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APH “Phase-Gate” New Product Development Process

Terms we hear in today’s changing marketplace include “essentialism,” “minimalism,” and “rationalization.” APH has been considering these concepts and how they relate to product development. In our quest to decrease product development cycle time and improve quality, we have looked to the market for best practices in new product development.

In response to this information, APH has developed a revised “Phase-Gate” New Product Development (NPD) process. This process allows stakeholders to approve or reject projects at many points through the entire development process, resulting in a more efficient model that allows more strategic input across the life of the product idea.

There are six gates spread from ideation through product launch. At each gate, representatives from all departments will review and discuss product design and design changes. In addition, the Product Advisory Review Committee (PARC) will provide oversight of the entire portfolio of products, making recommendations regarding project priorities and resource allocation. The new process has been approved by the PARC committee and was reviewed by the Department of Education liaison and the EPAC and ESAC committees.

How does the new process affect you as an APH stakeholder?

The revised process has allowed us to look carefully at the way we select product ideas and assign those to project leaders. APH is now using a decision-making matrix to score every current product in the pipeline and all newly accepted product ideas. This will allow us to align each product idea with our strategic goals and move only those products with greatest need and potential forward. As we pilot the matrix, trustees and educators may see a reduced number of accepted projects going forward. This will allow us to move those projects forward more quickly, resulting in more of the right products landing in the customer’s hands in less time.

Product Updates

  • Color Star, a hand-held talking color identifier, light detector, and light analyzer, has hundreds of uses at home, work, and school. It recognizes more than 1,000 different color shades, identifies color contrast measurements, recognizes the color of LED lights, perceives the light intensity in the surrounding environment, and recognizes patterns – all with clear spoken voice output.

    Color Star includes: Stereo headphones, a USB charger with wall block, a case, lanyard, user manual and print and audio CD.

    Color Star is available with Quota Funds.

    NOTE: Color Star replaces ColorTest II which has been discontinued by APH.

  • The Keitzer Check Writing Guide is a flexible, durable, polyethylene guide that will hold any standard check. A slant is located at the upper left corner for orientation. The guide allows you to feel the locations of the various blanks on a standard sized check and write in the correct areas.

    The closed guide measures 3 1/2 x 6 1/4 inches and easily fits in a shirt pocket or purse. It works with checks that are standard size and have a standard layout.

    NOTE: Keitzer Check-Writing Guide is available as a cash-only product. Quota funds may not be used.

  • The 2016 revision of Braille Formats aligns BANA’s braille formatting guidelines with Unified English Braille (UEB). These guidelines provide a foundation for transcribing print content in an accurate and consistent manner. A wide variety of examples are included. Appendix A contains a list of the most significant changes in this revision.

    Braille Formats is available for free download on the BANA website:

  • APH will be discontinuing the Tactile Graphics Starter Kit (1-08839-00), Crafty Graphics: Stencil Embossing Kit (1-08844-00), and Crafty Graphics II Kit (1-08852-00). We will be taking the best and most useful items from these products, as well as those from the Tactile Graphics Kit (1-08851-00), to create a new and improved tactile graphics tool kit.

    Please take a moment to tell us which tactile graphics tools make your greatest hits list by completing the survey.

  • We are in the process of updating the 2018-2019 catalog and anticipate it will be released in late July as according to a new production schedule this year. To help you in your ordering process, we have created a supplemental list of products that were released or revised since the current catalog was issued last summer. In the attached Word document you will find a list of products, including a brief description, APH order number, price, and a link to the product page on

    If you have any questions, or need any assistance in placing your order, please contact our Customer Service Department at 800-223-1839 or


  • Load up a world of savings on selected APH products with APH’s Spring Fever Sale 2018, April 1—June 30. As always, first come, first served.

  • APH is pleased to introduce our new Social Media Specialist, Abby Pullis! Abby has worked for APH for over 3 1/2 years as a Talking Book Editor. She is part of the APH Branding Committee and has been involved in our social media efforts through providing post content about Talking Books and the Studio. Abby will lead APH social media communications by developing content for all platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and our blog. Welcome Abby!

  • Presentations/Exhibits

    May 8, 2018
    Perkins Innovation Advisory Group
    Watertown, MA

    June 1-3, 2018
    Montana Family Conference
    Great Falls, MT

    June 21-23, 2018
    Visions 2018
    San Diego, CA

    July 3-8, 2018
    NFB Conference 2018
    Orlando, FL

    July 16, 2018
    ENGAGE Conference
    Clarksville, TN

    July 25-29, 2018
    AER International Conference 2018
    Reno, NV


    June 11-13, 2018
    M-Enabling Summit
    Arlington, VA

    June 20-23, 2018
    Anaheim, CA

    June 27-29, 2018
    CCSSO/NCSA Conference 2018
    San Diego, CA

    June 29-July 6, 2018
    ACB Conference and Convention
    St Louis, MO

    July 20-23, 2018
    International Literacy Association
    Austin, TX

    CIP Event

    June 30-July 1, 2018
    Portland State University Presentations
    Portland, OR

STEM Corner

photo of the Magic School Bus Engineering Lab offers many STEM-themed kits for kids, and this month APH is recommending two that include many activities appropriate for kids with visual impairments! Both kits are designed for students aged 5 years and older, but adult supervision is required. The Magic School Bus Chemistry Lab and the Magic School Bus Engineering Lab include most of the supplies needed to do the activities and experiment cards with instructions and explanations of science concepts. Learn how to make slime from the chemistry kit! Find out how you can bend bones and cook without a stove from the engineering kit! $29.99 each.

Using the MATT Connect to Access APH Textbook Files

photo of the MATT Connect

EPAC members recently asked APH to help users access textbook files on the MATT Connect. From project leader Laura Zierer comes these instructions:

  • The MATT Connect opens to the Prodigi software when powered on. Users may also exit to the Android® system through the settings menu or a four-finger hold gesture on the screen.
  • Users may access APH textbook files that have been sent via email or file-sharing software. (The Dropbox application is pre-loaded onto this device.)
  • Users will need to log in to their Dropbox account to access files stored in this application. Files can be saved locally to the device and accessed as needed.
  • The MATT Connect is sold with a data transfer cable that can be used to transfer files from another device.
  • Please note that files will need to be deleted from the tablet, as well as the application used to transfer the file, when the student is no longer using the textbook.

Advisory Committees Meet at APH

APH’s two standing Ex Officio Trustee Advisory Committees provide ongoing advice and counsel to APH. The Educational Products Advisory Committee (EPAC) focuses their efforts on the development, production, delivery and performance of APH products, and the Educational Services Advisory Committee (ESAC) shares their wisdom regarding services and initiatives provided in support of APH’s products and mission.

Each of the committees provides support and advice to APH throughout the year, but once a year the two committees come to Louisville to spend several days in meetings with the APH team. The 2018 EPAC and ESAC meetings were held at APH April 15 – 19. Each committee was joined by a 2018 APH Scholar who brought the unique perspective of a direct service provider to the committee’s discussions. Committee members provided invaluable input through a variety of formats, including working group sessions focused on relevant topics, updates on key APH projects and initiatives, and one-on-one and small group discussions.

Committee members met in working groups to provide future direction for APH on topics such as APH’s new product ideas and product development process, balancing a reach toward new markets and audiences with protecting and promoting APH’s core Quota business, priorities and processes needed for APH’s stewardship of AFB Press and processes and initiatives for large print production at APH. Updates from APH staff on technology partnerships, production improvements, new ideation and prioritization initiatives, branding and marketing projects, and APH’s new website also provided opportunities for input and discussion.

The committees and both APH Scholars produced and shared outstanding reports with generous commendations and thoughtful recommendations. We thank these dedicated committee members for their time and support!

group photo

The Advisory Committees and APH Scholars took a moment from their busy schedules to pose for a photo.

Back Row (L-R): Dan Wenzel, ESAC; Marty McKenzie, ESAC Chair; Paul Olson, EPAC; Rob Hair, ESAC; Mary Lane, ESAC; Robin King, EPAC; Doug Anzlovar, EPAC; Christine Short, EPAC; Jackie Otwell, APH Scholar; Donna Earley, ESAC.

Front Row(L-R): Serena Preston, ESAC; Marjorie Kaiser, ESAC; Emily Coleman, EPAC; Kristin, Oien, EPAC Chair; Alexandra “Allie” Futty, APH Scholar; Nancy Moulten, EPAC.

News From the APH Libraries

  • APH is pleased to announce the creation of a Spotify playlist representing the APH Migel Library’s Blind Musicians Collection. Thought to be the only one of its kind, the collection was developed in 2015 with a grant from the H.W. Wilson Foundation. It encompasses works by and about more than 100 musicians who are visually impaired. From the works of Japan’s Biwa Hoshi of the 12th Century to KSB alumnus Michael Cleveland, music has played a significant historical role in the lives, education, and livelihoods of people who are visually impaired. Now, a sample of this music can be accessed from anywhere through our Spotify playlist.

  • APH uses Internet Archive to digitize both the Barr and Migel collections. Recently, Internet Archive started a new pilot project to improve access to eBooks for readers who are low vision. If you are interested in participating in this beta testing or have additional questions, contact Justin Gardner at If you don’t already have an Internet Archive account, you can create one here.

  • Papadopoulos, K., Barouti, M., & Koustriava, E. (2018). Differences in Spatial Knowledge of Individuals with Blindness when Using Audiotactile Maps, Using Tactile Maps, and Walking. Exceptional Children, 84(3), 330-343.

    Papadopoulos examines how individuals with profound visual impairments understand space and the way they develop cognitive maps. Cognitive maps concern the process of mental representation of spatial knowledge, during which an individual will acquire, store, recall, and decipher information about the relative location and attributes in the environment.

    The team studied and evaluated how 21 individuals who are blind created cognitive maps of routes to unfamiliar destinations within large geographical spaces using audiotactile maps, tactile maps, and direct experience through statistical analyses. While the study did bring up an interesting question regarding memory recall of spatial information when using aiding devices over direct experience, the researchers determined that tactile maps supported the development of better spatial knowledge compared to direct experience with the environment. Among its insights and recommendations, they proposed that the addition of audio information to a tactile device possibly compensates for some of the innate limitations of tactile maps and increases allocentric spatial referencing. In its conclusion, the study’s trials suggest spatial knowledge familiarity with an area is an easier and more effective process for individuals when they use a tactile aid, such as tactile or audiotactile maps, which supports better wayfinding, orientation, and mobility of individuals with visual impairments.

  • Perkins, Henry F. “Helping the Blind to ‘See’ a Museum.” Red Cross Courier, vol. 19, no. 11, May 1940, pp. 17–18.

    “What is a blind girl’s substitute for a museum?” This question led to an experiment by the University of Vermont’s Fleming Museum called a “sightless people’s travelling collection.” Tactile artifacts with braille labels were distributed to museums and Red Cross chapters across the country. Participants who were blind asked for more detailed braille descriptions of the artifacts, and more artifacts created by artists who were blind. One of the project’s most surprising successes was the interest in visual impairment generated among sighted museum visitors. This article has been digitized for Internet Archive at

    APH is working with the Internet Archive to digitize portions of the M.C. Migel Library. Search the phrase “full text” to find these items at The digitized texts are available in a variety of formats, including DAISY, Kindle, EPUB, PDF, etc.

    Contact Library staff:, 800-223-1839, ext. 705

APH Braille Book Corner

APH offers a number of recreational books in braille available with Quota funds. Each of these titles was originally transcribed and produced by APH for the National Library Service which has graciously granted permission for this offering. As usual, these titles have been added to the APH Louis Database where you can find thousands of titles produced in accessible formats.

  • By: Andrea Davis Pinkney

    T-N2178-70 – $24.50

    The story of The Snowy Day begins more than one hundred years ago, when Ezra Jack Keats was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. The family were struggling Polish immigrants, and despite Keats’s obvious talent, his father worried that Ezra’s dream of being an artist was an unrealistic one. But Ezra was determined. By high school he was winning prizes and scholarships. Later, jobs followed with the WPA and Marvel comics. But it was many years before Keats’ greatest dream was realized and he had the opportunity to write and illustrate his own book. Poem for Peter tells the inspiring story of a boy who pursued a dream, and who, in turn, inspired generations of other dreamers. Grades K-3. *(AR Quiz No. 186502, BL 3.8 Pts: 0.5)

  • By: Jonathan Auxier

    T-N2178-10 – $87.00

    Working in separate worlds to stop the awakening Wyrm, Conor, Abeke, Meilin, and Rollan find support in a strange group of allies but will have to work quickly to locate an ancient trap that could bring about the end of the war. Grades 4-8. *(AR Quiz No. 184782, BL 5.6 Pts: 7.0)

  • By: E.K. Johnson

    T-N2177-90 – $127.50

    Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, and before she reappeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally, her story will begin to be told. Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance. Grades 4-8. *(AR Quiz No. 185738, BL 6.2 Pts: 11.0)

  • By: Jo Walton

    T-N2169-30 – $182.00

    The conclusion to The Just City and The Philosopher Kings. More than 65 years ago, Athena founded the Just City on an island, placing it centuries before the Trojan War, populating it with teachers and children from throughout human history, and committing it to building a society based on the principles of Plato’s Republic. Among the City’s children was Pytheas, secretly the god Apollo in human form.

  • By: Sherry Thomas

    T-N2178-30 – $178.00

    With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London. When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old–a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her. But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.