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, June 27, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Photograph of Helen Keller

In honor of Helen Adams Keller, noted author, activist, and fundraiser, born on June 27th, 1880, our object this week is a photograph of Keller from April 13, 1931.  Helen Keller is seated in the foreground in front of a Visagraph console, her hands exploring a metal foil readout on the right side of the machine.  The Visagraph was a very early scanner-based reading machine, which could somewhat imperfectly reproduce print in raised letters.  Standing left to right behind the machine are leaders from all over the world, Dr. Carl Strehl (halfway out of the picture), Pierre Villey (beard and dark glasses), Robert Naumburg, A.K. Shah, A. Lundberg, Ryntaro Kimura, Ian Fraser, and Robert Irwin; the men wear convention ribbons as they are all attending the American Association of Workers for the Blind Convention at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City.

(Caption:  Black and white photograph of Helen Keller seated in front of a machine, with others looking on.)

Helen Keller - A Role Model in Optimism and Activism

By Jessica Minneci

            138 years ago, one of the most famous figures in history, Helen Keller, was born. In commemoration of Helen, it is important to look back on her optimistic perspective and inspiring views on activism.
In her text “Optimism: An Essay,” Helen Keller discusses her positive outlook on life. She understood optimism as a mindset cultivated over time. Helen said, “the struggle which evil necessitates is one of the greatest blessings. It makes us strong, patient, helpful men and women. It lets us into the soul of things and teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” She discloses that life is complicated, full of many blessings and challenges. It is only through experiencing and moving past suffering that individuals are able to achieve optimism, to see the good in the world and ignore the bad. In attaining this perspective, everyone has the potential to positively contribute to the world around them.

Being an optimist also means being an active, not passive, member of society. Helen wrote, “the optimist believes, attempts, achieves. He stands always in the sunlight… His soul meets his own and beats a glad march to every new discovery, every fresh victory over difficulties, every addition to human knowledge and happiness.” It is with a childlike buoyancy and joy that all of humankind should look at life’s circumstances and a steely determination that people should take on challenges. In contrast, the pessimist dwells upon his situation and does not get anything accomplished. Helen said, “No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed to an uncharted land or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.” Here, individuals must remember that actions yield change. Therefore, being an optimist in today’s society is crucial if a person wants to better the world in which they live.
Understanding the difficulty of attaining and maintaining a positive perspective and active lifestyle, Helen Keller provided counsel to others. She advised people to, “keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” In other words, finding the silver lining of any situation can make someone’s day a little brighter. That same silver lining can also help people see the good in others. Likewise, a solution to a problem is not far away for Helen said “a bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.” Thus, having an open mind and looking outside the box assists people in discovering the answer. As new opportunities arise, Helen believes that people should take them. They should remember her mantra, “I am only one, but still I am one – I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

In the end, Helen Keller leaves everyone yearning to help others while observing the glass to be half full. Her example is instrumental in teaching others how to look upon the world and participate in it. For these reasons, individuals admire Helen Keller and strive to follow in her footsteps.
Happy birthday, Helen. May everyone feel empowered by your wise words and actions.

Jess Minneci is a senior at Seton Hill University and an intern at APH. 
She is a three-time National Braille Challenge participant and has 
previously volunteered with ACB. She is a poet and aspiring 
novelist who enjoys filming youtube videos about young adult 
novels and spending time with her guide dog Joyce.

Quick Tip: APH Sound Balls

APH Sound Balls are perfect for helping children with blindness and visual impairments learn skills such as throwing, catching, jumping, and kicking. To learn more about this fun product:

Monday, June 25, 2018

UPDATED 11/1/18! 41 Resource Handbooks for Purchase Available for Residents who are Blind

State Resource Handbooks Available for Purchase

I have created 41 screen-reader-friendly resource handbooks containing resources pertaining to the blind and visually impaired for use by consumers and professionals. This handbook is for the residents of specific states and includes the many organizations for the blind and visually impaired covering areas such as employment, housing, transportation, and more. The handbooks include contact information on the local, regional, and national level.

Currently the handbooks are for Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Oregon, Ohio, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, North Dakota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Tennessee  New Hampshire, Nebraska, and Vermont.

The Resource Handbooks are not available in the following formats braille hard copy, audio, CD, and National Library Service cartridge.

The Resource Handbooks are available in the following electronic formats Microsoft Word, PDF, HTML Microsoft Word, and Rich text format.  Since these are electronic formats it will be sent to you by email with an attachment.

If a large print hard copy is desired, please contact me individually at the following email address:
When contacting me regarding large print hard copy please let me know what state resource handbook.  So that this way I can give you the correct large print pricing information.

For more information on pricing and formats please contact Insightful Publications by email at <>, by phone at (808) 747-1006, or by visiting <> for more information on pricing, formats available, and order form.

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