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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Saturday, December 08, 2018

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:

Hands on a braille booklet
  • 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 resources to continue development and provide support. Donate to the effort here!

Thursday, December 06, 2018

More Great Changes Coming to MATT Connect

Close up of the MATT Connect screen corner
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
·             Stylus

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 using the included screwdriver as needed.

(Image left: orange clip; image right: black clip)

Android Update, Screen Protector, and Stylus: The new Android version improves the touchscreen sensitivity; this allows the use of a stylus and a screen protector, which will now be included with the MATT Connect. 

When connected to WIFI your MATT Connect will automatically prompt you to install the update. Before starting the update, make sure that the tablet is connected to the power supply. This update should take approximately 15-20 minutes to install. 

A screen protector will now be included in future units to make the MATT Connect even more durable. To increase accuracy when navigating on the touch screen there will also now be a stylus included. Both of these features will be available when you order a MATT Connect starting later this winter.

Already have a MATT Connect? If you have purchased a MATT Connect and would like a stylus and screen protector for when you install the update please click here!

You can contact HumanWare 800-722-3393 or

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

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.

Text "What size book would you want to carry?" Below that shows the average size textbook which is the same size as the APH Large Print compared to the larger APH Traditional Enlargement textbook.

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, with 11.5 x 14inch pages, and often the images are distorted because they are stretched beyond their original resolution. A standard textbook can have up to 60 different typefaces. In this textbook process, these all remain, they’re just bigger.

APH Large Print (HERE TO STAY)

APH Large Print is all about optimal readability. We use a specialized process, coupled with field tested designs and specifications that make our textbooks perfect for a reader who has low vision. The final result is a book with only a few different accessible typefaces, a new layout, and full resolution large text. 

The improved layout is printed on standard size textbook pages. This means the textbook comes in volumes, but they are the same dimensions as the books their peers use. All APH Large Print textbooks are available in a digital download from the APH File Repository making the books even more accessible. Not only do students like APH Large Print better, but it creates a better, barrier free learning environment. 

Text reads "Original 8.5 x 11 inches; APH Large Print 8.5 x 11 inches; APH Traditional Enlargement 11.5 x 14 inches" 
Two images comparing original textbook page to APH Large Print page. Text reads "Original Textbook: -As many as 50 typefaces -All different sizes; APH Large Print: -Select number of accessible typefaces -Clean and uncluttered pages"


The phase out of Traditional Enlargement will happen slowly. To make sure you don’t get caught unaware, below is a detailed schedule of what will be happening and when it will happen. The schedule has been spaced out to accommodate your needs and make the full adoption of APH Large Print a smooth transition for everyone.

Jan. 31, 2019- We will be removing all Large Print and Enlarged Print textbooks 10 years or older with low sales from our collection. The removal of these titles should affect very few people and help eliminate out of date information (health, science, technology). These books will also be removed from the Louis Database. For anyone that would like to order one of these textbooks, a list of these titles will become available soon.

Sept. 30, 2019- We will no longer accept new textbook titles for the APH Traditional Enlargement process. Textbooks released from that date on will only be available in APH Large Print and digital options.

Sept. 30, 2021- We will cease reprinting all APH Traditional Enlargement textbooks.

The removal of the APH Traditional Enlargement process and the renewed focus on APH Large Print books will help us create the most comprehensive and accessible collection of textbooks for K-12 students produced in the United States.

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The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) makes every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the Fred's Head articles; however, APH makes no warranty, guarantee, or promise, expressed or implied, concerning the content or accuracy of the information provided in Fred's Head. APH does not endorse any technique, product, device, service, organization, or other information presented in Fred's Head, other than products and services directly offered by APH.

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