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APH News

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

May 2010

Exciting New APH Products Announced!

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

Test Ready: Plus Mathematics Large Print Edition

Book Port Plus Webcast Presentations

This month, join us for 3 webcast presentations featuring APH’s new book reader and digital recorder, the Book Port Plus.

  • Friday, May 7th
    Getting Started: Using the Built-in Help Features to Get to Know your Book Port Plus.

  • Thursday, May 13th
    Text, Audio and DAISY: Finding Existing Titles and Sending New Content to your Book Port Plus.

  • Tuesday, May 18th
    Navigating the Various Files: Exploring Books, Newspapers, Magazines, Documents and Audio Files.

Webcasts in the month of June will cover features such as the digital recorder, Bookmarks and the Menus.

We expect all presentations to last less than an hour, and all webcasts will start at 12:00 PM ET (11:00 Central, 10:00 Mountain, 9:00 Pacific Time).

Space is limited. If you wish to participate in any of these presentations, please send an e-mail message to Maria Delgado at email hidden; JavaScript is required. Please include the name of the presentation(s) you wish to attend.

Switch Survey!

Do you have students who use switches to activate battery-operated toys and electronic devices? Take this short survey to help APH learn more about how and why students use switches. There is no need to log in. A username or password is not needed. Only click the submit button once. Thank you!

"Awesome EPAC" Wows APH!

The Educational Products Advisory Committee (EPAC) met at APH April 5 – 9, 2010 for their annual spring meeting. The Ex Officio Trustee advisory committee, led by Chair Nancy Niebrugge (CA), includes Yvonne Ali (MO), Stacy Grandt (WI), Marty McKenzie (SC), Linda Lyle (NM) and Todd Reeves (PA). Suzanne Dalton (FL) was unable to participate.

Committee members met with key APH staff to discuss products and processes through all stages of product development. Committee members had an opportunity to participate in small group dialogs with Educational Research Project Leaders to discuss their specific projects and took a "field trip" to get a first-hand look at the Technical Research department and the APH model shop.

This dynamic group worked very hard and not only presented APH with a final report of commendations and recommendations before their departures, they even finished early!

Thanks to all of the EPAC members for their time, their talents, their dedication, for their hard work, and for their laughter and wisdom!

Their report will soon appear on the website.

Marty McKenzie (SC), Linda Lyle (NM), Stacy Grandt (WI) , Yvonne Ali (MO), Todd Reeves (PA), and Nancy Niebrugge (CA)

UKAAF Chair Participates in BANA Spring Meeting

The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) held its semiannual meeting at the Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library in Watertown, Massachusetts, on April 9-11, 2010. Kim Charlson, BANA representative from the American Council of the Blind (ACB), hosted the meeting, which was preceded by an afternoon of strategic planning activity.

BANA was honored to have the participation of Pete Osborne, Chair of the United Kingdom Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF). Pete attended the entire BANA meeting, contributing significantly to the extensive deliberations and planning. The agenda for the meeting was packed with items for consideration and discussion. The Board reviewed and responded to substantial reports from its eight technical committees, five ad hoc committees, and seven board committees. Additional information resulting from this meeting will be posted on the BANA website and announced through press releases in the coming weeks.

BANA recently posted a new fact sheet, Size and Spacing of Braille, on its website at, This fact sheet is available as a web page and in electronic files suitable for downloading into print and braille. Size and Spacing of Braille includes standards for braille embossed on paper as well as standards for braille signage. It is provided to assist those seeking information about the technical aspects of the production of braille in either capacity.

For more information, visit

Imagining the Future with CTEBVI

"Imagine" was the theme for the 2010 annual conference for the California Transcribers and Educators of the Blind and Visually Impaired, held in Los Angeles April 23 – 25. APH was pleased to be among the vendors at the conference.

A steady stream of conference attendees kept APH staff busy viewing products like the Early Braille Trade Books, the All-In-One Board, the Bookport Plus, and many others. Several parents and students visited the exhibit hall on Saturday to check products from APH and others, as did the one and only Stevie Wonder.

Jane Thompson, Director of APH’s Accessible Textbook Department, presented on the APH Tactile Graphics Library, signing up new users on the spot!

A highlight of the conference came on Saturday evening when APH’s own Burt Boyer was honored as a "Distinguished Member" of CTEBVI. Congratulations, Burt!

Historic Discovery:
1951 SoundScriber Disk from Russ Williams to Warren Bledsoe Regarding "The Long Cane"

photograph of the mailer that contained Russ Williams' SoundScriber disc
photograph of a SoundScriber

In the days of email and handheld digital player/recorders such as APH’s new Bookport Plus, we think nothing of dashing off written and audio messages to colleagues around the world. Prior to the perfection of the cassette recorder in the 1960s, however, audio messaging involved the use of tricky machinery originally designed for office dictation. The original Dictaphone, for example, recorded on wax cylinders. In the AER Division IX Bledsoe O&M Archives in the APH Museum, an interesting brown envelope was discovered the other day. It held four blue, six-inch, flexible vinyl disks. Sent from Russ Williams, head of the Blindness Rehabilitation Center at Hines, Illinois, it was addressed to Warren Bledsoe at the Veterans Administration in Washington.

The disks were originally recorded on a SoundScriber, another office dictation machine introduced in the 1940s. We have several in the museum because they were used by folks with visual impairments to record and mail letters, but unfortunately these museum pieces are no longer functional. A few experiments, however, on the museum turntable, and presto, the scratchy, thready voice of Williams–a long cane pioneer who lost his sight at Normandy–began to roll from the speakers. Turns out a SoundScriber disk plays inside out, i.e. you start the tone arm on the inside of the record. And the speed changes as it plays, so you need a variable speed control. But there on the disk was a letter from Williams to Bledsoe, from August 1951, musing about possible uses for the VA’s new documentary, "The Long Cane." The museum will open a new exhibit on the origins of orientation and mobility based on the Bledsoe Archives in October 2010. The collection is an incredible resource. For more information, contact Mike Hudson at 502-895-2365.

Listen to side one of Russ Williams’ letter to Warren Bledsoe (.mp3/10 minutes/9.3MB).

Summer Workshop on "Making Tests Accessible"

A two-day workshop on "Making Tests Accessible for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired" is being planned for July or August 2010. The workshop will be held at the American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, Kentucky. The focus will be on making test items accessible for students whose primary reading media include braille, tactile graphics, large print or regular print with magnifying devices, and/or audio-verbal formats. There will be a $35 registration fee. Instructors, workshop materials, resources and some meals will be provided. The exact dates for this workshop will be announced in our June News or you may contact Debbie Willis at email hidden; JavaScript is required. Workshop information and registration form will be posted on our web site ( in June 2010. The target audience includes test publishers and project staff, item developers, school or state staff involved in item development, item bias review, or assessment of students with visual impairments who use alternative media or methods in the testing environment.

Guidelines for Describing Science Content within Digital Talking Books

Bryan Gould speaks to workshop participants

On April 13, Bryan Gould of the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), provided an interactive workshop for 20 APH staff representing Accessible Textbooks, Field Services, Research, Accessible Tests, the Recording Studio and the National Instructional Media Access Center (NIMAC). Bryan used examples of diagrams and illustrations for review and discussion with the group. For access to NCAM’s 90-minute webinar on these new guidelines, visit

Noted Artist Joins APH Staff

Andrew Dakin

Andrew Dakin recently joined APH as Product Model Maker/Designer.
Andrew graduated from Murray State University with a BFA in sculpture. In his 19-year career, Andrew has made toy and gift patterns and prototypes for many well known brands and worked in the recognition awards industry where he designed the tooling to make awards, plaques, and even NASCAR trophies. It was in this former position where he became aware of the history of vision services, as the sculptor of all 44 bas relief inductee plaques for the Hall of Fame for the Blindness Field, housed at APH.

CEC 2010 Convention and Expo: APH Receives DVI Award

Field Services Representative Cathy Johnson shows products to Truman State’s Jesse Anthony Blades.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan set the positive tone with his keynote address at the CEC 2010 Convention and Expo at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN April 21-24. The 7,000+ conference participants then spent the next 3-days attending the more than 900 lectures, workshops, meetings and poster sessions that were available, and visiting more than 900 vendor booths in the exhibit hall.

Loana Mason, APH’s Braille Literacy Project Leader, serves as President of CEC’s Division on Visual Impairment. Among the DVI award winners this year was the American Printing House for the Blind, which took the Exemplary Advocate Award. VP Bob Brasher proudly accepted the plaque for APH which was being awarded to a company for the first time.

Other APH staff members who attended the conference and exhibited APH products included Cindy Amback, Sandi Baker, Cathy Johnson, Mary Robinson, and Gary Mudd. All reported that the APH booth enjoyed a lot of traffic throughout the conference, with the All-In-One Board being the most popular product in the booth!

West Kentucky Educational Cooperative, TVIs Receive Training on FVLMA

Teachers of the Blind/Visually Impaired in west Kentucky participated in a workshop March 12 in Princeton, KY, conducted by Cathy Johnson, APH Field Services Representative. Participants were provided an opportunity to become knowledgeable about the FVLMA Practitioner’s Guide, including the protocols, report form, and the Expanded Core Curriculum Screening Record. The workshop included familiarization with the components of the FVLMA materials in order for participants to conduct functional vision and learning media assessments for their students. Interested in such a workshop? Contact Cathy at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Annual Vandy Visit

Left to right: Bridgett Shultz, Dr. Deborah Hatton, Blair Davis, Jenifer Davenport

Dr. Deborah Hatton continued the tradition on April 27 by bringing her vision students from Vanderbilt on a day-long field trip to APH. The students toured the manufacturing area, museum, Hall of Fame, and then settled in for lunch and presentations by various APH department heads and Research Project Leaders. We would love to host other university training programs in beautiful Louisville. Please contact Bob Brasher (email hidden; JavaScript is required) or Janie Blome (email hidden; JavaScript is required) to help you with arrangements.

Brain Injury and Vision Loss: Medical Insights Into Our New Challenge (PANELISTS NEEDED)

The 2010 MacFarland Seminar. associated with the AER International Conference, to be held this July in Little Rock, AR, will investigate the impact of head injury on vision loss in greater depth.

In addition to presentations by Dr. Ann McKee, Allison Hayes, and Dr. Lea Hyvärinen, there will be a panel discussion among the three presenters, joined by individuals and family members experiencing the impact of ABI on a daily basis, discussing the overlap of visual rehabilitation among children and adults and responding to questions from the audience.

Panelists are needed! If you are the parent of a child who suffers from a head injury, or if you are a young adult with brain injury and visual impairment, and are willing to serve on this panel, please contact Dr. Kay Ferrell at 970/351-1653 or email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Junior Blind President Honored

An innovator and leader with a lifelong commitment to improving the lives of children and families in Los Angeles, Junior Blind President and CEO, Miki Jordan, was awarded the Comerica Bank Best of LA Women’s Business Award in the category of Women in Philanthropy. Jordan was recognized on Sunday, March 21, during the half-time show of the Los Angeles Lakers game against the Washington Wizards at the Staples Center.

Run to Independence Team Raises $10,000 for APH!

We did it! Over 25 runners, walkers and scream-team members participated in the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon and miniMarathon on April 24, 2010. Thanks to you and generous donors from all over the country, we raised more than $10,000 for APH.

A special thank you to our sponsors:

Gold Sponsor

  • Laird Plastics

Bronze Sponsors

  • Greenebaum Doll & McDonald
  • Stoll Keenon & Ogden
  • Scot Mailing and Shipping Systems

For a complete list of donors, please visit

In Memoriam

Stephen Barrett

Information excerpted from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, by Ann Rodgers, Friday, April 23, 2010

Stephen Barrett, who started visionary programs to help those who had lost their sight and hearing to live self-reliant, rewarding lives, died Saturday, April 17, of esophageal cancer. The recently retired president and CEO of Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh was 60.

In 1975, Stephen was hired as a regional representative for the Helen Keller National Center, which is based in New York and serves people who are both blind and deaf. He rose through its ranks to become executive director. From 1990-2000, Mr. Barrett served as executive director of the Pinellas Center for the Visually Impaired in Largo, Fla. He then became President of Pittsburgh Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services in September 2003 where he served as an Ex Officio Trustee of the American Printing House for the Blind.

Gifts may be made to Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh, 1800 West St., Homestead, PA 15120.

To read the full obituary, visit:

Betty Gissoni

Betty Jean McWhorter Gissoni, 82, of Louisville, passed away Wednesday March 10. Betty, wife of APH’s Fred Gissoni, had retired as director of the Center of Independent Living / Kentucky Department for the Blind.

After graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania (1952) Betty established a home teaching service for the blind, and in 1960 the Commonwealth instituted a state home teaching service based on her model. She served on the board of the Midwestern Conference of Home Teachers of the Blind and on the Graduate Council of Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Among her many awards were the Handicapped Professional Woman of the Year, given by the Pilot Clubs of Kentucky and the Community Service Award for service to the blind, awarded by the National Federation of the Blind.

APH Travel Calendar

on the road with APH


June 5, 2010
Kentucky School for the Blind Alumni Event 2010;
Louisville, KY

June 5, 2010
Morehead State University-Morehead, KY

June 10-11, 2010
Texas Focus;
Plano, TX

June 10-12, 2010
Research in the Rockies: Research Summit on Reading and Writing Braille;
Denver, CO

June 16, 2010
Washington Product Presentation – Public Affairs Event;
Washington, DC

June 18-19, 2010
NIP Event: Woodcock Johnson III Training;
Vancouver, WA

June 20-23, 2010
2010 Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Conference; 40th National Conference on Student Assessment;
Detroit, MI

June 25-26, 2010
Texas Parent to Parent 2010;
San Marcos, TX

June 25-26, 2010
National Braille Challenge 2010;


July 1-3, 2010
NEA Expo 2010;
New Orleans, LA

July 3-8, 2010
NFB 2010;
Dallas, Texas

July 9-17, 2010
ACB 2010;
Phoenix, AZ

July 15, 2010
APH Braille Plus Training;
Hampton, VA

July 19-21, 2010
OSEP Project Directors Conference 2010;
Washington, DC

July 21-25, 2010
AER International 2010;
Little Rock, AR

July 28, 2010
Product Training for TVI Students at Portland State University;
Portland, OR

July 31–August 1, 2010
6th Biannual LCA (Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis) Family Conference;
Philadelphia, PA


August 23-28, 2010
BVA 2010;
Washington, DC


September 22-25, 2010
Envision 2010;
San Antonio, TX

September 25, 2010
Indiana Vision Expo 2010;
Indianapolis, IN

Handy Braille Code Materials List

There is a new feature on the homepage: the Braille Code Instruction and Braille Codebooks List. This list is a handy guide to braille code instruction materials and official braille codebooks offered by APH. This list includes official Braille Authority of North America (BANA) and National Library Service (NLS) codebooks. You’ll find the list on the left side of the homepage, just below the yellow navigation box.

Spring Fever Sale

APH Spring Fever Sale

Load up a world of savings on selected APH products with APH’s Spring Fever Sale 2010, April 1 – June 30. As always, first come, first served.

NEW! Test Ready: Plus Mathematics

Book 7, Teacher Guide:
Large Print: 7-00513-00 — $18.00
Braille: 5-00513-00 — $18.00

Book 7, Student Book:
Large Print: 7-00514-00 — $35.00
Braille: 5-00514-00 — $35.00

Test Ready: Plus Mathematics Large Print Edition

This test prep series offers practice for today’s standards-based assessments for grade levels 3 through 12. Test Ready: Plus Mathematics provides preparation and review, in as little as two weeks before testing day. It also provides a program of instruction and remediation.

Students practice problem solving for:

  • Data preparation
  • Geometry
  • Numeration
  • Number theory
  • Measurement
  • Pre-algebra/algebra

Objectives for each of the above key concepts have been aligned with the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics from the National Council for Teachers and Mathematics (NCTM). These lessons make use of routine, non-routine, and open-ended problems, with writing activities that require students to explain their solutions.

Accessible Formats:

The APH Teacher Guides and Student Books are available in several accessible formats, so that the entire class can work on math together in a multi-media approach. The large print and braille editions include a CD with an .html file and a Digital Talking Book (DTB) file with built-in player.

The large print student edition includes a specially formatted large print answer document. However, it is recommended that each student has a book in his or her preferred reading medium, and should feel free to mark answers in the test books. Used this way, the student books become consumable items.

Note: Test Ready: Plus Mathematics grades 3 through 6, 8, and Advanced (High School) available soon.

NEW TUTORIAL! Verbal View Office Ribbon Bar

D-10519-00 — $50.00

Verbal View Office Ribbon Bar is the latest in the Verbal View software tutorial series.

The programs in the Microsoft Office® 2007 Suite work better together because they now share a common file format and a common user interface. The interface is called the "Ribbon," and it has been the source of frustration and confusion to many blind computer users. With the information in this comprehensive Verbal View tutorial, the blind computer user will understand and confidently interact with this important new interface.

Microsoft has also upgraded the file format and user interface for many of its other programs, such as Access®, Project®, Publisher®, Visio®, Paint®, and WordPad (in Windows 7), and Windows® Live Movie Maker. Users will be able to apply the information in Verbal View Office Ribbon Bar across many Microsoft programs.

Delivered on CD, this tutorial comes in multiple digital formats including DAISY, html, Word, and text.

The DAISY version plays on any Digital Talking Book player that supports DAISY 3.0 including APH’s Book Port™ Plus, BookSense, Pocket, Victor Reader® Stream, and the NLS DTB player. The CD includes a DAISY reading program named Book Wizard that you may use to read the book on a Windows PC.

Requirements to Run:

  • PC-compatible computer running at least Windows® 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7, or later
  • 10 MB disk space
  • Internet Explorer® 6.0 or later
  • Sound card and speakers
  • CD-ROM drive

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.

Put Me in the Zoo
by Robert Lopshire: T-N1499-00 — $8.00
An easy-to-read story about a magical dog who joins the circus because the zoo won’t have him. Fiction, Preschool – Grade 2. *(AR Quiz #130449, BL 1.4, Pts. 0.5)

Footprints on the Moon
by Alexandra Siy: T-N1374-50 — $11.00
An overview of mankind’s study and exploration of the Moon, from the building of Stonehenge in England to astronauts walking on the Moon’s surface. Covers the space race between the Soviet Union and the United States. Nonfiction, Middle Grades. *(AR Quiz #46306, BL 6.3, Pts. 0.5)

Run If You Dare
by Randy Powell: T-N1564-10 — $35.00
Fourteen-year-old Gardner is shocked to discover that his beloved but recently unemployed father considers himself a failure and may leave the family. Gardner seeks direction in his own life by joining the track team and renewing his friendship with an old girlfriend. Fiction, Upper Grades. *(AR Quiz #48141, BL 4.6, Pts. 6.0)

Devil’s Teeth: a True Story of Obsession and Survival among America’s Great White Sharks
by Susan Casey: T-N1756-70 — $98.50
Account of the author’s journey to the Farallon Islands, twenty-seven miles from San Francisco, a renowned refuge of great white sharks. Casey, an editor, relates joining scientists Peter Pyle and Scot Anderson as they study the predators in their natural habitat. She describes shark attacks and the archipelago’s beauty. Some strong language.

Color of the Sea
by John Hamamura: T-N1715-30 — $113.00
Hawaiian Isamu "Sam" Hamada, a descendant of a samurai, falls in love with Keiko after moving to California to help his remaining family in Hiroshima. Both are caught between cultures when World War II breaks out. Fiction, Adult: mature content, some violence, and some strong language.

*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
  • Sandi Baker, Field Services Representative
  • Kristin Binkowski, Director, Development
  • Janie Blome, Director, Field Services
  • Scott Blome, Director, Communications
  • Darrell Buford, Administrative Coordinator, Research
  • Maria Delgado, Field Services Representative
  • Mike Hudson, Museum Director
  • Cathy Johnson, Field Services Representative
  • Stephanie Lancaster, Graphic Designer, Communications
  • Mary Nelle McLennan, APH BANA Representative
  • Artina Paris-Jones, Assistant, Field Services
  • Tristan Pierce, Multiple Disabilities Project Leader, Research
  • Gwynn Stewart, Administrative Assistant, Communications
  • Richard Welsh, Ex Officio Trustee, Retired
  • Debbie Willis, Director, Accessible Tests

Bob Brasher, Vice President, Advisory Services and Research

For additional recent APH News, click the following:

April Issue –
March Issue –
February Issue –

Archive of all previous issues –

The APH News is a monthly publication from the American Printing House for the Blind:
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Louisville, KY 40206

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