Showing posts from June, 2016

Throwback Thursday Object: Index Typewriter

Our object this week is an unusual typewriter developed for blind users.  When schools for students who were blind or visually impaired first began, handwriting was an important school subject.  Inventers developed a number of handwriting guides—maybe I’ll show you some of those next week.  In any event, once the typewriter was introduced after the Civil War, it quickly replaced handwriting, since it offered a quick and accurate way for a blind writer to send a letter that could be read by a sighted employer, friend, or business associate.  This is an index typewriter invented by Oscar Picht for blind typists around 1907.  Catalogs advertising it exist that date as late as 1928.  Index typewriters did not have keyboards. One hand operated a pointer that selected a letter from an index while the other hand depressed a lever that printed the type on the paper.   This one is cool because it features a daisy wheel—remember them from the old IBM Selectric typewriters?  Oscar Picht (1871-19…

Methods for identifying U.S. currency

Blind and visually impaired people have struggled to identify United States paper currency due to its lack of tactile differentiation. This post includes information from the Federal Reserve concerning its recent efforts to combat the problem. However, we also have included an additional mobile app that assist with differentiating U.S. paper bills. The Federal Reserve information, with a few revisions, is as follows: Meaningful Access to U.S. Currency
Federal Reserve notes, better known in commerce as U.S. currency, paper money, or bills, are the same size and weight regardless of denomination.  Because there is no tactile difference between a $5 and $20 bill, for example, individuals who are blind or visually impaired may experience difficulties denominating them.
The Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is working to change that, and is taking a number of steps to provide meaningful access to U.S. currency for those with vision impairments. 
In January 20…

Quick Tip: The Game Kit. Find out all about the Game Kit and its components and uses.


Quick Tip: The JOY Player and File Uploads. Read books and upload your own music onto DTB cartridges for the Joy Player! Find out how to upload your own mp3 and wav files in this week's Quick Tip!


Throwback Thursday: Wright Punch Model 2600: A Method for Programming Old Main Frame Computers

Wright Punch Model 2600 card punch
Our object this week reminds us that it used to be pretty complicated to program one of the old main frame computers.  Information was coded by punching patterns of holes into cards, which were then fed into a computer via a card reader.  This is a mechanical IBM card punch for visually impaired computer programmers based on the Hollerith Keypunch Code.  Hollerith was fairly easy for braille readers to learn. (Most sighted programmers used a typewriter keyboard to punch their cards.) A label on top of the punch reads "Wright Punch Model 2600, Wright Line, Worcester, Mass. USA." It also lists the key numbers and letter and symbols code. It has thirteen keys attached to a movable carriage. Letters and punctuation marks were made by pressing multiple keys, another similarity to braille, and a spacing key advanced the carriage. The keys punched holes into the IBM card placed beneath the carriage.   Larry Honaker, the original donor, used the c…

Quick Tips: VIPS@Home: Special Education. Watch a preview of the third book in the series.


Orbit Reader 20 Details

The June 2016 APH News previews
this article and provides a link to it; we also have chosen to include it in Fred's Head.
Orbit Reader 20 Details by Larry Skutchan
After the recent announcement and feedback during the March CSUN conference about the release of the Orbit Reader 20™, a new refreshable braille display with an SD card slot and stand-alone functionality, it is clear the device warrants some additional description. In brief, the Orbit Reader 20 combines simplicity, functionality, and connectivity in a unique and low priced package to make reading braille more practical in many situations. The Orbit Reader 20 will be manufactured by Orbit Research and sold by the American Printing House for the Blind.
Current State of Refreshable Braille Technology Users who are blind enjoy increasingly better and less expensive speech output accessibility in mobile devices, but braille access is nearly always achieved by employing an additional external device. The device works much lik…

June 2016 APH News now online

**This Month’s Headlines:
Orbit Reader 20 DetailsEagerly-Welcomed Advice from Our EOT CommitteesAPH Welcomes Researchers from KoreaHave You Visited APH’s New Accessible Tests Resource Center?Treasures from the APH LibrariesQuick Tips from APHSocial Media SpotlightAPH Travel CalendarNew Products from APHThe Braille Book Corner and much, much more…

Throwback Thursday: Picture of Stevie Wonder and Muhammad Ali

Our object this week is in remembrance of Louisville’s own Muhammad Ali, who died last Friday and is being remembered all over the world this week as a great athlete, humanitarian, and voice for human dignity. We have had this photo since 2011, when we installed our exhibit telling the story of Stevie Wonder, his tutor Ted Hull, and his teachers at the Michigan School for the Blind. The picture came with many others donated by Ted, who traveled all around the world with Stevie Wonder and taught him on the road. Ted told his story in the 2002 memoir “The Wonder Years,” which you can still find on Amazon. The photo is a press photo from, we think, the Detroit Press, showing a twenty-one-year-old Ali, already the number one heavyweight contender, but not yet a champion, and a thirteen-year-old Stevie Wonder clowning around. Both were definitely still on their way up. It is a typical pose for “The Greatest,” with him taking a fake punch from Stevie, who wears a white tuxedo jacket …

Quick Tip: APH Film Fest 2016. Popcorn anyone?


Quick Tip: Rare Louis Braille Book. See the first book describing and explaining braille code at the APH Museum!