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APH NewsJanuary 2021

Celebrating Braille Literacy Month

a little boy and girl, both wearing glasses, sit on a red bench and play with Braille Buzz together.

Success in education and life begins with six dots. During Braille Literacy Month, we’re jamming out to these songs to celebrate.

Need assistance finding great resources to teach braille? Visit our Building Your Braille Literacy Toolkit blog for helpful solutions. Also, learn how to create accessible BRF files for your students by checking out our Everyday Braille with BrailleBlaster, Mantis Q40, and Chameleon 20 blog post.

Juno is Coming Soon!

Juno Magnifier

We partnered with Vispero to create Juno, a new handheld video magnifier with Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Read our blog to learn more about Juno’s many helpful features for students and adults who have low vision.

Stay tuned to your email, social media, and next month’s APH News for important Juno announcements and availability!

Farewell and Best Wishes to Gary Mudd

Man with refreshable braille display and white cane walking outside an office building

Gary Mudd, the Vice President of Government and Community Affairs, retired at the end of December 2020 after 34 years of service. We recognize a Change Maker when we see one, so we had to interview Gary for our podcast. Listen to episode 20: “Gary Retires!” to learn more about Gary’s life, his work at APH, and the impact he had on others.

Meet APH Scholar Barbara Peterson

We would like to congratulate Barbara Peterson for being selected as a 2020 APH Scholar. Barb was nominated by EOT, Carol Clayton-Bye, and works as an outreach vision consultant for the Montana School for the Deaf and the Blind (MSDB). Read our blog to learn more about Barb and discover what makes an APH Scholar stand out. Also, follow along as we feature a new scholar each month.

From the Field

TVI Spotlight: Jessica Chamblin

The field of blindness education would not be where it is today without the contributions of many creative TVI’s. Our TVI Spotlight shares the stories of these educators to inspire other professionals with new ideas for incorporating APH products into their curriculum. Read our blog to learn about TVI Jessica Chamblin and the APH products she uses to create fun learning experiences for her students.

Book Lovers: Enter the 2021 Typhlo & Tactus Contest

Do you have a story you’ve written that can be turned into a tactile illustrated book? Have you read a story or have a favorite children’s book that can be adapted for a child between the ages of 3 and 12 who would enjoy tactile illustrations? Then don’t miss your chance to submit your tactile book in the Typhlo & Tactus Competition.

This popular international contest encourages creators to make a tactile book prototype for young children with visual impairments. Tactile books provide a child’s first, fun introduction to tactile illustrations and provides their first pleasant experiences refining their tactile skills, fine motor abilities, and exploratory skills. Children learn symbolic representations from tactile books and become acquainted with the basic conventions of tactile displays, which they will use in textbooks and other accessible, tactile resources later in life. And they learn all these things from fun books that anyone can enjoy!

Everyone is invited to enter the contest. Book prototypes must include large type, bright and contrasting color design, and engaging tactile elements that would make your book come alive for exploring fingers. The inclusion of braille is strongly recommended, and we can help you do that. We especially invite scrapbookers, illustrators, authors, all who love the book arts, and all creatives who care for young readers with vision loss.

As the sponsor of the contest in the United States, APH will award $300 for First Place, $200 for Second Place, and $100 for Third Place. The entries will be selected by a local panel of judges. The winners of the U.S. competition will go on to the international competition.
Entries are due on August 10, 2021.

For more information, contact Rob Guillen or 1-800-223-1839, extension 242. We look forward to all the wonderful entries.

InSights Art Accepting Electronic Entries for 2021

Young girl in pink sunglasses holding a white cane while standing in front of a wall of art

This year, teachers and parents can submit a student’s 2021 InSights art entry by e-mail or flash drive. Usually, we require the original student artwork for the judging, but we realize the significant challenge to art educators with so many students learning and creating from home.  The deadline will remain the same: March 26, 2021, but art entries can be sent as a digital photo, if you choose.

However, if the artwork is selected for an award, you must mail the original artwork to APH at that time. If the artwork is not shipped to APH, it will be subject to disqualification, as indicated in the entry form for adult, electronic submissions. So, keep those originals in a safe place!

You can still ship the original artwork to us by March 26, 2021 if you prefer. We always love experiencing your creations in person.

For more information, visit

Register Early for Mobility Matters!

Grab your map and your sense of adventure for this year’s Mobility Matters! Get ready for a virtual, accessible trip to a national treasure in the Pacific Northwest: historic Fort Vancouver on February 26, 2021, from 12 pm to 2:45 pm EST! Portland State University’s College of Education and APH are excited to reprise this 4th annual interdisciplinary summit with a focus on exploring our national treasures through accessible virtual field trips. Join social studies teacher and PSU alum, Steve Lowry, from Washington State School for the Blind, who is partnering with PSU and National Park Service staff to take us on a virtual tour of this National Park Service site.

Educators, curators, urban planners, O&M Specialists, civil engineers, and all those that are interested in accessible recreation and learning are welcome to join us. Special guests include students and faculty from schools for the blind as well as students with visual impairments receiving instruction via itinerant services who will add to the dialogue about accessible learning for all. Learn more and register at Mobility Matters.

**A limited supply of learning kits will be available to students who register in advance, which will include reproduction artifacts for the tour and a tactile map.

APH Winter Wonderland Sale

Visit our sales page to see which APH products are on sale while supplies last. Happy shopping!

Discontinued Products

An updated Discontinued Products list is available on the APH website. The list includes products that are no longer available from APH, and also shows the product number, product description, and the date the last product was sold. We will update the list as additional products are discontinued. If you have any questions, please, contact the APH Customer Experience team at 800-899-1839 or

Educational Corner

Developing Pre-Braille Skills with Reach & Match in a Fun Way

Two hands placing triangle print-braille tiles into the cutouts of the blue Reach & Match mat.
The Reach & Match® Learning Kit helps support tactile awareness and early braille development among preschoolers with visual impairments. Check out our latest blog post, written by developer Mandy Lau, to discover how you can incorporate the Reach & Match® Learning Kit into your curriculum.

Order of Letter Introduction in BOP Prekindergarten

BOP Pre K Student Kit Children's Books Various Braille Booklets
In BOP (Building on Patterns) Prekindergarten, learning the dot configurations and rules governing braille are positioned in the larger context of learning to read and write. A new addition to the frequently asked questions about BOP Pre-K explains how the order of letter introduction in BOP Pre-K is designed to facilitate tactile discrimination and to promote other early literacy skills. The FAQ list is one of many teacher resources available on the BOP website.

Get Involved!

Calling Teachers, Parents, and Braille Readers!

Mantis Q40
We are working on a schedule for the development of our Mantis Q40™ and Chameleon 20™ braille displays, and we need your feedback! Please, make your voice heard by taking this brief Mantis and Chameleon User Survey so we can focus on the features that you need most.

Student holding Chameleon 20

Are You a Fan of Word PlayHouse? We’d like your input!

Word PlayHouse kit components
APH has many products that can be easily customized to fit each braille lesson with your students. The Word PlayHouse comes with blank tiles to facilitate customization, but we have recently received a suggestion that APH provide capital letter tiles. If you are familiar with the Word PlayHouse, please, take a few minutes to let us know how you are using those blank tiles and give us your opinion about capital letter tiles by filling out this short Word Playhouse survey. As always, we value your feedback and suggestions for products.

APH STEM Product Survey and Upcoming Webinar

APH has made available many STEM products over the years. Do you need specific training for the DNA Twist, DNA-RNA Kit, the Protein Synthesis Kit, and our most recent product release, Build-A-Cell? If so, please, complete this APH STEM Product Survey by January 18th, 2021 and share your feedback with us.

Learn more about these products and how to incorporate them into the classroom by attending our upcoming webinar Accessible Science Instruction on Friday, January 22, 2021 from 2-3:30 PM EST. We hope to see you there!

Help Improve Chemistry Content Accessibility for BVI Students!

Students with blindness or vision impairment who have taken Introductory Chemistry, General Chemistry, or Organic Chemistry during the past 3 years are eligible to participate in a study geared toward improving online chemistry content accessibility. Shirley Hino, Senior Director of Digital Content for Chemistry at McGraw Hill, will conduct student interviews over Zoom during the month of January 2021. During these 50-minute interviews, students will interact with one or two prototypes and answer several questions. They will also receive a $100 honorarium. Please, contact Shirley Hino via email ( or call her at 563-552-6345.

The Buzz: News from the APH Hive

The Buzz: News from the APH Hive

Teachers, start braille literacy month off right by enrolling in the Early Childhood course Reinforcing Early Braille Literacy Skills. Discover how to enhance traditional braille instruction when working with emergent braille readers and learn all about the APH product BrailleBuzz. Participants can also earn one ACVREP credit hour upon completion of the course.

Excited for more professional development opportunities? The APH Hive is welcoming a new course to its catalog, Developing Self-Awareness, which falls under the Self-Determination category of the Expanded Core Curriculum. Learn how to skillfully and successfully offer students practice opportunities of “knowing themselves” within the platform of remote instruction lessons all while earning two ACVREP credit hours.

Sign up for the APH Hive today!

APH ConnectCenter: Connecting people with useful information and resources

ConnectCenter News

Happy New Year from the ConnectCenter team! We’re kicking off 2021 with two upcoming webinars. First, adults new to vision loss, families, and professionals are encouraged to attend the webinar “Dots or Not: To learn or not to learn, that is the question” on January 7, 2021 from 2:00-3:30PM ET. Earn ACVREP credits and discover the benefits and issues related to learning braille as an adult new to vision loss. Also, on January 14, 2021 from 6:00-7:30PM ET, we are hosting the webinar “Making O&M Meaningful During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” ACVREP credit is available for all participants. We hope to see you there!

Do you have any upcoming events you’d like us to help promote? The ConnectCalendar is a one-stop community resource where professionals in the field, parents of children who are visually impaired, and adult consumers can find and share events. Visit to learn more!

Kathryn Botsford Joins APH’s ConnectCenter Team

We are excited to announce that Kathryn Botsford has joined APH as the new Digital Content Strategist for the ConnectCenter.

“Kathryn comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience to make an instant impact within the ConnectCenter. Her ability to identify new and exciting ways to expand and promote the center’s assets will help us achieve our goal of being a one-stop shop resource for all users,” said ConnectCenter Director Olaya Landa-Vialard.

Read our blog to learn more about Kathryn and her role at APH.

APH Museum Joins Social Media

Bring some history to your feed by following the Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind (APH Museum) on Facebook and Twitter! We’ll be sharing stories of the challenges and triumphs of literacy and learning for the blind and visually impaired.

From artifacts to virtual tours, we have something for history buffs and lifelong learners, old and young! Follow our profiles today:

Change Makers: An APH Podcast

Next on Change Makers

Change Makers: A Podcast from APH highlights the people who are making the biggest difference in the blindness field. In honor of braille literacy month, our latest episode is titled “Is Braille Still Relevant.” Join us for a fascinating discussion as we talk with experts and leaders to get their thoughts on braille and if it can survive this new era.

Missed one? Don’t worry. Find all episodes of Change Makers on our website.

International Council on English Braille News

ICEB logo

The purpose of the International Council on English Braille (ICEB) is to coordinate and improve standards for braille usage for all English-speaking users of braille. On October 18–22, 2020, ICEB held its seventh General Assembly via Zoom, hosted jointly by the UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF) and the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).

Papers were presented on the topics of braille learning and literacy, braille technology, and braille music. APH is proud to recognize braille literacy and technology product manager, Cathy Senft-Graves, and Professor Cay Holbrook from the University of British Columbia for their work on the paper “Inspiring Literacy: Using Balanced, Comprehensive Reading and Writing Instruction within an Inclusive Environment to Support Braille-Reading Students.” Visit the ICEB 2020 General Assembly webpage to watch all of the paper presentation videos and download print and braille files of the papers.

Resolutions approved by the 7th General Assembly included the topics of “UEB Support in Digital Braille Tools” and “Availability of Braille during Times of National and International Crises.”

ICEB has seven member countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States. Multiple resources on UEB and other braille topics are available on the ICEB website.

National Blind Running Unity Day Connects Runners Around the Nation

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 California International Marathon and the 2020 USABA (United States Association of Blind Athletes) Marathon National Championships were canceled. Still, USABA didn’t give up. On December 6, 2020, the same date as the canceled marathon and championships, they organized the first-ever USABA National Blind Running Unity Day presented by Allworth Financial. This event was meant to encourage all runners who are blind and visually impaired of all ability levels to go for a run. Check out the USABA website to learn more about this fun-filled day.

In the Archive

Treasures from the APH Libraries

From the Migel Library: Flaherty, E., Hawkins, A., & Heaton, S. (1997). The Family of Owen M.: Off We Go to Learn Everyday Things about Orientation and Mobility. Hill Publications.

The Family of Owen M. is a charming, cheerful, illustrated children’s book written in the form of a conversation between a boy named Owen, who is blind, and the reader that has become a favorite among APH librarians. Throughout the book, Owen lets the reader in on his ‘secrets’ about how he gets around and stays safe whether on his own or with the assistance of a sighted guide. The reader learns everyday things about orientation and mobility through Owen’s experiences, and the title serves as a means to teach parents, friends, and classmates of children who are blind how O&M helps Owen travel around his house, in stores, and outside.

The Family of Owen M., digitized with special permission from AER.

The APH Migel Collection is one of the largest collections of nonmedical information related to visual impairment in the world. Although the collection does not circulate, an ongoing digitization effort means APH will make Migel materials available online. The digitized texts are available in a variety of accessible formats, including DAISY, Kindle, EPUB, PDF, and read-aloud. Contact library staff:, 800-223-1839, ext. 705.

From the AFB Helen Keller Archive

The AFB Archive contains several folders of correspondence relating to Hall of Fame inductee Charles F.F. Campbell. Born in 1876, Campbell was an early leader in developing vocational rehabilitation for blind adults. He created the field’s first professional journal, Outlook for the Blind, which later became the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. Campbell helped with organizing the American Association of Workers for the Blind, and he was one of the earliest and most effective advocates for the creation of the American Foundation for the Blind in 1923.

Much of the correspondence in the Archive represents not only a history of his work with fellow Hall of Fame inductee Robert Irwin, but a close friendship between “Charlie” and “Bob” that pre-dated the founding of AFB itself. In between lines of historically significant information are personal passages like this one from a February 19, 1921 letter from Robert to Charles. “I was very sorry to hear from Lady Campbell a few days ago that you had been down and out. Remember that the old ship will run somehow whether you are at the helm or not and it is a darn sight more fun to stick around to finish than to kill yourself off and let somebody else manage the show.”

After the last letter that Robert Irwin sent Charles Campbell in 1935, the folder ends with a collection of letters that Irwin mailed out asking for contributions for a memorial for his friend.

APH Travel Center

We’ll be attending the following virtual conferences and hope that you will join us.

CES, January 6-9, 2021

APH is exhibiting at this virtual conference, along with Good Maps.

ATIA, January 26-30, 2021

APH is sponsoring, presenting, and exhibiting at this virtual conference. Our presentations include:

  • Accessible Coding Tools for All Ages by Greg Stilson, Heather Kennedy-MacKenzie, and Ken Perry
  • The Road to Code from APH by Greg Stilson, Heather Kennedy-MacKenzie, and Ken Perry
  • APH’s Next 5 Years of Low Vision Technology Development by Anne Durham and Craig Meador
  • Making Sense of the World Without the Ability to Gather Info Visually or Haptically by Tristan Pierce
  • The Communication Continuum by APH by Leanne Grillot

POSB, February 15-16, 2021

APH presentations at this virtual conference include:

  • New and Innovative STEM Products from APH by Rosanne Hoffman, Ken Perry, and Heather Kennedy-MacKenzie
  • Code Jumper: Building Career Paths through Accessible Coding by Greg Stilson and Robin Lowell

Michigan Transition Conference, February 26, 2021

Learn more about the APH ConnectCenter’s service CareerConnect by attending a presentation given by Olaya Landa-Vialard at this virtual conference.

Mobility Matters, February 26, 2021 (12p – 2:45p EST)

Portland State University’s College of Education and APH are excited to reprise this 4th annual interdisciplinary summit with a focus on exploring our national treasures through accessible virtual field trips. Join social studies teacher and PSU alum, Steve Lowry, from Washington State School for the Blind, who is partnering with PSU and National Park Service staff to take us on a virtual tour of this National Park Service site.

CSUN, March 6-14, 2021

APH is exhibiting and presenting at this virtual conference. Our presentations include:

  • Accessible Coding Tools for All Ages: APH’s Road to Code by Greg Stilson
  • Mission Impossible?: The Quest to Create a Dynamic Tactile Device by Greg Stilson
  • Mission Low Vision: APH’s Next 5 Years of Low Vision Technology Development by Anne Durham and Craig Meador
  • Overcoming Challenges Preventing Access to Braille by William Freeman

CEC, March 8-13, 2021

Join us at this virtual conference on March 9, 2021 for the presentation Video Assisted Service Delivery for Students with Severe Multiple Disabilities by Tristan Pierce.

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