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Preview: Fred's Head from APH

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: 2018-01-19T07:42:17.092-05:00


Quick Tip Video: Color-By-Texture Circus Coloring Pages. We're making art accessible with the Color-By-Texture Circus Coloring Pages in order to stir your students' creative juices!


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Throwback Thursday Object: Early Talking Book Studio Microphone


Our object this week is an original microphone used in the recording studio at APH from around 1940.  APH began recording talking books for the National Library Service in 1937.  The omnidirectional dynamic microphone was developed at Bell Labs in the late 1920s. Western Electric developed this “mic” in the late 1930s that was omnidirectional to 15 kHz. Called the 630A, it was better known as the “Eight-Ball,” resembling a black billiard ball used on a pool table.  The "acoustic baffle assembly,” the round grill mounted on top of the body of the microphone, converted an omnidirectional mic into a semi-directional mic useful for studio work at APH. 

Caption, Western Electric “8-ball” microphone.
Micheal Hudson
Museum Director, APH

Quick Tip Video: Rolling Right Along Construction Kit. Use it to create your own tactile books!


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January 2018 APH News


APH News is your monthly link to the latest information on the products, services, field tests, and training opportunities from the American Printing House for the Blind.   Nearby Explorer's Indoor Explorer Feature continues to make news. Featured in the Washington Post after the Louisville Airport installation was completed, we move this month to Orlando, where beacons have been installed in the Caribe Royale for the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference.  A Few of This Month’s Headlines: Flying Through the Airport with Indoor Explorer! New! JAWS®- ZoomText® - MAGic® Suite New Features! Nearby Explorer™- iOS Versions Feature Indoor Explorer! New! Music Braille Code, 2015 Field Tests and Surveys On January 10th, Learn How You Can Create Your Own Braille at Home with BrailleBlaster™ APH Celebrates 160 Years APH InSights Art Competition 2018 Now Open! Navigating ATIA a New Way! Nearby Explorer's™ Indoor Explorer Feature at the 2018 ATIA Conference STEM Corner 2018 Hall of Fame Nominations Now Being Accepted Social Media Spotlight APH Travel Calendar and more… [...]

Home is Where the Braille Is: BrailleBlaster™ Software Is for Everyone


This is a slightly edited version of the text of the post appearing on AFB’s Family Connect blog on January 10, 2018, regarding BrailleBlaster. Software for transcribing braille has been available for many years, but due to cost, it has been out of reach for most home users. The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) is changing that by offering the most powerful transcription software available free-of-charge! Originally designed for braille transcribers, BrailleBlaster™ can be downloaded and used by everyone, including parents, teachers, and students. Download at   Special Question and Answer Event on January 17th! More about BrailleBlaster in a moment, but first we want to invite you to an APH/AFB partner event happening on the FamilyConnect blog. If you have questions about how BrailleBlaster software can make life easier for you and your child, please visit that blog next week on Wednesday, January 17th. We will be answering questions in the Comments section starting at 9am EST. Have a question? Post it in the comments in the original post on FamilyConnector send it to You Can Create High-Quality Braille at Home   What would you braille for your child? Reminder notes, to-do lists, homework assignments, stories? Transcribe these and more into braille using BrailleBlaster software. As a public service, APH is making its advanced transcribing software available free of charge. Although it is powerful, creating basic braille documents in BrailleBlaster is easy and does not require an in-depth knowledge of braille. After you download and install the software on your Windows® PC or Mac®, simply copy & paste text from any document into BrailleBlaster. Instantly, excellent quality simulated braille will appear on your screen. This braille can then be edited for formatting in a similar way you edit text in a word processor. For example, to center a heading, put your curser in front of the words you want centered, go to the toolbar, click on the headings button, select center, and the heading will automatically center.   Have an older student? BrailleBlaster is fully accessible and can be used by students to create their own braille! Getting Braille Into Your Child's Hands Now that you've created a braille document, there are two ways to get it into the hands of your braille reader: using a braille embosser or using a refreshable braille display.   If you have a braille embosser, you can create hard copy braille by sending your braille-ready file (.brf) from BrailleBlaster to the embosser.   If your child uses a refreshable braille display, you can save the file as a braille-ready file and email it to them. Frequently Asked Questions about BrailleBlaster   Have questions about using BrailleBlaster at home or at school? Find our BrailleBlaster FAQs here. You can also email questions to APH at Gaining Access to Braille Technology Braille Embossers: Although prices have decreased, the cost of braille embossers remains high. Fortunately, there are now more options than ever! Here is a list of possible resources for locating or obtaining an embosser. The list includes local places, such as libraries, that may have an embosser, a list of lower-cost embossers, and ideas on how to raise funds for buying assistive technology.   Refreshable Braille Displays: There are many good options for refreshable braille displays. One device is APH's upcoming Orbit Reader 20™, which has a significant price breakthrough.    How Will You Use BrailleBlaster? We know BrailleBlaster will be useful to you at home or to your child's school. It's free, so you can download it an experiment all you like on as many devices as you like. Let us know how you use BrailleBlaster, we're sure users are going to find many uses for it that we haven't even imagined! [...]