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APH NewsMay 2021

Preparing for Next School Year


students in classroom with APH Light Touch Perkins brailler


Before your students leave for summer vacation, it’s important to prepare for the coming year by stocking up on some essential APH products. Check out the list below for some ideas.

Don’t Forget to Register for the National Coding Symposium!

In a few short days, the APH ConnectCenter and California School for the Blind (CSB) will cohost the free, virtual National Coding Symposium. Beginning on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 and ending on Friday, May 14, 2021, the Symposium demonstrates how the world of coding, programming, and related careers are available and accessible to students who are blind and visually impaired.

We interviewed a few of the professionals that will be joining us for the Symposium about what coding means to them. Check out the video Why You Should Attend the 2021 National Coding Symposium to hear what they had to say, and register today.

Emergency Broadband Benefit

The FCC recently announced that eligible households will be able to apply for the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

In announcing the official launch date, Acting Chairwoman, Jessica Rosenworcel, stated, “Families in every corner of the country have been struggling to get online throughout this pandemic. For those families, we now say help is around the corner. In less than two weeks, we will have a new way for disconnected Americans to access the internet to carry out their day-to-day life, so they can reach the virtual classroom, take advantage of telehealth, and seek new employment opportunities.”

The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.

Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price. Learn more about the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

Beginning on May 12, 2021, households can apply in three ways:

  1. Go to to apply online and to find participating providers near you.
  2. Contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process.
  3. Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application, and return it, along with proof of eligibility to
    Emergency Broadband Support Center
    P.O. Box 7081
    London, KY 40742.

Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day

a man and woman sitting at a meeting table, the woman has a clipboard

In celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on May 20, we’re sharing tips for taking action to make the world more accessible. First up is Tai Tomasi, APH’s Director of Accessibility, Diversity, and Inclusion, who shares how to begin a project with inclusion in mind: “As a person who identifies as blind, I am an advocate for universal accessibility. Universal accessibility is about more than compliance with standards. It is about developing solutions to meet the needs of all users, with and without disabilities. I seek to move the world from awareness to action. It is wonderful to be aware of the needs of others, but even better to consider those needs when developing new projects.”

Read our Universal Design from the Start blog for five tips to consider before starting any design project.

APH Virtual ExCEL Camp 2021

We are preparing for summer! So much has happened. The Virtual ExCEL Academy held 84 expanded core curriculum lessons during the school year to help supplement our students across the United States, as well as to provide vision professionals ideas and give pre-service teachers an opportunity to see instruction in action. APH is now preparing to offer the Virtual ExCEL Camp from mid-June through mid-August.

Virtual ExCEL Camp will include a live hour at 2:00 PM ET, Monday through Friday, and is free to all registrants. Our target audience will continue to be students with vision loss. Also included are five at-home extension activities for the camp theme and with the camp supplies that will be sent to the student. Virtual ExCEL Camp will be separated by age groups. We will continue to record these sessions so all have the opportunity to learn.

Please, register your students with their needs and levels in mind. A grant from the Hearst Foundation is providing students from the United States of America an APH product that will be used during camp, so we need registrations completed early! For students to receive items in time for camp, they must have registered for their session at least four weeks prior to the camp’s start date. Those who register after that date are still welcome to attend. We would suggest working with your teacher of students with visual impairments to procure the product for use during camp, as all items are available through Federal Quota.

Parents, please, register your student for one camp that matches their needs. As parents, you know if they would be more appropriately placed with the age level identified. If you are unsure, we suggest reaching out to your teacher of students with visual impairments. Remember, each student must be registered separately and must meet the definition of blindness in your state.

Week of June 21-25: Art Camp (4-6 years old)

Week of June 29-July 2: Mystery Camp (7-10 years old)

Week of July 12-16: STEM Camp (11-13 years old)

Week of July 19-23: Career Camp (12-22 years old)

Week of July 26-30: Space Sensory Camp (pre-symbolic learners)

Week of August 3-6: STEM Spanish Camp

We know that many educational professionals, as well as college students preparing to enter the field, have been participating in the webinars to observe teachers and students at work. You may register for the camps you wish to observe. Remember, you are able to watch and listen, but please, stay in the background just as if you were in a physical classroom.

Please, visit the Virtual ExCEL Camp page for information as we build up to the camp days. We hope to see many familiar names in the chatroom during our Virtual ExCEL Camp. See you soon!

New Products

APH is excited to announce the release of the following new product(s):

Fun with Braille, Print Edition and Braille Edition

Fun with Braille, Braille Edition

Braille Practice with a Difference — It’s Fun!

This book of entertaining activities is designed to provide additional practice for adults and children who are already familiar with the braille contractions.
The activities can be done in any order and can be chosen to practice a specific problem contraction or just for fun. A list of contractions and the activities in which they appear is included for reference. An answer key is provided in the back of the book. The print edition includes selected activities in simulated braille so that print users learning braille can practice their skills.

BRIC: Structures® Access Kit

BRIC Structures Access Kit

Build an understanding of construction and electronics, one brick at a time! With the BRIC: Structures Access Kit, children of all ages can let their imagination go wild as they construct 26 projects that run on electricity. Bric-2-snap technology combines the use of ordinary building bricks with Snap Circuits® to create circuits and real-world structures. Written instructions give step-by-step directions on how to assemble each project. Combine the BRIC: Structures® Access Kit with the Snap Circuit Jr®RC Snap Rover, and Snapino® kits to open up endless possibilities of projects.

APH Spring Fever Sale 2021

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

Get Involved!

APH Math Product Survey

We need your help to identify gaps in APH’s math product offerings. These may be tools that sighted students frequently use which you would like students who are visually impaired to also have access to, or products already available through other vendors that you would like APH to carry as well. They may also be ideas for new products that you believe can benefit students’ math study in a way that none of our existing offerings do. Please, share your thoughts with us by completing this short APH math product survey by May 16, 2021.

Understanding Eye Pressing and Its Impact

APH is studying the physical, psychological, and psychosocial impact of eye pressing on those who are blind or visually impaired and their families, to determine the need for technology solutions to help intervene and modify the habit. Consistent eye rubbing and/or eye pressing has been proven to cause physical damage to the eyes, including retinal detachment, scratching of the cornea, and globe movement.

Parents and educators of those who are blind and visually impaired, and adults who are blind and visually impaired, are encouraged to respond to this brief eye pressing survey by Monday, May 31, 2021.

Note: This survey is a needs-assessment survey only. You are welcome to provide your first and/or last name, but it is not required. All responses are confidential, and are for internal APH purposes only.

APH Press Call for Proposals on Itinerant Teaching

APH Press (a scholarly press which supports the mission of the American Printing House for the Blind) is looking for proposals for a new, up-to-date resource guide for itinerant teachers. Itinerant teachers of students who are visually impaired are always on the move, handling a substantial caseload and providing services all over the map to students of different ages with different needs. Having a practical guide with tips and techniques for staying organized could be the key to success for itinerant teachers. Learn more about this request for proposals and submission details here. The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2021.

Educational Corner

A Thank-You to Teachers

In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked current Early Childhood Product Manager and former TVI, Donna McClure Rogers, to share her experiences. Read more about Donna and her salute to teachers everywhere.

APH Press Featured Publications

Keys to Educational Success: Teaching Students with Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities helps educators unlock the learning potential of their students by providing key program strategies that can be directly applied to classroom learning routines. Every student has unique learning needs, but addressing the diverse needs of students who have visual impairments and multiple disabilities can be particularly challenging for teachers. This book is an important reference for special education teachers, educational team members, and administrators.

ECC Essentials: Teaching the Expanded Core Curriculum to Students with Visual Impairments is the first comprehensive book for teachers of students with visual impairments to focus on the nine areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) that encompass the unique skills children and adolescents with visual impairments need to learn in order to access the core educational curriculum and become independent individuals, by providing the rationale, suggestions, and strategies necessary to implement instruction.

Reading Connections: Strategies for Teaching Students with Visual Impairments is an in-depth and user-friendly guide for understanding reading instruction for teachers and professionals seeking to improve the reading skills of their students who are visually impaired. The book addresses in detail the essential components of reading-phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension, as well as other key reading components and subskills.

The Buzz: News from the APH Hive

A lot of activity is buzzing in the APH Hive as more course opportunities are added each month. Educators can now tap into Core Curriculum Fine Arts instruction by enrolling in Accessible Fine Arts that Sparks Creativity. Two video modules give countless ideas of how to offer accessibility of visual art concepts, with a result of earning 1.5 hours of ACVREP credit. Also, a new course called Using Echo for Mobility Purposes was added to the Expanded Core Curriculum Orientation and Mobility subcategory. Five video modules walk participants through sequenced instruction, with 2.5 hours of ACVREP credit.

Visit today and start learning for FREE.

APH ConnectCenter: Connecting people with useful information and resources

ConnectCenter News

It’s that time of year when students are moving up and moving on. Transition is full of possibilities and many questions. If you have transition-age students gearing up for this year, we would like to share some specific resources provided by the ConnectCenter to help along the way. FamilyConnect and CareerConnect feature blogs, articles, and information for transition-age students.Video resources for professionals include the APH ConnectCenter National Transition Conversation and the NTC: Nuts and Bolts of Pre-ETS Program Development and Collaboration, which can be found on this CareerConnect page. These videos give many ideas and suggestions about guiding your students and staff through planning. Another very useful resource is the multi-lesson, Transition to College: Program Activity Guide for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.

Here are a few blogs from CareerConnect that we think might be useful as well.

FamilyConnect offers resources for transition-age students as well. Since transition is as much about learning to become an adult as much as it is about learning to be a college student, we have an entire page dedicated to this topic. Parenting a Teenager Who is Blind or Visually Impaired is filled with articles all about the entire transition process and how to navigate it successfully.

Last but not least, if you know a student interested in a career in computers or coding, the APH ConnectCenter and the California School for the Blind are hosting the 2021 National Coding Symposium. This free, virtual experience is taking place from May 11–14, 2021 and features presentations from leaders in the field to inspire and encourage students. To learn more and register, visit the National Coding Symposium webpage.

Student Scholarship Opportunity

APH is excited to announce a new scholarship for students who are blind or visually impaired! The application process for the Peter Papano-APH STEM Scholarship is open from June 1 to July 5, 2021. Applications submitted before or after the designated timeframe will not be considered. If you live in California, plan to attend college in California, and will major in a STEM subject, you may be eligible. Four students will be awarded a $5,000 scholarship. Good luck to all applicants.

Is Your Social Media Content Accessible? #GAAD

Whether you’re talking about work on LinkedIn, Tweeting about your favorite movie, or sharing pictures of your family vacation on Facebook and Instagram, you can make your content more accessible! In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day happening later this month, we have two tips you can use today to make your posts more user-friendly for people using magnification or screen readers.

Alt Text—Including alt text for an image gives your followers who are visually impaired the same information as the sighted viewer. FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn all have ways to easily add alt text to the photos you share.

Use alt text as an opportunity to convey important visual context. When writing the alt text for an image, ask yourself, “Why did I choose this image?” We often pick an image for a quality beyond the basic content. Try showing that through subtle word choice and rich description while avoiding unnecessary detail.

Hashtags—A great way to interact with “trending” topics on social media is through the use of hashtags. By adding a # before a word (or series of words with no spaces), you have just created a tag that can be searched.

Make hashtags more accessible by capitalizing the first letter in each word. This will make the hashtags easier to read for your followers who have low vision or use screen readers. So #insteadofwritingyourhashtagslikethis, try #WritingThemLikeThisForClarity.

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. Episode 28 of Change Makers previews the upcoming 2021 National Coding Symposium that will take place Tuesday, May 11 through Friday, May 14. The event, hosted by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) and California School for the Blind (CSB) is co-sponsored by CareerConnect, part of the APH ConnectCenter, and made possible in part by support from Fox Family Foundation.

The National Coding Symposium’s goal is to demonstrate that the world of coding, programming, and related careers are available and accessible to students with visual impairments. The free, virtual event will feature two daily keynote speakers, several presentations, and multiple breakout panel sessions. Keynote speakers, presenters, and panelists come from a diverse coding career background of programmers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, inventors, hiring managers, career center directors and counselors, university and high school instructors, and more.

On Thursday, May 13, episode 29 explores how an APH product goes from an idea to a physical product. We’ll talk to product managers about the process and hear why partnerships are so important.

Tune in on Thursday, May 27 for episode 30 of Change Makers, which celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week by spotlighting TVI’s. We talk to leaders in the field and learn about the vital role TVI’s play and how to become one.

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

From the Field

TVI Spotlight: Stacey Chambers

stacey smiling and standing in her colorfully decorated classroom

The field of blindness education would not be where it is today without the contributions of many ingenious 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, Preparing for Next Year – A TVI Checklist by Stacey Chambers, to discover how she and her students gear up for the fall semester.

Meet APH Scholar Rachel Antoine

We would like to congratulate Rachel Antoine for being selected as a 2021–2022 APH Scholar. Rachel was nominated by EOT, Sergio Oliva, and works as the National Programs and Services Manager at the Braille Institute of America. Read our blog to learn more about Rachel and discover what makes an APH Scholar stand out.

Leader Dogs for the Blind Summer Experience Camp 2021 is going virtual again!

This free camp experience gives teens 14–17 years old from the U.S. and Canada an awesome lineup of virtual activities to build their independence! Participants will explore mobility options like guide dog travel, build leadership skills, and make lasting relationships with peers. Using Zoom video conferencing, we will lead two 60-minute virtual sessions each day at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Teens can look forward to a Q&A session with a guide dog mobility instructor, a game session, a private Facebook group to keep the fun going through the week, and lots more! Presenters include Leader Dog O&M instructors, Leader Dog guide dog mobility instructors, and some special surprise guests! Participants will receive a free LDB Virtual Summer Experience Camp t-shirt and a chance to win other prizes. Camp dates are Monday, June 21–Friday, June 25. Register for the Leader Dogs for the Blind Summer Experience Camp today! Applications are due on Monday, May 17, 2021.

NLS Aspiring Leaders Internship Program

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS), supported by the National Library for the Blind Endowment, sponsors a paid internship that offers legally blind individuals the opportunity to gain work experience and explore career options working in the areas of collections building, program delivery, and business oversight and management. Application details can be found at the NLS Aspiring Leaders Internship Program page. The deadline for the fall 2021 session is June 1. All interns will work remotely.

For more information, please, contact
Erica Vaughns
Head, Administrative Services at

In the Archive

Touching on History: Stories from the Museum

May is Teacher Appreciation Month in the U.S., but here in the museum at the American Printing House for the Blind, we treat every day like teacher appreciation day. Check out our blog, The Teacher as North Star, to learn about some amazing teachers in the blindness field.

APH Travel Center

Summer is fast approaching. We hope you will join us this July for two virtual conferences: the National Federation of the Blind 2021 National Convention on July 6–10, 2021 and the American Council of the Blind 60th Annual Conference and Convention on July 16–23, 2021. More information about our involvement in these conferences will be posted in our June newsletter. We can’t wait to see you there!

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