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Showing posts from February, 2016

APH Proclaims that 2016 is the Year of Braille

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In light of the recent, official adoption of the Unified English Braille (UEB) code in the United States, we offer a brief (and hopefully interesting) history and review of APH software efforts in concurrence with the transition over the past few years.
Background Liblouis is an open source library that translates text in multiple languages into many braille codes. It has been in development and use for several years. It provides the translation services for familiar programs, such as JAWS, NVDA, DAISY Pipeline, bookshare.org, and more. (See www.liblouis.org.)
Liblouis is an incredible international effort that exemplifies the power of collaboration: providing a truly useful tool through mutual cooperation. APH first used Liblouis in 2012 to introduce experimental support for UEB on the braille Android™ device called Braille Plus 18. We called it experimental because while it got many of the UEB rules right, there were also several problems.
Software engineers from APH worked with the…

recorded weather forecasts

Recorded Weather ForecastsGet Recorded Weather Forecasts Any Time Options for obtaining weather forecasts have increased throughout the years. No longer is one forced to wait for local radio and television stations to broadcast the forecast. Anyone with a smartphone can ask that phone’s virtual assistant for weather conditions and receive basic data like the current temperature, whether or not precipitation is falling and a very basic forecast for a selected location. Often, however, the information someone seeks is much more detailed in scope, and it may or may not be local weather information. What would someone do, for instance, if they lived in Philadelphia and needed to travel to Seattle—how would they get the forecast for Seattle? The Weather Channel is an option, but because of its national focus, it may not provide all of the information one seeks. In addition, its current practice of providing little audio feedback during its “Local on the Eights”, the time when it shows loca…

Throwback Thursday: The Press Room

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The Press Room
We are continuing on this week with a look at some great photographs from our company archives.  This one shows the far end of the press room around 1931.  I found this picture hanging in our company lunch room a few years ago.  There is a lot going on.  In the foreground a man in an apron, collared shirt, and vest feeds paper into a heavy steel Thompson-Laureate style platen press.  A curved stand supports a large flywheel on the right side of the press.  You can clearly see the braille embossing plates held open by the jaws of the press.  Believe it or not, you can watch a press like this one operating on a tour of APH today.  We use two of them pretty regularly for special jobs, although most modern output comes from digital presses.  Notice that there are no guards or fences to protect the operator.  (Worker safety was only starting to be a national priority and there were few laws to govern it.)  The bare leather belt on the left is connected to an electric motor th…

Reacting to Reactions: Facebook's New Reaction Feature

Facebook has just rolled out an update that makes a significant change to how we interact with posts. Besides the “like” button which has existed since 2009, facebook has now added what it calls “reactions”. Reactions add extra choices besides just liking a post; now you can respond with like, love, haha, wow, sad or angry.
Facebook has stated openly that they strive to make their site accessible; therefore, I was somewhat concerned when I could not access reactions at first. So how does one begin “reacting” to posts? Bear in mind that I use an iPhone and cannot comment on the facebook Android app; if you use Android, it is likely that you can make it work by using what gestures you normally use to access content, but you will have to experiment to make sure.
On your iPhone, read through your newsfeed as you normally do. When you want to react to a post, of course, you can simply tap “like” if that is what you want to do. If you wish to use one of the new reaction choices, you can do on…

All Aboard: The Sight Word Activity Express

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All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express                                                                                                                                                All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express Get your student on the fast track to learning high frequency sight words and common nouns with this interactive and versatile set of magnetic print/braille labels!
All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express can be used for instruction and assessment of a student's recognition of sight ("high frequency") words -- the most commonly used words in the English language. All Aboard contains a list of 220 words categorized according to grade level: Pre-primer, Primer, First, Second, and Third.
All Aboard! includes print/braille magnetic labels of sight words and common nouns. The set of Contracted Braille/Print Magnetic Word Labels present the contracted braille version; these labels are identified by black text on a yellow background w…

Throwback Thursday: The Round Table, 1956

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The Round Table, 1956
Our object this week is a photograph from our company archives.  Our photographic collection is large, and for a few weeks I want to feature it in this space because it is so fascinating.  This is what we called the “Round Table.”  Five women in skirts and blouses—yes ladies in 1956 if you worked back in the APH factory you had to wear a skirt.  We have pictures of women in pants but they are rare.  One of the women is wearing a very practical flowered apron, but another has on high heels(!)  Anyhow, they stand around the table, which is about thirteen feet in diameter.  Stacks of pages from the braille edition of the Reader’s Digest are arranged around the table.  (APH started embossing Reader’s Digest in braille in 1928.)  As it rotated—the table worked like a large phonograph—the workers picked up a page from each stack as it passed them.  Every publication from APH was collated in that manner.  There are tall metal stools in the foreground stenciled “Round Ta…

Quick Tip: Other Louis Resources

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A Method for Cutting Food

As a result of my own experiences and those of other blind people I have talked to about this topic, I realized a long time ago that many blind people are quite anxious about going to a restaurant with sighted people, especially if the blind people order food that must be cut. Some blind people have remarked that they avoid the situation entirely; others go to the restaurant but make a special effort to order a sandwich or some other meal that does not include food that needs to be cut.
My father taught me this method for cutting food. It works particularly well on boneless meats, baked potatoes and certain desserts like individual pieces of cake—not so well with bone-in meats, loaves of bread or large desserts like entire pies or cakes. Since it does require you to touch your food, you may choose not to use it when eating particularly messy foods like meat covered in sauce.
Before attempting to cut your food, examine it with one hand enough to know the size of what you are cutting. Onc…

Building on Patterns: Second Grade: Unit 7 Now Available

We are pleased to announce that Building on Patterns: Primary Braille Literacy Program: Second Grade: Unit 7, Celebrate Books is now available. Building on Patterns (BOP) is a complete primary literacy program designed to teach beginning braille users all language arts -- reading, writing, and spelling.

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.
This program also addresses specific skill areas needed by the child who is blind, such as language development, sound discrimination, tactual discrimination, and concept development. Braille contractions are introduced from the beginning along with sound and letter associations. Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) Skills such as using tactile graphics and technology are also included.
BOP S…

Quick Tip: Searching Louis

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Accessible Voting Machines for the Blind and Visually Impaired

As states begin their primary elections for determining our next presidential candidates, we must be mindful that voting is everyone’s right and that blind and visually impaired people now can do so independently. As a result of the issues experienced by some voters during the 2000 presidential election, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), in October, 2002. This law ensures that all Americans, including the blind and visually impaired community, can vote privately and discreetly, no longer having to rely on poll workers, friends or family members to fill out ballots for them.
An Access World article in 2002 discussed 4 machines that were being tested for possible mainstream use as accessible voting machines. While I am not certain if any of these machines became the standard one used today, I can say with certainty that every polling place in America must make at least one accessible voting machine available according to the HAVA.
Here are some recommendations which may be…

Apple Accessibility: Web Resources and the Accessibility Support Phone Number

Most people know about the core products offered by Apple—iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Those of us who utilize accessibility features to use these devices may benefit from the vast resources Apple offers, some of which, at least, may not be familiar to many.
That Apple develops their products with accessibility in mind is evident by the fact that accessibility features are built directly into all of their products. Apple notes that not only are accessibility features included; accessibility principles also are built in since accessibility features work the same way across Apple products and apps.
Their accessibility resources, however, are immense. If you navigate to www.apple.com/accessibility you find radio buttons for overview, vision, hearing, physical and motor skills and learning and literacy. Choosing one of these radio buttons highlights Apple’s accessibility features pertaining to that disability. Additionally on the same page are links for accessibility features built specificall…

Guides Available for JAWS Users for Windows 10

VIP Software Guides for Windows 10Guides for Windows with JAWSIn a previous Fred's head post from 2013 we learned that a website based in the UK offers several guides to various versions of Windows, Internet Explorer and screen magnification.The site recently was updated with two guides for Windows 10. These guides include: A Guide To File Explorer and A Guide to the Task BarThe second guide encompasses the Start menu, search, Cortana, the taskbar buttons, the notification area and notifications. The site contains helpful headings that allow users to locate their desired guides quite easily.While the guides were developed specifically for JAWS users, most of the information applies to individuals using most screen readers. The site with all of the guides and other helpful links is available at this link

February 2016 APH News now online

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The February 2016 APH news is online and includes articles discussing new APH products including Building on Patterns Second Grade Units 4 and 6. Also the APH news includes an article proclaiming 2016 the Year of Braille, the Unforgettable APH Star Contest, the APH InSights Art Competition and more.
http://www.aph.org/news

Throwback Thursday Object: indexing cassette player

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Today's Throwback Thursday item as well as the encyclopedia which is discussed are items I received while in middle school. It certainly shows the amazing changes in the technology we blind people have utilized throughout the years.
Our object this week is an indexing cassette player introduced at APH in 1981.  Sometimes today we take it for granted that information on any topic imaginable is available with a few taps on our smart phone.  Before the internet, you’d have to visit a library and use an encyclopedia to get access to that much information.  There were a number of encyclopedia publishers but the two gold standard sets were—and are still today—


Britannica and World Book.   One of the largest single projects ever undertaken at APH was the production of a recorded edition of the World Book Encyclopedia.  Imagine it, the recording filled over two hundred four-track cassettes—it took up six feet of shelf space-- and you want to find a short article on the island of Guam.  With…

Building on Patterns, BOP Second Grade Unit 6 now available!

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Building on Patterns: Primary Braille Literacy Program: Second Grade: Unit 6 Student Kit - UEBA Walk on the Wild Side
Building on Patterns (BOP) is a complete primary literacy program designed to teach beginning braille users all language arts -- reading, writing, and spelling.

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.
This program also addresses specific skill areas needed by the child who is blind, such as language development, sound discrimination, tactual discrimination, and concept development. Braille contractions are introduced from the beginning along with sound and letter associations. Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) Skills such as using tactile graphics and technology are also included.
BOP Second Grade builds on the…

Revised Quick Tip: APH on Facebook

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See how you can make sure to always see our facebook posts, now updated with instructions for those using screen readers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4d73phb14OU

Quick Tip: My List

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Guidebook for Students with Hearing Impairments Preparing to Attend College

An organization named Accredited Schools Online has developed a comprehensive guidebook for hearing impaired students who are preparing to attend college. Accredited Schools Online states that it "is a comprehensive accreditation resource that provides prospective students and families with the tools needed to make well-informed decisions about their education."
The organization describes the guidebook as follows: We have taken special care to provide the most extensive knowledge we can in this guidebook in hopes to make the transition to college a less daunting task than it already is. Our guidebook includes tech tools for students with hearing impairments, how schools create more audible environments, and scholarships for students with hearing impairments.
While this book focuses on students with varying levels of hearing impairments, some of its content invariably applies to blind and visually impaired students, especially as it relates to self-advocacy and determining the …

Directions For Me

Directions ForMe Directions For Me Do you have food stored away that you are not quite sure how to prepare correctly? Are you wondering exactly how you should use a particular medicine? Are you uncertain as to whether or not you should use your favorite cleaning product on certain surfaces? A service is available thanks to Horizons for the Blind called Directions for Me. You can reach it from Horizons for the Blind's site or from this link
You might wish to bookmark the site as locating it via search engine is painfully difficult. Directions For Me provides directions for making baked goods, proper use of cleaners, frozen foods, tools, medicines, and a host of other things. The homepage offers the categories of food, health and beauty, and other. When in doubt, choose other as the list of available options under other is immense.The variety of products offered is impressive; for instance, you do not get the directions for making just one kind of Betty Crocker brownies—you get dire…

Who is Paul Ferrara, APH's new social media coordinator?

As a child, I remember receiving many Braille books and noticing that on the first page, at the bottom they said, “American Printing House for the Blind, Louisville, Kentucky.” Having grown up in Delaware—yes Delaware is an actual state—I had no idea where this Louisville, Kentucky was. It seemed like a faraway place. I also remember receiving an abacus, periodic table and protractor from APH but never imagined I would associate myself directly with APH in the future.
I attended Sanford School, a private school in Delaware from sixth grade through high school. Then I attended Gettysburg College, obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Eventually, I would earn two masters degrees from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the reason I came to Louisville originally.
Except for my time in seminary when there were a few blind or visually impaired students, I was the only blind student at my high school and college so I learned to live in the sighted world. As a result, a ca…