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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Thursday, January 30, 2014

The ODIN VI: An Accessible Basic Mobile Phone

ODIN VI mobile phone

By Robert Felgar, General Manager, Odin Mobile

Odin Mobile, the cell phone provider dedicated to serving the blind and visually impaired, is selling a basic mobile phone, called the ODIN VI that allows someone without sight to manage contacts, text message, set alarms and more.  The phone targets those who want a basic mobile phone that is accessible, as well as individuals who may not want to pay for a smart phone and their expensive monthly plans.

The phone speaks everything that is on the screen, speaks the keys that you press and even prompts you to perform certain functions.  You can choose between a few voices, which are clear and can be adjusted in volume.  The ODIN VI comes with a charging station, to make charging your phone easier.  When the user puts their phone in the charging station properly, the phone speaks and tells you that it is being charged.  The phone is a “slider”, which means that you slide open the top portion of the phone, in order to reveal the keypad.  Whenever you slide open the phone, it automatically speaks the time.  The buttons on the keypad are large and well spaced.  The phone speaks English, Spanish and some other European languages.

The ODIN VI allows the blind user to do everything that a sighted user can do with the phone.  An individual who is blind can create their own contacts and move through the contact list to hear the names read out loud.  Users can write text messages and hear their incoming messages spoken to them.  There is also an alarm function which allows the user to set 30 different alarms.  They can also access their call log to learn which calls they missed. The ODIN VI speaks the caller ID, as well as the amount of battery charge, the signal strength and the time and date.

The ODIN VI costs $150 and must be used with Odin Mobile service, which operates on T-Mobile’s network.  Plans cost between $10 for 150 minutes and $45 for 4000 minutes.  Text messaging is unlimited.  Also, members of the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind receive a five percent discount.  To obtain the discount, identify yourself as an NFB or ACB member when you call to order the phone.

To learn more about the phone, visit You can also order the phone by calling 855-217-9459. 

Listen to the Blind Geek Zone podcast demonstrating the ODIN VI.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities

Pile of silver coins
By Doug Wheller, Flickr Creative Commons
 Finding a college, deciding on a career path, and attaining accessible materials is stressful enough. Add to that the problem of paying for school. Along with Federal financial aid, consider applying for as many scholarships as possible. Free money for school is always the best option! has put together a comprehensive directory of financial aid options, mostly scholarships, for students with disabilities. Don't let the website name fool you - these scholarships are not just for online or distance learning. However, each scholarship listing does indicate whether or not the scholarship can be used for an accredited online program.

The directory is divided into these categories:
  • All types of disabilities
  • Hearing impairments
  • Visual impairments
  • Mobility impairments
  • Learning disabilities and mental health
Each listing includes information on who's eligible, what the funds can be used for, how to apply, and a link to the scholarship's website. 

There is so much free financial aid available. Hopefully, this directory will help you to fund your college experience!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

APH News: January 2014

The January 2014 APH News is now available! What's new this month: 

  • New products and a HUGE sale!
  • News from around the field, including news on UEB
  • APH's travel calendar
  • ...and more!

Friday, January 03, 2014

Seeking Field Evaluators for the US Map with Interactive Talking Pen

US Map with Talking Interactive Pen

APH is seeking field evaluators for the US Map with Interactive Talking Pen, the outcome of a collaborative effort between APH and Touch Graphics, Inc. This interactive color/tactile map of the United States works in combination with cutting-edge Talking Tactile Pen technology. With a simple, light touch of the pen to the map, a student has access to multiple spoken layers of information for each state including the state capital, ten largest cities, immediate surroundings, land and water area, population estimate, statehood, nickname, state symbols (bird, tree, flower, and song), motto, famous people, points of interest, and interesting facts. The names of oceans, the Great Lakes, bordering countries, and mileage scales are also spoken. A dynamic menu bar at the base of the foldable map allows adjustments to volume, repeated information, and lockable layers of information; a convenient “Stop” button permits termination of speech and a “Help” button orients the user to the map’s layout and proper use of the pen. The audio content can be listened to through the pen’s own speaker or, for better quality sound, standard headphones or external speakers can be plugged into the audio jack near the power button. The Talking Tactile Pen comes with a USB cable for recharging of the pen’s batteries after several hours of use.

Field evaluators will be asked to use the prototype with multiple students with visual impairments and blindness. Students may range in age, grade level, and primary reading medium (large print, braille, and/or auditory). Student outcome data will be collected by asking each student to perform specific tasks using the interactive map. Evaluators will then complete and return a product evaluation form at the end of the testing period. 

Field test sites will be selected based upon geographic location, number of available students, and type of instructional setting. Preference will be given to those who have not recently field tested an APH product. The number of prototypes is limited. Field testing will begin in February 2014 and extend through the end of April 2014. If you are interested in possibly serving as a field evaluator, please provide the following information: your name, title, school/agency, type of setting (e.g., residential, itinerant), number of available students (with ages, grade levels, and primary reading media indicated), and your complete contact information (phone number, mailing address, and email address). Send this information to Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader,, by January 15, 2014. You may also contact Karen at 502-899-2322 or 800-223-1839, ext. 322. Thank you!

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