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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Monday, March 05, 2012

Two Treasures from the APH Libraries

The APH Barr Library supports research initiatives at APH, while the Migel Library is the largest collection of nonmedical information related to blindness in the world. Although the collections do not circulate, arrangements can be made to use the materials on site. In addition, an ongoing digitization effort means APH will continue to make materials available through the online catalog at

Two of the many "Treasures from the APH Libraries" are described below.

From the Migel Library: The Industrial Home for the Blind, Light Buoy Industries

Chair Caning and Press Seating Department, the Industrial Home for the Blind

More than a book, this is a professionally bound photo album containing twenty-five 8x10 photographs. On the back of each photo-page is a typewritten index card describing the subject of the photo. The album begins with a history of the buildings that have housed the Industrial Home for the Blind. The last of these shows the "new Home and Factory Building...Completed January 1st, 1928." Items produced by Light Buoy Industries are documented, including brooms, woven and upholstered seating, woven rugs, and the "famous" Light Buoy Saddle Mop and Best by Test Mop, both invented by blind men. The real treasure of the album is the unique perspective it gives of the work day at the Industrial Home. One photo shows workers in the smoking room at break time, while someone reads a newspaper aloud from the corner of the room. Another shows the dining room in use at lunch. The album is a rich, unique document of an important organization.

According to 100 Years of Miracles, the Industrial Home for the Blind was founded in 1893 with the motto "Helping the Blind to Help Themselves." When founder Eben Monford passed away in 1928 (the approximate time that this album was complied,) more than 600 people who were blind were a part of IHB. The Industrial Home for the Blind went through a change in name and programming in 1985, when it became Helen Keller Services for the Blind. The Migel Library holds several other publications from IHB, including many annual reports.

From the Barr Library: The Age of Spiritual Machines

Kurzweil, Ray. The age of spiritual machines: when computers exceed human intelligence, New York: Viking, 1999.

Everyone has heard of Kurzweil in the context of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and text to speech. This title, however, presents his philosophical and futurist side. He uses the framework of conversations with Molly, his "every person," to explain technological concepts and predict their evolution and effect on society. Although not all of his predictions have come to pass in the time frames he predicts, he was absolutely on track about the current pervasiveness of the digital world and networking connections, as well as life improving applications of technology.

This title even has its own Wikipedia article:

Contact Library staff:, 800-223-1839, ext. 705

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