to let your elbows "spill over" onto someone else's personal space. Do your best not to hog the arm rests, especially if the person next to you is in the middle and has limited space to begin with.
    • Make use of your own arm rest and headphone plug outlet. Don't use someone else's because it's more convenient for you.
    • Keep your stuff close. If you put a bag or a jacket at your feet, don't let it spill over onto the legs or feet of the person sitting next to you.
    • If you're stuck in an aisle seat but still want to enjoy the view, don't lean over the person next to you to look out the window.
    • Get your own reading material--don't read theirs. They'll notice, and it's nosy and rude.
    • Pack headphones for any portable electronics, especially games and DVD players. Hearing someone else's music and sounds can be very irritating.
  8. Avoid hogging the aisle. Remember that space is limited on board. Always be swift and alert while putting things in the overhead lockers, as other people need the aisle space to get around you and to their seat. Place the items that you will frequently use in your seat back pocket or under the seat in front of you. Get up to use the lavatory or to walk around only when necessary. Go through your carry-on luggage at intervals. If you need something, think ahead and retrieve items you might need later on during the flight.
    • When you get up, don't yank on the seat in front of you for support; use the seat armrests.
    • If you want to get up but there is one or more passengers between you and the aisle, politely request that they get up to let you pass. Don't try to clamber over them; apart from the discomfort this will inevitably cause, you might injure yourself/them if you lose your balance and fall.
  9. Be considerate of other passengers when you exit the plane. Resist the urge to push your way out first; let those nearest the exit disembark the plane first. When your turn comes, move quickly so people with connecting flights can make it in time.
    • Take care when retrieving luggage from the overhead compartment! It may be positioned to fall on you or someone else.
    • If you have a lot of bulky, heavy luggage in the overhead bin, wait until others have left before standing and blocking other people from leaving the plane (they may have another flight to get to), or ask somebody to help you get your luggage down while everybody is waiting to leave the plane. This will help with traffic flow and allows all passengers to leave the plane as fast as possible.
    • If you know you'll need a connecting flight, think ahead and book your flight early so you can get a seat up front and exit quickly.


  • Make sure that you don't smell overpowering. Wear deodorant, but do not wear a strong perfume or cologne. If you're a smoker, try not to smoke too much the day of the flight. The smell of cigarette smoke can be unpleasant for some people.
  • Always bring a tissue or handkerchief with you in case you sneeze or cough. In close quarters, it's especially important that you don't spread germs.
  • Keep your conversations to a low whisper if you're traveling with someone. If you speak too loudly,you'll interrupt someone's sleep or annoy your fellow passengers.
  • Do not put your feet up on the bulkhead if you are sitting by it. It's ill-mannered. If you must raise your feet, put your bag on the floor and put your feet on that.
  • When movies start, ask the passenger next to you if they'd prefer to have the window shade down. The sun's rays can create an annoying glare on the television monitor, making it harder to see a view from a specific seat in the airplane. The person next to you may or may not be bothered by this; sometimes they'd prefer to have the light from the window.
  • At the baggage claim, stand back from the carousel until you see your bag approaching, then step forward to retrieve it.
  • Listen to the instructions of the flight attendants. The rules regarding no head phones during take off and landing, no cell phones, luggage stored in bins or under the seats, tables stored seat upright are not only for the other passengers, they are for you as well.
  • Make sure you are aware of the new security rules (amount of allowable liquids in a small plastic ziplock bag etc). Security checks are delayed every time somebody tries to get through with items which are not allowed.
  • If you snore, don't fall asleep on the plane, or at least try not to. No one wants to hear snoring during the flight. This is especially important if you are an extremely loud snorer.
  • Remember that babies and children don't understand airplanes and pressure differences in their ears. Even the best behaved baby will cry during the takeoff and descent portion of the flight. Feeding a baby or giving him a pacifier can help; the sucking motion can help equalize pressure.
  • Clean up after yourself. Don't leave your trash stuffed in the seat pocket, blankets and pillows thrown about, crackers littered all over the seat and floor, etc. An airplane seat should be left as close as possible to how it was found. This will make "flipping the airplane" much faster for the maintenance crew and keep flights on time.
  • At security, the fewer "things" you are carrying, the better. Leave all your jewelry, keys, spare change, iPod, phone, newspaper etc, in your bag. If you think your belt might set off the metal detector, take it off before security, put it in your bag, so you can put it back on afterward.


  • Do not pack strong smelling foods (e.g. tuna sandwiches, anything with onions, deli, etc.) to eat on the plane. Your fellow passengers may be sensitive to the smell.
  • Remember that even if you wear headphones while you listen to loud music, your direct neighbor can hear it, and will likely be less than pleased about it. Turn your music player to a more moderate level for the flight.

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Practice Airplane Etiquette. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Can't sleep? What You Need is a Device Running Android and Some Bedphones!

As you might have guessed, these bedphones are made for those people who just have to listen to a book or music before they drift off to slumberland. Of course, it is somewhat difficult to sleep with a pair of headphones on. The bedphones, created by Eric Dubs, have “ear-hook style buds that are extremely thin and held in place by a length of moldable memory wire”.

In addition to these features, it also comes with an app that appears to only be available on the Android platform. According to the Android Market description, it comes with a “Smart Mode” that can shut the music off automatically when you fall asleep. I honestly don’t know how it does this, but it probably has to do with the accelerometer detecting movement.

Also on the Android application is a “Timer Mode” which gradually counts down music volume down to zero as the timer runs down. Then there is the “Basic Mode” that turns the entire phone screen into a giant play/pause button.

Click this link to learn more about Bedphones.

Historic Piano Finds a Home at APH

A senior portrait of Stevie playing the school piano

A moving company from Michigan delivered a unique artifact to the APH Museum in July, a piano from the Michigan School for the Blind. The school opened in Lansing in 1880 and was closed by the state in 1995 due to declining enrollment. The Steinway baby grand from the school auditorium would have been used by many students, including their most famous graduate, Steveland Morris, better known to the world as mega-entertainer Stevie Wonder. A photograph in Ted Hull’s 2000 memoir The Wonder Years shows Wonder and other musicians around the piano, ca. 1965, during a “jam session.” This spring, APH Ex Officio Trustee Collette Bauman, who is with Michigan’s Department of Education Low Incidence Outreach, contacted APH about finding the famous piano a new home.

“I thought it would be a good place to share one of our treasures,” said Bauman.

Installing the piano will require some planning. A section of the museum between the story of talking books and Helen Keller is currently being evaluated. Museum Director Mike Hudson has already been in touch with Hull, a MSB graduate who was Wonder’s private teacher and companion between 1963 and 1969. Wonder’s constant absences from his public school had put him in hot water with both his mother, Lula, and the Michigan Department of Education. His enrollment at MSB and the hiring of Ted Hull solved that problem for Motown Records neatly. Also, we’re learning about the role of Helen “Peggy” Traub, a teacher at the Kentucky School for the Blind who was originally hired to tutor Wonder when he performed in Louisville in 1963. Stay tuned as we work to develop and install this fascinating story.

LouisPlus has been Launched!

We are excited to share with you that LouisPlus--the single search for the Louis Database and NIMAC—is now live! You will now see the LouisPlus link just to the right of the Louis search box on the Louis home page at:

LouisPlus allows you to do one search to locate accessible instructional materials in either Louis or NIMAC, and NIMAC authorized users will be pleased to know that they can click a link within the search results to go directly to the NIMAC record and download the file or assign it to an Accessible Media Producer.

As a reminder, the NIMAC contains NIMAS source files that may be used to create accessible instructional materials. Louis lists instructional materials in student-ready accessible formats. For more about NIMAC please visit

Please call Resource Services at 800-223-1839 ext. 705 for more information on LouisPlus.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Safe Candles for the Blind

by Linda Stewart

Have you heard of Scentsy Flameless Candles? I am a blind consultant. These candles really appeal to me for a number of reasons. First and foremost, all you do to heat the wax is flip a switch. A small lightbulb under the place where you put the wax heats the wax to a temperature that will not burn you even if you stuck your finger in it after its been on for hours. Each wax bar lasts 80 hours. The warmers that heat the wax are very pretty. I guess you could compare them to decorative little lamps of all types.

For example, there is a warmer with a bird that you can feel perched on the saucer where you put the wax and another called Grapevine which is also very tactile. There are warmers that appeal to sports enthusiasts, like golf, football, basketball, college warmers with the name of the college on them, a warmer that says "liberty", military warmers for all branches of the military, warmers with a raised cross on all four sides. Little plug-in warmers too, one which looks like seashells, perfect for a bathroom.

The fragrances fall into six categories: spring and summer, Scentsy man, spa, tropical, corner café, and romance. If you had a cinnamon bun fragrance permeating your home people would be sure you were cooking cinnamon buns. The men's fragrances are wonderful, my favorite being "well-dressed man." I love the flower ones like gardenia, or lilacs and violets, and mulberry. And of course the spa ones which smell so clean and relaxing. All fragrances are also in room sprays or scent circles. There is a leather fragrance which comes in only scent circles and travel tins. The scent circles can be used as car fresheners or be put in purses or drawers. There are little stuffed animals that you can choose a fragrance to securely zip inside.

We can place an order for you if you would like to call 859-321-5577, or order on my website: My email address is I will be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Chrissy's Collection Print/Braille Children's Books

Chrissy's Collection: Books to Read Together

The Mysterious Tadpole by Steven Kellogg:

Catalog Number: 9-15012-00

The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth

Catalog Number: 9-12030-00 A freshly baked gingerbread man escapes when he is taken out of the oven and eludes a number of pursuers until he meets a clever fox.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback

Catalog Number: 9-12003-00 Fanciful retelling of the folk poem about a woman who swallows progressively larger animals.

Oranges on Golden Mountain by Elizabeth Partridge

Catalog Number: 9-14033-00 Life is not always easy for Jo Lee as he adjusts to his new life in America. His muscles ache from fishing, his uncle is a stranger to him, and he misses his mother and sister in China. But the orange branches he brought with him hold the promise of seeing them again. No Quota funds.

Goin' Someplace Special by Patricia McKissack

Catalog Number: 9-14020-00 It's Tricia Ann's first trip alone on the bus, and she's going to a special place where all are welcome regardless of skin color. Set in 1950s Nashville, this Coretta Scott King award-winner introduces the topic of segregation. No Quota funds.

Looking Out for Sarah by Glenna Lang

Catalog Number: 9-14009-00 The story of a typical day in the life of Perry the dog guide, working, playing, running errands, meeting friends, and looking out for Sarah, his owner. For grades K-3. No Quota funds.
Click this link to purchase any of the titles in Chrissy's Collection of print/braille books.

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:
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