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, January 29, 2015

William Bell Wait and the War of the Dots

William Bell Wait Kleidograph writer

Our artifact this week is an incomplete—but still very cool—example of William Bell Wait’s Kleidograph Point Writer. Wait invented the New York Point system, a competitor with line letter and braille in the controversy over a uniform system of reading and writing for blind students. He introduced his mechanical pointwriter and a point stereograph machine in 1894. Both were a response to the invention of similar machines for the braille system in 1892 by Frank Hall, superintendent at the Illinois School for the Blind.  

APH purchased six New York Point stereographs from the New York Institute in 1898.  Production of new titles in New York Point immediately doubled as the machines dramatically decreased the time and cost of preparing embossing plates. We didn't buy one of Hall's braille stereographs until 1906, after it became obvious that braille had growing support in the U.S. as well.

Competition between the systems took decades to resolve. Wait’s Kleidograph was balky and complicated and its keyboard suggests how difficult it was to mechanize his code, which prioritized overall space savings over uniformity. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

#APHQuickTip: Reading Inventory

This week’s Quick Tip features the Basic Reading Inventory. Find out why this informal reading assessment is so popular, and how it can help you help your students with visual impairments.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Helen Keller's Autobiography Made Accessible

Helen Keller's Autobiography
 By Micheal Hudson, APH Museum Director

Our object this week is not exactly part of our museum collection here at APH.  It is my desk reference copy of Helen Keller’s autobiography, The Story of My Life.  Obviously a classic, it was well worn and well loved by a museum supporter long before he donated it a few years ago.  My copy is a 1923 Doubleday, Page, & Company edition of Keller’s story.  She originally published it in Ladies Home Journal as a series of articles in 1902, and it appeared for the first time in book form in 1903.  My copy is missing its spine, and its pages are littered with post-it notes from numerous projects, the most recent being the labels for our traveling exhibit, Child in a Strange Country: Helen Keller and the History of Education for People who are Blind or Visually Impaired.  

I picked it up again this morning after Justin Gardner, APH's librarian for the Migel Library, told me that one of our copies, this one from 1914, was the 2nd most frequently downloaded item in the Lyrasis Consortium the last week of December.  Lyrasis is a coalition of libraries working to digitize and share collections on the Internet Archive. The books on the Internet Archive are available in many accessible formats, including HTML EPUB, and DAISY. Our Migel Library has added thousands of titles on blindness to the Archive since we acquired it in 2009 from the American Foundation for the Blind

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What are APH Quick Tips?

APH Quick Tips logo

Wanna be an APH know-it-all? The producers of the series, APH Quick Tips are in the business of helping you increase your “APH IQ” one short, informative video at a time! Each of these videos focuses on a particular facet of any and all things APH. Point your browser to every Wednesday to check out a new Quick Tip. If you have an idea for one you'd like to see, feel free to email Kerry at, contact Fred’s Head or tweet us @APHfortheBlind with the hashtag #APHQuickTip!

This week’s APH Quick Tip provides an introduction to the new product, Geometro: Student Workbook Kit, an assortment of materials and manipulatives for use with Geometro kits. Watch it here!

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.