Showing posts from December, 2018

Meet the APH Press Advisory Board

Larry Marotta, Executive Editor, APH Press

I was skeptical.

It was October 4, 2018, and I was an APH veteran for all of 10 days. I was going to meet the APH Press Advisory Board for the first time. The board is comprised of respected teachers, learned professors, and well-known authors. These experts were going to help APH Press identify the sorts of books needed by professionals who work with people who are blind and visually impaired.

But I was ready for something different.

Experience had taught me a hard fact: put a group of brilliant and passionate people in the same room and you will have trouble. Carefully crafted meeting agendas are no match for cumbersome egos, conflicting ideologies, and intellectual hairsplitting. Although I tried to be positive, 20 years in K-12 textbook publishing had me suspicious that instead of leading APH Press down new roads, an Advisory Board was more likely to be a roadblock.

I quickly learned that I was wrong.

As board members and APH Press staff …

How to Become a Tester of APH Products

Everyone loves to check out new products—especially during development—and there are quite a few products under development at any time and lots of ways to test them. While every product test has its own unique procedures, the most effective way to get yourself in the testing loop is to read the monthly APH newsletter. For information on subscribing to the newsletter or reading it online, see APH News.
Educational Product Research Project leaders at APH regularly request folks to test prototypes, and each one has specific requirements. For example, if you are testing STEM products, some knowledge about the subject material is often a prerequisite. Similarly, if we call for testers of a UEB web-based tutorial, some familiarity with UEB and using a browser is almost certainly useful.
In many cases, project leaders call for participation by having you send information to them. When it comes to physical products, the numbers are often limited to the number of prototypes available; therefo…

Introducing BrailleBuzz!

BrailleBuzz is a fun new way to get children involved in forming early literacy skills. This instructional toy resembles a cartoon bumblebee and has honey comb shaped buttons with braille that make funny noises when pressed. Perfect for children between the ages two to five, BrailleBuzz encourages practice with braille characters and phonics, similar to a variety of audio based toys that teach print writing.
A friendly recorded human voice and exciting sounds are paired with a Perkins-style braille keyboard, designed with little hands in mind. BrailleBuzz offers 3 modes of play to appeal to a wide variety of young learners’ needs:

Phonics Mode: fun sound and letter associations are made.Keyboard Mode: all key combinations are announced with dot numbers.Letters Mode: dot number announcement reinforces the relationship between reading letters and writing on the keyboard. BrailleBuzz is portable and only needs 2 AA batteries to run! It’s easy to use, educational, and kids love it! But don…

BrailleBuzz: An Interactive Braille Learning Experience

by Jessica Minneci
     Bzzz! Give your child a jump start on learning braille with BrailleBuzz! Shaped like a cartoon bumblebee, this interactive braille keyboard toy with yellow honeycomb shaped keys makes the perfect gift for children ages two to five.
     The surface of BrailleBuzz contains two keyboards. The top set is labeled in braille with the letters of the alphabet and the bottom set is a Perkins-style keyboard. BrailleBuzz has three fun modes of play: phonics mode, keyboard mode, and letters mode. In phonics mode, press any of the alphabet keys and listen to sounds and words that are associated with that letter. When pressing the c key, you’ll hear, "C makes the sound "ka" as in "car." Afterwards, the sound of a car's horn is heard. With each key comes a new letter and fun sound. Your child will love discovering them all. When playing in keyboard mode, you practice using the Perkins-style keyboard to write in braille. Different key combinatio…

Introduction to the APH Press: An Interview with the Editor

As we look ahead to 2019, we are excited for our first full year of the APH Press. Carrying on the legacy of AFB Press, APH Press will be publishing top educational materials in the field of blindness and visual impairment to support teachers, parents, and other educators and care providers. To learn more about this coming year’s challenges and exciting opportunities, we interviewed Larry Marotta, editor of the newly created APH Press.
Q: How do you see APH Press positioned in the field? What role does it fill?
Larry: APH Press publishes books by experts who work ‘in the trenches’ with people who are blind or visually impaired. Although the information we provide is always based on sound research, our authors have historically focused most of their professional energy on working with students, and not only publishing scholarly articles. The knowledge and experience of APH Press authors is trusted by teachers working in the field, and is also vital in educating the next generation of TVI…

More Than Just a Desk: Helen Keller's Desk Displayed at the APH Museum

by Jessica Minneci
When I touched the smooth glass-topped surface of Helen Keller's desk at the APH museum, I thought of how the texture beneath my fingertips revealed a normal, average desk. It was like something you would find in any office: a large desk with two sets of drawers on either side, a wide surface, and a wooden guard to protect papers from sliding off. Yet, the normalcy of such a piece pales in comparison to what it represents. After all, Helen Keller did some of her finest work while sitting at her desk. She was a writer, pacifist, feminist, and an advocate for women and for the blind and visually impaired community. Touching the desk helped me get closer to Helen Keller and renew my support for everything she has done.

As a college student, I am able to relate most to Helen's piece "To Girls Who Are Going to College." Published in The Youth's Companion on June 8, 1905, her piece gives emerging college students advice about how to be successful in po…

Throwback Thursday: Kentucky Winter Wonderland

Our Throwback Thursday object this week is appropriate for the season. An undated photograph from around the time of World War One, let’s say circa 1919.  It features almost our entire staff, we only had twenty employees in 1918, posing in the snow with a snow covered tree in the background.  Two older men, one of them the production manager, Owen McCann, are laying in the snow in front. Everyone else, most of them young women in long coats and wonderful hats, smile in a row behind.  I grew up in Kentucky, and this photograph is familiar.  We do not get a lot of snow in the winter, but it is pretty, and for some, reason to celebrate!

-Mike Hudson, Museum Director at APH

2019 Hall of Fame Nomination Process Open Now Through April 30

 2019 Hall of Fame Nominations are  Now Being Accepted
The nomination process will close Tuesday, April 30, 2019.
"The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is dedicated to preserving, honoring, and promoting the tradition of excellence manifested by the specific individuals inducted into the Hall of Fame and through the history of outstanding services provided to people who are blind or visually impaired."

Who should be the next inductees in to the Hall of Fame for the Blindness Field? 
If you are interested in learning more about the easy (electronic) process for submitting a nominee to join the 62 inductees, please visit:
What are the criteria? Persons who have made significant contributions to improve the lives of those who are blind or visual impaired in such areas as professional practice, research, writing, leadership, direct service, and/or in their professional organizations.
What is Required to Nominate Someone? ·    …

Braille and Audio Together: Enhancing the Collegiate Learning Environment

by Jessica Minneci
What style of learning a blind or visually impaired student should employ while in the university setting is a topic that has been widely considered. Separately, Braille and audio have their advantages and disadvantages but when used together, students can reap the benefits of both platforms. By discovering the best ways to utilize Braille and audio, you will be better equipped to tackle more rigorous coursework. In particular, it is a common misconception that colleges do not offer Braille textbooks. While audiobooks are most frequently used in the classroom, Braille books are also available upon the student's request. If you notify the disability services office months in advance of the start of the class, the staff can find a publisher to emboss the Braille book. Despite its bulkiness and large number of volumes, Braille material is helpful as it allows you to read diagrams and maps. For this reason, students taking a math, science, or geography class require B…

New BrailleBlaster Version Available for Download

BrailleBlaster version 1.1.17-stable is now available for download here! With this update you can expect a refining of previous processes and improved accessibility. Download the new version today to check out these updates including:
New file type fixes - Headings are now getting KeepWithNext. No unnecessary blank lines are appearing between list level changes. ePUB3 elements that appeared spatially are now appearing on a single line and editing them does not cause any issues. Minor bug fixes for specific files.Spatial Math Editor - Nonspecific alerts have been made clearer.Accessibility - Installer works with high-contrast settings. TOC Builder Headings drop down accessible by keyboard.Uncontracted tables - Uncontracted UEB and UEB with Nemeth tables are using the same math translation tables as the contracted versions of those tables.
We also want to invite you to support BrailleBlaster and help to make this amazing tool even better. While BrailleBlaster is free software, it takes re…

More Great Changes Coming to MATT Connect

Even more great changes are coming to the MATT Connect this winter. Get yours here. These updates, including changes in software and hardware, will make the MATT Connect more durable and easier to use than ever!

What changes to expect in the MATT Connect:
·New Clip Design and Tools
·Android Update
·Screen Protector

New Clip Design and Tools: The MATT Connect will have a new design! The clip located on the front of the stand that releases the tablet will now have the option of being fixed in place. The updated design will ensure that the tablet cannot be removed from the stand without the use of an included screwdriver. The packaging will include all of the tools necessary to fix or remove the tablet as desired. This is great news for teachers and parents who want to keep the tablet safely affixed to the stand!
 The clip is now black instead of orange to bring less attention and distraction from the tablet. The clip now has a small whole to place a screw to lock the tablet in place us…

Changes Coming to APH Accessible Textbooks

At American Printing House for the Blind, we talk a lot about making sure students have the learning tools that best fit their needs. Sometimes the best way to help students is to change the way we do things, or the products we create. Last year the APH Educational Products Advisory Committee (EPAC) made a recommendation for APH to phase out the production of APH Traditional Enlargement for textbooks. After consideration, APH will follow that recommendation, putting our renewed commitment and resources into the APH Large Print Textbook process.

To better understand these changes, it’s important to know the differences between the different enlargement options APH has offered.
APH Traditional Enlargement (PHASING OUT) At its basic level, the APH Traditional Enlargement is just taking a textbook, putting it on a scanner and then stretching it to be larger. At its best, this can increase the text to about 14 points, but most times only 12 points or smaller. This makes the book really big, w…