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.)

Search

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: Spine Chase



Our museum collection contains over 230 years of products for people that are blind or visually impaired, but it also contains a lot of interesting manufacturing and printing history.  Our object this week is a specialty tool used to emboss the print gold leaf spine labels on our braille books.  A “chase” is a frame used to hold printers type in a printing press.  The type was set by hand and the screw handle tightened until the type was locked in place.   The type chase was then slid into a book case stamping machine.  It was probably custom made, either for APH locally, but more likely directly in the APH machine shop sometime around 1960.
Captions: First Photo, Steel table on the chase has a fixed lip on one side and an adjustable lip on the other tightened with a hand screw.
Second Photo: The green linen spine of the American Vest Pocket Dictionary from 1969 shows a gold leaf label stamped with the spine chase.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: A-74 Talking Book Machine

Our object this week is a common Talking Book phonograph from around 1974.  I really like the bright colors that the NLS was using back then.  This one is green and the speaker is mounted in its removable lid.  The passage of the Pratt-Smoot Act in 1931 created the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.  The act was amended in 1933 to include talking book service.  The WPA began manufacturing talking book machines for the NLS in 1935.  The first commercially purchased machines were bought by NLS in 1947.  The first transistorized machines, like this one, appeared in 1968.  Three speeds appeared in 1970.  This example was owned by Eva Morton, an alumni of the Kentucky School for the Blind.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: Swail Dot Inverter

Ever since Louis Braille adapted his “Braille Tablet” to write his system, people have been bothered by the downward writing involved in using a braille slate and stylus.  In order to read braille that you write on a standard slate, you have to turn the paper over, so you have to reverse both the direction you write and the characters as you write them.  There have been a lot of different efforts to overcome this perceived deficiency, but I’m not going into that here.  Our object this week is a Swail Dot Inverter, introduced by APH in 1965.  It is a humble little aluminum stylus with a faceted handle and a hollow tipped steel blade.  When not in use, you can store the blade in the handle.  It was designed to emboss raised dots, useful for constructing simple tactile graphics.  You can still buy one!  Although the Swail works with paper, it seems to give the best results with plastic Brailon paper from American Thermoform, which also appeared in the APH catalog for the first time in 1965.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

Friday, August 11, 2017

August 2017 APH News

A Few of This Month’s Headlines:

Coming in August: MATT Connect
  • NEW! Bear Hunt - UEB; Indoor Explorer; Explorer Bright Ray; and ECC Icon Poster
  • 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!
  • Braille Badges Contest Begins This September
  • STEM Corner
  • Treasure From the Migel Library
  • Social Media Spotlight
  • APH Travel Calendar and more…

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: The Talking Wallet

The talking wallet recognized paper bills and announced their value.  It was developed by the Boston Information & Technology Corporation in cooperation with the American Foundation for the Blind(AFB).  In a 1992 edition of AFB's Braille Monitor, BIT’s President, Mohymen Saddeek, reported that roughly 150 were manufactured before the company failed in a dispute over the product.
There are many tools that supply a voice reading of the information normally gained by sight. Such aids include the talking scale, clock, watch, timer, blood-pressure monitor, thermometer, blood-glucose monitoring kit, talking wallet, label makers, calculators, and computer-speech output.
Photo caption:  The Talking Wallet was black plastic, about 4x6 inches, and opened up to accept the paper bill.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: Flyer Announcing a Concert by Students from "The Perkins Institution for the Blind" from 1873!

Our object this week is a small paper broadside from 1873.  In bold print letters it proclaims the appearance of “Mr. J.N. Marble and his associates from the Perkins Institution for the Blind” for a “Concert at Town Hall.”  These were likely pasted up all over town and handed out on the street.  John N. Marble was a student from Massachusetts at Perkins between 1868 and 1871.  Samuel Gridley Howe, the superintendent at Perkins, regularly exhibited his students all over the country, but this show was a money making venture.  It cost a quarter to get in.  We can’t be sure whether “Town Hall,” where the program was staged, was the Old City Hall in Boston or in some other community.  The repertoire featured a variety of popular tunes, primarily American, and concluded with “America,” although that song was not the “America the Beautiful” so familiar today.  That old favorite was not published until 1910.



Photo caption:  Nine by six inch concert flyer with a program listing

Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

 


Subscribe to receive posts via email

* indicates required

Browse Articles by Subject

Follow us on Twitter

Archives

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 fredshead@aph.org.

Disclaimers

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 fredshead@aph.org 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.