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APH News: December 2013

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

Exciting New APH Products Announced!

Read on to learn about these new products – now available!

Seeking Field Evaluators for Color-by-Texture Marking Mats

APH is seeking field evaluators for Color-by-Texture Marking Mats. Add a new dimension to coloring activities by allowing students with low vision and blindness to select from an assortment of marking mats that represent six discernible patterns—rough, bold bumpy, zigzag, wavy, small bumpy, and diagonal lines. Simply place one of the marking mats underneath a coloring page and rub with a waxed crayon to achieve an embossed texture; if desired, add multiple textures to a single page. Accompanying the six marking mats are 25 raised-line coloring pages and two sets of waxed crayons. The textured marking mats can be used in combination with adapted off-the-shelf coloring pages or for open-ended coloring activities.

Field evaluators will be asked to use the prototype with multiple students with visual impairments and blindness. Evaluators will then complete and return a product evaluation form at the end of the testing period. Samples of student-generated coloring pages will be requested as well. Field test sites will be selected based upon geographic location, number of available students, and type of instructional setting. Preference will be given to those who have not recently field tested an APH product. The number of prototypes is limited. Field testing will begin in February 2014 and extend through the end of April 2014. If you are interested in possibly serving as a field evaluator, please provide the following information: your name, title, school/agency, type of setting (e.g., residential, itinerant), number of available students (with ages, grade levels, and primary reading media indicated), and your complete contact information (phone number, mailing address, and email address). Send this information to Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader, email hidden; JavaScript is required, by January 5, 2014. You may also contact Karen at 502-899-2322 or 800-223-1839, ext. 322. Thank you!

Oldies but Goodies: The "Established" APH Product Series

The abacus is a calculating tool that has been used for centuries. The traditionally designed abacus has beads or counters that move back-and-forth on columns with virtually no resistance. This allows for the device to be used for calculating with great speed, but does not lend itself well towards use by a person who is blind or visually impaired. The Cranmer Abacus is a 13-rod abacus which has been adapted specifically for users who are blind so that it may be ready tactually. It has a red felt backing which prevents the beads from slipping. The frame of this abacus measures 6 1/8 x 3 1/4 inches and the bead diameter is 3/8 inch.

Several manuals and guidebooks are available to assist students in learning how to use this valuable tool. Some of these booklets, including The Abacus Made Easy and Using the Cranmer Abacus for the Blind are available as a free-of-charge print or braille file downloads from our downloadable manuals page at

The Cranmer Abacus was the first abacus that APH developed, but over the years, based on suggestions from the field, we have developed several other adaptations of this tool to address specific needs. APH currently also provides the Beginner’s Abacus with only two rods of 9 beads, the Expanded Beginner’s Abacus Kit with three rods of 9 beads, and the Large Abacus, which is an enlarged version of the Cranmer Abacus designed for younger students and those without fine motor skills. And, while we certainly love our "oldies but goodies," there is now the new EZeeCOUNT Abacus which consists of a 10 x 10 grid of flat beads that can be flipped and distinguished by color or texture.

If you have any suggestions for other products you would like to see highlighted in this monthly feature, please send your comments to Monica Turner at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

The 155-Year APH Technological Journey!

The APH press floor in 1943 featured three very different presses. Left to right is a Kelly “B” Automatic Cylinder Press, a Bobst Rotary Press, and a Universal/Colt’s Armory type platen press. To learn more about these and other presses used at APH, go to

New pages on the APH Museum website explore our 155-year technological journey, highlighting the history of every press and photocopier used in Louisville to bring accessible books to the nation. When APH was chartered in the winter of 1858, it had no equipment and no manufacturing space, and no one associated with the young enterprise had any experience embossing tactile books. The most critical decision made by the first board and founding superintendent, Bryce Patton, was to hire Boston press designer Stephen P. Ruggles to create the company’s first printing press.

Ruggles had worked with Samuel Gridley Howe on the first press at the Perkins School, and later built a press used at the Overbrook School in Philadelphia. When his press was finally set up, in the Printing House’s first shop in the basement of the Kentucky Institution for the Education of the Blind in 1865, its initial press run was 400 copies of a children’s book. Over the years, APH has adapted and invented dozens of different presses to emboss and print millions of pages annually. You can find the new web pages here:

2014 Hall of Fame Nominations Now Being Accepted

Who should be the next inductees into the Hall of Fame for the Blindness Field?

If you are interested in learning more about the easy (electronic) process for submitting a nominee to join the 52 inductees, please visit:

The nomination process will close Friday, March 28, 2014.

New at the Hall of Fame Website

  • Wonderful new Dean Tuttle Interview (by Mike Bina) with new biography page photos.
  • Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Information at “About Us.”
  • New engraved stones on the Gallery of All Stones!
  • Bas Relief plaque photos on the biography pages of Mrs. Foxx and Dr. Jones.

Please Visit our 145th Annual Meeting Photo Album

Hall of Fame Inductees Martha Louise Foxx and Laurence C. Jones are honored by Hall of Fame Curator Bob Brasher, APH, Laurence Jones III, BJ LeJeune, Napoleon Campbell, former student of Ms. Foxx at the Piney Woods School, and Rosie Pridgen.

Around the House:

APH Board Member Receives Prestigious Recognition

ATLANTA, Nov. 14, 2013 – Phoebe Wood is the 2013 recipient of OnBoard’s Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Award. Ms. Wood serves on many boards including Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc., the University of Louisville, the Gheens Foundation and the American Printing House for the Blind.

The award recognizes women who have made outstanding corporate contributions at the board level, in their communities, and in helping other women achieve their full potential in the business world. OnBoard is the leading authority of Georgia public companies and a catalyst to increase female directors on all for-profit company boards.

“Phoebe’s commitment and dedication to the companies she advises are matched only by the impact she has on them,” said John Brock, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises.

Wood is currently a principal at CompaniesWood, a consulting firm specializing in early stage investments. She served as Vice Chairman, Chief Financial Officer and in other capacities at Brown-Forman Corporation from 2001 until her retirement in 2008.

APH on the Road

Nebraska Fall Foliage Conference Welcomes APH

Field Services Representative Kerry Isham delivered a day-long presentation to a very enthusiastic group of about 50 professionals in the field of visual impairment and blindness on Thursday, October 24th, at the Nebraska Fall Foliage Conference in Nebraska City. The presentation began with an overview of APH and our mission and products, then focused on the core curriculum and expanded core curriculum, segueing into discussions about literacy and daily living. The day ended with group exercises and a rousing game of “Are You Smarter than a Field Services Representative?” Everyone’s eager participation helped make this day-long event interesting, useful and enjoyable.

A Special Time in Dublin—Ohio AER Conference

Karen Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader, and Tom Poppe, Pattern/Model Maker, exhibited APH products at the AERO 2013 Division Day Conference in Dublin, Ohio, on November 1, 2013. Thanks to Brett Page, AERO Past-President and 2013 Conference Chair, for inviting us to showcase new products at this exciting event. Products of particular interest were Tactile Town, modernized Tactile Treasures, TREKS, and the EZeeCOUNT Abacus. The theme of the conference was “Innovate, Coordinate, Collaborate, and Rejuvenate.”

Making It Work @ MACRT/ASERT

Approximately 60 professionals in the field of rehabilitation came together in Savannah, GA, for the annual joint conference of the Mid-America Conference of Rehabilitation Teachers and Association of South Eastern Rehabilitation Teachers (MACRT/ASERT). The event, held November 11–13, highlighted topics such as teaching home repair, protecting clients and practitioners from identity theft, and information for agencies serving adults and the APH Federal Quota Program. Many attendees were surprised to learn that their clients are, indeed, eligible to receive Federal Quota funds.

Janie Blome, Director of Field Services, made the presentation to the group, and also exhibited a number of APH products. Participants were pleased to see all of the products exhibited, and were especially interested in the DRAFTSMAN Tactile Drawing Board, the VisioBook, and the revised Transition Tote System. The biggest hit of the conference, however, had to be the Touch ‘em All Baseball game. It scored a home run with the crowd!

Beach (SC AER) + APH = Successful Math Conference!

Adrienne Palmer stops by the APH table during SC AER.

Kerry Isham, Field Services Representative gave two presentations and also exhibited products at the 2013 South Carolina AER Conference held in Myrtle Beach, from November 14-15. In keeping with the conference theme of mathematics for individuals with blindness and visual impairments, Kerry’s presentations were on math products from APH and the new Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator. Many of the participants also stopped by the APH table to check out products such as The Best for a Nest, MathBuilders – Unit 5, the EZeeCOUNT Abacus, the Number Line Device, the Venn Diagram Template Kit, and Geometro. APH was excited to be a part of this very successful conference at which approximately 75 professionals were in attendance.

STEM in California

The 2013 Annual Meeting focus for the APH trustees was very timely! Just a month later, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) had a huge push in California where 2,600 educators convened November 18-19 to learn how to motivate students to take courses in fields where new jobs are being created. The APH products in STEM and assistive technology, demonstrated by Ex Officio Trustee Jonn Paris-Salb, will provide the base for these students who must be computer literate, Internet savvy, social media wise, and aware of applications (apps). Jonn writes, “The APH booth was the only one to address accessibility. I have not talked so much since my days as a classroom teacher on the first day of school. I gave out a lot of catalogs and talked to many people about products and advocacy for people with disabilities-especially with vision impairment. Thank you again for allowing me to represent APH in this arena.” It is APH who thanks Jonn for making this positive and helpful effort on behalf of students!

From the Field:

NFB Partners with Odin Mobile

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is excited to announce a partnership with Odin Mobile, a wireless provider that is 100 percent dedicated to providing cellular service to people who are blind and visually impaired. This partnership will provide additional choice to fulfill mobile communications needs.

Odin Mobile offers a variety of cellular phones, including basic mobile phones with built-in accessibility features that allow individuals who are blind to text message, access contacts, and perform other basic tasks, as well as smart phones, such as the Nexus 4 from Google, that offer the latest in Android accessibility. With monthly airtime rates as low as $10 per month, Odin Mobile has plans to fit various budgets and needs. So the next time you need to buy a new cell phone, or subscribe to a new service provider, be sure to check out Odin Mobile at, or call them at 855-217-9459.

Winter White Fun—Plan now for cold weather sports!


Access Leisure: Camp C.O.O.L.

Sacramento, CA
Contact: Jenny Yarrow
Phone: (916) 808-6017
E-mail: email hidden; JavaScript is required
Camp Dates: February 8–9, 2014


USABA and Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center – Adaptive Ski Camp for Blind Athletes
Breckenridge, CO
Contact: Richard Cardillo
E-mail: email hidden; JavaScript is required
Phone: (719) 630-0422
Camp Dates: March 6–8, 2014


New England Blind & Visually Impaired Ski Festival Week
Host: Maine Adaptive Sports & Recreation, Newry, ME
Contact: Lizz Peacock
Phone: 207-824-2440 ext. 100 TTY/Voice
E-mail: email hidden; JavaScript is required
Dates: February 9–13, 2014


Winter Camp – Au Sable, Blind Camp
Grayling, MI
Contact: Peggy Hansen
Phone: (402) 488-0981
Camp Dates: February 2–7, 2014


USABA Winter Ski Festival
Host: Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports, Killington, VT
E-mail: email hidden; JavaScript is required
Phone: 802-353-7584
Festival Dates: February 7–9, 2014

Treasures From the APH Libraries

The APH Barr Library supports research initiatives at APH, while the Migel Library 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

From the Migel Library: "Anecdotes of a Blind Person." Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. 24 Feb. 1838: 71-72.

Published in 1838, “Anecdotes of a Blind Person” is one of the oldest accounts of a person who is blind that is held in the Migel Library. Although the names of the subject and author are not given, which itself seems to illustrate the era’s attitude towards blindness, the brief biography is still an engaging one. With no educational opportunities offered to him, the subject worked on his family farm, opened a tavern, and sold and broke horses to support his wife and children. He eventually came to the conclusion that he was most successful at making a living through his hobby of playing the fiddle, and navigated the countryside alone to play in villages all over the area. The article has been digitized for the Internet Archive at

From the Barr Library: Lewin, Roger. "Probing the Mysteries of Blindsight." New York Magazine. 5 June 1978: 75-81.

This article depicts the story of Helen, a rhesus monkey who participated in a study intended to expand our knowledge about how a particular kind of brain damage impacts one’s capacity to see. In 1966, researcher Larry Weiskrantz cut the connections to Helen’s striate cortex, a primary brain center dealing with vision. Although Helen was blind after surgery, she developed blindsight, a term Weiskranz used to describe an unconscious phenomenon that can be developed into more conscious faculty among those with visual-field defects resulting from a stroke, brain tumor, or trauma to the back of the brain. One of the limitations of Helen’s “secret vision” is that she still could not create a mental map that would allow her to remember what things were or identify them by their location. Nevertheless, this experiment led to the important discovery that blindsight among humans, caused by the loss of focal vision, can be trained in useful ways.

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: email hidden; JavaScript is required, 800-223-1839, ext. 705

Don’t Miss the Newest Feature on the APH PE Website: Partners PE

Learn how one school in Texas has everyone involved in Physical Education:

The Apollo Brailler from Japan!

The Apollo Mark II was introduced in 1979 by Nimoko (the Blind Tool Development Center of Japan).

Our museum is looking for some help with the history of Japanese braillewriters. The APH Museum is known for its collection of international braillewriters. Of course, the first successful mechanical braillewriter was invented by Frank Hall and Gus Seiber in Chicago in 1892. But many other designs have come out of Europe and Asia over the years. In a recent visit to the Perkins School in Boston, APH Museum Director Mike Hudson stumbled across several interesting machines that we do not have in our collection, but one in particular caught his eye. A plain metal case protected a machine labeled in English and Japanese, the Apollo Brailler. Upon returning to Louisville, Mike started researching the Apollo and other Japanese braillewriters, trolling various online auction sites, and learning how to use Google Translate. With a lot of help, including generous pointers from Hiromi Kishi at the Kyoto Prefectural School for the Blind, we are starting to collect more of the Japanese writers and learn their history. If you know anything about the Light Brailler, the Apollo Mark II, the Apollo Super, or the Terataipu Brailler, let Mike know at email hidden; JavaScript is required or call 502-899-2365.

Social Media Spotlight


Local Fox affiliate WDRB came to APH last week. They explored our latest developments in technology for people who are blind. Here’s the link to the story:

Wave3 Louisville also visited us recently. Their report showcases APH’s national reach and importance for people who are blind and visually impaired. Link:

APH Hosts Great Groups

APH welcomes the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) Board Meeting to our facility! These experts from across the United States pursue the mission of "assuring literacy for tactile readers through the standardization of braille and/or tactile graphics." Nice to have so many friends visit us in Louisville!

APH welcomes our enthusiastic new Ex Officio Trustees to Louisville for an intensive 2 1/2 day training. This geographically diverse group includes: Front row: William Tubilleja (NC), Gregory Polman (IL), Joyce Burwell (MD), Luz Robles Bermudez (PR). Back row: Jill Singer (VI), Lori Foley (ND), Douglas Anzlovar (IL), Kim Esco-Collins (MS), Mary T. Lane (NH).

Students from the University of Kentucky’s Visual Impairment personnel prep program recently visited APH. They will return in the spring for a full-day meeting in which they will learn even more about the products and services we offer. Thanks for visiting! Go ‘Cats!

"Like" APH at Our Facebook Page!

We invite you to visit our Facebook page and "Like" us! You can find APH at these social media sites: Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and at our blog, Fred’s Head from APH.

APH Travel Calendar

on the road with APH


December 4-8, 2013
Getting In Touch With Literacy Conference 2013

December 5-6, 2013
NIP Event: Cortical Visual Impairment;
Grand Forks, ND

December 11-14, 2013
AER International: All-Orientation & Mobility Conference 2013;
New Orleans, LA

December 13, 2013
VRATE-17th Annual Vision Rehabilitation & Assistive Technology Expo;
Phoenix, AZ


January 29-February 1, 2014
ATIA 2014;
Orlando, FL


February 13-14, 2014
Illinois AER 2014;
Schaumburg, IL


March 12-14, 2014
KAER 2014 State Conference;
Lexington, KY

March 17-22, 2014
CSUN 2014;
San Diego, CA


April 3-6, 2014
CTEBVI 2014 (California Transcribers & Educators for the Blind & Visually Impaired;
Los Angeles, CA

April 3-5, 2014
AOTA 2014;
Baltimore, MD

April 9-12, 2014
CEC 2014 Annual Convention & Expo;
Philadelphia, PA

APH Fall Harvest Sale

Load up a world of savings on selected APH products with APH’s Fall Harvest Sale 2013, October 1—December 31. As always, first come, first served.

NEW! ToADally Awesome: Your ToAD Questions Answered DVD

1-30023-DVD — $10.00

In this entertaining and informative Homegrown Series DVD, APH Low Vision Project Leader Elaine Kitchel discusses APH’s ToAD Kit: Tools for Assessment and Development of Visual Skills.

The one-and-only APH ToAD Kit mascot, Squire ToAD, invites viewers to learn about APH’s versatile ToAD Kit. Squire is especially excited because APH Low Vision Project Leader Elaine Kitchel answers your questions!

  • What is ToAD?
  • What are the parts of ToAD?
  • Why use ToAD?
  • How do I use the components?
  • How should I prepare my child/student to use ToAD?
  • How does the vision team use ToAD?

So, pull up a comfy chair in Squire ToAD’s living room, and discover how the tools, toys, and puzzles in the ToAD Kit can play an essential part in your student’s vision curriculum, activities, and development. Bonus Homegrown musical number, starring Squire ToAD, included!

Runs approximately 16 minutes.

Closed Captioned and Subtitled

NEW! Games of Squares

1-08430-01 — $199.00

Replacement Item

Tactile Dice Set, 0.875 Inches: 61-137-027 — $5.00

Games of Squares accommodates a variety of common board games, as well as some original games. The 8 x 8 inch grid board and accompanying game pieces incorporate color contrast and distinctive textures and shapes that can be easily discriminated by children, students, and adults with visual impairments and blindness. Choose to play: Tic-Tac-Toe, Trading Places, Square It, Zigzag, Checkers, Lucky Roll, and Corner Chase.

Variations to the suggested games, as well as the creation of additional games by the teacher, parent, or student, are encouraged. Starter ideas and possible adaptations are provided in the Game Instruction booklet.

Games of Squares Includes

  • 8 x 8 inch Grid Board
  • X/O Game Tokens
  • Black U-channels
  • Red Masking Overlays
  • "Crown" O foam pieces
  • "Crown" X foam pieces
  • Tactile Dice
  • Storage/Sorting Trays
  • Game/Storage Box with handle
  • Game Instructions (flip-over style large print/braille)

Recommended ages: 5 years and up.

Note: One-time application of hook/loop material to the game grid, game tokens, and masking overlays is required of the customer.

WARNING: Choking Hazard–Small Parts. Not intended for children ages 5 and under without adult supervision.

APH Braille Book Corner

APH offers a number of recreational books in braille (Quota funds can be used). 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.

Note: all books are produced upon receipt of orders, therefore, please allow several weeks for delivery.

A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time
by Mary Pope Osborne: T-N1919-50 — $21.50
Jack and Annie travel back to Victorian London when Merlin asks them to use their magic to inspire Charles Dickens to write A Christmas Carol. Grades 2-4. *(AR Quiz No. 139440, BL 3.6 Pts 2.0)

By Laura Marsh: T-N1937-80 — $10.00
Facts about elephants in Mali, West Africa, near the southern Sahara desert. Describes their enormous appetites, communication, babies, and reasons for migration. Discusses efforts to protect elephants from poachers and an environment that is too dry. Grades 2-4. *(AR Quiz No. 140136, BL 4.4 Pts 0.5)

Blind Vision: The Neuroscience of Visual Impairment
by: Zaira Cattaneo and Tomaso Vecchi T-N1936-90 — $125.00
Italian researchers examine the effects of blindness on the development and functioning of the human cognitive system. They demonstrate the ways other senses evolve to help compensate for the absence of sight.

Here to Stay, A Harrigan Family Novel
by Catherine Anderson: T-N1918-80 — $111.00
Crystal Falls, Oregon. When Mandy learns rancher Zach is training a miniature horse as a service animal, she wants it for her blind brother. Zach falls for Mandy — but her abusive childhood makes her avoid relationships. Some adult content.

His Lordship’s Chaperone
by Shirley Marks: T-N1920-30 — $59.50
Robert Moreland, the marquess of Haverton, stumbles upon a brilliant idea—hire his own female chaperone to prevent being trapped into marriage by one of London’s debutantes. Robert’s mother, the duchess of Waverly, hires nanny Catherine Hayward for the job. But the duchess has an ulterior motive.

*Accelerated Reader quiz number, book level, and point value. For more information on the Accelerated Reader program, see the January 2006 APH News or

APH News Credits

Dr. Tuck Tinsley

Malcolm Turner, APH Website Coordinator

Thanks to the following APH staff:

  • Cindy Amback, Support Specialist, Field Services
  • Janie Blome, Director, Field Services
  • Scott Blome, Director, Communications
  • Kerry Isham, Field Services Representative
  • Justin Gardner, Special Collections Librarian, Resource Services
  • Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager, Research
  • Micheal Hudson, Director, APH Museum
  • Stephanie Lancaster, Graphic Designer, Communications
  • Drew Lueken, Support Specialist, Communications
  • Artina Paris-Jones, Assistant, Field Services
  • Tristan Pierce, Multiple Disabilities Project Leader, Research
  • Karen Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader, Research
  • Monica Turner, Field Services Representative

Bob Brasher, Vice President, Advisory Services and Research

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Read our blog: Fred’s Head from APH.

For additional recent APH News, click the following:

November Issue –
October Issue –
September Issue –

Archive of all previous issues –

The APH News is a monthly publication from the American Printing House for the Blind:
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Louisville, KY 40206

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