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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 answ

Updated: 2017-05-26T07:46:22.750-04:00


Throwback Thursday Object: Braille Tiles--A 19th Century Braille Teaching Tool


Our object this week is a new find, something I found in France with the help of our good friend, Mireille Duhen, a volunteer at the Association Valentin Haüy.  It is a beautiful set of nineteenth century braille tiles, a braille teaching tool.  The tin box holds six rows of red wooden tiles, with the braille symbols picked out in nickel-plated brass pins, and the print symbol stamped below.  Each tile is about the size of a domino.  The tiles are arranged in sets of ten, just as Louis Braille intended his code to be taught.  Braille originally published his system in 1829, but this set of teaching tiles reflects French braille as published in his second edition in 1837.  The use of nickel plating technology on the pins suggests a date in the second half of the nineteenth century when that process became practical for ordinary hardware.  The code is somewhat different from modern French braille, switching the symbols for parentheses and quotes, among other things. Photo Caption:
Flat tin box holding six rows of red wood braille tiles.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

3 Reasons for Using a Fake Name for Your Service Animal in Public and 5 Tips for Choosing the Best One for You


Photo Caption: a black lab that's outside by a park railing laying in the shade and looking out beyond the railing. I took my seat on the Paratransit vehicle, across from a colleague, a lady with her dog guide. The third traveler on the vehicle asked the lady what her dog’s name was; her reply totally took me by surprise. “What did she just call that dog? That’s not that dog’s name!” That was exactly what I was thinking. The other rider said hi to the dog using this fake name and then went about his business. The driver dropped him off, and immediately I asked the lady why she gave the guy a different name for her dog. You will discover her answer as we provide 3 reasons why you, also, may wish to use a false name for your service animal in public. Then we will offer 5 tips for picking the best made-up name for your service animal. The Problem Traveling with a service animal (a guide dog in my particular case) has many benefits; the admiring public often is not one of them. Sure, it’s great when people tell you how cute your dog is; it’s much more troubling when they want to stop and “Converse” with him, repeating his name time and time again. Based on the incident outlined above and another similar one I witnessed a few months later, I decided that the “Fake name” idea was a good one. Here are 4 reasons why you also may wish to adopt this strategy. #1. Safety While the tasks each service animal performs differ widely, dog guides certainly must concentrate on their work; a dog guide’s mistake could be fatal to the dog and the human it guides. Even in situations where severe injuries and death are not likely, safety is a top priority! Nothing can prevent onlookers from speaking to your dog, and ultimately you, the handler, are responsible for keeping your dog focused on its work. Nevertheless, you can avoid some dangerous situations by giving strangers a fake name when they ask for one. Each of my guide dogs have react quite positively to hearing their names; they almost always do not react at all if you use a false name. If your dog doesn’t react when you call it by a false name, it is likely to pay much less attention to a stranger who uses that made-up name, keeping both you and your dog much safer. #2. Distractions While distractions are related to safety, something can distract a dog and be more of an annoyance than a major safety issue. Again, you cannot remove all possible distractions, but you can remove this frustrating one. Your dog may react to hearing, “Hi, doggie!” But it assuredly will react to, “Hey Juno (or whatever its actual name is!)” You probably can think of many situations where your dog got distracted. While the distraction may not have affected safety, it may have led to the dog misbehaving or losing focus, causing you to correct the dog. If the stranger called the dog by a fake name, the dog probably didn’t react, wasn’t distracted, and didn’t get corrected. #3. Fun Ok, this concept may seem strange to some of you, but some people wish their dog’s name was different. Maybe you really don’t like your dog’s name, but, for the dog’s sake, you continue to use it. In public, however, why not use a made-up name? Not only would it, in this instance, lessen distractions and improve safety—it also lets you pretend, even if only for a short time, that your dog had the name you would have chosen instead of its name that you really have trouble tolerating. Perhaps you have no interest in changing your dog’s name, but you du enjoy pranking others. Giving someone who asks a made-up name for your dog, if nothing else, is a way to prank, fool, or trick someone, and if you’re a prankster, you can have your fun and be safer at the same time. Incidentally, the lady on the Paratransit vehicle cited each of these three reasons when explaining why she used that false name. 5 Tips for Choosing the Best Fake Name So you’ve decided to try using a fake name for your dog in pu[...]

Throwback Thursday Object: Voyager XL CCD Video Magnifier


(image) Our object this week is an early video magnifier.  It was purchased second-hand by the donor, Pat Humphrey, circa 1985 from a Louisville Telesensory dealer, Dick Barnett, for $3,000. Low vision all her life, by the time she entered high school it had deteriorated to the point that she "couldn't read the blackboard."  Humphrey hid her visual abilities and remembered that "lots of people did not know I was blind."  She even drove a car, "though I knew I shouldn't."  After making do with optical magnifiers for years, she was delighted to acquire this unit, using it to read her mail and write checks.  A platter beneath the camera slides out and holds your reading material.  By moving the platter under the camera, you can scan around the document.  The picture from the camera is reproduced on the television monitor above.
The first closed circuit television or “CC-TV” units were developed by Samuel Genensky and his team at the Rand Corporation in the late 1960s.  By the early 1980s, there were a variety of models on the market.  The Voyager was a brand of Visualtek in Santa Monica, CA.  Visualtek was bought by Telesensory in 1989.  Telesensory Systems was a leading accessibility technology firm founded in 1970 at Stanford University.  By the 1980s they were beginning to focus exclusively on low vision products like the Voyager.  I found a video of one being used here.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

Quick Tip: Number Line Device. The APH Number Line Device is a math aid that helps students who are blind and visually impaired comprehend abstract numerical concepts.


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