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, April 23, 2012

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 http://migel.aph.org.

From the Barr Library: Protection of Vision in Children—Arnall Patz and Richard E. Hoover, with contributions by Ruth L. Gottesman and Robert M. Worthington. Charles C Thomas, c1969.

Note: both Dr. Patz and Dr. Hoover have been inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Blindness Field

Although written from the point of view of medical professionals, this title also offers some interesting insights into the social and educational issues of the time. The book does deal with the more common vision disorders of childhood, but addresses them in terms of screening and early remediation programs, which the authors advocate for universal adoption. They also suggest that medical professionals should consider visual health as an issue from birth. A chapter on genetic screening talks about using the genetic history to mandate closer screening for early treatment without raising the specter of eugenics that might have been included in similar books written decades earlier.

The book also pushes forward the relatively new concept for the time that existing vision should be used and optimized where possible, and notes that any recommendations should be customized for the needs and comfort of the individual child. The social and emotional needs of the child and family are also addressed.

Although the scientific basis for this book may be dated, the compassion and social awareness of the authors would be absolutely on point today.

From the Migel Library: Seeing Beyond Sight: Photographs by Blind Teenagers—Tony Deifell. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2007.

Chronicling the experiences of Sound Shadows, a photography class conducted at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, North Carolina, Seeing Beyond Sight: Photographs by Blind Teenagers investigates the relationships between photography, education, and perception. Started as an after school photography club, Sound Shadows progressed from the basic premise of teaching students with a range of visual impairments how to use cameras to becoming a valuable tool in supporting the school's reading and writing curriculum. Categorized in five thematic chapters, student photography is featured with captions coming from teaching notes, memories, taped interviews, and writing assignments.

One project participant, who had been struggling with learning to read and write in braille, was a very active oral communicator. Through sharing her photographs and describing them in both oral and written language, she found the words to come much more easily. Subsequently her reading and writing improved. Another student made a deeper connection in his understanding of metaphors. After describing a dream in which he was ambling in a snow storm, he took a blurry picture of a descending staircase, a representation of the feeling he had in the dream. Seeing Beyond Sight provides just enough description and background to invite the reader into the students’ worlds while still allowing for one’s own interpretation of their photographic expressions.

Seeing Beyond Sight has ties to prior acquisitions held in the Migel. The foreword, written by Robert Coles, is adapted from School (Little, Brown, and Co, 1998), a photographic work featuring three Boston area schools, including the Perkins School for the Blind. References are also made to Shooting Blind (Aperture Foundation, 2002), which features adult photographers, as well as to George A. Covington, whose Let Your Camera Do The Seeing: The World's First Photography Manual for the Legally Blind (National Access Center, 1981) is also a part of the Migel collection.

Contact Library staff: library@aph.org, (800) 223-1839, ext. 705

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