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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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

White Cane Laws in the United States

Woman walking with white caneMost people probably don't realize that there are laws regarding white canes and pedestrians who are blind in the United States. And these laws vary by state.

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) has compiled a detailed description of white cane safety laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This website also includes the penalties for breaking the law as well as links to the state statutes.

On October 15 each year, we hold National White Cane Safety Day, a day of awareness-raising and advocacy. Events are held throughout the country to teach the community about the safety and rights of pedestrians who are blind.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

UPDATED! Oldies but Goodies: "Established" APH Products

by Monica Turner
As a Field Services Representative, one of my responsibilities is to go to conferences and exhibit APH products. Oftentimes I will display many of the new and exciting products that we have to offer in order to provide consumers an opportunity to see the items firsthand before making the decision to purchase them. While it is wonderful that APH has been producing so many new products over the past several years, I find that I'm not often able to take along as many of the wonderful, older products that we still have available. We give you information about our new products each month as they are released, and we have been thinking that it might be beneficial to also go back and revisit some of the "oldies but goodies." We hope you agree and we welcome any suggestions you may have about products that you would like to see highlighted.

Please send your comments and suggestions to Monica Turner at

More "oldies but goodies" added to our growing list!

Friday, December 06, 2013

APH News: December 2013

Cranmer Abacus
The December issue of the APH News is now online! Check it out for:
  • Seeking Field Evaluators
  • The 155-Year APH Technological Journey
  • The Apollo Brailler from Japan
  • 2014 Hall of Fame Nominations Now Being Accepted
  • Treasures from the APH Libraries
  • Oldies but Goodies: The "Established" APH Product Series
  • Social Media Spotlight
  • APH Travel Calendar
  • New Products from APH
  • The Braille Book Corner and much, much more…

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Resources for Accessible Nutrition Education

The holidays are upon us; a time for friends, family, good cheer, and unfortunately for some, bad nutritional habits. With all the shopping to get done and parties to attend, who has time to make good, nutritional choices, let alone teach proper nutrition? Well, APH may be able to assist you with some free tactile graphics and online resources to get you started.
Photo from

In 2011, as part of Michelle Obama’s campaign against childhood obesity, MyPlate was introduced as a simplified replacement for the government’s food pyramid. In response, APH has added several MyPlate tactile graphics to the Tactile Graphics Image Library (TGIL), available for free download at

Tactile graphic of myplate

Before you start clicking on all the great links below, we want to take a moment to remind teachers and parents why nutrition is such an important topic. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled since 1980[i]. In 2010, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese[ii]. (That’s 1 in 3 children in the U.S.!) 

Good nutrition and physical fitness are even more important to children with visual impairments. The need for fitness in children who are blind might be greater because of the increased energy required to complete activities of daily living[iii].Children who are visually impaired consistently exhibited lower levels of fitness than their sighted peers[iv]

The good news is that developing healthy lifestyle habits early, including good nutrition and exercise, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

The CDC also maintains that schools play a particularly critical role by providing opportunities for students to learn about and practice healthy eating and physical activity behaviors[v]

So, take advantage of the free MyPlate tactile graphics in APH’s TGIL and print some off for the kids to take home over the holidays. Also, check out some of the online resources listed below for additional information, games, and activities to use in classrooms and at home.

Additional Resources

Choose MyPlate

Serving Up MyPlate: A Yummy Curriculum

Smart Nutrition 101

Let’s Move Initiative
Fitness for Individuals Who Are Visually Impaired or Deafblind

CDC Childhood Obesity and Nutrition Facts

[i] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013). Overweight and Obesity. Data and Statistics: Obesity rates among all children in the Untied States.
[ii] Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of obesity and trends in body mass index among US children and adolescents, 1999-2010. Journal of the American Medical Association2012;307(5):483-490.
[iii] Buell, C. E. (1982). Physical education and recreation for the visually handicapped. Reston, VA: American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, & Dance.
[iv] Blessing, D. L., McCrimmon, D., Stovall, J., & Williford, H. N. (1993). The effects of regular exercise programs for visually impaired and sighted schoolchildren. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 87, 50-52.
Lieberman, L. J., & McHugh, B. E. (2001). Health related fitness of children with visual impairments and blindness. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 95(5), 272-286.
Skaggs, S., & Hopper, C. (1996). Individuals with visual impairments: A review of psychomotor behavior. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 13(1), 16-26.
Winnick, J. P., & Short F. X. (1985). Physical fitness testing of the disabled. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Winnick, J. P., & Short, F. X. (1999). The Brockport physical fitness test. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
[v] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013). Adolescent and School Health. Childhood Obesity Facts: Prevention.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Importance of Positioning

Girl in a yoga pose with mountain scenery background
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons, Sigurdas, author

By Marty Klein

A few days ago I found myself lying on my back on the yoga mat, feeling the ends of the mat with my hands to see if my body was positioned correctly. I had just come out of a posture and, due to my lack of sight, felt the need to check in with my body alignment. My body was lying right in the center of the yoga mat correctly and I smiled, feeling good about my commitment to my yoga practice as well as to my desire for correct positioning. Then I had a sweet memory about positioning.

Years ago I used to play a lot of pool. Pocket billiards was the official name of the game that I loved so much. I got pretty good in a short time while attending the University of Miami, and, after winning the South Florida Amateur championship, I became known in Brooklyn as Florida Marty. The nickname was fun and part of the pool room parlance in those days, but more than that I loved the recognition and respect I received from all the good players.

One of the main reasons I developed excellence in the game was because of my practice routine. I worked consistently on my body mechanics, my stroke with the cue stick and my ability to understand the angles involved with making all the shots. But the most important practice had to do with positioning the cue ball for the next shot.

I’d take all the balls off the table except two; the cue ball and one numbered ball. I’d then line up a shot and then ask a friend to put a nine by eleven piece of paper anywhere on the pool table. My job was to make that shot and have the cue ball end up on that piece of paper. It was very challenging and I only on occasion watched the cue ball come to rest directly on that piece of paper. But my understanding of positioning and its importance to the game grew immensely, and looking back, I think that particular practice was a huge factor in my becoming successful.

Today I woke up with a new revelation about the thought of positioning. I had been dreaming about teaching people the art of positioning, but not just in pocket billiards. I was teaching them the importance of positioning ourselves in life so that we are set up to succeed. My explanation was taken right from the pool room, but instead of talking about a cue ball and a numbered ball, I was talking to them about people and the surroundings they find themselves in. I realized that the practice in the pool room helped me integrate the idea of positioning myself in all of life. 

Most of us have the ability to focus our sights on a specific desire, just like those folks who can make a shot in pool. But there’s more to the game in pool and there’s more to the game of life. When we learn the skill of positioning, life can become much easier and more enjoyable. Those who don’t understand positioning are all too often in the unfortunate position of having to work very hard just to sustain their lives. Of course there are many factors involved, and every now and then those with no positioning skills just fall into an easy period. But it’s usually a random experience, and as easy as it comes, it can easily disappear. That’s what happens to those who are only in reaction to random events. But each one of us has the ability to develop the skill of positioning. And when we integrate that skill in our lives we have basically set ourselves up for success. It doesn’t mean that things will always go well. But it does mean that we now have the odds for success in our favor, and any gambler will tell you that is exactly where you want to be!


Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Marty Klein has written and published three books. His first, a memoir, “Blindsighted, One Man’s Journey from Sight to Insight,” is an account of his transition from being a self-centered, cocky soldier in the Air Force with normal vision, to a compassionate, loving counselor, workshop leader and family man with no sight at all. His second, a self help book is a compilation of insights and wisdom, gained from years of experience in the counseling world. His latest book, THE ENLIGHTENED GAMBLER, The Heart and Spirit of the Risk Taker in All of Us, has just recently been published and is now available on Amazon. He has co-produced a 5 CD yoga program, Beginning Yoga for the Blind and Visually Impaired.” In addition Marty was the founder and CEO of Southern Springs, a holistic learning center in Tallahassee, Florida. He has been totally blind for more than forty years, a counselor and workshop leader for over thirty-five years and currently lives in Woodstock, New York.

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The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) makes every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the Fred's Head articles; however, APH makes no warranty, guarantee, or promise, expressed or implied, concerning the content or accuracy of the information provided in Fred's Head. APH does not endorse any technique, product, device, service, organization, or other information presented in Fred's Head, other than products and services directly offered by APH.

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