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June 2020

Praying Mantis sitting on Mantis keyboard

It’s Here! The Mantis Q40™ is Now Available for Sale!

Keep braille at your fingertips anytime, anywhere with the Mantis Q40, a Bluetooth® keyboard and 40-cell refreshable braille display. With the Mantis Q40, users no longer need to choose between a keyboard or a braille device – at the same time a student or professional is typing on the Mantis, the refreshable braille below the keyboard is providing a multimodal braille complement to the screen reader, making it easier to participate in, and succeed at, school or work. The Mantis can be used as a host or stand-alone device. Connect to other devices via USB or Bluetooth, or use the Mantis by itself to read books, edit and manage files, check the date and time, and make basic mathematical calculations.

Go to Mantis Q40 today to get your hands on this revolutionary new product. If you are unable to purchase the Mantis Q40 through our website, please, place your order with APH Customer Service at 1-800-223-1839.

Learn more about The Mind Behind the Mantis Q40.

Watch Greg Stilson, technology guru and APH’s Director of Global Innovations, as he discusses the benefits of using Mantis Q40 in both the classroom and professional settings.

Virtual ExCEL Academy – Thank You!

We would like to express our deep appreciation for the joint effort between California State University, LA and Paths to Literacy (TSBVI and Perkins) for the 49 episodes of the Virtual ExCEL Academy. Thank you Cheryl Kamei-Hannan and Charlotte Cushman! APH would also like to thank the instructors of the academy for a job well done!

Adam Wilton Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired
Amy Mason Gateway Regional School District
Anne Bell Los Angeles Unified School District
Belinda Rudinger Grand Prairie ISD
Carl Jacobson Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind
Cecilia Robinson Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Cheryl Hamei-Hannan California State University, LA
Chris Tabb Maryland School for the Blind
Cindy Bachofer Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Cody Laplante eye.t.LLC
Conchita Hernandez Maryland School for the Blind
Deanna Peterson Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Diana Herrera SCAOMS
Gwyn McCormack Positive Eye
Jeff Killebrew New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Jennifer Arnott Perkins School for the Blind
Jennifer Enache Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind
Jessica Kaplan SCAOMS
JoAnne Chalom In Focus Mobility
John Rose Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Kassy Maloney Allied Independence
Kate Borg Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Kate Katulak Perkins School for the Blind
Kathi Garza Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Kimala Rein A Shared Vision of Colorado Bumblebee and Vision Impairment Services of Alaska
Leila Ricci California State University, LA
Mark Richert AER
Mary Shore Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Nicholas Casias SCAOMS
Nina Wibbenmeyer Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Rebecca Sheffield Virgin Islands Department of Education
Renee Ellis Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Robbin Keating-Clark Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind
Robin Lowell i2e
Steve Turner Giving Tree Music
Tammy Reisman Umass Boston and Newton, MA Public Schools
Valarie Warmuth OHM BOCES

Missed an episode of the Virtual ExCEL Academy? No problem. Every webinar has been recorded with close captioning on our YouTube channel so that students can continue to learn from these lessons.

two teenage students and an adult smiling, text reads "Virtual ExCEL Camp. mid June-mid August

Virtual ExCEL Camp

Students are invited to register for the free Virtual ExCEL Camp, which runs from June 15 to August 21. Teachers are also encouraged to observe camp activities. Each week of the Virtual ExCEL Camp will be devoted to a different age/grade group. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of the week, we will have a live webinar camp at 2 pm ET (same time as we hosted the ExCEL Academy). Each week will also consist of an extension activity to do at home every week day. Because we know students are not always able to attend during the scheduled hour, we will be recording these sessions so all have the opportunity to learn.

Parents, please, register your student(s) for the week(s) that match their needs:

Week of June 15 and July 20: Early Elementary (K-2 grade) with instructors Leslie McNeil and Jessica Kaminski, TVIs from the Columbia School District, GA

Week of July 13 and August 17: Upper Elementary (3-6 grade) with instructors Cheryl Hannan, Professor at California State University, LA; Johna Bogue, lower school science teacher at The Pegasus School, CA; Parisa Lamarra, TVI from the Whittier Unified School District, CA; and Susan Bernt, student intern from Missouri State University

Week of July 6 and August 10: Junior High (7-9 grade) with instructors Heather Pichette-Spencer and Jennifer Stelmach, TVIs from the Duval County Public Schools, FL; and Susan Bernt, student intern from Missouri State University

Week of June 29 and August 3: Transition age (10 grade through 21 years) with instructors Robbin Clark, ECC Coordinator from the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind; JoAnne Chalom, COMS from In Focus Mobility, Inc., FL; and Susan Bernt, student intern from Missouri State University

Week of June 22 and July 27: Pre Symbolic Language (any age or grade) with instructors Jessica Chamblin, TVI from the Intermediate School District, MN; and Andrea Amestoy, TVI and COMS from the Idaho Educational Services for the Deaf and the Blind

Registration stays open all summer. Please, feel free to spread the word about the Virtual ExCEL Camp to those who may be interested. We are excited to work with these fellow teachers from across America!

2020 Inductees to the Hall of Fame Announced

APH is proud to house the Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field. This year, we will be inducting two new members into the Hall of Fame: Kathleen M. Huebner and Ann MacCuspie. Read our blog to learn more about these incredible individuals and their accomplishments.

Texas School District Recognizes Teachers Using APH’s Sensory Learning Kit with “Great Educators Matter” (GEM) Award

The Coppell ISD School Board and Superintendent recognized team members for their groundbreaking research and recent publications in the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness and Closing the Gap Solutions. Stacey Chambers (TVI), Angela Campbell (Adapted PE Teacher), Allison Clark (PT), and Greta Graham (AT) collaborated over the past five years alongside Millie Smith, author of APH’s Sensory Learning Kit, to implement strategies outlined in the book related to assessment, routine implementation, and multidisciplinary collaboration in the Active Learning Programs in their district. The recent publications highlight the development and effectiveness of these sensory routines to increase engagement and progress for learners with significant cognitive delays. Congratulations to this team for their outstanding work and well-earned “GEM” awards in Coppell ISD.

Watch the team and their star learners: Freddy, Isaiah, Aarna, and Adam on the APH YouTube Channel.

New Products

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

  • Mantis Q-40 on teal background

    Keep braille at your fingertips anytime, anywhere with the Mantis Q40, a Bluetooth® keyboard and 40-cell refreshable braille display.

  • Typer Online icon

    Complete with drills, practice lessons, and a keyboard explorer, Typer Online helps students sharpen their typing skills. A modernization of APH’s Talking Typer for Windows, Typer is a free, accessible typing and computer keyboard tutorial that can be accessed online from any computer or smartphone.

Building on Patterns Prekindergarten – Share Your Experience!

Building on Patterns Prekindergarten (BOP Pre-K) has been available for a little over a year, and sales have exceeded expectations! If you are a teacher who has used this level of BOP, we would love to hear from you.

Please, complete this survey to share your thoughts. Also, feel free to respond even if instruction had to be changed due to school closures in your area. If you have any questions related to the survey, please, contact Sara Lee (

Brackitz® is an award-winning building kitiTrax™ game

STEM Corner — Check Out These Two Commercially-Available STEM Kits!

Brackitz® is an award-winning building kit that provides children aged 3 to 12 years with an intentionally open-ended toy that exercises their problem-solving, creativity, and fine motor skills. Kits include planks of varying lengths and connectors that allow children to build a multitude of shapes – from dragons to airplanes (depending on kit size). The high-quality plastic pieces connect easily and stay together. Kits vary in size from 28 to over 170 pieces at a very reasonable price.

Children ages 6 to 18 years will engage in hours of critical-thinking and eye-tracking fun with the iTrax™ game. Recommended by professional occupational therapists, this kit comes with pattern cards at three levels of difficulty and 44 track-making pieces. Children compete with each other to see who can build an identified path the fastest!

Treasures from the APH Libraries

From the Migel Library: Workers of the Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration, State of Ohio. Models for the Blind. Ohio State School for the Blind, 1941.

Models for the Blind was published in 1941 by the Work Projects Administration [WPA]. The WPA was a federal New Deal agency designed to employ job seekers in public works positions during the Great Depression. The book describes and illustrates an incredible array of intricate scale models used for instruction of students who were blind, decades before 3D printing. Some are smaller, tabletop models of things as varied as the Roman Aqueducts, a printing press, a log cabin, or the Spirit of St. Louis. Others are more traditional educational aids, such as a braille clock or a tactile map. Other models were child-sized reproductions of a post office desk, or a small house. This book has been digitized for the Internet Archive.

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 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 ACB 2020 Virtual Conference
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Council of the Blind (ACB) has decided to host a virtual conference this year. Get ready to learn about some of APH’s new braille and low vision products, and some innovative apps and services. Our presentations will be broadcast over ACB Radio and played during the virtual exhibit hall hours, 12 PM-6 PM EST, from July 1 through July 10. Attendees can also go to the ACB Radio archives and listen to our presentations there at any time. We hope to see you–virtually!–at the 2020 ACB conference.

APH 2020 Annual Meeting

We are all better together, whether in person or virtual. For this reason, our 2020 Annual Meeting theme is Better Together. Please, mark your calendars for the APH 2020 Annual Meeting on October 7-9, 2020. More details will be coming soon.

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