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Your monthly link to the latest information on the products, services, and training opportunities of the American Printing House for the Blind.

August 2005

National Family Conference
August 12 – 14, 2005

Families Connecting With Families

"WOW!" is the best way to describe what is happening with the National Family Conference. The field has been tremendous in its promotion of this event and those efforts are paying great dividends. We commend agencies and organizations for stepping up and providing support for families to attend. Families are being highlighted, as well they should be by all of us.

To date 223 adults have registered, 29 (young people 11 and older), 52 (young people 4 to 10 years of age), and 34 (young people 3 years of age and under). We presently have twenty exhibitors participating. Registrations and phone calls continue to come every day. We are going to have so much fun!

Presentations will be recorded and made available after the conference. Please come connect, share, and learn with us!

The Popular Book Port Webcast Presentations Continue in August

Join individuals from all over the world in an interactive series of webcast presentations that take place every Tuesday from 1:00 to 1:45 p.m. Eastern Time. This month Field Services Representative Maria Delgado will lead you through the following Book Port topics:

  • August 2
    All about digital audio and navigation within the files
  • August 9
    Options and settings
  • August 16
    Bookmarks, Find feature, Digital recorder and Help
  • August 23
    Using the BP as a note taker
  • August 30
    Sources for books and converting other formats

If you are interested in attending any of these presentations, please send an e-mail to Maria at email hidden; JavaScript is required

We have also archived past Louis Database presentations. In order to access the presentations go to the webcast main page at:
and click in the link that reads: "Go to the Webcast Archive"

APH Annual Meeting Registration Information Now Available

Learning Across a Lifetime Annual Meeting October 13-15, 2005

Registration packets for the 137th Annual Meeting of Ex Officio Trustees and Special Guests are now available. Print copies of the packets have been mailed to all Ex Officio Trustees and many special guests. If you would like to have a print packet and did not receive one, please contact Cindy Amback at 800/223-1839, ext. 257. Or, if you prefer, you may visit our web site ( to find all of the information you need to register for the event, which will be held October 13 – 15, 2005 at the beautiful new Downtown Marriott Hotel in Louisville.

Dr. Elton Moore, Director of the Rehabilitation and Research Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State University will be the key note speaker for the 2005 Annual Meeting. Dr. Moore served as lead editor for the American Foundation for the Blind’s (AFB’s) Foundations of Rehabilitation Counseling with Persons who are Blind or Visually Impaired and currently serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness.

Dr. Moore’s 30+ years in the field are sure to make his presentation an opportunity for all of us to continue learning across a lifetime!

Additionally, APH staff and product authors will provide exciting information on new and upcoming products. A banquet honoring APH InSights Artists and professionals in our field will be a highlight, as will our ceremony honoring the members of the induction class of 2005 for the Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field.

A tentative agenda for the meeting is now available on the web site, and will be updated as more information becomes available. If you have questions or need more information, please contact Janie Blome at 800/223-1839, ext. 367, or email email hidden; JavaScript is required

ESAC Offers Good Advice

Committee members Lou Tutt (Alternate), Karen Blakenship, Stuart Wittenstein (Chair), Jean Martin, and Joe Catavero.

The Educational Services Advisory Committee met to offer APH their good counsel and wisdom May 31 – June 3. The five member committee, led by Chair Stuart Wittenstein (CA), discussed APH responses to the recommendations of the 2004 committee and held dialogs and conversations with APH staff providing services as they relate to APH products. A final report from the committee will offer recommendations to improve our services in support of our products. Staff from ATIC, Resource Services, Field Services, Communications and Research all met with the group to provide input and insight for committee members.

Committee members include Karen Blankenship (IA), Joe Catavero (NY), Jean Martin (MN), and Carmen Suminski (SD). Carmen was unable to attend the spring meeting, so retired chair Lou Tutt (CO) served as an alternate for the meeting.

ESAC Names APH Scholars for 2005

During their spring meeting, members of the Educational Services Advisory Committee (ESAC) took on the difficult task of selecting the 2005 APH Scholars from a group of seventeen outstanding nominees. The five direct service providers chosen will attend the 2005 Annual Meeting on "scholarships" provided by APH. Each of the APH Scholars will be attending Annual Meeting for the first time. This year’s winners are: Trina Britcher (WV), Shelley Homsy (NY), Julie Kochevar (MN), Cris Kostol (OR), and Jan Zollinger (ID).

Thanks to all of the EOTs who nominated candidates for the scholarships. Please watch the APH News early next spring for an opportunity to nominate a worthy service provider in your area.

Cindy Amback Named Field Services Support Specialist

Cindy Amback

Cindy Amback, the Field Services Administrative Assistant for the last three years, has been chosen to fill the Field Services Support Specialist position for the department. Cindy will oversee the management of the Student Registration System (SRS) and other aspects of APH’s Federal Quota management, as well as provide resources and support for all Ex Officio Trustees.

Many of you know Cindy from her work on the SRS for the 2005 Federal Quota Census, and we hope you will join us in welcoming her to this new position. As Bob Brasher likes to say, we hope she’ll soon become the new "Trustees best friend" as well as others who work across the country in support of the Federal Quota.

Welcome, Cindy, and congratulations!

Let’s Go Shopping!

Don’t forget that the deadline for purchase of APH materials with Federal Quota funds is fast approaching. All monies must be spent or encumbered by the end of the business day on Friday, September 30. If mailed, orders must reach us in that day’s delivery. On that date we will accept faxed orders until noon (eastern) and on-line orders until 4:30 p.m. (eastern).

If you are looking for some great ideas for purchases, please check out the new products found in this edition of the APH News, or look online at for a full array of newer as well as tried and true products.

APH Welcomes Participants in the Overbrook School for the Blind – China Initiative

In July, Overbrook’s Larry Campbell headed an exciting delegation of professionals from universities and schools for the blind across China to APH for a day of sharing and learning. Primary topics of the stimulating discussion were adaptive technology and assessment. Accessible Tests Director Debbie Willis guided the events of the day.

Delegation members and APH Staff

Blind Boy of Alabama in the (Printing) House

Jimmy Carter of the Blind Boys of Alabama tries out a K-Sonar with a little help from APH's Terrie Terlau

Jimmy "the Jimster" Carter, a founding member of the Blind Boys of Alabama gospel music group, took some time while attending the NFB Conference in Louisville in July to take a look at the K-Sonar. Adult Life Project Leader Terrie Terlau is pictured demonstrating the K-Sonar, APH’s new electronic travel aid, to Jimmy at the Galt House. APH was also honored to have Mr. Carter on site for an extensive tour and visit with staff.

APH's Will Evans enjoys time with singer Jimmy Carter during his site visit

The Blind Boys Of Alabama were the recipients of the "Helen Keller Achievement Award" by the American Foundation for the Blind in New York City on May 5. Past recipients include Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder.

Samuel Gridley Howe Installed in Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame: Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field

A bas relief plaque depicting Samuel Gridley Howe now hangs proudly in the Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field.

Dr. Howe (1801-1876) was born in Boston and graduated from Harvard Medical School. In 1829 he opened the first school for the blind in the United States in his father’s home which eventually grew to larger quarters to become the Perkins Institution for the Blind by 1839.

Samuel Gridley Howe's Hall of Fame Plaque.

Howe believed that children who were blind could learn as much as other children. In 1837, he began an experiment in education that would bring him to the attention of the world. His success in educating Laura Bridgman, a girl who became deafblind from scarlet fever at the age of two, proved it was possible. His interest in promoting the education of children with disabilities went beyond the blind and deafblind. He also helped to initiate schools for children with multiple disabilities (1848) and deaf children (1867). Howe has been called the most significant and foresighted figure in the American history of special education.

To learn more about this fascinating legend, please visit his biography page on the Hall of Fame web site:

Checking Our Bearings:
The 2005 Satisfaction Survey of Users of APH Products In Education and Rehabilitation Settings

A pilot flying through heavy fog announced good news and bad news to his passengers and crew: "The bad news is that we have lost all our navigational equipment, and we really can’t tell where we are headed. The good news is that we are making great time."
–based on a joke in The Friars Club Encyclopedia of Jokes

Moving in the right direction AND making great time are core goals of APH’s development and delivery of specially-designed products for learners who are visually impaired. You, the consumers and users of our products, are our best navigational advisors. We depend on you to be our rudder and to direct our route. We use your input and experience to chart our course and check our bearings so that our products respond to the learning needs of visually impaired students and clients.

To assure that our directions and decisions are anchored in the needs and priorities of the users of our products, we actively gather the voices of our customers in a wide variety of ways, and we weave them into our decision-making. One method of "checking our bearings" is an annual performance survey designed to accomplish several key purposes:

  • To measure our performance in order to improve our programs, processes, and products
  • To determine field-based priorities for APH’s development of new products
  • To gather suggestions for revision of existing APH products
  • To harvest ideas for new products
  • To collect APH performance data for the US Department of Education.

Last year’s customer satisfaction survey indicated that we are on the right track, headed in the right direction, and doing so with improved speed. Your honest feedback about our performance and your input concerning the needs and priorities of visually impaired students continues to steer our work.

We encourage all of you who have used our products in an education or rehabilitation setting within the last year to take a few minutes to measure our performance and to give us your input through the 2005 Satisfaction Survey of Users of APH Products. This 12-question, on-line survey will be available on our website at from early August through September 12, 2005. Your feedback regarding product effectiveness and customer satisfaction will help us improve our products and services. All responses will remain confidential.

Will Rogers said, "Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there." We at APH are counting on your input to help us keep moving in the right direction.

For more information, contact Mary Nelle McLennan at email hidden; JavaScript is required

Every Child Is a Star at 2005 Braille ChallengeTM

Nearly sixty students with blindness and visual impairment arrived in Los Angeles to prove they could out-read, out-type and out-spell their peers at the 2005 Braille Challenge, held June 25th at the Braille Institute of America. The students were selected as finalists for the event out of a total 325 contestants from 40 states and 7 Canadian provinces.

The Braille Challenge is designed to motivate school-age braille readers to excel in this vital medium. Contestants are divided into 5 age groups and asked to complete a series of events demonstrating proficiency in braille reading and writing, comprehension, spelling, proofreading and use of tactile graphics.

Finalists were treated to Friday night at Universal’s Citywalk with a surprise appearance by Disney star Raven Symone. The TV and film stars Alexis Bledel and America Ferrara hosted the elegant awards ceremony at the Universal Sheraton Hotel on Saturday night. Each first place winner earned a PacMate donated by Freedom Scientific, and the top three received a U.S. Savings bond. Every finalist was awarded an engraved star-shaped trophy. As part of the festivities, Anna Swenson of Virginia was honored as the first Mangold Teacher of the Year, in honor of a longtime friend of Braille Institute and national leader in the field, Sally Mangold. Anna is a recognized author and innovator of curriculum for blind students.

The Braille Challenge is guided by a multidisciplinary group that includes: Sally Jameson, Vicki Liske and Nancy Niebrugge from Braille Institute; Frances Mary D’Andrea, American Foundation for the Blind; Cay Holbrook, Ph.D., University of British Columbia; Janie Blome, American Printing House for the Blind; and Karen S. Ross, Ph.D., Carroll Center for the Blind.

Call 800-BRAILLE for more information or visit

Focusing on Early Childhood

The Early Childhood Education Focus Group met at the American Printing House for the Blind June 27-29, 2005. Twelve professionals participated in this event, and the outcome was identifying enough products to keep Early Childhood Project Leader Burt Boyer busy for many years!

The focus group had three objectives: (1) Identify needs in early childhood education of blind and visually impaired children, (2) Identify products to address those needs, and, (3) Prioritize the identified products. The focus group worked hard to meet all three objectives.

When the group finished its work identifying products, there were approximately ninety-eight product-ideas listed on flip chart paper around the large meeting room on the 4th floor of APH. The group identified product-ideas for the following categories: Daily Living and Social Interaction; Sensory/Motor; Communication Modes and Literacy; Workshop Materials for Teachers; Assessment/Evaluation; Resources–Info; Assistive Technology; Tactile Graphics; Recreation/Leisure; and, Vision Screening.

The focus group was fun, hard-working, and very enthusiastic–and very successful!

From left to right: Melinda Langdon, Sandy Finkel, Burt Boyer, Linda Lyle, Mindy Ely, Patty Dilg, Dana Fox, Kiara Wilder, Lynne McFarland, Maria Jones, Suzette Wright, Melissa Atkins

More "On the Road" Education of Test Personnel

This year’s Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Conference on Large-Scale Assessment was held June 19-23 in San Antonio, Texas. APH and Harcourt Assessment, Inc. co-sponsored a pre-conference workshop on Making Tests Accessible for Students Who Are Visually Impaired. APH’s Accessible Tests staff presented information and issues relevant to making test items accessible in braille, large print, and audio formats with accompanying large print or tactile graphics. Harcourt staff presented the test publisher’s view and role in developing accessible test materials. Twenty-four participants representing test publishers, state assessment personnel, item developers, and test administrators participated in the daylong workshop. The effects of this workshop and other training efforts were evident during the conference. Visit for more information on CCSSO activities.

Hadley School for the Blind Offers FREE Course on Basics

Hadley is offering an innovative tuition-free online course called "Blindness Basics." This course is an excellent orientation tool for new employees or volunteers at your organization who may not have previous experience in the blindness field. It is available to those enrolled in Hadley’s Professional Education Program and sign-up is fast and easy. If you have any questions, please contact email hidden; JavaScript is required

New Mexico Provides Workshop with the Experts

The second annual ‘Workshop with the Experts’ was a success again this year! They came from Kentucky, Nebraska, Kansas, Nevada, New York, and of course New Mexico. These teachers of the visually impaired and special education teachers gathered at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces on July 11 and 12 to participate in the workshop led by Dr. Sheila Amato. Dr. Jackie Wood, Director of the Visually Impaired Program at NMSU, and Sheila, a TVI in New York state and adjunct professor in the vision training program at New Mexico State University, organized this two-day event that brought in speakers from across the country. APH was represented by Field Services Representative Sandi Baker, who shared information about APH services, including the Federal Quota System, and products for students who are blind and have multiple disabilities. Some featured products included ISAVE, the Light Box and related materials, the On the Way to Literacy series of books, Let’s See Vision Development Kits, and the Invisiboard.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) 2005 Summer Institute Starts New Tradition

Universal Design for Learning is not just ‘one more thing’, it is a framework for a different insight on learning and new applications of technology that provide access to the general curriculum for ALL students. (Linnie Lee, Exceptional Children Assistive Technology Consultant, Learning Strategies Branch, Kentucky Department of Education)

Barbara Henderson of the APH Accessible Tests Department participated in the first annual Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Summer Institute in Lexington, Kentucky. The June 9-10 meeting was sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and the University of Louisville’s OSEP-funded State Improvement Grant (SIGNAL) Program. Keynote speakers were David Rose, Ph.D., author of Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning (, and Lynne Anderson-Inman, Ph.D., of the University of Oregon’s College of Education.

Kentucky has long been a leader in integration of technology with the general curriculum. The UDL Summer Institute is a new tradition, celebrating the success of this statewide instructional initiative to gain access to the general curriculum for ALL students.

For more information:

APH Welcomes New Ex Officio Trustees

Gail L. McEntee, Greater Detroit Agency for the Blind & Visually Impaired (previously Upshaw Institute for the Blind).

Julie K. Smith, Alaska State Department of Education, replacing Nancy Nagarkar.

APH Travel Calendar

on the road with APH


August 1, 2005
Arkansas ESVI Product Training;
Sherwood, AR

August 2, 2005
APH Web Cast: All about digital audio and navigation within the files;
Louisville, KY

August 3, 2005
University Presentation of APH Products;
Portland, OR

August 3, 2005
Meeting w/NCS Pearson to discuss preparing Braille tests;
Iowa City, IA

August 9, 2005
APH Web Cast: Options and settings;
Louisville, KY

August 12-14, 2005
National Parent & Family Conference;
Louisville, KY

August 15-17, 2005
Blinded Veterans Association (BVA);
Miami, FL

August 16, 2005
APH Web Cast: Bookmarks, Find feature, Digital recorder and Help;
Louisville, KY

August 23-26, 2005
Early Intervention Training, Kansas Dept. of Health & Environment;
various sites in Kansas

August 23, 2005
APH Web Cast: Using the Book Port as a note taker;
Louisville, KY

August 30, 2005
APH Web Cast: Sources for books and converting other formats;
Louisville, KY


September 28-29, 2005
Interagency Disability Educational Awareness Showcase (IDEAS);
Washington DC

New multisensory Rib-It-Balls now available!

Four Rib-It-Balls (one in each available size)

Mini Rib-It-Ball
1-07512-00 — $14.00

Not available on Quota

This brightly-colored 7" plush ball provides opportunities for multisensory learning. Features include:

  • Pull tab/teething ring for learning cause and effect
  • A bell for spatial concepts and eye-hand coordination
  • Ribs make it easy to hold and keep it from rolling away
  • Vibrating motion for tactile feedback

Jacob’s Rib-It-Ball

Jacob’s 14" Rib-It-Ball: 1-07513-00 — $23.00
14" Replacement Bladder: 1-07513-01 — $3.00
Jacob’s 18" Rib-It-Ball: 1-07514-00 — $39.00
18" Replacement Bladder: 1-07514-01 — $6.00
Jacob’s 30" Rib-It-Ball (with foot pump): 1-07515-00 — $68.00
30" Replacement Bladder: 1-07515-01 — $12.00

These three balls ARE available on Federal Quota.

The commercially available inflatable Jacob’s Rib-It-Balls have been redesigned exclusively for APH. These balls:

  • Are less visually complex — They now have only two-color combinations, making them easier for visual orientation.
  • Have an auditory feature — The APH balls have ribs made of a unique fabric that makes noise, enhancing auditory awareness when the ball is touched.
  • Are easy to grab and throw – The handle-like ribs make these light-weight balls easy to grab and aid in the development of balance and motor skills.
  • Stay within reach — The ribs slow the rolling of the ball, keeping it within reach.
  • Are latex-free.
  • Are great for water play!

The Jacob’s balls are available in three inflatable sizes: 14" (red/yellow), 18" (blue/yellow), and 30" (black/yellow). Each ball contains a PVC inflatable bladder (replacements available). The 30" ball includes a foot pump.

ENVISION French & Spanish Street Signs
1-08555-00 — $30.00

The ENVISION training program helps teach students to use optical devices. There are two programs:

  • ENVISION I for Distance Devices – simulates standard street signs, addresses, international symbols, and familiar objects.
  • ENVISION II for Near Magnification Devices – simulates graphics and print used in textbooks and literature.

APH offers a new set of French and Spanish street signs that complement the English signs included in the ENVISION I program. Set includes 24 signs, 12 in each language. These are designed to make the learning of telescope skills easier for students who are not English-speaking, or who have only emergent English literacy skills.

Instant Tactile Drawings Made Easy!

DRAFTSMAN Tactile Drawing Board 1-08857-00 — $175.00
Additional Tactile Drawing Film (25 sheets): 1-08858-00 — $6.00

The DRAFTSMAN is a versatile tactile drawing board that is used in combination with special film and a stylus to create instant raised-line images. Intended for a wide audience, such as students, teachers, parents, and adults with blindness, the DRAFTSMAN can be used for a variety of applications:

  • Produce simple raised-line graphics (e.g., geometric shapes, maps, graphs)
  • Demonstrate math concepts and tasks (e.g., measuring line length, identifying figures)
  • Demonstrate science concepts (e.g., sound waves, galaxy types, chemical bonds)
  • Practice handwriting skills
  • Play games (e.g., tic-tac-toe)
  • Facilitate tracing activities
  • Create art drawings

The DRAFTSMAN has a plastic frame that encases a double-layered rubber surface. Simply clamp a sheet of included drawing film onto the board and use the included stylus, or an ordinary ballpoint pen, to quickly draw a raised image.

Kit includes:

  • DRAFTSMAN Tactile Drawing Board
  • Two-ended tactile drawing stylus
  • Tactile inch-ruler
  • 25 sheets of drawing film (also available separately)
  • Braille/print instructions booklet
  • Carrying case

APH News Credits

Dr. Tuck Tinsley

Malcolm Turner, APH Web Site Coordinator

Thanks to the following APH staff:

  • Cindy Amback, Field Services Support Specialist
  • Sandi Baker, Field Services Representative
  • Janie Blome, Director, Field Services
  • Scott Blome, Director, Communications
  • Burt Boyer, Early Childhood Project Leader, Research
  • Maria Delgado, Field Services Representative
  • Barbara Henderson, Tests and Assessments Project Leader
  • Mary Nelle McLennan, Executive Advisor to the President
  • Becki Moody, Communications Support Specialist
  • Artina Paris-Jones, Assistant, Field Services
  • Debbie Willis, Director, Accessible Tests

Bob Brasher, Vice President, Advisory Services and Research

For additional recent APH News, click the following:

July Issue –
June Issue –
May Issue –

Archive of all previous issues –

Please share this web link or any items that appear in this publication with anyone who might benefit.

Thank you.

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