Showing posts from October, 2011

Labeling Frozen Foods

Labels used in the freezer are especially vulnerable because they get separated from the food or do not last well due to moisture and temperature changes. A good idea to label frozen goods is to collect some of those plastic tie tags that are used to close the plastic bags in which baked goods and other grocery products are packaged. Then, affix a brief Dymo description of the food to be stored to the tag (such as "peas" or "gb" for green beans) and slip the clip end of the tag onto a sturdy rubber band. These can be slipped around bags or packages of foods to be frozen and can be used almost indefinitely. If one of the rubber bands breaks, it is a simple matter to replace it. Another idea is to use 4 x 6 or 3 x 5 durable clear-view cards such as ones that can be purchased from Ann Morris: (The cards come in packs of 50.) There is enough room on the card to braille the date made/bought, when it should be used as well as the product name. T…

Tips to Organize the Medicine Cabinet

Fall is a great month to organize the medicine cabinet. Doing it then ensures that you will have plenty of time to see what you might need and stock up on the essentials before the cold and flu season sets in. Do you have multiple medicine cabinets? Start with the most frequently used one and go from there, either blitzing through all of them one at a time, or doing one cabinet per day. Just don't start pulling stuff out of all of them at once, you'll just wind up with a big discouraging mess that gets shoved back in the cabinets, or worse, left out on counters and floors. The first thing you will need to do is to empty everything out of the cabinet onto a flat surface. Roughly organize as you go, by grouping like items, such as prescriptions in one area, bandages in another. Toss out the following items:

Anything that is missing a label
Anything you can't identify
All of those extra droppers and cups that come with over the counter medicine. Don't worry, you'll ge…

Teach Me To See: a Video from APH

This video provides guidance on processes and activities that promote the optimal use of vision and other senses.Based upon the work and theories of Drs. Amanda Lueck and Toni Heinze, Teach Me to See gives practitioners guidance on developing and carrying out activities that are functional and have meaning to each child. Watch children respond to simple stimuli in rich environments that promote their cognitive development and sharpen their visual skills. Listen to experienced teachers talk about orientation & mobility skills, immersive learning, visual development, and choice-making for their young students.Teach Me to See consists of 4 videos on one DVD:Instructional ProgramVisual SkillsMethodologyActivities and OutcomesTeach Me to See is helpful to parents, teachers, other practitioners, college students, occupational and physical therapists, and paraprofessionals. Teach Me to See will show parents and professionals how to develop individual learning programs for students with v…

Spooky Halloween Party Ideas

Games and ActivitiesFinding good Halloween party games and activities for blind and visually impaired children shouldn't be hard. Why not have a Pumpkin Roll at your party? This makes a great outdoor activity. You'll need to stockpile a few uncarved pumpkins that are fairly rounded. Then have kids volunteer to join the race. Assign each racer a pumpkin and tell them that at the start of the race they will roll their pumpkin to the end of the course (which you design in length and number of obstacles) and back to their original starting positions. Those racers who come in first, second and third place get to keep the pumpkin they raced with. Another great activity is the round robin spooky story. Have the kids sit in a circle after its dark out and give them a flashlight. Start off the round robin with an opening passage of a spooky story then hand off the flashlight to the person to the left and have them continue the story where you left off. When they feel they've reach…

Pumpkin Seeds for Halloween

OK, the pumpkin is gutted and carved, now you are trying to figure out what to do with the seeds. Toasting the seeds will make a healthy and tasty snack.

From your seeds remove as many of the membranes as possible and throw away.

Place a large pan on the stove and fill with water. Add salt to the water using about 1 teaspoon for every cup. Bring the water to a boil and add your pumpkin seeds.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for about 2 hours. Remove from the heat and drain off all the water.

Place the seeds onto paper towels that have been placed on to wire racks and let sit in a cool dry place for at least 4 hours until dry.

Place the seeds into a large bowl and add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil and mix until all of the seeds are coated with oil. Place the seeds onto a clean dry baking sheet and place into an oven preheated to 350ยบ.

Bake the seeds for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and sprinkle lightly with salt and let cool.< You can se…

How to Carve a Pumpkin

What would Halloween be without a carved pumpkin sitting on your porch or at the window looking out at all the trick or treaters? Make this Halloween special by carving your own. Take delight in the smiling faces as the trick or treaters enjoy or get spooked by your own creation. You don't need to see to create a great pumpkin for Halloween!

Pick out the nicest and healthiest looking pumpkin. Make sure you don't buy it too long before Halloween or it will rot before the big night.
Take a braille stylus and score a line about 5 inches from the top of the pumpkin right around the circumference. You can make it a jagged line if you like.
Use a large carving knife and carefully slice the top half of the pumpkin off using the scored line for guidance.
Carefully remove the top and set it aside.
Use a large spoon or a scoop and remove all of the filling and seeds. Place them into a bowl to be used later.
Use the braille stylus to "draw" a face on the front of your pumpkin for ref…

Make Halloween Outdoor Decorations: "Ring of Ghosts" and "Flagpole Spooks"

By Patricia Jensen Here's a favorite tradition of our family in outdoor Halloween decor:

Ring of Ghosts


3 Twin-sized Sheets
3 Four foot lengths of flexible 1/2 inch PVC Piping, Wooden Stakes or Dowels
3 Small White Plastic Garbage Bags
Masking Tape
String or Twist Ties
Black Marker (optional)


First, determine a good location for your ghost gathering. Find a wide open area, or you may decide to group them around a tree or light pole.

To make the ghosts' heads, crumple up newspaper and stuff the three small plastic trash bags to the desired size.

Stick one of the PVC pipes into one of the bags and wrap the neck with masking tape to secure. Repeat for the other ghosts.

Cover each ghost head with a sheet, gathering with string or a twist tie under each head. The head should be in the middle of the sheet, so the outer edges can be attached to the neighboring ghosts. You can make taller or shorter ghosts, but you must adjust the size of the sheet you use …

American Folklore

Hey there folks! Welcome to American Folklore. This folklore site contains retellings of American folktales, Native American myths and legends, tall tales, weather folklore and ghost stories from each and every one of the 50 United States. You can read about all sorts of famous characters like Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, Daniel Boone, and many more. So grab a cup of coffee, pull up a comfy chair, and stay awhile. There are also lesson plans, and a "countdown to Halloween."

Click this link to visit the American Folklore website: The Most Popular Myths in Science from Live ScienceThis page offers the facts behind common theories like how long it takes to digest gum, whether chicken soup cures the common cold, and cats' ability to always land on their feet. Don't forget to click on the Live Science home page for articles, headlines, and blogs about the sciences.

Click this link to learn The Most Popular Myths in Science.

Nursery Rhymes ly…

Ten Great Uses for Wire Hangers

Wire coat hangers have been around at least a hundred years, effectively hanging up our clothes in closets, but also just as effectively getting tangled and bent out of shape. As long as I can remember, wire hangers have been used to replace missing radio and TV antennas. They are a source of frustration, great to use in a pinch and also help hold our clothes up in the closet, but what else can they be used for? Well, before you turn into Joan Crawford from "Mommy Dearest" and scream "no more wire hangers!" try these great uses for the simple, yet useful, invention: The Wire Hanger. Dowsing Rods: The first suggestion is the most interesting. Dowsing rods have been used for centuries to divine for water, treasure, graves and spirits. Simple rods that are bent in a print letter "L" shape, dowsing rods are said to pick up on the vibrations of whatever the seeker is searching for. You will need two wire hangers, cut the hangers at the bend of the long side …

How to Play Ghost

Here's a fun word game I came across that would be great to play around Halloween or anytime you need something to do. You can play this with at least three people, no more than ten. This game is best for older children because you need to know how to spell. Ghost is a word game where players try to add letters to create a new word. To begin have the players sit in a circle. Or if you are traveling in the car, decide on how the game will rotate, maybe from youngest to oldest or front to back. The first player thinks of a word. Then he says the first letter of that word. For example he thinks "trip" and says "t." The next player thinks of a word with the same first letter that the first player said. Then the second player adds the second letter to the word. The second player thinks, "teach" and says "t-e." Each consecutive player tries to add another letter without forming a complete word. If the letters were "t-e-s-t" and the …

How to Make Tea Using a Coffee Pot

How to Make Tea Using a Coffee Potfrom wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Yes, it is possible to make tea using a coffee pot, and no it won't send your coffee maker to coffee heaven. It's a useful fix for brewing a large pot of herbal tea that you want to keep warm for hours, such as when you're caring for someone with a cold or the flu. Steps Fill the glass carafe with water and pour into the water reservoir as for regular coffee. Remove and rinse the filter basket from previous brews of either coffee or tea. Select your choice of teabags. Place them into the filter basket. Place the filter basket, without a coffee filter, back into its compartment and close the compartment. Now turn on the coffee maker after replacing the carafe on the hot plate. Use approximately one teabag per one cup of water. Wait until the tea is done brewing, and enjoy! Video This video shows how to make southern style sweet tea with a coffee pot. …

Do Blind People Attend Functions?

by Donna J. Jodhan Whenever someone asks me this question, my immediate response is "and why not?" This is a frequently asked question and you know what? I always try to be polite in my responses. There is still much for the sighted world to learn and discover when it comes to how blind people live, work, and socialize. We can definitely attend functions but there are slight differences in the way we interact with others. Because we are unable to see, we need to use our ears to help us identify people at functions. We sometimes need help to navigate buffet tables, find our seats, and find our places at tables. We need others to help us with visual cues. This is the picture for a blind person when attending functions. It may sound cumbersome to a sighted person but not really. Once you get the hang of things then it's not too bad. It can be a lot of fun. Can blind people attend functions? Yes, they most certainly can. I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly…

Before Getting to the Office

by Donna J. Jodhan One of the things that often occupies the mind of a disabled person on the way to work is all of the things that need to be faced before reaching the office. It all starts with the walk to the bus stop and ends with the arrival at one’s desk. So many people have told me about their anxieties of getting to work. Waiting on the bus and ensuring that one gets on the right bus. Finding a seat on the bus and making sure that they do not miss their stop. If it is winter or otherwise bad weather, making sure that they make it safely to the bus stop. It does not end there! If one has to take the subway then there are the added challenges of navigating one’s way to the correct subway. Just like a sighted person, a disabled person has to ensure that they get on the correct subway but if you are blind or sight impaired then guess what? The blind or sight impaired person has to deal with navigating through crowds and using their memory to pinpoint the location of t…

Who Else Should Be on the IEP Team?

In addition to parents, special educators, regular educators, a school system representative, someone to interpret evaluation results, and the student (when appropriate), the IEP team may also include, at the discretion of the parent or the school system, additional individuals with knowledge or special expertise about the child, including related services personnel as appropriate. The parent or the school system may invite these individuals to participate on the team.

To learn more, visit the Others with Knowledge or Special Expertise About the Child page on the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities website at

When is it Appropriate for the Student to be Included on the IEP Team?

If transition goals and services are going to be discussed, the student with a disability must be invited to attend the meeting. In reality, parents and children often make this decision together. It’s not uncommon for parents and even teachers to encourage children to take part in developing their own IEPs. Some children in elementary school come to the meeting just to learn a little about the process or to share information about themselves.

To learn more, visit the Student with a Disability on the IEP Team page at the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities website:

Why Does Federal Law Require a General Educator To Be on the IEP Team?

The regular education teacher knows the curriculum for a child’s grade level and what children in regular education classes are typically expected to do. If the child is going to be educated in the regular education environment for any part of the school day, then the child’s regular education teacher may talk at the IEP meeting about what the child will be taught and expected to learn.

To learn more, visit link on the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities website:

Kitchen Secrets

It seems that every good cook has their little secrets for making everything turn out perfect in the kitchen. Ever wanted to know some of their secrets? Here's a few! For Better Browning: Meat will brown better if you blot any moisture off its surface. A paper towel makes a great blotter.
Better Bacon: To perfectly cook bacon without the mess and cleanup of pan or griddle frying, use the oven. Preheat it to 350. Place the bacon strips on a baking > sheet lined with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, or until bacon is the way you like it. Transfer bacon to paper towel lined plate to absorb excess grease. Fold the foil around the grease and discard.
Flour duster: Keep a shaker container filled with flour in your kitchen for use dusting everything from meat to sauces. It's also handy for flouring your work area > when rolling out pie and pizza doughs.
Drip Free Gravy: To keep a gravy boat or cream pitcher from dripping onto the dinner table, rub a dab of butter on the pour spout. No…

Helpful Tips for Measurements and Substitutes When Cooking

Here's some great tips for the kitchen! Thickening: Sprinkle instant mashed potato flakes into soups and gravies to thicken, a little goes a long way. Stir thoroughly and add more as needed.
Every one knows this but sometimes we forget: Is your brown sugar a solid rock? Has your bag or box of brown sugar turned hard as a rock? Try this helpful hint: Place a slice of fresh bread in the package of sugar and close securely. Let set for a few hours and your sugar will be as good as new, well not new but pretty close.
To cut calories, use applesauce in place of shortening or butter in brownies, muffins, and simple cakes. They also taste a little better.
When making hamburgers, impress a thumbprint in the middle of both sides of each hamburger. This keeps them from bulging up while cooking, and they'll cook more evenly this way.
Meringue: A simple soft meringue is made by whipping egg whites with a little granulated sugar, vanilla and a bit of cream of tartar. This slightly …

Blindness is not Contagious

by Donna J. Jodhan Maybe this is a touchy topic for many; but here goes. When I was growing up, I found that many people, both kids and adults alike were often afraid to approach me and other blind kids. I often used to think that maybe and just maybe, they may have been feeling that if they came too close to me, they too would become blind. Things have improved over the years but there is still that hesitance especially so on the part of adults. I am finding more and more that younger persons are not afraid to approach blind people. They are much less inhibited and not afraid to engage in conversations with us. For anyone who is hesitant to become friends with a blind person: Blindness is definitely not contagious. You can certainly become friends with us. You would be quite surprised to know and learn what great friends we can be. 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 …

One of the Most Misunderstood Groups

by Donna J. Jodhan Would it be fair to say that in general, the blind community could be one of the most misunderstood groups? If so, then why? Could it be that we are misunderstood because maybe and just maybe, the mainstream society has probably not taken enough time to get to know us? Or maybe is it because that they have not been exposed to our world enough? I guess that we could probably offer several explanations for this but at the end of the day, this is the situation. As for my humble opinion, I offer these possibilities: I believe that when it comes to blind people in general, most of our mainstream society have somehow managed to erect artificial barriers towards us. These would include attitude, perception, and belief. Let us first look at attitude. There seems to exist an attitude from many mainstream people that blind people should probably be viewed as not being fully able to be contributors to society. In short, we may be viewed more as people who need to b…

The Accessible Technology Coalition

From the website: The AT Coalition is a project of the Center for Accessible Technology (CforAT). CforAT is one of the oldest and most respected AT Center in the US, and our staff are known for their ability to solve complex AT issues and work with people with a wide range of disabilities, including people with multiple disabilities. The mission of the AT Coalition is "to develop a consumer driven, grassroots program that provides people with disabilities, and those that work with them, accurate answers to their technology questions allowing them to identify appropriate solutions - particularly for those who do not have access to a local AT Center". The field of accessible technology has changed enormously in the last 30 years. Yet, people with disabilities and those that work with them still struggle to identify the appropriate technologies that will improve their lives, or the lives of family members, employees, or clients. The ATC will meet this need by providing up-…


From the website: TechVision is a company that strives to show you how children and adults, who have vision impairments or reading challenges, can learn the technology and skills that will help them succeed in life. This site will give you the lessons to achieve these goals. If you read an article from this site about a lesson, links will be at the bottom of the story to take you directly to the lessons that will help you achieve the same instruction. All of our lessons are keystroke based, leave your mouse at home ladies and gentlemen! Lessons include: Microsoft Excel
Microsoft PowerPoint
Microsoft Word
Low Vision
Lessons for Teachers Click this link to visit list end

Resources for the Blind Programmer

Resources for those engaging in or wishing to learn about programming by the blind have been reorganized, so here is a rundown originally posted by Top Tech Tidbits. A mailing list where beginners and advanced programmers can learn is program-l. To join, send a message to and in the subject field put the word "subscribe". These websites contain a variety of resources:
http://GrabBag.alacorncomputer.comKnow of other resources? Send them to me at and I'll update this post.

Halloween on a Restricted Diet

By Terri Mauro For children with diabetes, food allergies, Prader-Willi Syndrome, and other special needs, gorging on Halloween candy can bring more than a tummy ache -- it can be a serious, even life-threatening health risk. These nine sites offer suggestions, strategies, and recipes for making the night less spooky for kids whose diet needs to be carefully watched.Candy, Candy Everywhere
Source: American Diabetes Association
Sample Tip: "Here's a carb count of the 20 most popular Halloween candy."The Challenge of Halloween
Source: Diabetic Gourmet Magazine
Sample Tip: "Donate candy collected -- or most of it -- to a local children's hospital or your local American Diabetes Association. Older kids might feel good about helping other kids."Halloween Survival Guide
Source: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International
Sample Tip: "Host a Halloween party and offer things like glow-in-the-dark insects, Halloween-themed stickers, and cause-related wristba…

Coins That Feature Braille

Poland’s central bank was the first to issue the world’s first coin with markings in Braille, for the visually impaired.  The commemorative coin honored the 100th anniversary of The Association for the Visually Impaired.

Refreshabraille 18 and the iPad

I've known, for some time now, that the IOS devices will support a braille display. I had never tried to connect one to my iPad to see how it worked until last Saturday. While working in the Product Showcase area of the APH Annual Meeting, I decided to give it a try. Would I be able to connect a Refreshabraille 18 with my iPad running the latest version of Apple's IOS software? I took out my Refreshabraille 18, made sure it was charged and turned on the iPad. I had connected other bluetooth devices to the iPad, wireless keyboards and headphones, so I knew where to go to get started. My finger glided over the various apps on my startup screen, then found and double tapped "settings". When the options screen opened, I found bluetooth and tapped to open it. I found a list of the devices that I had previously connected to the iPad and a list of items that were currently available to pair. My wife's cell phone was there with a few others that I didn't recognize.…

How to Choose a Dress Shirt

How to Choose a Dress Shirtfrom wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Whether for yourself or for someone else, choosing a men's dress shirt can be more complicated that you think. Here are a couple of steps to keep in mind when selecting a dress shirt. Steps Choose a color. Are you buying a dress shirt for a job interview, or are you looking to dress up more fashionably? For an interview, the traditional choices are conservative colors. A light blue is usually the safest. White is very formal. Grays are also generally safe. If you are looking to portray a more lively image, choose bright, unconventional colors. Bright greens and oranges are relatively popular, as well as pink. Choose a pattern. Solid colors are considered wardrobe staples because they are easiest to match, but you might consider choosing stripes or a 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 Choose…

Appliances are a Challenge

by Donna J. Jodhan There used to be a time when I, as a blind person, was able to navigate the buttons on the panels of my appliances without having to ask for sighted assistance. Buttons and knobs on washers and dryers were big enough for me to feel and touch, you could set levels of water and temperatures by counting off the clicks, and you could do other things by simply memorizing how many clicks to the left or right, etc. A few months ago, I had to replace my washer and dryer and thank goodness I was able to find a small appliance store that sold washers and dryers with manageable buttons. Many of the appliances today are dominated by touch screens and digital displays and this makes life more difficult for someone who is unable to see. Some appliances even have lights to indicate certain things and this too is not very good for a blind person. In the good old days, I only had to ask for sighted assistance once when I was learning the position of the buttons but all this …

Start with the Kids

by Donna J. Jodhan In a world where we continue to struggle with so many things, how to get things done, when to get them done, what to get done, and why we must do it all, it may be a good idea for us to take a deep breath and leave it all to the kids. Yes, the kids! and why not? Kids are the ones who are the most innocent of us all. They are never afraid to tell the truth. They are extremely unabashed when it comes to honesty. They trust easily and if you are seeking to get your message across to the rest of the world, then they are probably the best and most effective messengers that you will ever find. Ask them a question and they tell no lies. Give them an idea and they are lightning quick to run with it, develop it, and embellish it. Wet their imaginations and you'll see how quickly they turn dreams into reality or something very close to it. Kids are ever so quick to get the meaning and in the simplest of ways while we adults find it so difficult at times to ev…