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July 2020

Group of children learning through play with LEGO Braille Bricks 03

Preorder Your LEGO Braille Bricks Today!

The world of play just got even better for children who are blind and visually impaired. Developed by the LEGO Foundation and distributed by APH, LEGO Braille Bricks are a playful tool that teaches braille. Studs on the bricks correspond to numbers and letters in braille. A printed version of the letter or number is also included on each brick. Use LEGO Braille Bricks to learn the braille alphabet, practice spelling and punctuation, and complete basic math problems.

APH is accepting preorders for LEGO Braille Bricks from our educational audience now. Teachers, contact your state’s Ex Officio Trustee (EOT) to request LEGO Braille Bricks for your students. Not sure who your EOT is? Search the APH Trustee Directory for the EOTs in your state.

Go to to learn more and discover related activities that integrate LEGO Braille Bricks into braille instruction.

Headshot of Amy Campbell

Meet Amy Campbell, APH’s New Learning Management System Administrator

APH is pleased to welcome Amy Campbell as our new Learning Management System Administrator of National Outreach Services. Amy will work alongside Leanne Grillot, the director of National Outreach Services, to manage the Hive, an accessible online repository of interactive multimedia content supporting the professional learning needs of educators and families who support the unique needs of students who are blind and visually impaired.

A central hub of information, the Hive will offer courses for educators and families about APH products. Courses will be broken down by category: assessment, early childhood, core curriculum, and expanded core curriculum. Visitors to the Hive will be able to watch videos and work on projects to discover how to incorporate APH products within the classroom and at home. Continuing education credits will be offered upon successful completion of each course.

Currently living in Raleigh, North Carolina, Amy Campbell has a Bachelor of Science in Education from Illinois State University and a Master of Education in Visual Disabilities with a focus of early childhood education from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. Amy’s experience in the blindness field spans over 20 years. She worked as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired in Central Iowa and in Central North Carolina. At the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in North Carolina, Amy’s teaching experience included teaching a self-contained preschool classroom, a kindergarten classroom, and a multi-grade elementary classroom. Amy also worked at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill as a curriculum writer preparing instructional content for university preparation programs. As a state Educational Consultant and eventual EOT for North Carolina, Amy oversaw the educational services for students with visual impairments and managed the state’s Federal Quota funds. Amy also has published articles in a national peer reviewed journal and presented at a variety of national professional conferences.

“I am beyond excited to be a part of this well-known organization,” said Amy. “My entire teaching career has included the American Printing House for the Blind in some way, shape, or form. As a past EOT, to me, coming to APH is like coming home.”

Indeed, Amy’s wealth of knowledge will assist her in her new role at APH as she adds, creates, and organizes the Hive’s content as well as works with external content contributors.

“It will be nice to have a central location where information is housed for all to access,” said Amy. “The mission of APH is all about empowerment. One way to empower people who are blind and visually impaired is to build capacity in homes and schools so that families and teachers know how to work with their students. The learning management system accomplishes this because it gives families and educators tools that they can use to help build independence for the students. I want to be a change maker by helping to give educators and parents those tools for their students and children.”

Lily on a trail July APH news


Virtual ExCEL Camp: Are You Having Fun Yet?

Our first three weeks of the Virtual ExCEL Camp have been a blast! Targeted to early elementary students, our first week had us camping (in our house), hiking (in our neighborhood), singing, and enjoying bear stories. Our second week was the Virtual ExCEL Camp for Pre Symbolic Language. We focused on schedules, routines, and the great outdoors. Geared to transition-age students (grade 10 through 21 years), the third week’s theme was “A Plan for Success is a Plan for You.” Participants created a transition plan just for them, became question detectives when talking to successful people with visual impairments, and built their self-awareness. This week, get ready to solve the impossible with our Virtual ExCEL Camp for Junior High! Mission Impossible is the theme, and our campers will be talking to successful adults from our community, learning how to be an individual education plan advocate, and learning how to escape the life skills room.

Come join in the fun or just watch others participate. All are welcome! Register today for the upcoming weeks.

New Products

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

  • Learn the Music Braille code with these handy flash cards. Each card features a music term in large print and UEB braille on one side and the music braille symbol for the word on the opposite side.

  • Snapino

    Snapino, a commercially available product, has been made accessible for students who are blind and visually impaired. Snapino is an introduction to the open-source Arduino hardware-software coding environment. Use both the Snapino and Snap Circuit Jr. kits together to design larger circuits with speech capabilities.

  • A hand tracing a Finger Walks tactile labyrinth.
    For all ages 8 and up, these tactile patterns can help you develop the sense of touch, clear and settle the mind, and experience calming rhythmic movements. The labyrinth designs are beautiful, intriguing, and steeped in tradition as well.

  • CodeQuest

    CodeQuest is a free iOS app for iPads that teaches preschool to early elementary age players coding, logic, and orientation skills.

    Supplemental tactile gameboard grids and manipulatives are available on the downloads tab of the shopping page. Emboss these brf files using a regular or tactile graphic embosser.

  • Mantis Executive Case

    APH and Executive Products Inc. (EPI) have partnered to create a luxury leather case designed specifically for the Mantis Q40. This durable professional case with attached carrying strap fits snugly around your Mantis Q40 and will not allow your device to slip out while traveling.

Summer Fever Sale

Visit the APH Website for a list of over 100 hot items now on sale!

Seeking Code Jumper Beta Testers

APH’s Technology Product Research department is looking for individuals to test a beta version of Code Jumper that will work on Chromebook and Android devices. If you have Code Jumper and a Chromebook or an Android device and are interested in being a tester, please, email

Open Focus Group for the Sensory Learning Kit and Switches

APH is hosting an online focus group and interactive survey on the revision of the Sensory Learning Kit (SLK). We will demonstrate the switches and the items that they activate. After each demonstration, you will be given a poll question to answer. You may also expand your responses in the chat. Please, join us to give your opinion—telling us what you like, what you do not like, and how you rate the switches’ usefulness in the kit. We will also ask questions about other items in the kit.

We are very interested in what you need to work with your students! Register to join the Zoom webinar on July 14, 2020 at 12 PM Eastern Time.

#KeepLearningWithAPH Contest Brings Focus on the Blindness Field’s Dedication to Students

We recently held a social media contest asking educators from the field to tell us about how they were supporting their students during quarantine. We wanted to show our appreciation for the lengths they went through to make distance learning happen. We had lots of amazing entries, but there could only be one first place winner. Congratulations, Michele Danilowicz on your new Braille Trail Reader LE! Michele posted about how she and her daughter shared enrichment activities to enforce daily living skills in the kitchen. Thank you to Michele and all of the other fantastic teachers and instructors who shared their stories with us. Your dedication truly inspires us!

Are you following APH on social media? We post about fun activities, updates on products, events, and giveaways! You don’t want to miss what we’re doing over on:


APH Connect Center Team: Joe Strechay, Marissa Stalvey, Olaya Landa-Vialard, Alan Lovell, and Melanie Peskoe

ConnectCenter News

Welcome Olaya Landa-Vialard, the New Director of the APH ConnectCenter

Olaya has an extensive background in the blindness field. She is a graduate and fellow of the National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities. She earned her Ph.D. from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. Olaya has served as a bilingual teacher, bilingual educational diagnostician for students with visual impairments, TVI, professor, and as a bilingual family engagement coordinator for Project Reach, State of Illinois Deafblind Services. Being the Director of the ConnectCenter will complement her dedication to the field as, in her many capacities, she has helped lead the way in the sharing of information with parents, teachers, and school administrators to further improve the lives of individuals with blindness/visual impairment/deafblindness/multiple disabilities.

ConnectCenter Resources

One of the most exciting things about the ConnectCenter is the Calendar Hub. This is a calendar where individuals and organizations can share information about events taking place across the country. The Calendar Hub is housed in the ConnectCenter, but it belongs to the field. We are so excited about providing this service that can connect us in ways that have not been done before!

In addition to the Calendar Hub and the three websites—VisionAware, FamilyConnect, and APH CareerConnect–the APH ConnectCenter also has a dedicated, toll-free phone line to provide information and referral services to people in all stages of life who are experiencing vision loss. By using our Directory of Services and other tools, we will help locate information or services in your area to assist you. Whether you’re newly diagnosed with vision loss, or you’re just looking for a specific device or tool, we’ve got you covered. Our hours are Monday through Friday 8AM-8PM ET. You can reach us at 800-232-5463, or by emailing

The ConnectCenter, in partnership with the Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation, has created “Getting Started 2020: A Guide for People New to Vision Loss.” Getting Started is a resource updated with new information year over year. Though it is filled with evergreen tips and techniques, APH recognizes that we live in an ever-changing world. In a current and post-COVID-19 reality, we understand that people who are new to vision loss may rely more heavily on virtual support systems. It is our plan to continue to provide Getting Started in many formats, including print, web, social media, apps, a toll-free hotline, and more. Getting Started is also available in Spanish.

Congratulating the Class of 2020

We recognized that so many graduates in the Class of 2020 did not get the graduation ceremonies they deserved because of COVID-19. We wanted to congratulate them for all their hard work. Producer and consultant, Joe Strechay, who has been working with the ConnectCenter, gathered a great group of successful people who are blind or visually impaired to wish the Class of 2020 well and offer some wise words of encouragement for the future. The 5 videos include Erik Weihenmayer, who summited Mount Everest; Haben Girma, the first deafblind Harvard Law graduate; actress Marilee Talkington; Master Chef Christine Ha; and many others. Watch all the videos on our ConnectCenter YouTube playlist.

FamilyConnect Webinars

FamilyConnect has been busy with providing webinars for parents and service providers. We hosted a webinar on June 3rd, entitled “Connecting Your Families at Home with the Resources They Need to Thrive.” We wanted to create an open forum where parents and teachers alike could hear from one another and share ideas, techniques, and resources on how our blind and visually impaired children’s educational needs are being met during COVID-19.

Robin Lowell, an educator and mom of three special needs kids, was our moderator. We heard from our panelists, Brittany Clarkson, who is studying to be a TVI herself and is also a mother to Addy; a student at the Kentucky School for the Blind; Kelli Schubert, mother to Claire; and Darren Lewis, father to Joshua, who is a bright 10-year-old with a keen interest in coding. Each answered questions from our moderator and audience on topics like having your child’s accessibility needs met; activities that keep them engaged and active; socializing with peers while social distancing; etc.

Join us for our next FamilyConnect webinar, “Creating Learning Environments with Items in the Home,” on July 13, 2020 from 1:00 – 2:30 PM CST. Sara Edwards, TVI/DTV, from the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired, will be the presenter. Alongside her career, Sara is also a mother of two children with blindness. Don’t miss this informative webinar.

STEM Corner — Teachers: Raise Awareness About STEM Careers in Your Science Lessons

Many students spend time thinking about what their future career or place of work will be after they graduate from high school and/or college. Increase their awareness of STEM careers by mentioning associated professions in your science lessons. For example, if you are teaching about the Egyptian pyramids, describe the types of professionals who add to this body of knowledge: archaeologists, anthropologists, and engineers. If the lesson is about photosynthesis, there are many jobs associated with plant science that are worth describing: horticulturist, genetic engineer, and plant breeder. For more information about this idea, refer to the following commentary from the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) website.

Treasures from the APH Libraries

From the Migel Library: Long Cane News Letter and Long Cane News

Full runs of the much sought after Long Cane News Letter and Long Cane News have been digitized for the Internet Archive.  The Long Cane News Letter was published as a typewritten mailing by Boston College and Western Michigan University from 1965 to 1976.  As the field of orientation and mobility grew, however, those organizations could no longer afford to put the News Letter out.  Often considered the primary form of communication between orientation and mobility specialists,  back issues of the News Letter were scarce and valuable, and had to be reproduced for redistribution in the field.  A 1982 American Foundation for the Blind survey showed such a high demand that The Long Cane News started publication by AFB in 1983, and continued until 1991.  These items are available in the Internet Archive at and

The APH Migel Collection is one of the largest collections of non-medical information related to visual impairment in the world. Although the collection does not circulate, an ongoing digitization effort means APH will make 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.

APH Travel Center

APH’s Presence at the Virtual 2020 NFB National Convention
APH will be attending the virtual 2020 NFB National Convention as a bronze sponsor. On Tuesday, July 14, 2020 from 10 AM until 12 PM, APH will be hosting a live Zoom webinar for registrants of the convention. The webinar is called New APH Products and Services. During the first hour, participants will learn about the industry’s newest braille solutions: Mantis Q40 and Chameleon 20. The second hour will feature discussions about BrailleBlaster and about the resources available through APH’s ConnectCenter.

We hope to see you (virtually).

Announcing the Virtual APH 2020 Annual Meeting

We previously revealed that our 2020 Annual Meeting theme is Better Together, whether in person or virtual. In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, APH is hosting a virtual Annual Meeting for Ex Officio Trustees and special guests. Please, mark your calendars for October 7-9, 2020, and join us for this memorable event. More details will be coming soon.

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