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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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Quick Tip: Feel 'n' Peel Stickers Braille-Print Capital Letters

Feel 'n' Peel Stickers Braille-Print Capital Letters are multi-use letter stickers that are embossed on clear, durable plastic.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

APH Community Guidelines

Social Media/Blog Comment Policy
American Printing House for the Blind – May 29, 2018

Welcome to the APH Online Community! We appreciate the time that our readers take to share ideas and give feedback. We are dedicated to maintaining a respectful community that actively engages in lively discussions about topics of interest to our community and those who serve them. Therefore, we strongly believe that the APH Online Community should be a safe space where the ideas of everyone are welcome. Please keep the following in mind when writing your comments:
                Be polite to all the members of our Community, including other commenters, authors and the subjects of articles.
                Post topics that are relevant to the American Printing House for the Blinds’ mission statement.
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                Share positive thoughts and ideas – we won’t allow rudeness, insults, hate, hostility, profanity or unsupported accusations.
                Identify yourself when you post your comments; however, don’t include your personal information (like address or phone number) in your comments for your own safety.

In order to provide a safe space for our Community, comments may be pre-moderated by our team before posting to the site. Your comment may be removed at any time, at our Moderator’s discretion, in the best interest of the Community.
If you have any questions on our policy, or if you want to share comments with us privately that you feel may violate these public posting guidelines, please let us know.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Relief Map of Asia

It may seem like I have maps on the brain, as this is my third straight Throwback Thursday blog about a map or a map device.  I admit that we do have a lot of tactile maps in our collection, and I do find them interesting.  I was talking with one of our tactile graphics experts, Fred Otto, about maps the other day, and it is interesting to compare all the ways that map designers have devised to suggest political boundaries, land forms, and the imaginary lines that mapmakers use.  We agreed that it is a challenge to translate geography into a usable and meaningful tactile experience.  I do know that our museum visitors, sighted and blind, enjoy exploring our maps by touch.  Our object this week is a relief map of Asia that comes from a series of continental maps we introduced in 1984.  Brightly painted and molded out of plastic, the maps each had a raised rail on their border, that would allow the teacher to actually fill the lower part of the map with water!  The kit came with narrated descriptions and guidance on an audio cassette.

(Caption:  Bright blue and white plastic relief map of Asia with mountain chains highlighted in red.  Areas of water have a pebbled texture.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Quick Tip: Best for a Nest

Best for a Nest in UEB is an interactive print/braille storybook that provides opportunities, through use of its storyboard and manipulatives, for learners to focus on a host of concepts including position of objects, directionality and prepositional phrases, and comparisons.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Throwback Thursday Object: NOMAD

NOMAD electronic graphics tablet
If you have seen our prototypes for the new Graphiti Tactile Touch Display, you’ll know why we are so excited about it, but it is not the first electronic graphics tablet from APH.  NOMAD by APH was a talking touchpad device for use with tactile graphics, introduced in 1993. The pad connected to a personal computer and included software for creating files of descriptions of tactile graphics. The user touched tactile graphics placed on the touch-sensitive pad and listened to voice-synthesized speech descriptions.  An Australian, Don Parkes, came up with the original design at the University of Newcastle. Parkes’ original prototype, which we also have in the museum collection, used the guts of singing greeting cards to represent how touch could trigger audio content.  Quantum, a company based in Australia, made the much more sophisticated electronics for the actual device. APH vacuum formed the plastic case and assembled the device using our own tooling and assembly methods. APH also developed a unique silk screen printing process to produce the tactile drawings.

Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director

Caption:  The gray NOMAD case was about 16 x 23 x 2 inches.  The graphic on this example is a map of the APH Museum.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Quick Tip: Expanded Dolch Word Cards, UEB

These flashcards, consisting of 220 sight vocabulary words and 95 words with pictures, can be used for reading practice or an informal assessment of a student's ability to read words in contracted braille and to spell words in uncontracted braille. To learn more, or to order, visit:

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Throw Back Thursday: Relief Puzzle Map

When my son was little, he loved running his hands over our relief puzzle maps in the museum.  If you went to a residential school for the blind in the United States in the mid-twentieth century, you will remember the large puzzle maps from APH, like this one of Asia.  They are large, 41 x 43”, and sit on their own wooden easel.  Each country is a piece to the puzzle, sits in a cutout in the base, is painted a contrasting color, and has its mountains and rivers picked out in exaggerated relief.  (If you were large enough to run your hands over the actual earth, it wouldn’t feel that bumpy—true story!)  Cities are indicated by metal pins.

APH Superintendent Benjamin Huntoon began making wooden relief maps in the basement of the Kentucky School for the Blind in the 1870s.   By 1921, large hand-carved wooden maps were available with a shellac finish.   APH experimented with molded maps as early as the 1930s.  This style map appeared in the 1950s and 60s.  They were molded from epoxy in an involved process.  I guess they fell out of favor when countries started changing borders faster than APH could change the very expensive molds.  Think about it, you spend three months carving out a wood casting pattern of Europe, the wall comes down in Germany, and east and west reunite.  You spend a month fixing that, and Czechoslovakia breaks up into two countries.  What is a wood carver to do? 

Caption:  Colorful puzzle map of Asia


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