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.

(See the end of this page for subscribing via email, RSS, browsing articles by subject, blog archive, APH resources, writing for Fred's Head, and disclaimers.)


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Blinded by a Bear: Dan Bigley's Story

Beyond the Bear cover

"The bear took my face and eyes, not my dignity, and not my ability to dream, and dream large."
         ~Beyond the Bear, p. 206.

Dan Bigley was a nature-loving, fast-paced adventurer who would grab his gear and go fishing at a moment's notice. He had just fallen for a beautiful woman, Amber. The day after he and Amber decided to start dating, while returning from fishing with his friend, a mama bear viciously mauled Dan. He hung to life by a thread for weeks. Teams of doctors reconstructed his face and fixed his wounds the best they could, but his eyes could not be saved. He woke from his medicine-induced state totally blind. It took time and, most of all, love, for Dan to move "beyond the bear."

The words "inspiring" and "inspirational" are used frequently and often inappropriately when it comes to blindness.

John gets out of bed, brushes his teeth, and goes to work. All while blind! How inspiring!

However, I did find Dan Bigley's story in Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Live and Love Again After Being Blinded by a Bear to be inspirational, but not in the typical, "oh, the poor blind guy" sense. Dan's story, beautifully co-authored by Deb McKinney, shows that determination, motivation, positive thinking, and great force of will can get you through anything, even an almost-fatal bear mauling. Before he knew he was blind, Dan made a conscious decision to live and not to regret that decision. This story is not inspirational because of Dan's blindness; it is inspirational because of Dan's sheer force of will and outlook after life threw him a curveball.

Yet, Beyond the Bear is so much more than a story of a bear mauling and the survivor's recovery. Love story, friendship, science and nature, medicine, humor, spiritual…Whatever your interests, you will likely find something to love about this book. The story is told from Dan's perspective. He is honest, upfront, and candid with the reader. He shares his innermost thoughts and feelings. Dan details the events of his life, but he neither keeps to the dry facts nor exaggerates everything. The writing is beautiful and enthralling. You will not want to put this book down.

Dan's discussion of blindness and his journey after becoming blind is frank and sincere. Being mauled by a bear is traumatic enough, but waking up afterwards having to learn how to do so many things in a new way, having to form a new relationship with the world around you, is also traumatic at first. Dan is honest about his and his family's initial reactions to blindness. However, he did not make a commitment to live just so he could sit in his house all day and feel sorry for himself. He wanted not only to live, but to have a full, wonderful life. He describes his journey through learning how to be a blind guy, so to speak, from his first piece of assistive technology—a talking watch—to his struggles with college-level statistics, his decision to have a guide dog, and eventually his employment and family life.

I would wholeheartedly recommend Beyond the Bear to anyone--those who are blind, and those who are not. I do have one cautionary note. The authors do not shy away from the details of Dan's mauling and his injuries, some of which are graphic. These details are not gory for the sake of being gory. They have a purpose and a place. I applaud the authors' straightforwardness. However, it may be necessary for some readers to skim over these details.

Beyond the Bear is a fantastic, mesmerizing read. Visit Dan Bigley's website or view the book on

Monday, April 15, 2013

Large Print Textbooks Now Available on Your E-Reader!

The Accessible Textbooks Department of APH now offers hundreds of large print textbooks for digital download! Hundreds of textbooks created using APH’s exclusive accessibility process are available for purchase through the File Repository of the Louis Database. Books are in PDF format and may be read on Kindle®, iPad®, laptop, or many other digital readers. These accessible PDF files may also be read using synthetic speech on devices that do not have a screen, such as APH’s Book Port Plus™.

High Quality Large Print at a Substantial Savings

APH electronic large print textbooks feature the complete content of the original print edition, formatted for improved accessibility using APH’s proprietary in-house process. All textbooks use a minimum 18-pt. font, enlarged images, and a color palette designed for accessibility and clarity. The digital format provides greater portability and convenience for the user. Also, many of these digital editions now feature image descriptions.

Several subjects are available, including language arts, science, and social studies, from the nation’s best-known publishers. Search Louis for titles you need and download your textbooks today! To find a list of all digital large print files, click the “E-Files” tab and search for “LF.”


  • While APH is not taking orders specifically for the digital format, current large print textbook orders are being offered in print and digital file form.
  • One copy of each desired large print file must be purchased for each student user.
  • APH electronic large print textbooks are intended for use on an eReader only, they cannot be printed.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Building Bridges and Breaking Barriers

By Donna Jodhan

This is something that I have been preaching for years now; we need to start building bridges and breaking down barriers.  For too long, the blind community has been going the other way on these two tasks but I think that we are finally getting it.  I have an idea to promote my idea this day and let's see what your thoughts are on this particular subject.

Why not make our blind and sight impaired kids the new builders and breakers of tomorrow?  Why not give them the opportunity to help us build bridges and break down barriers?  They are our hope and promise for the future.  They will be the ones to carry the torch beyond the big blue horizon and they will be the ones to help fulfill our dreams.  They will be the ones who are going to be charged with carrying on our work.

With all of this in mind, there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting them involved in starting to build bridges and break down barriers.  If we can help our blind and sight impaired kids to understand what they need to do in order to accomplish all of this, if we can help them to avoid some of the more common pitfalls that we have inadvertently blundered into, if we can cultivate healthy attitudes, motivation, and commitment into them at an early age, and if we can assure them that their future will be as bright as they want to make it, then at the end of the day we would have accomplished our mission. 

Thursday, April 04, 2013

APH News: April 2013

APH Logo

APH News

Your monthly link to the latest information on the products, services, and training opportunities from the American Printing House for the Blind.
April 2013

Exciting New APH Products Announced!

Read on to learn about these new products - now available!

National Product Review

The US Department of Education's Expert Review Panel met on March 12 for their annual review of new products. The group, chaired by Dr. Cay Holbrook, reviewed six 2012 products: Braille Plus 18™, Getting to Know You, Tactile Town, Giant Textured Beads with Pattern Matching Cards, Turtle and Rabbit, and VisioBook.
Top row (from left): Laura Brown, Cay Holbrook, Derrick Smith, Tiffany Wild, John Glenn
Bottom row (from left): Linda Lyle, Jim Olson, Joe Petrosko

New APH Graphing Calculator a Big Hit with “Big Bang Theory” Star

Venkatesh Chari, Ken Perry, Dr. Mayim Bialik with a working prototype of the new product, and Chris Prentice 
On March 9th APH Research Department Technology Programmer Ken Perry and APH Business Manager Chris Prentice attended the Texas Instruments “Teachers Teaching with Technology” Conference in Philadelphia. Ken and Chris attended in association with the development of the upcoming APH Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator based on the TI-84 calculator platform.

In addition to attending sessions, Ken and Chris had the opportunity to meet the original developers of the TI-84 Calculator and Melendy Lovett, Senior Vice President of Texas Instruments. The evening was capped off with a reception attended by Dr. Mayim Bialik, who stars as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on "The Big Bang Theory," and is a real-life neuroscientist and spokesperson for the TI-Nspire. Along with Venkatesh Chari of Orbit Research, Ken and Chris had the opportunity to spend 10 minutes in private with Mayim discussing the Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator. Mayim was so impressed with the embossed graphs generated by the calculator that she kept several for herself!

In a lighter moment Ken shared with Mayim that he recalled watching her on TV as Blossom before losing his sight—indicating that she “still looked the same.” With a laugh Mayim quickly confirmed that she did indeed still look the same!

Major (FREE) Upgrades Announced for Braille Plus 18™

APH is proud to announce a major software upgrade for Braille Plus 18™.
Among the many bug fixes and features are the following:
  • Increases the size of file that the Word Processor handles from 250 KB to 1.5 MB.
  • Dramatically increases battery life both during use and on standby.
  • Improves the accuracy of optical character recognition by swiching to a fixed focal length of about 12 inches.
  • Improves Word Processor compatibility with Microsoft Word files.
  • Adds a problem reporter tool to help developers increase reliability and performance.
For complete details, see

This is a free upgrade for all Braille Plus 18 users.

For complete details on how to install, see

In addition, Nebraska high school student Chase Crispin has been hard at work creating new training materials. See

Attention TVIs and Science Teachers!

Field testers are needed to evaluate the prototype of the Protein Synthesis Kit, an interactive model used in conjunction with the upcoming APH DNA-RNA Kit!
The Protein Synthesis Kit
  • consists of jigsaw puzzle-like pieces in bright colors;
  • demonstrates messenger RNA (mRNA) translation;
  • translates a sequence of mRNA nucleotides to a sequence of amino acids, the primary structure of all proteins;
  • is fully adapted for students with low vision or blindness.
Prototypes will be available for field testing in May 2013.
If you are interested in field testing AND you have one or more students with whom you can use this prototype, please email the following information to Denise Snow:
  • Time period you can field test: Spring or Summer 2013
  • Your name & email
  • Your School/Agency address with zip code
  • The best phone number(s) to reach you
*If you have questions or need more information, call Rosanne Hoffmann at 502-899-2292, or send an email to

Guidelines for Athletic Opportunities

The APH Physical Education Website provides links to help teachers and parents understand the recent federal guidelines to provide athletic opportunities for students with disabilities, including visual impairment. Visit the PE Advocacy Page to learn more.

Tactile World Globe

APH is currently seeking field evaluators for the Tactile World Globe, an update to the existing APH globe that incorporates high-relief topography, braille labels for continents and oceans, labeled latitude and longitude lines, a prominent equator, and discernible International Date Line and Prime Meridian.

The project leaders, Karen Poppe and Tom Poppe, are seeking feedback from current users of APH’s existing tactile globe to compare and critique the presentation of the Northern Hemisphere before further tooling of the Southern Hemisphere is undertaken and finalized for production purposes. The field evaluation will be brief, with feedback needed by the end of May. Evaluators will be allowed to keep the prototype after satisfactory completion of the evaluation packet.

Evaluators will be asked to a) use the prototype with as many students as possible within the given timeframe, b) complete a product evaluation form, and c) report student outcome data. Field test sites will be selected based upon geographic location, type of setting, and the grade levels/ages of the students.

If you are interested in possibly serving as a field evaluator and you have access to APH’s current tactile globe, please provide the following information: name, title, school/agency, complete contact information (phone number, mailing address, email address), expected number of students, and the educational levels/ages of your students. Send this information to Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader,, by April 15, 2013. You may also contact Karen at 502-899-2322 or 800-223-1839, ext. 322.

And the Unforgettable APH Star Contest Winners Are...(Drum Roll, Please!)

The judges were very impressed with the 11 amazing student video entries for the Winter 2013 installment of the Unforgettable APH Star Contest! However, we could only pick three winners, and here they are:

1st Place—Congratulations to Dietrich, a student at North Dakota School for the Blind. Dietrich proves that he is the go-to person for all your questions about the APH Portable Sound Source – Sport Edition! His comprehensive presentation on this versatile product garnered his first place winning! What are you going to do with your $150, Dietrich?

2nd Place—Quincie, also from North Dakota School for the Blind, demonstrated her mad braille skills in the second-place winning video featuring the Janus Slate, Saddle Stylus and Spiral Notebook. A $75 check is on its way to her. Congrats, Quincie!

3rd Place—Congratulations and $50 go to third place winner, Katie, of the North Dakota School for the Blind, who showed us how she uses APH Word Playhouse in conjunction with her braillewriter! You go, Katie!

Put your hands together and give a hearty cheer for these talented individuals!
Thanks to everyone who sent us an entry. Be on the lookout for the Spring 2013 contest to begin soon!

To see the winning videos and all the contest videos, head over to

Oldies but Goodies: The "Established" APH Product Series

Teacher's Pet™ is an accessible test creation and administration program. This software can be used by parents, teachers, or others who wish to create accessible practice exercises or tests for students who are blind or visually impaired. This program allows the creation of both audio and large print tests or practice drill sessions. Teachers benefit from the program's student management and record keeping capabilities and can use it to track student progress.

The program provides a rich environment for creating or editing the pools of questions that comprise the test or drill document. Students interact with the program to provide responses, review answers, or browse through the set of questions. Questions include text, graphics, and sounds to help make the test or drill session more interesting.

You can access the complete User's Manual and a free demo of the Teacher's Pet software from Click the Download link at the top of the page to download a demonstration version of the program.

If you have any suggestions for other products you would like to see highlighted in this monthly feature, please send your comments to Monica Turner at

Around the House:

New Faces in Resource Services and Research Departments!

Emmy Malinovsky

Bryan Enders
The Resource Services Department is pleased to announce the addition of a new Special Collections and Cataloging Librarian: Emmy Malinovsky. Emmy earned an MLS from Indiana University at Indianapolis and has nine years of professional experience in academic libraries, including Ivy Tech Community College. Emmy will assist with cataloging materials for Louis and the Migel and Barr libraries, in addition to providing reference services.

The Research Department’s Technology Group welcomes programmer Bryan Enders. Bryan comes to us with enthusiasm and great ideas. He is an iOS developer, which means he writes software for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. He will be expanding the apps APH provides to blind and visually impaired students and teachers and parents who know that education includes the digital arena as well as the traditional paper methods of years past.

From the Field:

Catch the Wave at GITWL 2013

The Getting In Touch With Literacy conference will be celebrating its 20th anniversary at the 2013 Getting In Touch With Literacy conference, December 4—7 in Providence, Rhode Island. This event, the premier literacy conference for individuals who are blind and visually impaired, will feature presentations, exhibits, poster sessions, pre-conference workshops and more, all designed to promote literacy skills for children and adults.

The conference has a tradition of outstanding presentations by practitioners in the field, and the call for papers for 2013 is now live! It can be found on the Getting In Touch With Literacy website, at

Deadline for submission is May 15, 2013. Check out the online submission form and share your great ideas, good experiences, and awesome innovations with your colleagues.
Catch the wave and come join us in December!

Rounding Up Kentucky AER

The KAER 3 Musketeers: APH’s Will Evans (retired), Gary Mudd, and Bob Brasher 
APH staff were on hand to corral attendees at the recent Kentucky AER conference in Cadiz, KY. The conference, held March 13 - 15, at Lake Barkely State Park, drew around 100 participants from across the state.

A very full agenda included a pre-conference NIP event hosted by APH and featuring Californians Nita Crow and Stephanie Herlich, who presented on the APH product Getting To Know You. Also on the agenda were presentations on liability and insurance, cane repair, braille instruction, transition programs, the Anne Sullivan Macy Act, and more.

Some favorite APH products in the exhibit hall included Getting To Know You, SAM, Early Braille Trade Books and the Tactile Tangrams kit.

Stephanie Lancaster
Congratulations to APH Graphic Designer Stephanie Lancaster, winner of a KAER STAER Award!

Successful NIP on Getting to Know You

Director of Field Services Janie Blome approved a National Instructional Partnership event to be conducted prior to the beginning of the 2013 KAER annual conference at Lake Barkley State Resort Park, Cadiz, Kentucky. The NIP event, Getting to Know You: a Social Skills/Ability Awareness Curriculum, took place on March 13, 2013, and some thirty individuals attended and participated.
Getting to Know You: a Social Skills/Ability Awareness Curriculum, addressed the social skills area of the expanded core curriculum. The product became available for sale on quota in September, 2012.
The co-authors of the product, Nita Crow and Stephanie Herlich, traveled to Kentucky from the California School for the Blind in Fremont, California, to provide the four hour training session. Participants got to experience doing activities using blindfolds or simulators to gain experience in doing these activities with a visual impairment. The participants gave the two presenters the highest rating possible and indicated they learned a lot and had fun doing it.

I think the comments from the two co-authors speak for themselves:
  • “It was wonderful to see teachers exploring and getting excited about the Getting To Know You lessons and kit.”
  • “Everyone was very positive and enthusiastic about the variety of lessons and age groups included.”
  • “Making GORP with visual occluders turned into a challenging yet fun glimpse into the importance of high contrast, large print, and appropriate lighting for students who are visually impaired. And as a bonus, all participants got a tasty treat!”
  • “We felt very welcomed by the KY teachers.”
  • “What was so exciting for us was seeing the guidebook and kit being used by teachers outside of California.”

Braille Challenging in West Virginia

Field Services Representative Monica Turner attended the second annual West Virginia Regional Braille Challenge on March 22 in Romney, WV, to exhibit APH products. The Braille Challenge® brings together kids, families and professionals for a fun day of celebrating braille literacy. 23 students participated in this event, and there were approximately 50 teachers and family members who also attended and visited the exhibit. The younger students greatly enjoyed having some time to explore Tactile Town: 3-D O&M Kit, the older students were especially excited by the new Braille Plus 18 with its refreshable braille display, and the VisioBook electronic magnifier and distance viewer was a huge hit among students of all ages.

Congratulations to all of the West Virginia students who participated in this event, as well as the students who have participated in the other regional preliminary events that have taken place this year across the U.S. and Canada.

Treasures From the APH Libraries

The APH Barr Library supports research initiatives at APH, while the Migel Library is one of the largest collections 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: Lockett, Jack. A Blind Man’s Experiences and Adventures in Crossing the Country 3,000 Miles on a Bicycle.

After losing his sight in 1920, Jack Lockett decided to ride a tandem bicycle across country to gain publicity and funding for a procedure to have his eyesight restored. Beginning the trip in Dallas, Texas, Jack and his son rode to Rochester, Minnesota to be evaluated at the Mayo Clinic. The doctors at the clinic told Mr. Lockett that his vision loss was due to glaucoma, and that the doctors and the Clinic could do nothing for him. Having been so impressed by the experience, however, Jack decided to make a second trip to New York to consult more specialists. Although he was again told that doctors could not restore his eyesight, the adventures he had experienced gave him a determination and patience that he never would have had otherwise. This rare and fragile pamphlet has been digitized for the Internet Archive, and is available at

From the Barr Library: Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of Cloth Picture Books. The Future of Cloth and Tactile Picture Books. Tokyo: Kaisei-sha, 1981

Participants from across the globe gathered in Japan for a 1979 exhibition of tactile picture books. Believed to be the first of its kind, it was far more successful than had been anticipated, with an estimated 85,000 visiting the exhibition in one of the 4 cities to which it traveled. Fifty exhibitors presented 353 tactile picture books and toys to a very engaged audience. The enthusiastic response of attendees, in addition to the 1,663 surveys that were returned, allowed for some valuable conclusions to be drawn by producers. One of the more surprising conclusions was that, at the time, most visually impaired children and adults had never encountered tactile picture books before. The diverse audience also reinforced the idea that tactile books can be a unique and valuable product of their own, rather than just a replacement for printed material.

APH is working with the Lyrasis Consortium and Internet Archive to digitize portions of the M.C. Migel Library. Search the phrase “full text” to find these items at The digitized texts are available in a variety of formats, including DAISY, Kindle, EPUB, PDF, etc.
Contact Library staff:, 800-223-1839, ext. 705

JVIB Review Glows about Games for People With Sensory Impairments

APH is happy to announce that our book Games for People With Sensory Impairments: Strategies for Including People of all Ages (2011) was reviewed in the March-April 2013 issue of JVIB. This book, authored by Lauren Lieberman, SUNY The College at Brockport, and Jim Cowart, California School for the Blind (retired) received an excellent review. Jane D. Blaine, executive director, British Columbia Blind Sports and Recreation Association, and chief executive officer, Canadian Blind Sports Association wrote the review. Blaine commended the “user-friendly layout” of the book and noted that the 70 games and activities included in the book were outlined by 15 innovators (i.e., teachers, coaches, and leaders) who work in schools or programs for students who have sensory impairments. Blaine said, “Games for People with Sensory Impairments is a well thought out and well developed publication that provides readers with cutting-edge information, up-to-date teaching techniques, and current strategies for inclusion. As a resource, it brings together a number of authorities (the innovators) who provide practical, useful, and reliable information that can be used in physical activity classrooms, gymnasiums, or in aquatic centers. This text is a well-developed, authoritative, and practical resource for facilitating safe and fun participation in physical activity by people with sensory impairments.”

International Preschool Symposium

APH project leaders, Burt Boyer (Early Childhood) and Suzette Wright (Emergent Literacy), traveled in early March to take part in the International Preschool Symposium. This year the Symposium was hosted at the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Albuquerque campus, site for the Early Childhood Program and Outreach Program.

EOT Linda Lyle, Superintendent of NMSBVI, welcomed the group of about 40 individuals from across the country and Canada--TVI’s, administrators of preschool programs, teacher trainers, doctoral students, and an ophthalmologist--all with a focus on children with visual impairments and children with multiple disabilities and visual impairments, birth through kindergarten. VIPS (Visually Impaired Preschool Services) was well represented at the meeting as Kathy Mullens, Director of Education, and Rebecca Davis and Ann Hughes from VIPS@Bloomington attended and did not hesitate to participate.

Following updates from the field, focused small group discussions were held on a variety of topics: outreach, service guidelines, braille standards for early childhood and the Common Core, Babies Count, and updates to DVI position papers. One of the discussion groups focused on how to continue the Babies Count Project. APH made the decision three years ago to no longer coordinate the project. Two meetings were held by the discussion group, and there was no doubt those participating want this project to continue. Additional information on how this will happen will be shared in the future as there is a task force assigned to work on this issue.

The group closed after two and a half days with reports from the “work groups” and a presentation on optic nerve hypoplasia by ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Borchert (Children’s Hospital Los Angeles). In addition to full day meetings, evenings out with the group provided the opportunity for additional discussion over Southwest cuisine—“the whole enchilada”! A tour of the impressive facilities at the Preschool was enjoyed by all. And last but not least, Burt’s birthday arrived, allowing everyone to wish him “feliz cumpleaños” and share a tres leches cake made by an NMSBVI staff member. Now that’s hospitality!

An APH-Rich Experience in Richmond, VA!

Kerry Isham, Field Services Representative gave a presentation and also exhibited products at the 2013 Virginia AER Conference held in Richmond, VA from February 27 through March 1. In keeping with the conference theme, “Putting on Your Top Hat – The Many Hats We Wear” Kerry’s presentation was entitled “Put on Your Director’s Beret: Using Video as a Teaching Tool.” It addressed how to use video production in the classroom, and featured student-made videos about such APH products as The Hundreds Board, The Tactile Graphics Kit, Azer’s Interactive Periodic Table of the Elements Kit, Feel ‘n Peel Stickers, Word Playhouse and the Color Test. Attendees reported being entertained and inspired by the multimedia session. Many of the participants also stopped by the APH booth to check out more products such as Best for a Nest, MathBuilders – Unit 5, Sense of Science – Astronomy, and TREKS. Hats off to Virginia for providing such a rich conference experience for all who attended!

APH Takes Part in Staff Development Day at Overbrook School for the Blind

On March 4th, field services representative Kerry Isham presented to two very enthusiastic groups of staff members at Philadelphia’s Overbrook School for the Blind Staff Development Day. The first presentation was on the APH Intervention Continuum – which includes The Sensory Learning Kit (SLK), Symbols and Meaning (SAM) and Tactile Connections - addressing the systematic development of nonverbal communication for students who are blind and visually impaired and may also have other disabilities. The second session examined the APH product, Building on Patterns, which helps teach primary-level students reading, writing in braille, and spelling. At the end of the presentations, the groups took part in Jeopardy-type games that tested their knowledge of these products. Prizes were awarded to the winning teams. Everyone’s eager participation helped make these presentations interesting, useful and enjoyable.


Staff members Nancy Lacewell, Adam Clark, Kerry Isham, Dena Garrett, Janie Blome, DeAnna Morrison, and Linda Turner all attended and helped exhibit APH’s wares at the 2013 California Transcribers and Educators for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CTEBVI) Conference, which was held in San Francisco, CA on March 15th and 16th. Nancy, Linda, and Kerry were also on the agenda to present workshops. The convention drew over 300 attendees, many of whom made it a point to stop by the APH booth to try out products that included Turtle and Rabbit, TREKS, the APH Light Touch Perkins Brailler, The Impressor, Giant Textured Beads and Pattern Matching Cards, Life Science Tactile Graphics, and the Number Line Device. The event was full of information and fun, and APH was glad to be a part of it!

“One Vision Regional VI Activity Day”

Twenty five students, teachers, parents, and para professionals participated in a fun and engaging activity February 28 hosted by Teri Ritchie, Kentucky School for the Blind Regional Consultant, Northern Kentucky Cooperative for Educational Services. The day’s focus was on recreational and leisure activities as well as opportunities to socialize with others from their region. Cathy Johnson, APH Field Services Representative, was on hand to actively take part in the day’s events. Participants were provided opportunity to become acquainted with a variety of APH products for recreation and leisure time. Games such as Web Chase, Treks, Touch 'em All Baseball, Termite Torpedo, and Armadillo Army were a few of the favorites engaged throughout the day! Other sports-related products were on display as well and students had a brief opportunity to experience using them. Students and teachers appreciated the opportunity for hands-on participation and thoroughly enjoyed the day!

APH Welcomes Western Michigan University

Twelve students and faculty from the Western Michigan University personnel preparation program visited APH on March 22. The students, most of whom are in the rehabilitation teaching program, were welcomed by APH President Tuck Tinsley, and then learned about APH history before a tour of our facilities. They met with key APH staff and learned about the functions and projects of many APH departments. Presentations also included information on the Federal Quota process, the APH website and data bases, and other services provided in support of our products. Students were able to get first hand experience with several of those products during meetings with Project Leaders from the Research Department.

We always welcome visits from university personnel preparation programs. If you are interested in bringing your students, please contact Janie Blome,

End of an Era: Patterns Revision Is Complete!

Congratulations to everyone who made the Patterns revision possible! 
The massive project of reworking APH’s flagship Patterns reading series is now complete! The release of the Building on Patterns Second Grade Reference Volume completes the revision of the classic Patterns Primary Braille Reading Program. Work has already begun on again revising Patterns, beginning with BOP, Second Edition: Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Level. Last October during APH Annual Meeting, APH’s Eleanor Pester (retired) and the BOP writers were honored for their countless hours of work with the Extra Mile award.

We would like to again thank all of those in the field and at APH who worked so hard to make the BOP series available!

APH Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2012 Now Available

We have published our latest corporate Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2012, which contains a wealth of information related to our previous fiscal year, October 1, 2011—September 30, 2012. The report contains such items as an executive summary by president Dr. Tuck Tinsley, a photo memory album from Annual Meeting 2012, the reports of the Ex Officio Trustee Advisory Committees, data concerning the distribution of students eligible for Federal Quota funds and the agencies that receive Quota funds, and APH Development Department information.

New Product Videos Added!

We’ve added links to several additional videos created by talented student Chase Crispin and his teacher LeAnna MacDonald. Visit our products video page to view these videos, which cover several aspects of our Braille Plus 18 notetaker.

Social Media Spotlight

Did you know that APH is on Flickr? We are in the process of uploading images of recent events and products to our Flickr page: Feel free to comment on the photos or share them on Facebook and Twitter, and check back soon for even more great photos of what's happening here at APH!

"Like" APH at Our Facebook Page!

We invite you to visit our Facebook page and "Like" us! You can find APH at these social media sites: Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and at our blog, Fred's Head from APH.

APH Travel Calendar

on the road with APH


April 3-6, 2013
CEC 2013;
San Antonio, TX
April 6, 2013
Arizona Foundation for the Blind Workshop;
Phoenix, AZ
April 9, 2013
CIP Event – University of Arizona;
Tuscon, AZ
April 10-12, 2013
Appropriation: Various Legislative Visits on Capitol Hill as scheduled;
Washington, DC
April 12-13, 2013
NFB Tactile Graphics Conference;
Baltimore, MD
April 14-18, 2013
Appropriation: Various Legislative Visits on Capitol Hill as scheduled;
Washington, DC
April 18, 2013
PATINS Tech Expo 2013;
Carmel, IN
April 18-20, 2013
AFB Leadership Conference 2013;
Chicago, IL
April 18-20, 2013
NBA 2013 Spring Professional Development Conference (National Braille Association);
Gaithersburg, MD
April 20, 2013
NIP Event – APH Intervention Continuum;
Santa Ana, CA
April 21-23, 2013
Charting the Cs: 5th Annual Cross-Categorical Conference;
Alexandria, MN
April 23-26, 2013
Outreach Forum;
Huntsville, AL
April 24-26, 2013
NCSAB (National Council for State Administrators for the Blind);
Bethesda, MD
April 24-26, 2013
Penn-Del AER 2013;
Harrisburg, PA
April 25-27, 2013
AOTA 2013;
San Diego, CA


May 8-10, 2013
NIP Event: CVI with Chris Roman at Dakota AER;
Grand Forks, ND
May 13, 2013
New Hampshire TVI Training: Braille Plus 18 and Refreshabraille 18;
Concord, NH
May 13-16, 2013
Kentucky Rehabilitation Association/Southwest Region National Rehabilitation Association;
Louisville, KY


June 4, 2013
NIP: APH Intervention Continuum with Millie Smith;
June 6-9, 2013
Family Café, The;
Orlando, FL
June 11-13, 2013
Texas AT Network Conference;
Houston, TX
June 14-15, 2013
DE Deaf/Blind Program SAM Workshop;
Rehoboth Beach, DE
June 27-30, 2013
Visions 2013;
Baltimore, MD


July 1-6, 2013
NFB 2013;
Orlando, FL
July 4-12, 2013
ACB 2013;
Columbus, OH
July 14-17, 2013
OSEP Directors Project Conference;
Washington, DC
July 24-25, 2013
NIP: APH Intervention Continuum (SLK, TC, & SAM) with Millie Smith;
NCDPI Summer Institute in Raleigh, NC
July 25-28, 2013
CHARGE Syndrome, 11th International;
Scottsdale, AZ


August 2-4, 2013
West Virginia AER 2013;
Terra Alta, WV
August 8, 2013
NIP Event - APH Communication Continuum: SLK, SAM and TC;
Clarksville, TN
August 9, 2013
NIP Event – APH Communication Continuum: SAM;
Nashville, TN


September 19-21, 2013
Envisions 2013 Conference;
Minneapolis, MN
September 27, 2013
Human Development Institute: APH Products, Services, and Accessibility Workshop;
Lexington, KY

APH Spring Fever Sale

Load up a world of savings on selected APH products with APH's Spring Fever Sale 2013, April 1—June 30. As always, first come, first served.

APH Has Discontinued Repair of the Table-Top Cassette Tape Recorder

Effective April 1, 2013 APH is no longer repairing our Table-Top Cassette Tape Recorder/Player due to the lack of parts availability. We appreciate your understanding.

NEW! Building on Patterns: Second Grade, Reference Volume

Reference Volume:
Print: 8-78471-RV -- $48.00
Braille: 6-78471-RV -- $44.00

The Building on Patterns Second Grade Reference Volume is packed full of features to help a teacher understand the program and teach a young braille reader:
  • Background information and teaching philosophy
  • Teaching guides for literacy, tactile graphics, and technology skills
  • Setting priorities and teaching the required skills
  • Detailed explanations of the unit sections
  • Suggested additional materials from APH
  • Index of skills and concepts taught in the second grade level
  • Master lists of new reading words, braille contractions, Dolch words, and more!

Related Products

Building on Patterns: Second Grade Level, Unit 1:
Print Kit: 8-78470-U1 -- $199.00
Braille Kit: 6-78470-U1 -- $199.00

Building on Patterns: Second Grade Level, Unit 2:
Print Kit: 8-78470-U2 -- $219.00
Braille Kit: 6-78470-U2 -- $219.00

Building on Patterns: Second Grade Level, Unit 3:
Print Kit: 8-78470-U3 -- $119.00
Braille Kit: 6-78470-U3 -- $119.00

Building on Patterns: Second Grade Level, Unit 4:
Print Kit: 8-78470-U4 -- $199.00
Braille Kit: 6-78470-U4 -- $199.00

Building on Patterns: Second Grade Level, Unit 5:
Print Kit: 8-78470-U5 -- $239.00
Braille Kit: 6-78470-U5 -- $239.00

Building on Patterns: Second Grade Level, Unit 6:
Print Kit: 8-78470-U6 -- $219.00
Braille Kit: 6-78470-U6 -- $219.00

Building on Patterns: Second Grade Level, Unit 7 (includes 3 complete chapter books):
Print Kit: 8-78470-U7 -- $219.00
Braille Kit: 6-78470-U7 -- $219.00

Building on Patterns (BOP) is a complete primary literacy program designed to teach beginning braille users all language arts -- reading, writing, and spelling.
Note: Building on Patterns: Second Grade replaces Patterns Second and Third Reader Levels.
The Building on Patterns series addresses phonemic awareness (ability to hear and interpret sounds in speech), phonics (the association of written symbols with the sounds they represent), comprehension, fluency, and oral vocabulary, all of which have been identified as important for reading instruction.
BOP Second Grade includes more worksheets, part-word braille contractions, and other remaining literary contractions and symbols, along with the rules for using them. The curriculum also emphasizes syllables and multisyllabic words, and the effect of certain letter combinations on vowel sounds. For optional map work, each lesson gives the foreign origin of at least one spelling word.
Prerequisite: Building on Patterns: First Grade or equivalent skills.
Recommended ages: 7 to 8 years and up.

NEW! Expanded Beginner's Abacus Kit

1-03181-00 -- $29.00
Replacement Item: Expanded Beginner's Abacus Guidebook, Print: 7-03181-00 -- $7.00
Optional Item: Expanded Beginner's Abacus Guidebook, Braille: 5-03181-00 -- $19.00

This abacus introduces visually impaired students to early math concepts and number operations, as well as abacus terminology. It supports concepts and skills such as one-to-one correspondence, number meaning, addition, and subtraction. It also lends itself to preparing a young student for the Cranmer Abacus.
The Expanded Beginner’s Abacus consists of a black frame with 3 rods. Each rod has 9 white beads that slide against a red felt backing. The red felt background provides a good visual contrast and prevents beads from slipping. The simple design of the Expanded Beginner's Abacus allows for direct representation of a given value and enhanced readability for "little fingers". Measures 5.37 x 3.25 x 0.75 inches.

Hook/loop materials are provided for connecting multiple abacuses together, in order for students to complete computations that involve amounts of money or numbers too large for the EBA.
Print guidebook included. Braille guidebook available separately.
Recommended ages: 5 to 7 years.


Optional: EZeeCOUNT Abacus Guidebook, Braille: 5-03185-00--$15.00
Replacement: EZeeCOUNT Abacus Guidebook, Print: 61-078-022--$9.00

Note: Available online soon!

The APH EZeeCOUNT Abacus is specially designed with two textured beads (smooth & rough/wavy) and a large frame to accommodate the needs of students who are blind and visually impaired.

This abacus consists of a 10 x 10 grid of flat beads. The beads can be flipped and distinguished by color and/or texture. The red beads are wavy/rough and the yellow beads are smooth. Each row of beads slides along an elastic band from left to right. The reverse side is a dry-erase board, which allows students to write math problems, draw pictures, play games (e.g., Tic-Tac-Toe), and more.
The included instruction booklet provides examples of how the EZeeCOUNT Abacus can be used in a variety of ways.
Activities include:
  • Abacus Terminology
  • Counting
  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Number Combinations
  • Multiplication
  • Fractions
  • Patterns
  • Graphs
  • Place Value
  • Games
Recommended ages: 5 years and up.
Print guidebook included. Braille guidebook available separately.
WARNING: Choking Hazard—Small Parts. Not intended for children ages 5 and under without adult supervision.

NEW Biology Product! Tactile Punnett Squares

4-Box Tactile Punnett Squares: 1-08890-00 -- $15.00
16-Box Tactile Punnett Squares 1-08891-00 -- $15.00

A Punnett square is a diagram that is used to predict the outcome of a particular genetic cross or breeding experiment. It is used by biologists to determine the probability of offspring genotypes. The Punnett Square is a visual representation of Mendelian inheritance.

The 4-Box Tactile Punnett Squares allow your students to predict offspring genotypes and probabilities for one character from the known genetic makeup of two parents; for example, a monohybrid cross or a test cross. Each of the four boxes of the Punnett Square easily accommodates four braille cells across. Two 4-Box Punnett Squares are printed and embossed on heavy 8.5 x 11 inch paper, 25 sheets per re-sealable envelope.

The 16-Box Tactile Punnett Squares allow your students to predict offspring genotypes and probabilities for two characters from the known genetic makeup of two parents; for example, a dihybrid cross. Each of the 16 boxes of the Punnett Square accommodates eight braille cells across. One 16-Box Punnett Square is printed and embossed on heavy 11.5 x 11 inch paper, 25 sheets per re-sealable envelope.

APH Braille Book Corner

APH offers a number of recreational books in braille (Quota funds can be used). Each of these titles was originally transcribed and produced by APH for the National Library Service which has graciously granted permission for this offering. As usual, these titles have been added to the APH Louis Database where you can find thousands of titles produced in accessible formats.
Note: all books are produced upon receipt of orders, therefore, please allow several weeks for delivery.

Crispin: The End of Time
by Avi: T-N1907-50 -- $50.00
While Troth chooses to stay at a convent that needs a healer, Crispin continues trying to fulfill Bear's dream of moving to Iceland. Falling in with thieves posing as musicians, Crispin makes a new friend--Owen. Sequel to Crispin: At the Edge of the World. Grades 4-8. *(AR Quiz No. 137465, BL 4.8, Pts. 7.0)

Dragon’s Heart
by Jane Yolen: T-N1870-50 -- $91.00
After a year in hiding, Jakkin and Akki return to Austar IV. They have new abilities and knowledge that could transform their planet or destroy it--but first they must get themselves out of danger. Sequel to A Sending of Dragons. Grade 6 and up. *(AR Quiz No. 130002, BL 5.0 Pts. 14.0)

Life After High School: A Guide for Students with Disabilities and their Families
by Susan Yellin and Christina Cacioppo Bertsch: T-N1919-10 -- $92.00
Guide for high school students with disabilities and the adults in their lives. Provides advice on transitioning from teen years to adulthood and from high school to college or the workplace. Covers handling medical issues without parental assistance and creating a paper trail to document the disability.

A Turn in the Road
by Debbie Macomber: T-N1939-20 -- $92.50
Bethanne, and her daughter join Bethanne's former mother-in-law Ruth on a cross-country road trip to Florida. Ruth heads for her fiftieth high school reunion while Bethanne considers her ex-husband's wish to reunite. Along the way Bethanne falls in love.

Full Dark, No Stars
by Stephen King: T-N1918-00 -- 112.50
Quartet of dark novellas includes 1922, in which a Nebraska farmer enlists his son to help him kill his wife when she wants to sell the farm. In A Good Marriage a woman discovers her husband's darker side while he is away on a business trip. Adult Reader. Some violence and adult content. Bestseller.
*Accelerated Reader quiz number, book level, and point value. For more information on the Accelerated Reader program, see the January 2006 APH News or

Subscribe to receive posts via email

* indicates required

Browse Articles by Subject

Follow us on Twitter


Write for us

Your input and support in the evolution of Fred's Head are invaluable! Contact us about contributing original writing or for suggestions for updating existing articles. Email us at


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.

The products produced by the American Printing House for the Blind are instructional/teaching materials and are intended to be used by trained professionals, parents, and other adults with children who are blind and visually impaired. These materials are not intended as toys for use by children in unstructured play or in an unsupervised environment.

The information and techniques contained in Fred's Head are provided without legal consideration (free-of-charge) and are not warranted by APH to be safe or effective. All users of this service assume the risk of any injury or damage that may result from the use of the information provided.

Information in Fred's Head is not intended as a substitute for professional advice or treatment. Consult your physician before utilizing information regarding your health that may be presented on this site. Consult other professionals as appropriate for legal, financial, and related advice.

Fred's Head articles may contain links to other websites. APH is not responsible for the content of these sites.

Fred's Head articles created by APH staff are (C) copyright American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. You must request permission from APH to reprint these articles. Email to request permission.

Any submissions to Fred's Head should be free of copyright restrictions and should be the intellectual property of the submitter. By submitting information to Fred's Head, you are granting APH permission to publish this information.

Fair Use Notice: This website may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright holder(s). This site is operated on the assumption that using this information constitutes 'fair use' of said copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law.

Opinions appearing in Fred's Head records are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Printing House for the Blind.