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December 2020


APH President, Craig Meador and student assemble a Code Jumper sequence
Congratulations to APH President, Dr. Craig Meador!

On November 12, 2020, APH President, Dr. Craig Meador, was honored as one of Louisville, Kentucky’s Most Admired CEOs by Louisville Business First. The leadership team at APH recommended Dr. Meador for this award. Read an excerpt from the nomination letter written by Anne Durham, our Vice President/Chief Officer of Innovation and Strategy, below.

“Dr. Meador has shown us that when we make business and mission decisions from the perspective of building a world that works for people who are blind, we show the world how to break down the barriers that allow everyone to participate. This is the kind of leadership that all companies need right now, and leadership that Louisville can be proud is being grown at home and demonstrated around the world.”

Welcome to the Team Paul Schroeder, Vice President, Government and Community Affairs
APH Welcomes Paul Schroeder as New Vice President, Government and Community Affairs

We are pleased to announce that Paul Schroeder has accepted the position as APH’s new Vice President of Government and Community Affairs. He will succeed Gary Mudd, who will retire on December 31, 2020 after 34 years.
Please, join us in wishing Gary a well-deserved retirement and welcoming Paul Schroeder to the APH team. Learn more about Paul by reading our latest blog.

Student Hands Reading Braille Picture
CDC Foundation and Georgia Tech are Battling COVID with Accessibility

Living through a pandemic with a disability comes with unique challenges, including a lack of access to materials; relying on touch and human contact; additional and pre-existing health concerns; and a dependency on public transportation. The CDC Foundation, in partnership with Georgia Tech’s CIDI (Center for Inclusive Design & Innovation), aims to help alleviate as many barriers as possible through accessible distribution of emergency safety information and education. Distribution plans include to libraries across the country in partnership with the National Federation of the Blind among others.

You can order embossed braille emergency response information and guidance at no charge directly from the COVID-19 website. The website also offers accessible documents that can be accessed using a screen reader.

Let’s continue to keep ourselves and our families safe!

text reads "Welcome to the team! Heather Spence, Director of APH Press" aph logo. headshot photo of HeatherAPH Welcomes Heather Spence as APH Press Director

We are excited to announce that Heather Spence has joined APH as the new APH Press Director.

“I am thrilled to join the APH team,” said Heather. “I look forward to spreading APH’s vision and providing services to our clients. I worked with the Press while at the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), so it is nice to have the opportunity to work with the authors again and help to ensure that the Press is meeting the needs of educators in the field.”
Read our blog to find out more about Heather and her role at APH.

Babies Count logo is 3 color blocks stacked in a triangle above the text with braille text below the logo

New States Join Babies Count Registry!

North Dakota and Wisconsin are the latest states to join the Babies Count Registry, bringing our total number of state participants to 17. The data aggregation for eight of those states is complete, and those eight states have received the data from over 2,000 children, ages birth to three years, as well as the data from their own state.

If you and your state are interested in participating in this national project focused on collecting demographic and epidemiologic information on babies who are visually impaired, please contact Linda Lyle at or Dorinda Rife at

2020-2021 APH Virtual ExCEL Academy

APH’s Virtual ExCEL Academy is going strong! This offering consists of FREE engaging lessons for students with a variety of abilities. Join us weekly at 2:00p EST for a live hour on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Days and topics are organized by age, as noted below, and participants may register for any day(s) from the same link.

Tuesday: Focus from Birth to 6th grade
Wednesday: Focus from 7th to 12th grade
Thursday: Focus on students with multiple impairments

Upcoming December sessions:

  • Money, Money, Money & You (middle and high school)
  • What are Blocker Cars (7-12 grade)

Please note that the registration link is the same for the fall and spring semesters, meaning that if you registered for the fall, you are already registered for the spring.

Educational professionals as well as college students preparing to enter the field are able to participate in the webinars to watch teachers at work. They are able to observe in the background just as if they were in a physical classroom.

Coming in January, the APH Virtual ExCEL Academy will move to 3:00p EST! We have scheduled all the way through the end of May 2021. Sign up and attend any of the sessions that meet your students’ needs.

Computer Science Education Week

The week of December 7th-13th 2020 is Computer Science Education Week, a week full of events, activities, and educational tools. Within this week is Hour of Code where anyone, anywhere can organize an Hour of Code event. Learn more about this special week, including how APH is participating in Hour of Code, how you can submit your own Hour of Code activity, access five new Code Jumper lessons, and other accessible coding tools from APH by reading our Computer Science Education Week blog.

STEM Corner

Launching off of the success of their 2020 conference, the SciAccess Initiative has founded a new mentorship program for 8-12th graders with visual impairments. The SciAccess Zenith Mentorship Program has had great success in its inaugural semester, with twenty BVI students from the Ohio State School for the Blind, as well as across the United States and Australia, learning about black holes, supernovae, dark matter, and other out-of-this-world topics.

Students have heard from experts in the field, including Dr. Nic Bonne, a visually impaired astronomer and project lead of Tactile Universe, which designs 3D models of astronomical objects for people with vision impairments. In addition to group lectures, students have been meeting one-on-one with their mentors—undergraduate and graduate students from The Ohio State University—and are now working with them to prepare presentations for their own symposium on December 8th. Students will be speaking on a topic of their choice and will receive a graduation certificate for their participation in the program. All are welcome to join to support the work of these students!

If you are interested in signing your student up to be part of the second generation of Zenith Scholars, please, fill out this form prior to January 8th, 2021.

New Products

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

  • Tactile Graphic from Graph Benders Kit

    Great for math and science alike: teachers and students can use Graph Benders to create/plot graphs and diagrams/charts that are both tactile and visual, as well as durable.

    Graph Benders’ flexible strips and point symbols (triangles, circles, squares) can be applied directly to paper, and are an excellent way for students to demonstrate their mastery of math or science concepts. This product pairs well with APH’s Feel ‘n Peel Stickers: Point Symbols, Tactile Compass for Math and Art, Graphic Aid for Mathematics, and our selection of Embossed, Low-Relief, and Bold Line Graph Sheets.

  • photograph of Braille Datebook and stylus

    The Braille Datebook from APH is an attractive planner/organizer designed specifically for braille users! Use it at your desk or on the go; it is sturdy, compact, and fits in a backpack or briefcase.

  • Braille Datebook Calendar Pages

    These punched, tabbed calendar pages are made of durable yellow plastic. The twelve brailled calendar tab pages cover one year.

  • MATT Connect with APH app icon on screen

    The MATT Connect – a compact, all-in-one magnifier, distance viewer, and educational Android™ tablet – has some new software features and accessories to boast, and the best part…these upgrades are FREE! Learn all about these enhancements by reading our MATT Connect blog.

  • Students learning through play with LEGO Braille Bricks

    We’ll be shipping our next batch of LEGO Braille Brick kits from the LEGO Foundation in mid/late December, so we wanted to remind everyone of a couple of key points about their availability:

    • In addition to EOTs, educators of the visually impaired can now order these free LEGO Braille Brick kits. Find the order form here:
    • These kits are intended to be used with an educational curriculum that is led by a teacher. They are not intended for personal ownership.
    • Educators: we have plenty of kits to go around, so please order as many as your districts need, but also keep in mind there is a limited quantity being produced. Once we distribute our 30,000 kits, that will be it. Please order the appropriate amount and plan to store, track, and maintain these kits for years to come; understanding that there will be no replacement parts available.
    • Please keep in mind when placing your order that LEGO Braille Bricks kits are fulfilled in quantities of four (4), meaning that orders of 1-4 kits will receive 4 kits and orders of 5-8 kits will receive 8 kits, etc.

    For further information on how to order, and for resources for educators, check out our blog.

Getting the Most out of SLK

We are excited to offer two new Sensory Learning Kit (SLK) resources for teachers, families, caregivers, and students learning from home:

The Buzz-APH HIVE News Header
The Buzz: News from the APH Hive

Orientation and mobility makes its grand entry into the APH Hive during the month of December, with a new course entitled Street Crossing with No Traffic Control. Orientation and Mobility Specialists will find this timely addition helpful, as it provides an example and modeling of how to offer instruction remotely. Eight video modules walk participants through sequenced instruction, with an end result of earning two hours of ACVREP credit for FREE.
Sign up for the APH Hive today!

APH Connect Center Header



ConnectCenter News

Things have been busy in the ConnectCenter over the past month. We’ve hosted five webinars, and we’ve published weekly blog posts on FamilyConnect, CareerConnect, and VisionAware. As the year draws to a close, we’d like to share some of the things that have been happening in our department.

In January, we hired a second Information and Referral Specialist, Melanie Peskoe. She and Information and Referral Coordinator, Alan Lovell, increased the number of calls

and emails that were handled, and served people in other time zones by extending our hours of operation to 8p EST. In May, Olaya Landa-Vialard joined APH as the new Director of the ConnectCenter, and she has brought both energy and a wealth of knowledge to the team. Under Olaya’s leadership, we experienced a lot of growth over the summer, through many webinars and presentations, as well as new partnerships with other organizations in the field of blindness and visual impairment.

In October, Content Strategist, Kathryn Botsford, joined the team. She has hit the ground running and put a polishing touch to all the content we receive and create. Kathryn has also been instrumental in reaching out to potential partners across the field and collaborating on various projects. Also new to the team is Richard Rueda, who brings to the ConnectCenter experience with transition-age students. He’s been busy writing CareerConnect blog posts and helping with webinars. Pris Rogers and the VisionAware Peer Advisors have been very helpful by providing continued support and producing wonderful content for the blog. We were sad to lose Marissa Stalvey, our Digital Content and Engagement Specialist, but she hasn’t gone far as she is now a Grant Writer in the Development department of APH and works with some ConnectCenter grants. To fill the vacancy, Melanie has shifted into the role and now handles the management of our websites, social media, and webinars.

We have many great things on the horizon, and we’ll share more in January. In the meantime, please, join us for the webinar Blind Kids Just Want to Have Fun: Thriving Our Way Into the Future of Physical Distancing at Summer Camp on December 9, 2020 at 3 PM ET. We hope to see you (virtually) there.

We wish everyone a happy holiday season as we all look ahead to a prosperous and healthy 2021.

Holiday Gift Ideas from the APH ConnectCenter

Unsure of what to give a loved one who is visually impaired for holidays? Read the latest VisionAware blog, Holiday Gift Ideas for People with Vision Loss for 2020, to receive a great list of suggestions.

APH Behind the Scenes: Getting to the “Point” of the APH Hive

We can’t stop talking about the APH Hive, our eLearning platform for educators and families that contains FREE courses relevant to serving students of all ages who are blind or visually impaired. But, how was the APH Hive created, and who is responsible for making it buzz? Read our latest APH Behind the Scenes blog post to find out.

Change maker banner silhouette of people in colored square backgrounds

Next on Change Makers

Change Makers: A Podcast from APH highlights people who are making the biggest difference in the blindness field. Listen to our latest episode, Holidays: Gifts, Traditions and Support, to discover what gifts are sure to bring smiles; how to modify holiday traditions for everyone; and the services FamilyConnect and VisionAware can provide for seniors. Parents of children with CVI can also learn about specialized CVI products and services offered by both APH and Perkins by checking out our previous episode, CVI: Tools for Parents.

All episodes of Change Makers can be accessed here.

Meet APH Scholar Nabiha Mujahid

We would like to congratulate Nabiha Mujahid for being selected as a 2020 APH Scholar. Nabiha was nominated by EOT, Robin King, and works as the VI Regional Support Specialist for the Louisiana Instructional Materials Center. Read our blog to learn more about Nabiha and discover what makes an APH Scholar stand out. Also, follow along as we feature a new scholar each month.

From the AFB Helen Keller Archive

During his first hour working independently in the AFB Helen Keller Archive, archivist Justin Gardner came across a file with information about its first archivist, Marguerite Levine.

Marguerite was hired in 1960 by the M.C. Migel Memorial Collection’s first librarian, Helga Lende. For ten years, she scoured the many buildings and departments of AFB for 40 years-worth of backlogged records, and then organized them into “an active unit of the organization.” At the same time, Marguerite worked on the unprocessed papers that would become the Helen Keller Archive. While being interviewed years later, she said “How did I become curator of her papers? For the simple reason that the papers were there.”

Marguerite completed the initial organization of the archive in 1970, which was just in time. She soon needed to devote much of her time with two significant projects. The first was assisting Frances Koestler for over 4 years, researching her work, “The Unseen Minority: A Social History of Blindness in the U.S.” Almost immediately following that massive undertaking, Marguerite spent two more years working with Joseph P. Lash on his book, “Helen and Teacher: The Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy.”

Marguerite Levine retired in July of 1985. She passed her responsibilities along to Alberta Lonergan, who had previously been the Migel Librarian since 1965.

APH Travel Center

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

Sight Tech Global, Dec 2-3, 2020

APH is a sponsor at this virtual conference. Greg Stilson is also presenting on The Future of AT Devices and the Companies that Make Them.

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

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