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, February 22, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Legendary Publisher of the Washington Post Visits APH

The Academy Award buzz for Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks’ new movie “The Post” caused me to remember that Katherine Graham, the legendary publisher of the Washington Post, visited APH in 1989.  Streep plays Graham in the movie.  Our Throwback Thursday object this week is a photograph from that day, October 5th, 1989.  Legendary APH narrator Terry Hales Sales stands in a crowd of well-wishers shaking Ms. Graham’s hand on our front steps. Terry is looking back at the camera and Ms. Graham has a large flower pinned to her dress.  Our studio manager, Steve Mullins, stands off to the left.  He has the required patches on his jacket elbows.  I had a coat just like it.  At the time Steve was a monitor, what we now call a talking book editor.  APH had begun recording the Talking Newsweek Magazine in 1959—we still record and distribute it today!—and the company was celebrating the 30th anniversary of the partnership with Graham and Newsweek Magazine.  In 1989, our recorded magazines came on flexible vinyl records.  You could wad them up and throw them away after listening.

Photo Caption:  Katherine Graham greets a crowd at APH in 1989.
Micheal Hudson
Museum Director, APH

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Throwback Thursday Object: the VersaPoint Duo Braille Embosser

Technology is changing so quickly.  Today’s modern miracle becomes a dusty paperweight almost overnight.  Our museum tries to save these dinosaurs, but the pace of obsolescence and even extinction is so rapid that it is often unclear what is a significant technological landmark and what is an abandoned rabbit hole.  Our object this month, a VersaPoint Duo braille embosser from 2000, turned out to be much more interesting than I initially thought, so I am feeling vindicated about all the other dusty paperweights!
The VersaPoint had its origins in the work of Canadian inventor Roland Galarneau (1922-2011).  I had never heard of Galarneau, but I found an online exhibit that tells his story.  Galarneau, blind himself, completed the first version of his "Converto-Braille" device by 1972, essentially a computer linked to an electric typewriter that could translate print into braille.  In 1982, Galerneau sold the manufacturing rights to his second generation model to Telesensory in California.  Telesensory introduced its version as the VersaPoint braille embosser in 1986.  There were eventually several models.  The "Duo" could emboss braille on both sides of the page, known as interpointing.  In the spring of 1998, Blazie Engineering purchased the blindness (and braille) products of Telesensory, including the VersaPoint. Our example was manufactured under Deane Blazie’s nameplate, although he in turn sold the line to Freedom Scientific in 2001.

Photo Caption: The Versapoint Duo Braille Embosser, a dark gray steel rectangle with controls on the right and a central slot for tractor fed paper to enter on the front.
Micheal Hudson
Museum Director, APH

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