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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Monday, July 31, 2017

Use the OrCam to Identify Objects, Read Print and More!

The following article comes from Hannah Ziring of OrCam Technologies. I have read about this device, viewed YouTube videos about it, and saw it in action very briefly at one of the summer conventions. You may find the device quite useful for the reasons listed in the article.
Glasses for a Person Who is Blind
The OrCam device is a smart camera that sits on the user’s glasses and reads text aloud to people who are visually impaired or blind.
While the OrCam device is not exactly “
glasses for blind person
”, it definitely looks that way. The device is so small and discreet, it is barely noticeable.
Besides its compact size, there are many amazing OrCam features that make the device unique and accessible.
Easy to use: OrCam MyEye is an intuitive wearable device with a smart camera that clips onto a regular pair of glasses and is able to 'read' text and convert it into speech relaying the message to the user. The device is activated by a simple intuitive gesture – pointing your finger or pressing a single button.
Using OCR - optical character reading - technology, the device can read printed materials on almost any surface such as newspapers, books, computer screens, menus and more.
Portable: Many people who are visually impaired or blind have to carry around a heavy magnifying glass to read text. The OrCam MyEye is small and light and simply attaches to the right side of the user’s glasses frame. The camera weighs ¾ of an ounce and has a thin wire, easily hidden behind the ear, which connects to the base unit or “brain” of the device. The base unit is about the size of a cellphone and can easily sit in one’s pocket or on a belt strap.
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Wearable: “You are what you wear.” Wearable technologies have grown tremendously in the past few years. Smart electronic devices that can be worn on the body are practical and discreet. The OrCam is no exception. the device is so discreet that it can barely be seen by others allowing the user to fit in with the crowd.
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Privacy: Unlike other OCR technologies, the OrCam does not require a scanner connected to a computer or internet connection. All the information stored in the device is private and only accessible to the user.
Independence: For people who are visually impaired or blind and have conditions that cannot be corrected by glasses or surgery, the OrCam MyEye can be life-changing. Who would have thought that this little camera situated on a pair of glasses could help people who are blind or visually impaired regain their independence.
To contact OrCam, 1350 Broadway, Suite 1600 New York, NY 10018. Phone: 1-800-713-3741 or visit their website where you can request a demo and join their email list. http://www.orcam.com/

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: Humble Wooden Workstand



Our object this week is a humble wooden workstand, made and used here at the American Printing House and painted a nice industrial gray.  Historic photographs show similar custom-made tables in a variety of shapes and sizes used as work stands in a number of processes around the building.  In this picture of the stereograph room where embossing plates were made, you can see a table much like this one in the left foreground.   These tables are an endangered species around APH today.  A few years ago our production department installed a Kaizen construction area where our production staff can put together special purpose tables and materials carts in a jiffy from metal tubes and particle board.  I guess you could say that these old work tables were the Kaizen equivalent of their day.
In the second photo, probably from 1950 or so, office manager Jane Kent guides a group of well-dressed ladies on a tour of the stereograph room at APH.  A transcriber sits in front of a stereograph, translating braille onto metal embossing plates.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind


Monday, July 24, 2017

Fully Audio Music Lessons for People Who Are Blind


Introduction


We received an email recently regarding a site dedicated to teaching basic music lessons to people who are blind. some audio music lessons existed in the National Library Service (NLS) catalog, but not many people spoke about them, perhaps causing some people to think that they no longer were available.

Music for the Blind


Although this site is not new, two things make it stand out. First, the site offers basic lessons for more than a dozen instruments. For a number of years, the available lessons mostly were for guitar and piano alone. Some of these lessons, though not all of them, became available on NLS. Second, all of the lessons are done totally by ear; there is no print, braille, video, or music notation.

The teacher describes techniques totally by ear. You hear what the instructor is doing and, after some instruction, are asked to do what he does. The lessons come on CDs, tapes, in some instances, and downloadable audio files. There also is a place on the homepage to sign up for email updates.

Important Accessibility Notes


Before we discuss the lessons in some more detail, there are a few accessibility issues you need to understand. If you do not run into these issues, you can navigate the site with ease; if you do encounter them, however, the below explanation should help you find what you’re looking for on the site.

There is an accessibility sidebar which JAWS shows immediately. This sidebar seems to handle font size and be useful for persons with low vision. At first review with JAWS and Internet Explorer, below this sidebar, you may see only the email signup edit fields and some basic information about the site. You must look for a menu and expand that menu with the space bar. Below that first menu is a second one you must expand in the same way. (You do not have to take these steps with Firefox and JAWS).

Here’s how you expand the menus. As you scroll, you hear, “Top menu navigation.” Press the down arrow key one time; open the menu that gains focus with the space bar. You may have to refresh your screen (hit the JAWS key plus escape to do this with JAWS) before you notice the new links that opening up the menu should display.

After you see a few links, you hear, “Child menu”, and you will be told if that menu is expanded or collapsed. Move to that menu with one press of the down arrow key and expand it with the spacebar to see all remaining links. Again, remember that you likely will have to take these steps using Internet Explorer and probably will not have to do so with Firefox.

Tell Me What I Will Find!


Examples of the courses covered on this site include piano courses, guitar courses,  and drum lessons. However, these are only three of the 13 current course types available. Note that some of the piano and guitar courses are available for download from the BARD site from NLS. Not all of these courses may be available from NLS, however, so please check with the Music for the Blind site and sign up for their emails to see a full list of current courses and to hear about new ones as they are added.

How Do the Courses Work?


When you open up the page that describes one of the course types, you will find one or more brief audio samples. Listen using the accessible audio player, and you will get a feel for how the lessons work. Remember, all lessons are audio only—no video, print, braille, or musical notation!

To buy any course, open the menus, and select the course you want to purchase by clicking its link. You will find the links immediately below the audio samples. Click the one you want and select checkout. Links for each course are clearly labeled and include the price and the media you will receive. Note: You must create an account to complete your purchase. If you have problems accessing the site or would rather speak to someone directly, you can call 888-778-1828. We wish you success with learning to play a new instrument or with improving your existing skills.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: Perkins-Binet Intelligence Test




Our object this week is an intelligence test adapted for blind students at the Perkins School for the Blind in the 1960s and 70s and published in 1980 by Dr. Carl Davis.  Intelligence tests have been used in schools since the early 20th century to predict aptitude.  The black box includes all sorts of blocks and small toys that go along with various tasks the test asks the student to complete.   The science behind intelligence tests is complicated, but they try to compare the abilities of the test taker to other kids of the same age, and assign a score based on that comparison.  The available pool of students that were blind or visually impaired was never really large enough to allow test designers to establish what “normal” was, so these kinds of tests fell out of fashion.  But it is a good example of how researchers try to adapt materials developed for sighted learners to the blind community.  Ralph Bartley, our former head of educational research, told me that when he was at the Kansas School for the Blind, he would routinely add 20 points to any IQ score in a blind child’s file to get an accurate idea of the student’s abilities. 
Photos:  I included pictures of the black fiberboard box that holds the test components, a bag of blue wooden beads in different shapes, a toy coffeepot with lid, and a bag holding a small box, a pair of small scissors, and a plastic dog.
 Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: Student Speech+ Calculator





I’ve been writing these Throwback Thursday articles for several years now, but I’m always amazed at the classic items I have yet to cover.  Our object this week was introduced in 1978, a joint project between APH and Telesensory Systems, a leading accessibility technology firm founded in 1970 at Stanford University. The Student Speech+ Talking Calculator could speak twenty-four words, and was the first calculator to appear in the APH catalog.  It could add, subtract, multiply, divide, and calculate square roots and percentages.  The readout was a pretty small red LED display, but the buttons were designed in large type.   By comparison to modern voice synthesis on your cell phone—I’m talking to you Siri--the voice was highly electronic.  Telesensory designed the calculator, but it was almost identical to their own version from 1976, the Speech+, which came in brown rather than APH blue. Partial assembly was performed by APH, which also distributed the calculators. They sold originally for $455 and were available until 1982.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

Friday, July 07, 2017

July 2017 APH News


http://www.aph.org/news/july-2017/ 
A Few of This Month’s Headlines:

 

  • Indoor Navigation: The Next Frontier
  • NEW! Six Little Dots - UEB, 2018; Protein Synthesis Kit; Match-It-Up Frames; and Slapstack Math (for iOS Devices)
  • Order Fall 2017 Textbooks Now!
  • Field Tests and Surveys
  • “A Daring Adventure Awaits” at the 2017 APH Annual Meeting of Ex Officio Trustees and Special Guests!
  • The APH Unforgettable Star Contest is back!
  • Braille Badges Contest Begins This September
  • Deadline Approaches for Tactile Illustrated Book Competition
  • Tactile Town Helps Adults Learn Orientation and Mobility
  • Treasure From the Migel Library
  • Social Media Spotlight
  • APH Travel Calendar and more…

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: An Arithmetic Slate





Our object this week is an arithmetic slate from the 1930s.  This is a prototype, the final version was cast in aluminum and featured pentagonal holes.  Pentagonal arithmetic frames were originally developed at the Glasgow Asylum for the Blind in Scotland around 1829.  By turning a metal peg in place, numbers 0-9 and operators were represented.  APH began experimenting with different styles of arithmetic frames in the 1930s.  The frames first entered the catalog in 1935.  By 1937, however, the pentagonal frame was no longer in the catalog, in favor of a gridded frame, often called a “Texas Slate,” which used metal type cast with raised numerals.  A year later, APH introduced its version of the Taylor arithmetic slate, which used octagonal holes, but was similar in concept to the pentagonal design.  APH called its pentagonal slate, the “Bertha Shephard Slate,” but I don’t know who Miss Shephard was.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

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