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From History to New Horizons

The 150th Annual Meeting Celebrates 160 Years of APH!

Each year for 150 years, Ex Officio Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind have journeyed to Louisville, Kentucky for the APH Annual Meeting. At first by steam locomotive, steamboat, and buggy, later by car and airplane, Trustees have traveled far to share their knowledge and experience with APH and with each other. We also encourage participation by our many special guests who include teachers, parents, consumers, university program personnel, and other important service providers.

“From History to New Horizons” was the theme of this very special 150th Annual Meeting, which coincided with the 160th anniversary of APH’s founding. Over 400 attendees celebrated our past and looked forward to an exciting future!


Highlights of APH Annual Meeting 2018
Here are only a few of the many highlights of our 150th meeting:

Philippe Claudet was the recipient of the Virgil Zickel Award for his work in creating tactile books for children who are visually impaired. Claudet collaborated with professionals, artists, and researchers to build the organization Les Doigts Qui Revent (LDQR). He organized Typhlo & Tactus, the first international competition for the creation of tactile books. APH has partnered with LDQR to distribute a number of tactile book titles, such as Four Little Corners. Pictured here is Claudet (second from left) posing with Kate Herndon, APH’s Director of Educational Product Research, and with members of Virgil Zickel’s family.


Essay Contest Winners

As part of APH’s 160th Anniversary, we invited our customers and consumers to share the impact that APH products have had on their lives. We received 54 essays from across the United States and Canada, each falling into one of five categories. Some winners were able to attend the Annual Meeting.

Merry-Noel Chamberlain was the winner of the adult professional category. The title of her essay was “The Hundreds Boards and Manipulatives: An Instructor’s Goldmine.” Merry-Noel is a teacher for Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and an Orientation & Mobility (O&M) Instructor in Nebraska. The photo features Merry with her daughter on the right.


Allie Futty was the winner of our adult consumer category. The title of her essay was, “Keys to the World.” Allie Futty is a TVI and O&M Instructor in the state of Vermont. She was also an APH Scholar in 2017. The photo features Allie, with her dad on the right.


During a special Friday luncheon two new members were inducted into the Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field. Frank Hall, 1841-1911, was famous for many accomplishments, including the Hall Braillewriter. Pictured here are Susan Spungin with her Hall inductee plaque, Carl Augusto, who accepted the plaque for Frank Hall, and Jane Erin, presenter of the Hall induction ceremony.

Hall inductee Susan Spungin gave an inspirational acceptance speech. She is shown here holding her bas relief plaque while surrounded by her family members.


Seven-year-old Clara Scelsi gives APH President Craig Meador a big hug in the APH InSights Art exhibit during the Meet the Artist Event. Miss Scelsi’s artwork titled, “Strike Up the Band,” won First Place in the First, Second, and Third Grade category. A record 27 artists attended the popular Awards Banquet this year. The APH InSights Art Exhibition displays 90 artworks by artists who are blind, selected from a competition of over 350 entries.


The days were action-packed as attendees had numerous opportunities to learn about new APH products, hear about ongoing research and field testing, have input into product design, and hear updates from blindness organizations. Here Kerry Isham, APH, and EOTs Marty McKenzie and Paul Olson facilitate an EOT training session.


Annual Meeting 2019

There were far more activities at Annual Meeting than we can list here, so make plans to experience it yourself at the 151st Annual Meeting on October 10–12, 2019, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Louisville!

Product Updates

  • BrailleBuzz is an instructional toy for young braille learners ages two to five. It encourages practice with braille characters and phonics, similar to a variety of audio-based toys designed for children who are sighted.

    BrailleBuzz resembles a bumblebee, and provides audio feedback through three modes of play. A friendly human voice and fun sounds are paired with a Perkins-style braille keyboard, designed with little hands in mind.

    Features include

    • Three modes of play including Phonics mode, Keyboard mode, and Letters mode
    • Develops finger dexterity and braille keyboarding
    • Develops emergent phonics and listening skills
    • The given letter is heard when the correct combination of dot/keys are pressed
    • The honeycomb buttons, with braille, speak the letters when pushed.
  • PermaBraille sheets provide a durable alternative to standard braille paper for a variety of personal, classroom, and work-related tasks. The 8.5 x 11-in. sheets can be used in combination with cold-forming methods to braille or tool tactile elements via a braille-writer, slate and stylus, or line-drawing tools.

    This new and improved version of PermaBraille is thinner and easier to tool. Consider using these sheets to prepare long-lasting tactile displays, recipe cards, braille activities/worksheets, braille storybook pages, and much more. PermaBraille can also be used in combination with other APH tools such as the Tactile Graphic Line Slate.

  • 8.5”x11” braille paper packaged 400 sheets per pack. This product replaces 1-04151-00, which was the same size paper packaged with 200 sheets per pack.

  • Middle and High School Teachers have a new product to supplement their lessons in Earth Science. This product, released in August of this year, includes:

    • 40 full-color tactile graphics on durable vacuum-formed plastic
    • Teacher’s Guide in large print (Downloadable in HTML and BRF versions from the APH Website)
    • Sturdy three-ring storage binder

    This collection of vacuum-formed, full-color raised-line tactile graphics depict processes, concepts, and structures commonly presented in Earth Science courses. This set of tactile graphics serves as a reference volume intended to supplement pictures and diagrams in a student’s classroom textbook. All graphics are labeled in print and braille (UEB), and teachers can add to or change the labels with self-adhesive braille label material. The large print Teacher’s Guide provides instructional hints for each tactile image designed to augment Earth Science lessons.

Survey Opportunities

  • APH partnered with HumanWare to release a software update on the MATT Connect. It now offers three interfaces (Basic, Standard, Advanced) that make the device more user-friendly for all ages and technology skill levels. Please help APH improve its products to better serve you and your students by providing us with your comments on the new software release for the MATT Connect. Fill out a short survey by clicking the button below.

    Coming soon, the MATT Connect will have a new design feature! The clip located on the front of the stand that releases the tablet will now have the option of being fixed in place. The updated design will ensure that the tablet cannot be removed from the stand without the use of an included screwdriver. The packaging will include all of the tools necessary to fix or remove the tablet as desired.

  • This product has been available for a few years. If you have used this product with students with visual impairments and blindness, we would love to hear from you to find out how this product is meeting your needs, and if you have any additional ideas for tactile/print posters. Please consider taking this Product Feedback Survey.

  • When accessing the web, are you a synthetic speech user, screen magnification user, or user of other accessible technologies? APH would like your feedback on the accessibility of our websites! If you have thoughts about the accessibility of, please email your comments to We appreciate your time!


  • Load up a world of savings on selected APH products with APH’s Fall Harvest Sale 2018, October 1—December 31. As always, first come, first served.

  • At this October’s APH Annual Meeting of Ex Officio Trustees and Special Guests, we were proud to bestow our highest honor on Dr. Michael J. Bina.

    In September 2018, Bina retired from The Maryland School for the Blind after serving as the school’s President since 2008. He began his 52-year career in the field of blindness and visual impairment in 1966, teaching swimming to students at the South Dakota School for the Visually Impaired while earning his bachelor’s degree at Northern State University. Bina earned a Master’s degree in Special Education in 1972 from California State University – Los Angeles.

    Bina taught Orientation and Mobility and coached swimming, track and field, and cross country at the Wisconsin School for the Visually Impaired before earning a doctorate from the University of Northern Colorado. He served in leadership positions at the Texas, Indiana, Hadley, and Perkins schools for students who are blind.

    Bina has received many honors for his service to the field, including the Lions Clubs International President Award; the VisionService Alliance Excellence in Leadership Award; the COSB William H. English Leadership Award; the AER Ambrose Shotwell Award; the AER C. Warren Bledsoe Publication Award; and the AFB Migel Medal.

    Bina served APH as an Ex Officio Trustee for 30 years and has been a member of both Ex Officio Advisory Committees and a variety of EOT task forces. He is an avid supporter of APH on the federal legislative level, often personally testifying before legislative committees or facilitating opportunities for his students to share their stories with legislators. APH was pleased to honor Dr. Bina with the Wings of Freedom award for his outstanding leadership in the field of education and rehabilitation of persons who are blind and visually impaired.

    About APH’s Wings of Freedom Award
    The Wings of Freedom Award is the highest honor presented by the American Printing House for the Blind. The award is not annual but is given periodically, only as deserved. The Wings Award was established to recognize and honor individuals who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in the areas of education or rehabilitation of people who are blind and visually impaired.

  • APH hosted the 18th annual National Prison Braille Forum at the Hyatt Regency Downtown Louisville on October 3, in conjunction with the 160th APH Annual Meeting. Seventy-two (72) vision and corrections professionals, representing 23 states, spent the day discussing topics, such as how to start a prison braille program; reentry challenges for transcribers who learned braille while incarcerated; and building a braille production business as an independent transcriber.

    Allen Mayes, a 2018 graduate of APH’s Braille Transcriber Apprentice Program, gave heartfelt testimony on his life journey thus far and the impact that learning braille and becoming a highly skilled transcriber has had on him. Faced with a childhood of abuse and neglect, Allen turned to alcohol and drugs to numb his pain. As a result, he ultimately spent 7 years in prison, where he was able to turn his life around and become an honest, honorable man, eager to give back to society.

    Allen joined a braille production facility in a North Carolina prison in 2014 and spent his last 4 years of incarceration transcribing print materials into braille for people who are blind, and discovering his innate intelligence, drive, and good-heartedness. In recognition of the incredible hurdles he overcame in his life to become the man he is today, and a successful transcriber at APH, Forum participants gave Allen a much-deserved standing ovation.

    Nancy Lacewell was honored this year for her work establishing the National Prison Braille Network in 2001, along with Gary Mudd and Becky Snider, and building it during its first 17 years. Nancy and Gary started a prison braille program, KCI Braille Services, at the Kentucky Correctional Institution for Women in 2000, and Nancy managed this program for its first 7 years. Upon starting this program, she sought advice and help from across the country to address the unique challenges presented by operating a braille production business behind prison walls. She discovered that many successful prison braille programs in the US pre-existed KCI Braille Services and that the professionals managing these programs were eager to share their expertise with others. For her dedicated service, Nancy was presented with a Dale Tiffany bowl, coral roses, and many well wishes from her colleagues.

    During the Forum this year, participants celebrated many milestones and accomplishments of prison braille programs across the country and identified significant issues that the National Prison Braille Network will collectively address in the coming months and years. Anyone interested in starting a prison braille program, or professionals currently working with a program who would like support from colleagues, are encouraged to join the Network, at no charge, by contacting Jayma Hawkins at

  • We taking registration now! Find a camp near you.

  • November

    November 8-10, 2018
    AVRT Conference
    Cleveland, OH

    November 14-16, 2018
    Columbus, OH

    November 14-16, 2018
    NE AER Conference
    Newport, RI


    December 8-11, 2018
    SOMA Conference (Southeast Orientation & Mobility Association
    Tampa, FL

Treasures from the APH Libraries

The APH Barr Library supports research initiatives at APH, while the Migel Collection is one of the largest collections of nonmedical information related to blindness in the world. Although the collections do not circulate, arrangements can be made to use the materials on-site. In addition, an ongoing digitization effort means APH will continue to make materials available through the online catalog at

  • Okonji, P. E. (2018). Use of computer assistive technologies by older people with sight impairment: Perceived state of access and considerations for adoption. British Journal of Visual Impairment, 36(2), 128–142.

    This case study explores the perceptions of sight-impaired older individuals (over 60) regarding the use of assistive technology designed for computer users with sight loss and whether it was meeting their needs, as well as their views on the opportunities for equality in access to computer technologies. Conducted at an Internet café specifically established for people with sight loss, the findings stress the importance of how sight-impaired older individuals perceived the information through telecommunications (ICT) revolution and advancements in technologies. The study found that stereotyping associated with the use of assistive technologies and concerns about access to mainstream technologies are important factors for understanding acceptance, willingness to adopt assistive technology, or continued use of assistive technologies by sight-impaired older people. Participants of the study reportedly felt advancements in technology were not fully considering their needs. Additionally, the study found that the pace of innovation and design created tension among participants fearful of being excluded in a rapidly advancing ICT world.

    The study highlights important points for technology developers to consider for inclusive designs or cost-effective assistive technologies that foster digital inclusion of sight-impaired older people. Participants of the study hoped for universal designs which they believe would promote access to mainstream technologies, reduce cost, ease fears of being left behind, and further their sense of inclusion.

  • The Print Disabled Collection at Internet Archive

    The Internet Archive is now providing additional access to digital books for people with print disabilities. Internet Archive is a free online library with over 18 million digital texts . The library also lends in-copyright texts through a controlled digital lending library called Open Library. Additionally, there are 1 million textbooks and research publications available only to print disabled users through their Print Disabled Collection .

    For access to these books, create a free Internet Archive account with your valid email address here . You can then verify your eligibility to access the print disabled collection by contacting Special Collections Librarian Justin Gardner at Additionally, some service organizations, such as Disability Student Services (DSS) offices, Bookshare , the National Library Service (NLS), and Ontario Universities Scholar’s ACE Portal have online services for people who have been qualified as eligible for disability access to books. Users who are already members of these organizations can directly register for disability access at Internet Archive .

    APH is working with the Internet Archive to digitize portions of the M.C. Migel Collection. 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: Jane Thayer

    T-N2217-00 – $20.50

    Puppy Petey wants a boy for Christmas more than anything else in the world. Just when it looks as if no boys are to be found, he stumbles upon a special home.
    Grades P-2. *(AR Quiz No. 7340, BL 3.0 Pts: 0.5)

  • By: Sara Leach

    T-N2216-10 – $25.50

    Seeing the world very differently because of her autism spectrum disorder, young Lauren struggles to navigate challenges at school and at home.

  • By: Ursula Vernon

    T-N2220-60 – $46.00

    When a beautiful, strange hamster, Whiskerella, ends up the mysterious belle of the ball, it’s up to Princess Harriet Hamsterbone to investigate and uncover who she really is. Sequel to Giant Trouble Grades 3-6. *(AR Quiz No. 193734, BL 4.4 Pts: 3.0)

  • By: Sue Grafton

    T-N2205-70 – $273.00

    In 1979, four boys filmed themselves sexually assaulting a fourteen-year-old classmate. The tape went missing, the suspected thief was murdered, and two boys were convicted. Now one of them receives a copy of the tape with a ransom demand. His parents hire private investigator, Kinsey Millhone.

  • By: Richard D. Brown

    T-N2207-10 – $316.00

    Historian Richard Brown discusses the struggle in America in the decades after independence between the ideal of equal rights against many entrenched social and political practices and beliefs. Examines the relevance of this conflict in issues of race, religious freedom, gender, social class, voting rights, and citizenship.

What Makes a City Accessible

The results are in!

By: Accessible Cities Committee

After receiving over 900 total responses to the What Makes a City Accessible survey, we now have a complete analysis. On October 25, Constance Engelstad and Bonnie O’Day from the American Foundation for the Blind visited APH to deliver the first draft of the report of their findings. They analyzed the data collected by the Accessible Cities Committee at national and local conferences in 2017. The Committee gathered this data through in-person interviews as well as an online survey, with the result being well over 900 responses total. The questions ranged from “What type of store would you consider to be the highest priority for independent navigation?” to “What makes a city fully accessible?” The analyzed responses will help to inform new and ongoing projects and partnerships that support APH’s vision of making Louisville the most accessible city in the United States. The final version of the report will be shared with you soon, so stay tuned!

Have You Met The Littlest Pumpkin In The Pumpkin Patch?

Halloween may be over, but you can still read the story of The Littlest Pumpkin with fun audio effects. We are happy to announce our collaboration with Novel Effect to bring the book to life. All you have to do is download the free Novel Effect App, select The Littlest Pumpkin, and start reading. Novel Effect’s game-changing app will listen to your voice and add sound effects, enhancing the storytelling experience. This is a great way to keep young learners engaged and to provide context clues for children with visual impairments that sighted children receive from illustrations.

This APH favorite with its tactile, low complexity illustrations and print/braille, is designed for children with visual impairments and CVI but it’s easily enjoyed by all the little pumpkins! The book now comes to life with the sounds of the pumpkin patch and the Littlest Pumpkin himself. Novel Effect is working hard to make its app fully accessible, but for now this is a great way for sighted family members or teachers to make story time super exciting!

Thank You!

APH extends a special thank you to the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation for their award of $21,029 to support Braille Tales. Through this support, over 250 children will receive a year’s worth of Braille Tales books.

Braille Tales is a partnership between APH and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL). Through this partnership, participating families receive six braille/print books each year until the child reaches his/her sixth birthday. Currently, 1,690 families are enrolled in the Braille Tales program.

Do you know a family who could benefit from Braille Tales? For more information, or to enroll, please fill in the form.