Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

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

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Chat with Your Facebook Contacts through AIM Instant Messenger

I remember reading a press release from AOL that talked about them working with Facebook and their Chat application programming interface to develop a way to integrate Facebook friends with an AOL buddy list. I knew AOL's Instant Messenger (AIM) was known to work very well with screen readers. I had not been keeping up on the latest versions of AIM, so I decided to download a fresh copy, create a username and password, and see if I could really chat with my Facebook friends with ease.

Getting Started with AIM

To get started, I opened up my browser. I use Internet Explorer 8 on a Windows XP laptop with Jaws 11. I am sure you'll have very similar results if you use Firefox or Opera with Window Eyes, System Access, or NonVisual Desktop Access. If you are not using the most recent release of your screen reader, you may want to see if there are any scripts available to improve your experience. For all the Mac users out there, it is my understanding that AIM for the Mac is accessible with VoiceOver, but I did not try it for this article.

After navigating to the AIM home page, I selected the latest version of the software, and installed it to my hard drive. Don't worry, the download is lightning fast and easy to install. From a conversation I had with an AOL guru, I was advised to use the AIM software and not AIM on the Web to chat with my Facebook friends. I believe AIM on the Web will work, but it is not currently optimized for use with a screen reader and it is recommended that screen reader users stick with the desktop version.

Once I finished the download and installation, I launched the application. I tabbed around the screen until I found the button that allowed me to create a screen name. Tabbing through the form was quite simple, with only a couple of exceptions. After entering and confirming my desired password, I tabbed to the next field. However, my screen reader announced "Month Combo Box." I had to arrow up to discover it was actually the form control to enter in my birthday. Perhaps they want to send me presents? A couple of tabs later, as I left the zip code field, I found myself on a link announced as "audio." I arrowed up to discover that the link was actually for an audio CAPTCHA, one of those ubiquitous tests to make sure I am not a robot. The audio CAPTCHA was quite clear, but it sure was fast. After clicking the link for audio, the focus is placed on a play button. Once the button was pressed, there was a series of beeps followed by a string of numbers and letters. Once I passed the test, I was greeted with a congratulatory message and I proceeded to sign in to begin building my buddy list using my existing Web mail contacts.

Step one is to select the radio button next to the Web mail program from which you want to import your contacts. This could be any one of the popular e-mail programs such as Yahoo!, Gmail, AOL, or Hotmail. Use your screen reader to navigate to the edit fields and fill in your username and password. Click the submit button and within minutes you should be ready to go with a list of contacts from your Web mail account who also have AIM accounts. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my AIM account was filled with more than fifty of my contacts. I guess I am pretty behind the times when it comes to instant messaging!

Integrating Facebook and AIM

My next step was to link my AIM account with my Facebook account. After opening the AIM Buddy list, I used shift plus tab to move backwards one time until I found the button labeled "Add Buddies to Your Buddy List." The next step was to tap the spacebar and arrow down to the selection for Facebook Chat. This was followed by a number of easy-to-navigate screens where I entered my Facebook username and password. And just like that, all of my Facebook friends appeared in my AIM Buddy list.

What's It Like?

AOL Instant Messenger is one of those programs that can run in the background while you attend to other tasks that, according to my boss, are more important, like work. To access your buddy list, you can find the AIM icon on your desktop or use the Windows key plus the letter B to access the system tray. Once in the system tray and on the AIM button, you can tap enter to pull up your buddy list or use the applications key to see a full list of menu options. AIM should work very well without having to make many changes to the settings, but the multipage dialog box is there if you need it.

I disabled many of the features that are visual in nature as I am the only person who uses my computer. If you are signed into AIM, you will hear lots of sound effects, especially the sounds of opening and closing doors. These effects represent your buddies signing into and out of AIM. When you are back in your buddy list, you will notice you have the option of sorting your buddies into categories such as family or co-workers. As you arrow down the list, your screen reader will announce the group name and you can use left arrow or right arrow to open or close the group.

When you find the Facebook friends group, use the right arrow to open the list and down arrow until you find the person you want to chat with. Hit enter on your keyboard. Your screen reader should repeat the name of the person and let you know if they are available or idle. I am not 100 percent sure what idle is, but my guess would be the person is logged into Facebook but perhaps has set their status to idle. They must be so busy with Facebook that they don't want to chat. As soon as you begin chatting, your screen reader will probably pass along certain information, such as the person's screen name, the time stamp of the message, and the message itself. Additionally, you can check your screen reader's help files for the keystrokes to go back and hear the message history. For a complete list of keyboard shortcuts, you can go to AOL's help center.

What It All Means

I must admit I am starting to develop a mild addiction to instant messaging. For the last several days as I wrote this article, I kept AIM on and was greeted by friends I had not "spoken" with in quite a long time. Sometimes e-mail and telephone calls seem to require quite a lot of energy, whereas instant messaging is spontaneous. I don't recommend instant messenger for every type of communication, but it certainly has its time and place. Next up, I am going to combine all of my social networking streams in the AIM Lifestream. This tab on the AIM interface will allow me to view all of my updates from Facebook, Twitter, and more all in one place, and of course it is accessible to people with vision loss.

Article Source:
AccessWorld

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Keep Your Pet Dog Dry with the Dogbrella

Hmmm, walking around with your dog can be a very pleasant experience, especially when the weather is fine and dandy. What happens when the skies go all dark, and the heavens pour? Most folks would then stay at home and do some obedience training or play fetch, but those who are adamant on going out for walks will definitely find the Dogbrella!

This inverted bumbershoot forms a waterproof cocoon around a small dog, enabling canine and master to maintain a walking regimen in inclement weather. The umbrella's 29" diameter canopy is made from 8-gauge clear polypropylene that sheds rain, sleet, and snow while allowing an unfettered view of your walking companion. Not only does the umbrella eliminate the excuse "it's too wet for a walk" from a dog owner's lexicon (to the delight of most canines and the amusement of most spouses), it prevents moisture from getting spread throughout the home, along with the unpleasant scent of a wet dog. The tip of the umbrella hooks to your pet's leash to keep it from straying beyond its protective canopy. Sturdy stainless steel shaft and ribs with a white plastic crook handle. For leash-trained dogs up to 15 lbs. and less than 24" long. 24 3/4" L x 4" when collapsed. (1 lb.)

Handy, to a certain extent. Why do we say so? Well, walking your pooch when it rains isn’t such a good idea, your dog’s bottom section will still get wet. It will keep most of your dog dry, making it easier for you to dry them when the walk is over.

Click this link to purchase a Dogbrella from Hammacher Schlemmer.

SpeedDots Clear Embossed Screen-Protectors Help Blind/Visually Impaired Navigate iOS Devices With Ease

SpeedDots.com, a California-based company, announces the official release of the SpeedDots Screen Protector, a tactile approach to Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch for those who are blind or have low vision, permitting easy navigation and orientation to some of Apple's most popular touch-screen devices.

Using single dots to denote the virtual keyboard, along with a few commonly-found buttons and controls, blind/low vision users can input information more quickly and efficiently than ever before.

"All of our employees are blind, and we all use iPhones," says company founder, Doug Langley, "Apple's Voiceover screen-reader makes all of these devices accessible out of the box. We wanted to find a way to not only make iOS devices even more efficient, but simultaneously strive to bridge the gap for blind people transitioning from other platforms who may be reluctant to embrace a touch-screen environment."

The small, Sacramento-based company has two versions of its clear, tactile screen covers, known as the "Standard" and "Advanced" models. Both contain dots which mark various controls natively found on all of Apple's iOS devices. The Standard model places a single dot on each virtual key with the exception of the letters "F" and "J", while the Advanced model leaves all virtual keys blank save for a single dot placed on the letters "F" and "J", to suit the user's preference.

"I have been using Apple's touch-screen devices successfully for two years without any sort of tactile feedback, and I thought I was fast before," says company spokesperson, Raquel Gomez, "SpeedDots have literally doubled my ability to input text in a matter of weeks."

Speed and accuracy are only a few benefits of these clear, embossed screen protectors. New users familiarizing themselves with iOS devices for the first time will also find the learning curve easier by discovering the exact placement of each static control corresponding with its tactile mark on the screen. This allows for confident, easy manipulation of various buttons and access controls right away, without the need to hunt for them on-screen and wait for verbal confirmation from the built-in screen-reading software. SpeedDots works to enhance the touch-screen experience for everyone, from new users to those who are technically savvy.

Each screen protector can be ordered directly from the company's web site: http://www.speeddots.com.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

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

Have fun challenging yourself or your friends while improving your sensory development and shape identification!

The attached pieces of this accessible puzzle easily slide and twist. Raised tactile patterns make it easy to identify various patterns; high contrast colors make it ideal for those with low vision. Compare your results to the solution key attached to the back!

Uses
  • Fine motor development
  • Motor planning
  • Tactile stimulation
  • Sensory development
  • Matching
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Shape identification/discrimination
  • Problem solving
  • Fun!

WARNING: Choking Hazard—Small Parts. Not intended for children ages 5 and under without adult supervision.

Recommended ages: 6 years and up

Not available with Quota funds.

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

APH Shopping Home: http://shop.aph.org 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
E-mail: info@aph.org
Web site: http://www.aph.org
APH Shopping Home: http://shop.aph.org

Making Notes A Matter Of Record

Most blind persons--and many dyslexic students as well--rely heavily on audio recording for capturing lecture information. Many will record the entire lecture, while others will quietly whisper notes of the kind they might write with pen or pencil if they were sighted.

In my experience as a rehabilitation counselor--and also as a "taker of notes," I have found that note taking has major advantages over recording the entire event. In most cases, taking notes makes the note taker an active participant, rather than merely an equipment attendant. This is because one's mind must be "turned on" along with the recorder.

Note taking enables the user of such notes to distill the information conveyed during meetings or lectures down to essential points that should be understood and/or retained for future reference. At review time, you will find that a digital recorder can hold the notes of many lectures. This makes the process of reviewing for an examination much more efficient than listening to a series of class repeats.

To take audio notes need not be disturbing to others. You can moderate your voice and speak just above a whisper as you enter your notes using the external microphone that is connected to the digital recorder. Wise use of track separation also allows you to mark notes of special significance.

As a rehabilitation counselor, I often worked with students on their study skills. Many simply never realized--or just chose to ignore--"note taking" in favor of full recording. I found that students who had tried both approaches eventually reported that they had come to prefer note taking. They noted that their grades had improved using this method--and they credited it for the increased efficiency they had gained when reviewing for tests.

Contributor: Fred Gissoni

The Wilson is a state-of-the art digital voice recorder that is simple to use and inexpensive. Makes a great gift! Record up to eight hours of voice messages and download to your computer via the included USB cable.

Features
  • Stores multiple messages
  • Easily add or delete messages
  • Clips to your belt, visor, or purse
  • LP/SP switch for "Long Play" or "Standard Play" (shorter recording time, better sound quality)
Use to Record:
  • Phone numbers
  • Addresses
  • Shopping List
  • Reminders
  • To-do lists
  • Notes
  • Appointments
  • Messages
  • Lectures
  • Directions
  • Audio instructions
  • And much more!

Measures 2 x 3 x 0.5 inches.

Note: Requires 2 AAA batteries (not included).

Note: The Wilson digital recorder is not related to the Wilson Reading System product and is not available on quota.

Catalog Number:
1-03993-00
Click this link to purchase The Wilson Digital Voice Recorder.

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
E-mail: info@aph.org
Web site: http://www.aph.org
APH Shopping Home: http://shop.aph.org

Outdoor Talking Products

Grilling and Swimming, two great ways to get through a hot summer day. I can't think of a better backyard activity than swimming in the pool, and cooking a great meal on the grill. Here are some talking products that will make both activities easier for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Talking Pool/Spa Thermometer

This unique thermometer will actually speak either the pool or spa and the ambient temperatures every hour! Imagine being able to get a water temperature update at the top of the hour when your getting ready for the day, or at night when you're planning on swimming or relaxing. If you would like to hear an update before the hourly announcement is made, simply press the Talking button, and the unit will announce the water and ambient temperatures.

In addition to the hourly announcement feature, there is also an alarm feature that will announce the current time and both the probe and air temperatures repeatedly for the first minute, and then it will announce the time and both temperatures once every ten minutes four times.

It runs on 2 "AAA" batteries, and includes a probe that is 10 feet long. This allows you to position in a convenient spot and still recieve the water temperature. Setup is extremely simple, and can be completed in less than a minute. In fact, if you don't want to use the hourly temperature or alarm features, the only setup that is necessary is to install the batteries.

The probe is waterproof, so there is no need to worry about it once you have it installed. The unit has a temperature range of -58F to 158F. The LCD display can be set to show either the ambient or probe temperature simply by sliding the selector switch.

Click this link to purchase the Talking Pool/Spa Thermometer from the NU-Temp website.

Talking Timer

Have you ever wished your clock talked to you to tell you the time? Ever lose track of time while grilling and end up burning a batch of burgers? How about missing medication when you're having fun with the kids? Simplify your life with the talking timer. It includes both countdown and count-up timers as well as the normal clock mode. It also announces the time left at specific intervals, as well as announce the time over after the countdown has finished.

The unit includes an auto repeat, enabling you to automatically restart the countdown after it finishes, 6 alarm sounds and "memory" that recalls the last countdown setting to avoid having to re-enter it.

When using the timer, the alarm will sound an alert at the following intervals:

Time RemainingFrequency
60+ minutesEvery Hour
Less than 60 minutes, but more than 10Every 10 Minutes
Less than 10 minutes, but more than 1Every 1 minute
Less than a minute but more than 10 secondsEvery 10 Seconds
10 seconds to 1 second Every second

  • Exclusive Silver Finish
  • 3-in-1 talking countdown time, count-up timer and talking clock.
  • Automatic repeat of countdown for taking medicine or running experiments
  • Memory for one-touch recall of the countdown time
  • Maximum count-down time of 23hr 59min 59 sec
  • Maximum count-up time 23hr 59min 59 sec
  • 6 different alarms sounds: whistling kettle, car horn, bell, bouncing coil, cuckoo and standard beep
  • Announces remaining time every hour. In the final hour it announces the remaining time every 10 minutes.
  • Every minute in the final 10 minutes, and every second in the final 10 seconds.
  • Attaches with clip, magnet or stand for cooktop or desktop
  • Operates on 2 AG13 cells (included)
  • 82mm x 64mm x 11mm size
Click this link to purchase the Talking Timer from the NU-Temp website.

Talking Cooking Thermometer

Use this large-display talking thermometer for cooking, hobbies, gardening, and much more!

Easy to Use
  • Simply press the on/talk button on the front and within one second the thermometer is ready
  • Apply probe to medium to be measured
  • Wait a few seconds to allow probe tip to reach full temperature
  • Press the same on/talk button to hear the temperature
  • Always clean probe after each use
  • Slide probe into convenient protector provided to store for next use
Features
  • Speaks the temperature at a touch of a button
  • Easy-to-read LCD Display, large 3/8-inch digits, great for low vision users!
  • Accurate temperature reading within seconds
  • Select Fahrenheit or Celsius with a touch of a button
  • Contoured design fits comfortably in your hand
  • Automatically turns off after 10 minutes to maximize battery life
  • Hinged battery door, permanently connected
  • Requires 2 AAA batteries (included)

Measures 9.25 inches long x 2 inches wide.

Note: This thermometer is not for medical use and is not available on quota.

Catalog Number: 1-03992-00
Click this link to purchase the Talking Cooking Thermometer from APH.

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
E-mail: info@aph.org
Web site: http://www.aph.org
APH Shopping Home: http://shop.aph.org

Food Safety Tips

There are three Main Rules for Food Safety:

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


Beware of hidden dangers



^DBL Spoiled Food and Food Poisoning

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

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

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

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

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

  • Always wash hands, utensils or anything that raw meat or vegetables were around.

  • Cover any skin cut or opening with bandage or gloves or protective plastic of some kind.

  • Any cutting boards other than wood are the safest for cutting raw foods on because they are less porous than wooden boards.

  • Do not mix raw meat with cooked meat because this could transfer bacteria. For example, do not take raw hamburger out to the grill to cook and put cooked ones back on the same plate.


Hot Foods

Bacteria will thrive at room temperature or in lukewarm food, so do not allow hot foods to be at room temperature for more than two hours; to keep hot foods hot that means keep it above 140° or higher.

Never partially cook or heat perishable foods because during cooking, the food may not reach a temperature high enough to destroy bacteria.

It is necessary to roast meat or poultry at 325° or above.

When reheating leftovers; stir often until steaming hot at 165°. If there are, any doubts about leftover foods throw it away because it is not worth getting sick over. "When in doubt, throw it out!"

Cold Foods

Since bacteria can thrive at room temperature, it can grow in foods that are suppose to be cold as well, so the same rule applies don't leave out for more than 2 hours at a time.

Always take perishable food home and refrigerate immediately.

Foods chill faster when space is allowed between them when stocking refrigerator and freezer. In addition, divide into smaller amounts in shallow containers helps to chill faster.

It's a good idea to buy a refrigerator thermometer to make sure your refrigerator is cooling at 35° to 40°. In addition, use a freezer thermometer to check that your freezer is staying at 0° or colder. If the power goes out do not open the doors. Food will be good for up to four hours and maybe a little longer depending on the circumstances.

You should not thaw foods at room temperature, but if you do, cook immediately at the correct temperature. The same thing applies if you thaw foods in the microwave.

Keep it clean and have a great time in the kitchen!

Talking Cooking Thermometer

Use this large-display talking thermometer for cooking, hobbies, gardening, and much more!

Easy to Use
  • Simply press the on/talk button on the front and within one second the thermometer is ready
  • Apply probe to medium to be measured
  • Wait a few seconds to allow probe tip to reach full temperature
  • Press the same on/talk button to hear the temperature
  • Always clean probe after each use
  • Slide probe into convenient protector provided to store for next use
Features
  • Speaks the temperature at a touch of a button
  • Easy-to-read LCD Display, large 3/8-inch digits, great for low vision users!
  • Accurate temperature reading within seconds
  • Select Fahrenheit or Celsius with a touch of a button
  • Contoured design fits comfortably in your hand
  • Automatically turns off after 10 minutes to maximize battery life
  • Hinged battery door, permanently connected
  • Requires 2 AAA batteries (included)

Measures 9.25 inches long x 2 inches wide.

Note: This thermometer is not for medical use and is not available on quota.

Catalog Number: 1-03992-00
Click this link to purchase the Talking Cooking Thermometer from APH.

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
E-mail: info@aph.org
Web site: http://www.aph.org
APH Shopping Home: http://shop.aph.org

Must Haves for Any At-Home Chef

By Mike Lansing

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

Mixing Bowls

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

Pre-Seasoned Cookware

Cast iron skillets, pots and pans have long been a choice of the pros. But, cast iron cookware can be a little daunting. Seasoning, pre-seasoning, re-seasoning, cooking the seasonings in, oils to use, etc. to ensure your skillet is ready, is a hassle many cooks would rather not deal with. Now you don't have to. You can buy cast iron cookware galore - already seasoned - so that you have no fuss and still get the same great benefits of those using simple cast iron. Lodge is a well known maker of pre-seasoned cookware and offers many different types of cast iron cookware. Be aware -soap nor dishwashers should be used for your prized possessions.

Specialty Measuring Spoons

If you've ever seen one of grandma's old recipes refer to a pinch, smidgen or dash and have had to take a guess at the meaning (and hope you're right) then you absolutely must grab a set of pinch, smidgen or dash measuring spoons. No more guessing or testing your interpretations on your guests (as fun as that may be). This set also makes a great conversation starter - especially at family gatherings where elder members may take you on a trip down memory lane.

First out Pie Spatula

What could possibly ruin the perfect homemade Dutch crumb apple pie? Having it fall apart while you try to get that first piece out of the pie dish. Well, here is a secret of the pros - use a first out pie spatula. You bake the spatula in with the pie. When the pie comes out of the oven and cools, you make the cuts and lift that first piece out in perfect appetizing condition!

Kitchen Companion Guide

Ever wonder how long you need to steam asparagus? Not sure how to stick a thermometer in a turkey? Never butterflied a pork chop before? For all the weird, rarely used information you may need, while preparing a feast, you can turn to a kitchen guide. Look for a kitchen guide which specializes in everything and anything you may need to know while cooking any meal in any kitchen. For a complete guide that has gotten rave reviews, check out the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Companion: The A to Z Guide to Everyday Cooking, Equipment and Ingredients.

Many of the above items may not be featured at your local retail store, so you might want to find a local kitchen specialty store near you or do your shopping online. But, if you enjoy the art of cooking and want to be armed with the best tools possible, you now have a few more to add to your arsenal which will help you cook like the pros.

Talking Cooking Thermometer

Use this large-display talking thermometer for cooking, hobbies, gardening, and much more!

Easy to Use
  • Simply press the on/talk button on the front and within one second the thermometer is ready
  • Apply probe to medium to be measured
  • Wait a few seconds to allow probe tip to reach full temperature
  • Press the same on/talk button to hear the temperature
  • Always clean probe after each use
  • Slide probe into convenient protector provided to store for next use
Features
  • Speaks the temperature at a touch of a button
  • Easy-to-read LCD Display, large 3/8-inch digits, great for low vision users!
  • Accurate temperature reading within seconds
  • Select Fahrenheit or Celsius with a touch of a button
  • Contoured design fits comfortably in your hand
  • Automatically turns off after 10 minutes to maximize battery life
  • Hinged battery door, permanently connected
  • Requires 2 AAA batteries (included)

Measures 9.25 inches long x 2 inches wide.

Note: This thermometer is not for medical use and is not available on quota.

Catalog Number: 1-03992-00
Click this link to purchase the Talking Cooking Thermometer from APH.

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
E-mail: info@aph.org
Web site: http://www.aph.org
APH Shopping Home: http://shop.aph.org

Talking Cooking Thermometer from APH

Use this large-display talking thermometer for cooking, hobbies, gardening, and much more!

Easy to Use
  • Simply press the on/talk button on the front and within one second the thermometer is ready
  • Apply probe to medium to be measured
  • Wait a few seconds to allow probe tip to reach full temperature
  • Press the same on/talk button to hear the temperature
  • Always clean probe after each use
  • Slide probe into convenient protector provided to store for next use
Features
  • Speaks the temperature at a touch of a button
  • Easy-to-read LCD Display, large 3/8-inch digits, great for low vision users!
  • Accurate temperature reading within seconds
  • Select Fahrenheit or Celsius with a touch of a button
  • Contoured design fits comfortably in your hand
  • Automatically turns off after 10 minutes to maximize battery life
  • Hinged battery door, permanently connected
  • Requires 2 AAA batteries (included)

Measures 9.25 inches long x 2 inches wide.

Note: This thermometer is not for medical use and is not available on quota.

Catalog Number: 1-03992-00
Click this link to purchase the Talking Cooking Thermometer from APH.

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
E-mail: info@aph.org
Web site: http://www.aph.org
APH Shopping Home: http://shop.aph.org

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

Braille Institute has launched a mobile app that they hope you will find useful when talking with families, friends and other professionals about the effects of vision loss.

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

For more information on how to download the app from Apple or Android markets, click here: http://www.brailleinstitute.org/MobileApps/VisionSim.aspx.

Contact:

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

Light Boxes: Materials, Activities, and Guides from APH

Two visitors examine a light box in the APH museum

When used with unique sets of materials designed by APH, Light Boxes help students use their residual vision by developing awareness of light, color, and objects. The Light Box and materials assist in the instruction of tracking, scanning, eye-hand coordination, visual discrimination, and visual perceptual skills.

REVISED! Light Box

The newly revised Light Box has a lighted translucent white work surface, providing a high contrast background for opaque materials and a source of illumination for colored transparent and translucent items. Includes dimming control to meet the needs of individual students.

The Light Box can be used flat or tilted at three angles. Built-in ledges hold overlays in position. Cool, fluorescent bulb is housed in a tough plastic body measuring 25 x 15 x 5 inches. Includes cover.

Improvements
  • Now 29% lighter, weighs 9 1/2 lbs.
  • Brightest setting using dimmer control is now 15% brighter
  • Power now provided by an included AC adapter; can be used internationally*

*Adapter accepts power from 110VAC to 220VAC. Customer must supply a physical converter that changes a U.S.-style wall plug to a plug compatible with their electrical system.

Note: The appearance of the revised Light Box is very similar to the previous Light Box, the changes are mostly internal.

Catalog Number: 1-08669-00

Mini-Lite Box

This cousin to APH's Light Box is: -- Small and light -- Usable at a student's desk or on his/her lap Operates for 3-4 hours on included rechargeable batteries or can be plugged in with the included AC adapter. Dimming control. Low battery audio signal. Ledges hold overlays in place. Built-in combination handle / tilting stand. -- Measures 16 x 12 3/4 x 2 1/2 inches -- Weight: 6 lbs.

Mini-Lite Box:
Catalog Number: 1-08661-00

Replacement AC Adapter:
Catalog Number: 1-08661-05
Click this link to purchase the Mini-Lite Box.

Mini-Lite Box: Carrying Case

The Mini-Lite Box Carrying Case is made of tough canvas-like nylon and has roomy pockets to hold overlays and other materials.
Catalog Number: 1-08668-00
Click this link to purchase the Mini-Lite Box: Carrying Case.

Mini-Lite Box: Transparent Overlays Set

Mini-Lite Box Transparent Overlays Set includes one clear, four color, and a sheet of clear, flexible plastic. The color overlays may be used to promote light awareness; improve contrast and visibility; and introduce color matching. The clear overlay may be used with black and color markers. The flexible overlay offers a slip-resistant surface for acrylic materials.

Catalog Number: 1-08662-00
Click this link to purchase the Mini-Lite Box: Transparent Overlays Set.

Note: Most Light Box Materials in the following three levels can also be used with the Mini-Lite Box. Light Boxes sold separately.

Light Box Materials Activities Guides:
Revised Content, Large Print, CD Now Included, Spanish Editions Available

The Light Box Materials listed below now have revised Activity Guides. These extensively revised guides now have sections on Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI), updated references to products, and increased accessibility. These versions are now produced in large print and include a CD-ROM for speech access.

Level II of the Light Box Materials Activity Guide includes a number of Activity Sheets. These are no longer provided as printed pages, but can be printed out from the new CD. These sheets are in PDF format (go to www.adobe.com for a free download of Acrobat (R) Reader to open and print the PDF files).

Light Box Materials: Level I -- REPLACEMENT PARTS AVAILABLE!

Light Box Materials: Level I

First of three sets of teaching materials for use with APH's Light Box. Materials help teach basic visual skills, eye-hand coordination, and simple matching skills. Level I includes:

  • Bright colored, solid, and patterned overlays designed to stimulate awareness of light, patterns, and objects
  • A spinner with two different patterns that encourages localization and reaching
  • A variety of transparent and translucent colored and opaque items for practice in eye-hand coordination and matching
  • Suction-cup handles for manipulation of small pieces
  • Revised! Guidebook with over 90 activities
  • Carrying bag Recommended ages: birth to 4 years.
Light Box Materials: Level I:
Catalog Number: 1-08670-00

Activity Guide for Level I only, Large Print/CD:

English Edition:
Catalog Number: 7-08670-00

Spanish Edition:
Catalog Number: 7-08670-SP
Click this link to purchase the Light Box Materials: Level I.

Light Box Materials: Level II -- REPLACEMENT PARTS AVAILABLE!

Light Box Materials: Level II

Helps in teaching matching and identification skills, part-whole relationships, sequencing, pattern duplication, spatial relationships, and visual memory skills. Level II contains:

  • Over 400 items, including brightly-colored transparent and translucent shapes, pictured objects, stencils, and cutouts
  • Worksheets
  • Blackout background sheet and clear non-slip work surface sheet
  • Revised! Guidebook with over 100 activities
    -- Carrying bag
Light Box Materials: Level II:
Catalog Number: 1-08680-00

Activity Guide for Level II only, Large Print/CD

English Edition:
Catalog Number: 7-08680-00

Spanish Edition:
Catalog Number: 7-08680-SP
Click this link to purchase the Light Box Materials: Level II.

Light Box Materials: Level III -- REPLACEMENT PARTS AVAILABLE!

Light Box Materials: Level III

Help students develop: prewriting and handwriting, matching and sorting, recognition and identification, spatial relationships, visual memory, sequencing, figure-ground discrimination, visual closure, and part-whole relationships. Recommended ages: 4 to 6 years. Level III includes:

  • Over 400 items, including dozens of picture and letter cards
  • Five types of game trays
  • Blackout background sheet and clear non-slip work surface sheet
  • Guidebook with over 100 activities
  • Carrying bag
Light Box Materials: Level III:
Catalog Number: 1-08690-00

Level III, English:
Catalog Number: 7-08680-00

Level III, Spanish:
Catalog Number:7-08690-00
Click this link to purchase the Light Box Materials: Level III.

The following selected items from Light Box Materials Levels I and II can be used with the Mini-Lite Box and Light Box. Sheets of activities grouped by skill accompany each item.

Plexiglas Spinner and Spinner Patterns

Spinner, made of clear plastic, is used with overlays to create highly contrasting, moving patterns to stimulate visual awareness and encourage attention and visually directed reaching. Suction cup feet.

Plexiglas Spinner and Spinner Patterns:
Catalog Number: 1-08664-00
Click this link to purchase the Plexiglas Spinner and Spinner Patterns.

Plexiglas Blocks

Colored transparent and translucent geometric shapes in two sizes to create displays for attracting visual attention; encouraging visually directed reaching; matching by shape, size, and color; and for introducing spatial relationships. 30 pieces in six colors and three shapes.

Plexiglas Blocks:
Catalog Number: 1-08663-00
Click this link to purchase the Plexiglas Blocks.

Pegs and Pegboard

Fosters eye-hand coordination, awareness of spatial relationships, and matching and sequencing skills. Includes 64 colored translucent pegs in three shapes and five colors for use in or out of the included 6 x 6 grid pegboard.

Pegs and Pegboard:
Catalog Number: 1-08665-00
Click this link to purchase the Pegs and Pegboard.

Familiar Object Pictures

Colored translucent pictures of 15 household objects are provided in pairs (30 cards total) for matching and identification. On clear plastic cards measuring 6 x 6 inches.

Familiar Object Pictures:
Catalog Number: 1-08666-00
Click this link to purchase the Familiar Object Pictures.

Colored Shape Cards

Colored transparent and translucent pictures of geometric shapes for identification and matching by shape, color, and size. Thirty cards provided: two each of nine shapes, some in three sizes. On clear plastic cards measuring 4 x 4 inches.

Colored Shape Cards:
Catalog Number: 1-08667-00
Click this link to purchase the Colored Shape Cards.

Digital Light Box Artwork: Supporting Language and Literacy

Digital Light Box Artwork: Supporting Language and Literacy

Transitioning from the Light Box to the computer made simple! Use the Digital Light Box Artwork (DLBA) in computer programs to provide extension activities for the Light Box and/or provide familiar images for children who transition from Light Box to computer activities.

APH has digitized the individual art pieces from the APH Light Box Materials for use on the computer. The accompanying large print instruction guide teaches how to create personalized activities for cause & effect, choice making, and multiple-choice. The artwork works in both Windows® and Mac® platforms and can be used with many commercially available authoring programs, such as Clicker 5®, and Boardmaker®. The artwork files are provided in the .png format. The instruction guide gives detailed instructions on how to create activities using PowerPoint®.

Each piece of artwork is available in black line, red line, and full color. Instructions teach the user to change and/or add color to the artwork. This function is great for learners with cortical visual impairment who demonstrate a color preference. Instructors can create full-page black line art for a coloring activity to enrich the classroom lesson or as a take home project.

Large Print Guidebook with CD-ROM:
Catalog Number: 1-08691-00
Click this link to purchase the Digital Light Box Artwork: Supporting Language and Literacy.

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
E-mail: info@aph.org
Web site: http://www.aph.org
APH Shopping Home: http://shop.aph.org

GAMES for People With Sensory Impairments

A valuable book that initiates exploration and stimulates the reader’s creativity and resourcefulness!

Physical education teachers and activity/recreation directors find GAMES for People With Sensory Impairments: Strategies for Including Individuals of all Ages to be practical, relevant, and realistic. Adapted physical education (APE) professors find it to be a valuable tool when teaching future APE teachers. For novices, this publication provides a wealth of information on what to do, how to do it, and why. The authors, Lauren Lieberman and James Cowart, draw on their extensive experience in teaching students of all ages who have visual impairments, blindness, deafblindness, and multiple disabilities.

The book's Game Finder helps teachers locate games and activities that are appropriate for their students. The Game Finder Key identifies each game by name, category, sport skill, physical and motor fitness, and fundamental motor patterns and skills. The games and activities included in the book are creative innovations submitted by 15 outstanding teachers, coaches, and leaders who work in schools or programs for students who have sensory impairments.

The binder allows game pages to be removed for easy use in the gym, on the field, or poolside. The game pages are printed on heavier paper stock to accommodate frequent handling. Both the large print and braille versions contain a CD-ROM with an HTML file.

Catalog Number: 7-08609-00
Click this link to purchase GAMES for People With Sensory Impairments.

APH Shopping Home: http://shop.aph.org 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
E-mail: info@aph.org
Web site: http://www.aph.org
APH Shopping Home: http://shop.aph.org

The Blind Chick’s Walk Through Comic Con 2011

Fashion from the Geeks

by Sassy Outwater

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

I touched knights in full armor (which they made themselves),helmeted stormtroopers from Star Wars, giant two-legged long-haired bears, TiFighters from Star Wars, the baroness from GIJoe, plenty of Batmen, Supermen and other caped superheros, Catwoman, a Venitian plague doctor (Not quite sure what that was from, other than history, except this one had an eagle’s head and talons), demons galore, devils, angels, wizards, witches, corseted wenches, queens, jokers, vampires, wolves, Darth Vaders whose helmets played strange dance music as they walked, and many, many other things. Walking into the convention center was like stepping into an alternate universe. Characters from every paranormal movie ever created flocked along aisles of booths selling everything from T-shirts to wood carvings to costumes and posters. There were comic artists, authors, TV personalities, actors, (I got to shake hands with the guy who played Chewbacca. He’s a giant!), life-sized replicas of famous characters, giant war machine sculptures, celebrity signings, workshops, panels and tons and tons and tons of swag giveaways. Wading through lines of excited fans with a Guide Dog and swag bag of goodies was quite the undertaking. Most of the convention workers were more than willing to help us negotiate the crowds and find us disability accommodation when necessary. But a few weren’t quite sure if I myself was a character from a comic, complete with living breathing Guide Dog costume prop.

There were costumes good and bad (if you’re going to wear that skin-tight miniskirt, please avoid stairs and escalators, and for Heaven’s sake, don’t bend over and give my poor sighted friends a full view of your attributes; we don’t need more blind people on our hands. Thank you.) Some people built their costumes from scratch out of all kinds of materials, hand-sculpted breastplates for armor, toy guns in holsters on hips, giant helmets with beaks and horns, working joints in armor, and anything else you can imagine. Basically that was the only rule. If you can imagine it: wear it.

Which leads me to my day’s fashion and style topic: fashion lessons from (and in some cases, for) the geeks:

Lesson 1: If it expresses who you are, wear it. Social dictates, back off! Sometimes you just have to let your wild side out to play and indulge. Erma Bombeck famously wore pearls just to run to the grocery store, and set her table with fine china for pizza night. And why not? Life’s too short to spend every day all day doing and wearing what society says. You are not society. Go the way of the geeks and embrace your individual style!

Lesson 2: For the sake of the sighted people, make sure your clothes fit right… please. I know, we all say that we’re going to diet to lose that extra fluff around the middle… but when you are bulging out of the top of your corset like a river flooding the levvy, oh honey, it’s time to concede defeat! Buy bigger clothes! The rule is that you should buy clothes up a size when in doubt. Clothes shrink in the wash, we poor fat humans put on weight better than we lose it, and it just looks more figure flattering to wear clothes with a little space! If you have to choose between sausage casing look and twinkey wrapper, go twinkey. Please. I don’t want to have to look over at my sighted friends and say sadly: “I’m sorry you had to see that. Want to borrow the Guide Dog and go my way? It’s better blind, honey. Trust me.”

Lesson 3: Your headwear should never, ever play music. You will have to stop to adjust it, pull your helmet off, and thus completely ruin that sinister Darth Vader appeal. Better to go quietly incognito than MC Hammer meets Lord of the Sith.

Lesson 4: The scents wafting through the air at the cconvention were as varied as the costumes. Rubber from masks and movie sets, the dark thick scent of studio makeup, the smells of leather and metal from armor and corsets, the smell of books, new T-shirts, carboard box smell, bad convention food smell, an of course, the smell of over 100,000 people milling around. If you wear a big costume and walk around in a giant enclosed space with 100,000 of your closest geek pals, please, for the sake of your fellow geeks, wear deodorant! Like, the whole bottle. No joke, there was a lady walking around by the Mrs. Field’s Cookies with a sign advertising free sprays of Fabreeze, and believe me, a few attendees needed her help… badly! Your costume looks good enough to touch, but your odor drives the women away better than walking around with a ten-foot tall billboard perched on your head proclaiming in bright neon lettering: “Geek adult living at home with mom with no job other than playing video games!” To old veteran attendees of the convention, this distinctive I’ve-been-in-costume-too-long or I’ve-been-playing-dungeons-and-dragons-for-the-past-two-days-straight-and-haven’t-stopped-to-shower-or-pee fragrance is known as Con Funk. Beware the con funk. It will leave you terrified. And thinking dog breath smells Heavenly.

Lesson 5: Guide Dog. Not costume prop. Need I say more?

Lesson 6: See lesson 5.

Lesson 7: Makeup is miraculous. It can turn a normal woman into a white-faced joker. It can make an average man into a sexy demon or rotting zombie. And from the descriptions I heard during Comic Con, there were some incredible makeup artists attending this convention. Jezebel, the women’s magazine, ran an article yesterday with the headline: “Largest gathering of adult virgins at Comic Con.” I’m not sure about everyone’s sexual status, but I can speak to everyone’s dedication to something. These people love their characters, and stop at nothing to embody them. It would be nice if we all got that passionate (okay, maybe toned down just a skidge), about something; and contrary to popular magazine headlines, didn’t sacrifice our love lives to do it. Whether we put in the practice time to learn how to apply a good date night makeup job, or we jam on a Mickey Mouse hat with a batman costume, the world could learn a few valuable lessons from the geeks. Go after things all the way.

Last lesson: The convention returns to San Diego every year and it’s worth investigating. Especially when you can’t see. Underneath that armor, there are some pretty sexy people! And they’re all parading around in a giant touchable fashion show. What Parisian model will let you walk up and feel her clothing? Not a one. But every geek we asked was more than happy to let me touch their costumes. I may not know what a runway model dresses like, but after attending Comic Con, let me tell you, this blind chick could rock the armor style. I got a thorough education.

Oh just one more thing: when in doubt… see lesson 5. Thanks.

For more misadventures and strange happenings in my world, follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sassyOutwater.

Sassy Outwater is a fulltime musician, part-time writer, Health and yoga nut, style junky and blind chick… and honorary geek now that she’s attended Comic Con.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cordless Phones for the Home That Talk

NOTE: This is just a sample of the phones you'll find at Zalmar.com that feature talking caller ID. For more options, click this link to visit Zalmar.com and search for the word "talking" in the search box. Accessories and additional phone systems can be found there. Note that not all features of the following phones are accessible. Navigating menus might not be possible by someone who is totally blind.

Panasonic KX-TG6445T DECT 6.0 Expandable 5-Handset Cordless Phone System with Dual Keypad, Talking Caller ID, Answering Machine and Talking Alarm Clock

Overview:
  • DECT 6.0 Technology means less Interference: Engineered to work in 1.9GHz frequency, our DECT 6.0 phones won't conflict with common wireless devices such as 2.4GHz routers, wireless keyboards and mouses, microwave ovens and other household items. And because it's digital, you'll enjoy long range and clear sound while deterring eavesdropping.
  • Call Block: Store the Caller ID info of any and all unwanted callers into your phone's Call Block list so that you can eliminate future pesky calls from them. After their information is stored, they'll get a busy signal if they call you again.
  • Silent Mode: Now you can program each handset to ring or not at your discretion. For example, before you go to sleep, set the bedside handset to Silent Mode so that it won't ring for the duration of your slumber. In the meantime, the handset in another room is unaffected, and rings as usual.
  • Talking Caller ID/Talking Alarm Clock/Talking Battery Alert: Now you don't have to be holding the phone to see who's calling; using text-to-speech technology, the caller ID information is announced in between rings! The phone also boasts an alarm clock that speaks to you, as in Its time for lunch. And the phone politely tells you when your battery is low with a Please charge phone reminder.
  • Dual Keypad and Speakerphone: Keypad and Speakerphone on Base and Handset
  Features:
  • Color: Black Metallic
  • Channels: 60 Channels
    '
  • Multi Handset (Capability): 5 (up to 6)
  • Optional Handset: KX-TGA641 / KX-TGA740
  • Icon Operation: Yes
  • Call Block: Yes (30-Station)
  • Frequency: 1.9 GHz
  • System: DECT 6.0
  • Shipment Battery: Ni-MH (AAA)
  • Battery Life (Talk): 5 hours
  • Battery Life (Standby): 11 days
  • Charge Time: 7 hours
  • LCD Backlit Color: White
  • Backlit Keypad: Yes
  • Dial Keypad on Base: Yes
  • Hold/Soft Key: Yes
  • Talk Volume: 3-Step
  • Speakerphone Volume: 8-step
  • Headset Jack: Yes
  • Ringer Volume: Handset & Base: High/Mid/Low/Off
  • Light-Up Indicator/Ringer Color (LED): Yes
  • Belt Clip: Yes
  • Redial Memory: 5-history (Name and No.)
  • Mute/Flash Buttons: Yes
  • Intercom (Handset to Handset/Handset to Base): Handset to Handset
  • Conference Call: Up to 4-way (Base OR Handset-Handset-Handset-LINE)
  • Any Key Answer/Talk: Yes
  • Barge In/Privacy Mode: Yes
  • Clock/Alarm: Yes (Tone/Melody/Talking Alarm)
  • Talking Caller ID (Handset/Base): Yes
  • Menu Operation: Yes
  • Wall Mountable: Yes
  • Number of LCD Language Display: 2-English/Spanish
  • Caller ID Compatible: Yes
  • Caller ID Memory: 50 items
  • Phonebook Memory (Name and Number): 50 items (16 char/32 digits)
  • Chain Dial: Yes
  • Ringer ID: Yes
  • Voice Mail: Yes
  • Answering Machine: Yes
  • Recording Time (ICM+OGM): About 18 min.
  • Memo Recording: Max. about 3 min.
  • Remote Operation/Turn On: Yes (from outside line (DTMF))
  • Base Dimensions H x W x D (in.): 2.3 x 6.1 x 5.4
  • Handset Dimensions H x W x D (in): 6.3 x 1.9 x 1.3
  • Charger Dimensions H x W x D (in.): 2 x 3 x 3.4
  • Base Weight (lbs.): 0.95
  • Handset Weight (lbs.): 0.46
  • Charger Weight (lbs.): 0.21
  • Number of Phone Lines: 1
  • Handset Locator: Yes
  • Choice Mail (Message Alert): Yes
  • Silent Mode: Yes
  • Talking Phone: Yes
  • Speakerphone Volume(Handset): Base Unit (Off + 8-Step)
  • Large Text Display Mode: Yes
Click this link to purchase the Panasonic KX-TG6445T DECT 6.0 Expandable 5-Handset Cordless Phone from Zalmar.com.

Panasonic KX-TG6641B DECT 6.0 Plus Expandable Black Cordless Phone with Alarm Clock, Talking Caller ID, Answering System and On Base Dial Pad

Features:
  • DECT 6.0 Plus
  • Power Back-Up Operation (Handset)
  • Talking Caller ID
  • Intelligent Eco Mode
  • Range Boost
  • Tone Equalizer
  • Reversible Handset Design
  • Hands-Free Speakerphone on Base & Handset
  • Smart Wall Mount
  • Call Block
  • White Backlit LCD on Handset
  • Non-Slip Handset Design
  • Ringer ID Up to 4-Way Conference Capability
Specifications:
  • Color: Black
  • Channels: 60
  • Channels Multi Handset (Capability): 1 (up to 6)
  • Handset Locator: Yes
  • Number of Phone Lines: 1
  • Call Block: Yes (30-Station)
  • Frequency: 1.9 GHz System: DECT 6.0
  • Shipment Battery: Rechargeable Ni-MH Batteries (AAA x 2)
  • Battery Life (Talk): 13 Hours
  • Battery Life (Standby): 11 days
  • Charge Time: 7 hours LCD
  • Backlit Color: White
  • Handset Indicator: Yes (number or user defined name)
  • LCD (Handset): 1.8-inch Full Dot Mono 103 x 65 pixels
  • Backlit Keypad: Yes
  • Hold/Soft Key: Yes
  • Talk Volume (Handset): 4-step
  • Speakerphone Volume (Handset): 6-step
  • Headset Jack: Yes
  • Ringer Volume (Handset/Base): 6-step + OFF
  • Ringer Pattern (Tone + Melody): 10 (5+5)
  • Belt Clip: Yes
  • Redial Memory (Handset): 5-history (Name & Number)
  • Mute/Flash Buttons: Y (Soft Key/Y)
  • Intercom (Handset to Handset/Handset to Base): Yes/Yes
  • Conference Call with Outside Line: Up to 4-Way (H/S-H/S-H/S-LINE)
  • Call Sharing: Yes
  • Auto Talk: Yes Clock/Alarm: Yes (Tone/Melody)
  • Menu Operation: Yes
  • Wall Mountable: Yes
  • Silent Mode: Yes
  • Number of LCD Language Display: 2-English/Spanish
  • Caller ID Compatible: Yes
  • Caller ID Memory: 50 items
  • Phonebook Memory (Name and Number): 50 items (16 char/24 digits)
  • Chain Dial: Yes
  • Ringer ID: Yes (9 Ringer Groups)
  • Voice Mail: Yes
  • Base Dimensions H x W x D (in.): 5.4 x 6.4 x 7.2
  • Handset Dimensions H x W x D (in): 6.8 x 1.9 x 1.3
  • Base Weight (lbs.): 0.82
  • Handset Weight (lbs.): 0.31
Supplied Accessories:
  • AC Adapter
  • Telephone Line Cord
  • 2x Rechargeable Batteries
  • • Belt Clip
Click this link to purchase the Panasonic KX-TG6641B DECT 6.0 Plus Expandable Black Cordless Phone with Alarm Clock, Talking Caller ID, Answering System and On Base Dial Pad from Zalmar.com.

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Favorite Scrap Books

by Donna J. Jodhan

As long as I can remember, and with or without sight, scrap books have always been one of my favourite pastimes. When I was a kid, my cousins used to clip all of my favourite pictures and photos out of magazines and newspapers and then patiently paste them into scrap books for me. I only had to ask and Nancy and Brenda would do it for me.

There were pictures of the Kennedy family; in particular the Kennedy brothers. The Osmonds, and the Royal family. I could barely see these but it did not matter. I had to have them. Later on, my best friend Charlene continued the tradition for me and my favourites expanded to include Paul Anka, Englebert Humperdink, Julio Iglesias, Wayne Gretzky, Princess Diana, and of course my hero Pierre Trudeau.

I expanded my favourites when I got my vision through a cornea transplant and for 25 glorious years I was able to cut and paste for myself. There were many other favourites that I collected as well. I collected memorabilia on the death of Princess Diana and JFK JR along with Pierre Trudeau and I extended my scrap book pastime to include videos.

Five years ago when I lost almost all of my vision, my pastime came to a screeching halt but I held on to my scrap books and videos. A few months ago, I decided to rid myself of some of these treasured scrap books because it was becoming too much for me to store and it was with a very heavy heart and a lump in my throat that I did this. Before parting with them, I opened each and riffled through their pages doing my best to remember. Then fighting back tears, I placed them in a large box and took them down to the garbage shoot. "Rest in peace" was what I whispered as I gently pushed them down the shoot.

These scrap books have helped me to keep my memories alive. I have kept some of the more treasured ones, but I shall always miss the others. I still have my videos because at least, I can play them and listen to 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: http://www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility: http://www.sterlingcreations.ca/blog/blog.html
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns: http://www.sterlingcreations.com/businessdesk.htm

Socializing in the Workplace

by Donna J. Jodhan

For a disabled employee, socializing in the workplace can often be very challenging; but at the same time, it can also be a challenge for the mainstream employee. For the disabled employee, the question in one's mind is how much assistance could they ask for before it becomes either a nuisance or an annoyance and for the mainstream employee the question would be how much assistance should they be offering before it too becomes either an annoyance or a nuisance.

Socializing in the workplace should not be limited to just thinking of it as hanging out at someone else’s office or cubicle. No, it should be expanded to think of it in other ways. These would include:

  • Having lunch together at the company's cafeteria or out at a restaurant.
  • Attending a company function
  • Taking part in outdoor events

One of the things that I found most interesting when I worked for a company was having to find ways to negotiate a buffet table. Some coworkers were very conscious of my challenges and did their best to help me out while others seemed oblivious of the fact that I was unable to negotiate a buffet table independently.

I'd like to close by highlighting some of the more typical problems that most disabled employees would or could face when socializing in the workplace.

  • Most disabled persons often need help to negotiate a buffet table.
  • Disabled persons who are unable to drive almost always find themselves having to depend on others for transportation.
  • Blind and visually impaired persons often need assistance with the reading of menus.
  • Most disabled persons often need assistance to find seating.
  • Blind and visually impaired persons might need sighted assistance to help them negotiate their way around unfamiliar territory.
  • Most disabled persons often need help finding their way to washrooms.

Of course, this list can be expanded but I think that by now, you are getting the picture.

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: http://www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility: http://www.sterlingcreations.ca/blog/blog.html
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns: http://www.sterlingcreations.com/businessdesk.htm

Friday, July 22, 2011

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

Jane Erin

Jane Erin, Ph.D., The University of Arizona

In the spring of 2010, I began to talk with APH personnel about how I might gather data related to student performance on the Woodcock-Johnson III (WJIII) achievement test, which had recently been published in braille. I had no inkling that this project would lead to the unexpected opportunity to become an Executive in Residence during 2010-1011. It was a little like winning a trip to Disneyland, with the promise of new adventures in the development of materials and equipment. Was I visiting Fantasyland, Adventureland, or Tomorrowland? What wild rides would I experience? And what would I discover about the larger-than-life characters that I had met each year at the Annual Meeting of APH?

As I complete my experience now as the fourth Executive in Residence at APH, I still view many aspects of my experience as a visit to a magical place. APH graciously accommodated my preference for intermittent visits to Louisville during 2010-2011. I was able to extend my residency across five visits between September and June, spending a total of six weeks at APH. During this time I gained new knowledge and a more complete understanding of the extent of the services that APH provides to children and adults with visual impairments. The intermittent schedule required some reorientation on each visit, such as figuring out how to access my APH email or remembering where the coffee cups were kept. However, it provided me with the opportunity to see many products progress through the production process, beginning with development by project leaders and ending with the "airplane" taking off (APH code language for a product being placed on the market). When I first visited APH in September, Karen Poppe was designing Tactile Town on the computer, and on my last visit in June, I observed the meeting in which the plans for production were finalized. In September, Terrie Terlau described her Talking PC Maps and Burt Boyer showed me his plans for a tactile version of Best for a Nest. In June, Terrie's maps were in the catalog and Burt's book was in production. The experience of seeing project leaders conceive, nurture, and develop new products was powerful; it will leave me with a sense of reverence for every APH product I encounter.

The project that brought me to APH was working with Project Leader Barbara Henderson to collect and analyze data from the braille version of the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement, Braille Adaptation. As a widely used instrument for assessing student achievement and a useful tool in identifying learning difficulties, the WJIII includes a battery of tests that evaluate a variety of skills in mathematics, reading, comprehension, vocabulary, and spelling. In 2010 the WJIII Braille was adapted by Dr. Lynn Jaffe assuring consistent administration of an instrument that is now appropriate for students who are blind but also allows for some comparison of skills with the general population. The project is well underway, but because we need large number of scores for the data analysis to be useful, the effort will continue through next year. In the early fall, we will request more anonymous copies of student score sheets, and we hope to be able to complete the statistical analyses of these data by the end of next school year. Please look for the announcement in the fall APH News about our continuing need for student scores for this project.

In addition to the WJIII project, I also became involved in a wide variety of activities that added to my understanding of partnerships between APH and practicing professionals. In September, I participated with Jeanette Wicker of APH and Dr. Cheryl Hannan of California State University, Los Angeles, to implement a research project to explore the use of the Wilson Reading materials for blind students. APH has developed the materials with careful attention to detail and feedback from teachers at Perkins School for the Blind, and Dr. Hannan's study will provide data about whether the program makes a difference in student reading abilities. Because APH's role is restricted to research about product development, partnerships with university personnel are necessary to investigate the efficacy of instructional approaches and products such as this one.

Since students with multiple disabilities are a particular interest of mine, I was especially pleased to participate in several focus groups convened by Tristan Pierce with members of the national community to review and plan future materials for children with multiple disabilities. Talking with professionals from all over the country about their interests in materials as well as learning more about the wide range of materials now available for students with multiple disabilities will make me more effective in preparing teachers. Consultant Millie Smith's work with Tristan in developing the Sensory Learning Kit and their continuing collaboration in the upcoming Symbols and Meaning (SAM) project will be welcomed by teachers who need a framework in planning and instruction for students with significant disabilities in addition to a visual impairment.

Each time I visited APH, my list of projects and activities expanded. I am developing an annotated bibliography of research on tactile skills with Karen Poppe that will be available for general reference in the field; I reviewed new products for several project leaders, including Loana Mason, Jeanette Wicker, and Elaine Kitchel; and I participated in a variety of meetings, including those at which product ideas from the field are considered.

Staff members at APH were gracious and hospitable to a fault. I especially appreciated Ralph Bartley's hospitality and conscientious planning for each of my visits, as well as Tuck Tinsley and Bob Brasher's graciousness in making sure I had everything needed to fully participate in APH activities. The opportunity to serve as an Executive in Residence has provided me with a remarkable experience that was as adventurous and awe-inspiring as any trip to Disneyland. The talents of the people at APH and their roles in making new ideas come to life offered me an extraordinary glimpse of what tomorrow can be for people who are visually impaired.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tennis SERVES Teaches Tennis to Students With Visual Impairments

The mission of Tennis SERVES is to teach people who have visual impairment or blindness to play and enjoy the game of tennis, with a dream of one day seeing tennis played in the Paralympics. Sejal "Sage" Vallabh, a Massachusetts high school tennis player, discovered tennis for the visual impaired while working a summer internship in Japan.

Last November, APH Project Leader Tristan Pierce received an email message from Ayako Matsui, Secretary General for the Japan Blind Tennis Federation and co-author with Tristan on APH’s 30-Love Tennis manual, about a young woman in the Boston area who wanted to teach tennis to students with visual impairment. Tristan contacted Sage to let her know who in Massachusetts had purchased APH's 30-Love Tennis Kits. Since then, Sage organized her Newton North High School teammates to volunteer and teach students in the Boston area. Read about this remarkable group of teens who have introduced tennis to many of their visually impaired and blind peers.

When asked what the next steps for Tennis SERVES are, Sage enthusiastically responds that if another school for the blind and visually impaired is interested in starting a Tennis SERVES program, they should contact info@tennisserves.org. To learn more about Tennis SERVES and to watch a great video of the Newton North tennis players teaching tennis, go to the Tennis SERVES website: www.tennisserves.org.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Note from Dr. Jane Erin

To the Staff at APH,

As an Executive in Residence at APH during 2010-2011, I want to express my appreciation to all of the staff for your thoughtfulness and hospitality during my time in Louisville. Even though my experience took place during one- or two-week visits throughout the year, every return trip felt like coming home.

APH is a model of collaboration and high quality work. The care that goes into the conceptualization and planning of each product is extraordinary, and employees seem constantly committed to the common goal of creating excellent materials to promote learning. As a visitor, I always felt welcomed and included. Project leaders made time to spend with me, no matter how busy they were; Ralph, Bob, and Tuck made sure that I was able to see how the processes of planning and production developed throughout the organization. People whose names I did not know greeted me warmly in passing, and people whom I had known for years took on new dimensions as I realized the scope of their daily roles.

Thank you for providing me with renewed energy to go forward with my university roles in research and preparation of professionals. I look forward to many future visits to APH, and I thank you for the opportunity to learn from a skilled and dedicated staff.

With appreciation,

Jane Erin, Professor and Coordinator of Programs in Visual Impairment
Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies
The University of Arizona

A STEPP in the Right Direction for Accessible Textbooks

The STudent E-rent Pilot Project (STEPP) is an eTextbook rental program offering cost-effective textbooks that "all" students can read.

  • Cost-Effective: Save an average of 50% or more off the retail cost of a new hardcopy textbook purchase.
  • Convenient: Access eTextbooks on almost any device, anytime, anywhere.
  • Conscious Choice: Practice environmental stewardship; save our trees.
  • Accessible textbooks for the blind and visually impaired.

STEPP was launched by the Alternative Media Access Center, in partnership with CourseSmart and the AccessText Network, through a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education (DoEd). This program is designed to meet the textbook rental needs of any postsecondary student and aims to help improve low-cost access to higher education textbooks for all students, including those with print-related disabilities.

STEPP leverages the expertise of its three collaborative partners to offer a national solution to promote cost savings for students while eliminating traditional barriers to textbook access. Click this link to "STEPP" towards universal access: http://stepp.gatech.edu.

Accessible Textbook Finder

The Accessible Textbook Finder (ATF) searches multiple sources of accessible books and provides the results in a combined format.

The ATF search includes six accessible media producers and libraries. Search results and materials are provided by the individual sources: Alternative Media Access Center, Bookshare, Learning Ally, National Library Service and CourseSmart.

Click this link to visit the Accessible Textbook Finder.
Click this link to visit APH's Louis Database to search for accessible materials.

How a Blind Gamer Plays Zelda by Ear

by Jason Schreier

When Terry Garrett plays Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, he pays close attention to the videogame’s sounds.

The beep of a blinking bomb, the desperate cry of a friend in need, the pounding of a Mudokon’s hammer: They all provide crucial details that enable Garrett to get through the game’s punishing levels. When he needs orientation, Garrett listens carefully for “sound landmarks” like running water or footsteps shifting from grass to earth. And as he works his way through the side-scrolling puzzler’s world of weird creatures, Garrett pieces the noises together and sees the game’s levels laid out in his mind.

Proper listening is essential for Garrett to enjoy the game — after all, he is blind.

Garrett lost his sight in 1997 at age 10. That same year, his older brother brought home Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee. Entranced by the game’s charming narrator, Abe — a Mudokon slave with his lips sewn shut — Garrett set out to make his way through Oddworld’s danger-filled settings.

Although he couldn’t see a single image on the computer screen, he could hear the sounds — footsteps, voices, music. At first he couldn’t figure out what all the noises meant. Frustrated, he tossed the game aside. But he came back again. And again.

Today, Garrett can beat the entire game, executing every jump and step with near-perfect precision. He’s honed his hearing to the point where he can recognize exactly which sounds refer to each object and act accordingly. He hasn’t memorized every level, but he knows enough about the sound design to beat Oddworld without dying.

Garrett’s unlikely accomplishments underscore the importance of good sound design in videogames. When was the last time you paid attention to the clang of a sword, or the patter of your character’s footsteps?

To most gamers, sound effects are just part of the scenery, supplemental features that we often take for granted. But to the visually impaired, sound is everything.

Oddworld isn’t the only videogame Garrett can enjoy. He loves games with haptic feedback like Wii Sports and Rock Band, which he learned how to play through a button-mashing period of trial and error.

Besides listening to the audio of videogames, there is more you can do to play them without being able to see the screen.

  1. Read. Consult text-based game walk-throughs, which are full of other players’ vividly written descriptions of the layout of the games.
  2. Choose. Garrett recommends games with strong sound design. Old-school 2-D games may not be a good choice, because it’s tough to tell where the sound is coming from.
  3. Get help. Garrett’s friends and family sat with him and helped him visualize the game worlds by describing what objects looked like.

Some games are nearly impossible for him, even with help. Retro two-dimensional games don’t have enough sound cues. Explosion-packed shooters like Halo are so chock-full of noises that they overwhelm Garrett’s carefully trained ear.

The sound design of Abe’s Oddysee was not tailored for the visually impaired. In fact, Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning said it never occurred to him that blind gamers would be able to play through the title.

To make games more accessible for gamers with vision problems, sound designers “should include as many sounds as possible,” indicating things like a player’s footsteps, in-game obstacles or approaching enemies, Garrett said.

Garrett’s current challenge is mastering one of the most beloved games of all time: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. He plays the Nintendo 64 game on his PC using an emulator and an Xbox 360 controller.

After listening intently as friends played through sections of the game, Garrett asked them questions and researched Zelda, based on text and video walk-throughs. Actions that require pixel-perfect precision, like shooting arrows or finding targets with the game’s grappling hook, still stymie him. Article Source: Wired.com

Monday, July 18, 2011

Repair Your Mobile Device at iRepairFast.com

iRepairFast is a company that provides repair services for owners of portable devices. They have five years of proven experience and specialize in iPhone, iPad and iPod touch repair. The company can replace smashed or cracked screens using original OEM iPhone replacement screens and free USPS shipping is provided along with a guaranteed 24-48 hour turnaround for all repair jobs.

The company also purchases used phones. If you are thinking about replacing the mobile device you already have with a more powerful one, then iRepairFast will make the transition that much smoother by buying yours on the spot, and for good money too. All you have to do is to head to the "Cash for Phones" menu and specify what type of phone you want to sell. The company will then get back to you with a quote.

It is also worth noting that the company can also repair Android phones, Blackberry devices and Windows phones. If you have one of these, simply pick the "Custom Repairs/Android Repairs" menu to get started.

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

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

by Sassy Outwater

If You Give A Blind Chick New Makeup… She’ll Paint Her Face Purple: it’s the Pitfall of Pretty Colors. They look good, when they stay where you put them. When they don’t… the results can be catastrophically funny, or downright humiliating. Nothing like doing your best to gussy up for a date, and finding out your best efforts made you look like a Halloween costume gone horribly awry.

As you probably can guess… The title of this article did happen. I recently attended a party with some friends and decided to use a new shade of pretty purple eye shadow. I used a cream to powder base eye shadow from Bare Minerals, the same type of eye shadow I’ve been using for over a Year. Just a new color. Safe bet? Wrong! I wear the brand routinely, I know what I’m doing with a makeup brush—that’s supposed to exempt me from having to worry about excess powder falling on my cheeks. I’d feel it if it fell. Right?

Um… not so much!

My friend was gently scrubbing at my face with a makeup wipe minutes after we arrived at the party in an effort to take the purple off my nose and cheeks. Woops. Note to self: don’t use that eye shadow without first putting on a Hazmat suit. Got it.

It’s really not that drastic, but nothing galls quite like the “Honey, you have makeup where it’s not supposed to be,” aside you get at a function or get together. So, how do we avoid the pitfalls of new makeup and vibrant colors?

There are a couple very easy things you can do. If you are using brighter eye shadow colors like blues, purples, dark colors, or anything that can really stand out against your skin tone, put your eye shadow on first before any other makeup. Use a makeup wipe to scrub your nose and cheeks afterword, then apply your moisturizer and the rest of your makeup. Your other option is to lay a Kleenex along your nose and cheeks while applying the color. This will catch the excess powder that will fall off the eye shadow applicator or your finger.

I’m all for independent makeup application,but if you want to pull out the big guns, it’s best to have a pair of eyeballs to double checkthings. Especially if you’re using new products. Even a safe cream to powder eye shadow like the one I was using has a bit of spill to it. Learn these things with a sighted friend or family member around to do damage control before you go out on a date, not at the dinner table when your date points out that you have raccoon face. The other option, if you have an iPhone is Vizwiz. Do your makeup, take a pic, ask if you have any makeup spills or problems, send it off, and hear back. Use the feedback to fix problems, take another pic and repeat until you get it right. Technology is so cool!

And last but not least, know how to do your makeup right, but know what can go wrong. And take steps to prevent it. I.E. Lipstick can get on your teeth, eye shadow can fall and stain the cheeks, you can dot mascara on the side of your nose or your brows by accident. And stay vigilent for these things. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, a great lipstick for blind and visually impaired women is one that contains menthol. You can feel where the lipstick is at all times. And fix mistakes. It does not get easier than that. Stay one step ahead of your makeups wiles and you’ll win every time.

Luckily, I was with friends and the eye shadow turned into a good joke. But if I had walked on stage looking like that… No, not even going to think about it! Needless to say, writing this article serves as a nice dose of humble pie for me… So, you can bet I’ll be taking my own advice. Try new makeup styles out first on friends. Don’t be afraid to venture into the wild purple yonder… just please, go armed with a trusty set of eyeballs or a camera phone and a good sense of humor. And for Heaven’s sake, bring makeup wipes!

Sassy Outwater: Fulltime musician, part-time writer, health and style junky, Yoga instructor and blind chick.

For more info about fashion and blindness, to ask questions, or just to keep up with my misadventures, follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SassyOutwater.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

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

Sometimes you're not in the best situation to watch video podcasts, and if you can't see, why stream video unnecessarily and waste your battery by letting the video play on-screen. Rather than wasting a bunch of time syncing multiple copies of the podcast and switching between them, you can use this simple home button shortcut to solve the problem.

All you have to do is play the video podcast like you normally would, lock your iPhone to pause it, and then double tap the home button to bring up your iPod controls. If you initiate playback from the lock screen, the video will start to play but you won't be able to see it and you can listen to just the audio as if there were no video at all.

New Ways of Identifying

by Donna J. Jodhan

Now that I am barely able to see, I constantly have to find and come up with new ways of identifying things to others. It is no longer possible for me to identify things by color so I need to let my fingers do the identifying for me.

The other day for example, I told my brother that his sweater was hanging in the coat closet and when he asked me which sweater we both hesitated at the same moment. His first words were "O, you don't know which one" but my comeback was "the woolen one, with long sleeves, and workings on the front."

When I was able to see, and had enough vision to identify colors, my mom and others usually identified things to me through color. It was the yellow book, the black shoes, the bottle with the green liquid, the tin with the red top, and so on. Now, I have to come up with other ways to identify things to them and in turn, they are constantly coming up with ways to identify things to me.

We usually communicate in terms of size, shape, texture, and where a certain thing can be found. More work for both sides but it works just fine. When I was a kid and as long as I can remember, my mom and I have used a very unique way for us to identify things to each other. We identify things through incidents and memory and who has given something to us. So for example; it's Gayle's bag because my sister-in-law Gayle gave me this particular bag. It's Granny's dress, because the dress belonged to Granny. It's mom's perfume because mom gave me the perfume, and so on.

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: http://www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility: http://www.sterlingcreations.ca/blog/blog.html
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns: http://www.sterlingcreations.com/businessdesk.htm

Navigating the Workplace

by Donna J. Jodhan

One of the first things that a disabled employee needs to do before starting a new job in unfamiliar surroundings is to learn how to navigate their workplace. For those who are blind or visually impaired, it is even more crucial and I can tell you from first hand experience that it really helps to learn the layout of one's workplace before starting off on the first day. No shocker and no shaker.

For someone with no vision, the techniques used are a bit different to those with a bit of vision and in this editorial, I am going to list some of the more general things that the employer should or could do well to be aware of and I am going to present the facts as they pertain to blind and visually impaired employees.

For the employer:

  • Make sure that the path to the employee's cubicle or office is clear of obstacles that could be a detriment to the employee; such as boxes, cases, ladders, etc. If ladders or tables need to be placed in the path, then the employee needs to be told.
  • Give the employee an orientation to their workplace before they start on the first day.
  • Be sure to show them such things as the way to the washroom, the cafeteria, to offices and cubicles of employees that they will be interacting closely with.
  • Keep low-hanging objects out of the way.
  • Always alert the employee whenever there are such things as wet floor or wet paint signs.
  • Give them an orientation that includes learning their way to their cubicle or office from the entrance of the building and from their cubicle or office to the exit of the building. Orientate them to elevators, escalators, and emergency exits.
  • Be sure to show them how to find other important locations in the workplace.
  • If possible, place braille and large print signs on doors of washrooms. Place braille and raised print numbers in elevators.

Persons without vision almost often depend on tactile landmarks such as doors that are labeled in braille. They also use a technique of counting hallways, corridors, and pathways among cubicles to help them find their way. They also use walls as landmarks and they trail the wall with their canes in order to orientate themselves. Persons with out vision also use floor surfaces to help them navigate such as using the edge of carpets.

Those with some vision use doors and walls to help them find their way but they also use colors of these to help them. In addition, they use signs as landmarks and when the signs are brightly colored, it helps them even more. For those who can see some color, it is a definite bonus.

Light is also extremely important to those with some sight. Many persons with some vision often make full use of well lit surroundings to help them navigate. They also make full use of contrasts in both color and light as well as between tiled surfaces and carpets.

I have been on both sides of the coin so to speak. I used to have enough vision to decipher landmarks visually but now with very little left, I now have to depend more on the tactile technique. Of course, there are many blind and visually impaired employees who use a combination of both tactile and vision to navigate their way around the workplace.

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: http://www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility: http://www.sterlingcreations.ca/blog/blog.html
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns: http://www.sterlingcreations.com/businessdesk.htm

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