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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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: Fundraising Poster for Rochester Eye Bank

Our object this week is a fundraising poster for the Rochester Eye Bank.  "Mommy! I can See Again! “ is printed on the yellow poster with a black-and-white illustration of a young girl holding a rag doll.  The Rochester Eye-Bank and Research Society was founded by the Rochester Downtown Lions Club in 1952 to retrieve and store eyes for corneal transplants and research.  The first successful cornea transplant occurred in 1905 in Europe, but the creation of eye banks to store eye tissue was critical to the success of the endeavor.  The first eye bank in the U.S. was founded in 1944 in New York City.  The eye bank in Rochester closed its doors in 2015.
Micheal Hudson
Museum Director, APH

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Your #GivingTuesday Donation Can Make Dreams Come True


Your #GivingTuesday donation can make dreams come true

by Craig Meador, APH President
Photo: Portrait of Dr. Craig Meador

Everyone has dreams. That’s one of the many ways people who are blind or visually impaired are exactly the same as people who are typically sighted. We all have dreams and hope we can make them come true.

People who are blind or visually impaired dream of getting an education, going to college, and maybe earning an advanced degree. They dream of jobs that bring them satisfaction and independence. They dream of participating in their communities and our society. They dream of achieving everything they set out to do—just like everyone else.

At APH, all our work centers around making these dreams possible, and providing people who are blind or visually impaired with the products and educational resources they need to fulfill those dreams. Although we’re a nonprofit organization, we’re also a business—not a wish factory—so we have to operate within the confines of budgets and organizational objectives.

We’re grateful for the grants and government funding we receive to help us create educational, workplace, and independent living products and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. But those funds aren’t enough to cover all of our costs, so the generosity of individual donors is essential to helping us make more dreams come true.  

Donations help us maintain programs like Braille Tales, which ensures that toddlers who are visually impaired receive their first braille book to read with their parents, at no cost. Donations help us continue the research and development that results in new technology like Graphiti that lets students finish school at the same pace as their sighted peers and gives people who are blind or visually impaired the same career opportunities as everyone else. Donations help us continue our work to change public attitudes so people of all ages who are blind or visually impaired can be independent and make valuable contributions to our society.

If you have already donated to APH, we’re very grateful for your support of the work we do. If you’ve never made a donation to APH before—or you want to donate more—Giving Tuesday is a great day to do so. Donations in any amount will bolster our mission to improve the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired.

Giving is the engine of the work we do at APH, and your donation will empower more people who are blind or visually impaired to pursue their dreams. Thank you for helping us make those dreams come true.
Photo: Giving Tuesday Logo

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Your Wish List for Accessible Cities

A Wish List for Accessible Cities

by Craig Meador, President, APH

At the American Printing House for the Blind, we believe accessibility is for everyone, everywhere. But as we all know, most cities and communities aren’t fully accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. APH wants to change that, and we took a big step forward by asking people who are blind or visually impaired what they want and need to navigate the world independently.
Over the summer, we conducted a survey at major field conferences asking participants to give us their definition of an accessible city and community. We interviewed 397 people, including those who are blind and visually impaired, as well as caregivers, family members, and practitioners in the field. We also received 436 online survey responses, making this the largest study of this topic to date.

First, I want to thank everyone who participated in our survey. Our vision of creating fully accessible communities — like the Accessible Louisville plan we’re already working on — won’t be a reality without your input and support. Your participation was invaluable.

I’d also like to share a little bit about what we learned. You told us you want all-inclusive cities that make true independence possible for everyone. You want auditory and haptic pedestrian signals at every stoplight, with vocal feedback about crossing times and directions. You want beacons to read signs independently in public buildings, braille signage, and armor tile on all blended curb cutouts. You need more accessible solutions for transportation and shopping.

Those are just a few of the things on your wish list for a fully accessible community. Now, we’ll be using what we learned from the survey to do even more research and explore partnerships with other organizations. We’ll also continue with our Accessible Louisville plan that will not only make our home city more accessible but will create a template for other cities to follow. This plan includes a 20-location pilot project of APH’s indoor navigation technology, Nearby Explorer Online with Indoor Explorer™.

 If you participated in our survey, we want you to know that your perspective is guiding our accessibility priorities. We’ll keep listening to what you have to say; you will hear much more from us about this topic.

APH has always been committed to breaking down barriers to learning and living. Now our classrooms are everywhere in this wide, changing world, with opportunities to explore and discover that belong to everyone. Thank you for being part of our work and helping us shape the future of accessibility.

For questions about APH's accessible communities initiative, please email
Top photo shows a man navigating a library with Indoor Explorer on a smartphone; bottom photo shows a talking street crossing unit.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: Perkins Details a Catastrophic Event from 1917 that Changed the Treatment of Blindness

On the morning of December 6th, 1917, a French cargo ship loaded with explosives collided with a Norwegian freighter in the harbor of Halifax Canada.  The resulting explosion killed about 2,000 people and the flying glass that resulted from thousands of windows blown out by the pressure wave injured the eyes of almost six thousand people and blinded 41 permanently.  The large number of eye injuries turned out to an important event in both medical care for eye injuries and rehabilitation efforts for people who are blind.  This week the archives at the Perkins School for the Blind commemorates the centennial of this awful event and its aftermath by posting documents that tell the story.  Perkins has several other online exhibits that are equally fascinating.
Photo caption: View of the Halifax Harbor area after the explosion. Every tree and building in sight is shattered and broken. Everything is covered in snow.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: An Early Math Aid

Our object this week is a wooden frame with small compartments in a twenty by thirty grid.  There are metal types with a raised Arabic numeral on the end that fit into the “cells.”  Originally called an Arabic Slate, this style of math aid was developed in Paris, France in the 19th century.  One source from 1910 called it the Paris Method.  This particular model, known as an Arithmetic Type Frame, was developed in 1936 at APH as an instructional aid for working problems in long division, multiplication, subtraction, and addition.   The supplied lead type was called Philadelphia Great Primer Type.  In 1959, APH introduced the Texas slate to replace the Arithmetic Type Frame.
Photo Captions: First Photo: The eight inch by thirteen inch Arithmetic Type Frame had 600 “cells.”
The second image shows you a close-up of the raised number types.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director


Wednesday, November 08, 2017

November 2017 APH News

This month, APH is transforming access as dramatically as braille did back in the 1850s with the introduction of BrailleBlaster™ software.
A Few of This Month’s Headlines:

  • Blasting Braille Into the Future
  • NEW! Increasing Complexity Pegboard
  • NEW! Large Magnetic/Dry-Erase Board
  • NEW! DeafBlind Pocket Communicator
  • NEW! Braille Datebook, 2018
  • Field Tests and Surveys
  • 2017 Wings of Freedom Award
  • Some Daring Adventurers from Annual Meeting 2017!
  • Essay Contest Coming Soon - APH 160th Anniversary!
  • APH InSights Art Competition 2018 Now Open!
  • Social Media Spotlight
  • APH Travel Calendar and more…

Quick Tip: Reach And Match Learning Kit. The Reach and Match Learning Kit is an innovative system for students with sensory impairment and other special needs to help them learn while engaging with their peers.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Throwback Thursday Object: Cabinet of Printer's Type

Did you ever wonder why we call capital letters “upper case” and non-capitals “lower case”?  They are printing terms.  From the origins of printing, Mr. Gutenberg and all that, some poor fellow had to sit with a “case” of printing type and lay out the page in a frame called a “galley” one letter at a time.  The capitals were in the top drawers of the case and so on.  Our object today is a cabinet of printer’s type.  The angled top allowed the typesetter to place his galley frame there while he loaded it with type from the drawers, or maybe rest a drawer there while he unloaded a previously used arrangement.  APH used type in several ways.  In more modern times, we used traditional type to print labels on book spines and Talking Book records.  In our early days, we used specialized type to manufacture raised letter books, the tactile books that preceded braille.
(Photo Caption:  Forty-four inch tall wooden case with space for twenty-four drawers, each drawer is about an inch high and is divided into many small compartments filled with printer’s type.)
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director

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