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APH News: May 2017

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!

The Bright Shapes Knob Puzzle kit

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

You Cannot Do It Alone

by Larry Skutchan

Once, it was common to invent or design a solution in isolation. Now, the foundations of new ideas, techniques, and communication spur further innovation through refining the fundamentals or using them to build more. It is sobering to think that in less than 200 years, communications technology advanced from line of sight to the speed of light.

As society moves into greater automation and all aspects of life become more intertwined and complex, innovation relies on the foundations built by other pioneers and the ability to collaborate. To spur such innovation, education must advance even more rapidly. At the same time, the tools to educate students who are blind must also evolve. No one person or company can do it alone.

A rich history of APH partnerships includes cutting edge technologies like some of the first audio recordings in the 1930’s, main-frame computer braille translation software in the 1960s with IBM®, and the first electronic note takers with the Kentucky Department for the Blind in the 1980s.

Nearly every research project today involves working to solve problems for our partners, the student, parent, and teacher, and nearly every one of them requires relationships with experts in specific areas of content, engineering, or design. Successful partnerships make all parties win.

Today, APH stands on the edge of a transformation of braille literacy. Through an unprecedented international consortium of agencies serving people who are blind, The Transforming Braille Group, LLC (TBG) researched and developed the Orbit Reader 20™, an affordable, modern refreshable braille display. Priced below $500.00, this device slashes the cost by 80% compared to similar traditional tools.

Together, TBG investigated and evaluated 63 existing projects to determine cost, manufacturability, and viability. Orbit Research’s design and proposal represented the plans for the Orbit Reader 20 and led to research and partnerships creating the world’s first practical refreshable tactile graphics tablet, called Graphiti™. As development and design progresses, Graphiti’s roster of partners includes universities, textbook publishers, and online evaluations.

As APH continues to transform braille, collaborations with tech companies and software projects symbolize the continued nature of a process that embraces cooperation. Liblouis may come to represent one of the century’s most innovative and influential literacy effectors. While you do not see Liblouis directly, it is the software that translates text into braille that powers a growing number of devices and software including the JAWS® and NVDA screen readers. Today, a blind consumer can purchase a Sony® television running Android™ TV and get complete braille feedback and control courtesy of Liblouis.

Managed by the Swiss Association for the Blind, this open source library gets significant code contributors from dozens of individuals and agencies, including APH (UEB support.)
Microsoft®, Apple®, and Google®, along with screen reader and low vision aid manufacturers regularly work together to define standards, support hardware, and develop interfaces. Orbit Reader 20, Graphiti, Liblouis, open braille standards, electronic tactile graphics standards, accessible online testing and textbook production, Unified English Braille (UEB) tutorials and MATHML interpretation and conversion to UEB or Nemeth math codes create partners like Smith-Kettlewell, Braille Authority of North America, National Federation of the Blind, American Council of the Blind, Pearson, Desmos, University of Northern Illinois, Orbit Research, W3C, Baum, VFO™, and Humanware™.

NEW! Bright Shapes Knob Puzzle

1-03722-00 — $169.00

Related Items

Light Box
1-08669-00 — $460.00

MiniLite Box
1-08661-00 — $135.00

The Bright Shapes Knob Puzzle kit

These knob puzzles were designed for the early childhood population, focusing on those children with fine motor delays.

Bright Shapes Knob Puzzles are acrylic puzzle pieces based on the shapes used in APH’s Light Box Levels I-III Kits. These puzzles have knobs to help with grasping — one of the targeted skills. Other targeted skills include hand-eye coordination, relational concepts such as in/out, directionality, shape and color recognition, comparison, and patterning. Although this kit will serve as a terrific puzzle set on its own, it is designed to be easily viewed on the APH Light Box. Educators, therapists, and parents will discover endless learning opportunities with these puzzles.

Bright Shapes Knob Puzzles Kit Includes

Acrylic Shapes with Knobs (3 of ea. color):

  • Circles, 3 by 1/4 inches (red, blue, yellow)
  • Squares, 2 by 1/4 inches (red, blue, yellow)
  • Triangles, 3 by 1/4 inches (red, blue, yellow)

Interlocking Black Foam Frames (3 of ea. shape):

  • Circles
  • Triangles
  • Squares

Solid Black Foam Shapes (3 of ea.):

  • Circles
  • Triangles
  • Squares

Quick Start Guide in Large Print and in UEB braille

Note: Light Box sold separately.

Order Fall 2017 Textbooks Now!

Painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware River with the slogan 'order fall 2017 textbooks now!' superimposed on the right side

It’s that time again! Time to get your Braille/Large Print textbook orders in, that is. We currently have the capacity to take on plenty of orders. If your Quota funds are running low, don’t worry. We will work with you to make sure the order gets placed, regardless of your Quota fund balance.

Field Tests and Surveys

Your Input on Survey is Needed! 2016-2017 Assessment of Students and Clients who are Blind and Visually Impaired

A survey on “Assessment of Individuals Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired” has been prepared using Survey Monkey. The purpose of this survey is to gather various pieces of test-related information from each state that can be shared on the Accessible Tests Resource Center (ATRC) site.

Personnel involved in the assessment of students and clients who are blind and/or visually impaired are asked to complete this survey form. Your input is extremely valuable in helping APH as well as your state and neighboring states to assist students and clients who are blind and visually impaired to be prepared for tests and assessments that are administered to them. Find the survey here:

“2016-2017 Assessment of Individuals Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired: questions for personnel involved in assessment of students or clients who are blind and/or visually impaired in each state”

State assessment teams can get together to complete the survey, or individual members of a state’s assessment team can respond separately. Any questions? Contact Debbie Willis at email hidden; JavaScript is required or call 502/899-2311.

Data will be collected in May and June 2017. The survey results will give APH staff information on what’s happening across the country; and the results will provide similar information to each state on their own state as well as other states of particular interest.

The value of the data collected via this survey depends on active participation from personnel involved in assessing students and clients in each state. Thank you, assessment personnel, for your time, interest, and expertise in completing this survey. As Helen Keller stated, “Together, we can do so much!”

APH’s Websites: We Want Your Feedback on Accessibility!

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 the following:,, or, please email your comments to email hidden; JavaScript is required. We appreciate your time!

APH Spring Fever Sale

Load up a world of savings on selected APH products with APH’s Spring Fever Sale 2017, April 1—June 30. As always, first come, first served.

APH Annual Report Celebrates the Year of Braille

Annual Report FY16 cover features Addison reading a favorite Braille Tales braille book to her mom Brittany

Addison is a kindergarten student who loves her braille story books and who looks for braille everywhere in her environment. We’re proud that "Addy" has benefited from APH braille products, such as Building on Patterns: UEB and Braille Tales print/braille books.

Read Addy’s story and other inspiring stories in the fiscal year 2016 APH Annual Report that we entitled "The Year of Braille." The report contains information about the field of blindness, the activities of APH, and stories of independence. We celebrate braille and the many other areas of APH’s mission.

We hope you enjoy "The Year of Braille." APH Annual Report, FY2016, Accessible PDF Edition.

STEM Corner

drawing of a green stem with five leaves

The DNA-RNA Kit Video 3, the third explainer video for the DNA-RNA Kit, demonstrating the process of transcription or the formation of messenger RNA from a DNA template strand, is now available for viewing.

Stay tuned for more videos about molecular biology after the release of the Protein Synthesis Kit!

New on the APH Website: Tactile Skills Matrix

Screen capture of the Tactile Skills Matrix home page

Tactile Literacy Project Leader Karen Poppe would like to invite you to visit the new online Tactile Skills Matrix.

This resource cross-references 18 unique tactile skill areas with available APH products. The Tactile Skills Matrix will help teachers and parents locate and identify products that support the development of skills and concepts that contribute to students’ tactile literacy.

Select any of the skills listed alphabetically in the sidebar menu to view a list of recommended APH products. Each product’s catalog number links directly to the APH’s shopping site, where more detailed information is available (e.g., product’s purpose, components, target population, price, and related materials).

Karen will continue to update the Tactile Skills Matrix as new products and tools become available. Please contact Karen directly at email hidden; JavaScript is required with additional suggestions and ideas for this resource. Enjoy getting your student or child actively exploring and enjoying tactile graphics!

Dolch Word Cards Temporarily Discontinued

Photo of Dolch Word Cards

Dear APH Customers:
Recently we were alerted to an issue with the 1-03560-00 Dolch Word Cards. A sheet in the kit was embossed incorrectly. APH staff went through all existing stock of the Dolch Word Cards kits and found other quality issues as well.

The Dolch Word Cards product is in the midst of being updated to the UEB braille code. With the update of the product already in progress and with the issues encountered when we checked existing stock, APH will be discontinuing sales of this product for a short time. Product sales of the Dolch Word Cards will resume when the UEB updated version of the product is produced & stocked. A traditional APH new product announcement will notify everyone when the new, UEB updated product has been stocked. The new, UEB version of this product will need to be ordered under a new catalogue number when it is released.

We regret any inconvenience this may have caused.

Parts Lists Download Page Now Available!

Photo of APH's DNA-RNA Kit

At the request of our Ex Officio Trustees, we have now posted an APH Downloadable Parts Lists and Quick Start Sheets page.

Many APH products for people who are blind and visually impaired include a parts list sheet in the box. Our new web page contains most of these parts lists as accessible Word files. In addition, some products include a quick start instruction sheet. Many of these sheets are also downloadable from this page.

This page includes both current products and discontinued products. Often APH products continue to be used long after they are discontinued.

We hope these sheets are a helpful reference for you!

Typhlo and Tactus is Underway!

tactile books

Deadline for entries is August 10.

APH is the official contact for United States entries to Typhlo & Tactus, the renowned, international contest that celebrates the best of tactile illustrated books. We are looking forward to all your wonderful entries! If you haven’t started your book prototype, now is the time to begin putting your creative ideas into action, because you only have a few months until the August 10 deadline to get your entries to APH for the judging.

Are you wondering what makes a great tactile illustrated book? Download a free excerpt from Tactile Book Builder: Guide to Designing Tactile Books. This helpful excerpt, from the longer book by APH’s Suzette Wright, helps book artists understand how little hands learn by touch, and what makes good design for tactile illustrated books. Suzette also notes, however, that the judges for the national and international contests are also "very interested in innovative—’outside of the box’—ideas, which lead to new ways to make multisensory illustrations that have meaning and interest for a young child with a visual impairment."

In other words, let the guidelines help you, but let your imagination lead you.

For information about the Typhlo & Tactus contest, visit our website:, or contact Rob Guillen, Special Programs Coordinator at email hidden; JavaScript is required, or 502-899-2242.

Hurdles: A Track Meet Favorite Everywhere!

Photo of a girl in a wheelchair navigating through two types of adapted hurdles

Modified hurdles is an innovative way to make this track and field mainstay accessible to students. Check out the latest feature on the APH Physical Education, Recreation, and Health website!

Two Students from the Kentucky Braille Challenge Qualify for Nationals

Calli Larison
Calli Larison
Carmynn Blakely
Carmynn Blakely

APH is excited to report that two Braille Challengers from Kentucky qualified for the 2017 Braille Challenge finals, to be held by the Braille Institute in Los Angeles on June 16th and 17th.

Calli Larison of Kenton County will be making her second trip to the nationals, this time competing in the Freshman category. Joining her will be Carmynn Blakely, an Apprentice contestant from Jefferson County. These young ladies, their families, and their teachers are extremely excited about their accomplishments and the opportunities ahead.

Calli and Carmynn have their names “up in lights” on the Braille Institute website. Best of luck during the national competition, Calli and Carmynn!

The Kentucky Braille Challenge is a joint project of the American Printing House for the Blind and the Kentucky School for the Blind.

APH Welcomes New Ex Officio Trustee

  • Jared Leslie, the Arizona State Department of Education.

Here’s a handy link to the full directory of Ex Officio Trustees.

Treasure From the Migel Library

Villey, Pierre. Maurice De La Sizeranne; Aveugle, Bienfaiteur Des Aveugles. Paris: Plon, 1932.

Cover of Maurice De La Sizeranne; Aveugle, Bienfaiteur Des Aveugles

Maurice De La Sizeranne was both a student and instructor at the National Institute for the Young Blind. When The International Congress on Work for the Blind of 1878 declared the need for contracted braille, Sizeranne was inspired not only to solve this problem, but also to devote the rest of his life to working for people with visual impairment and blindness. He authored the "French Contracted Spelling Primer for Braille," and continued by publishing the braille periodicals "Le Louis Braille," "Le Valentin Hauy," and "La Revue Braille." Sizeranne then created the Valentin-Hauy research library and a library of braille works, both of which were started with items from his personal collection. Sizeranne went on to found the Valentin Hauy Association, where he served as Secretary General for almost 30 years. The author of this work, Pierre Villey, followed in Sizeranne’s footsteps. Villey also studied at the Institut National des Juenes Aveugles, and served as the Secretary General of the Association Valentin Hauy after Sizeranne. This French-Language biography has been digitized for the Migel Library’s Internet Archive collection at

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

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

Social Media Spotlight

Social Media Spotlight logo

Something for Everyone on APH’s YouTube Channel

Have you checked out APH’s YouTube videos recently? We have more than 300 videos for your information and enjoyment, including our weekly Quick Tips videos, product demos, APH Annual Meeting presentations, and amazing historical videos. While you are there, please “Like” your favorites and subscribe to APH’s YouTube Channel so you can receive updates when we post new content. Start watching now!

Screen capture of the Math Robot Quick Tip video on the APH YouTube Channel

"Like" APH at Our Facebook Page!

Facebook Logo

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

Partnering with the Consumer: Quick & Easy ECC App Development

Cover of Quick and Easy Expanded Core Curriculum

Are you interested in joining the conversation? Quick & Easy ECC: The Hatlen Center Guide (1-08204-00) joined the family of APH products in 2014, providing over 140 lessons to address the nine areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC). APH is now considering app development for the content presented in this product, and we want your input!

Laura Zierer, Project Leader, would like to invite you to subscribe to the ECC App Development listserv. Through this forum, we are hoping to learn what would make this product most useful to the consumer.

To subscribe, send a message to: email hidden; JavaScript is required

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.

Tales of Rescue
by Michael J. Rosen: T-N2132-70 — $22.00
When a Florida family vacationing in the Appalachian Mountains becomes trapped in a blizzard, a local farm cattle dog works to rescue them. Grades 4-7

To Say Nothing of the Dog, or, How We Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump at Last
by Connie Willis: T-N2128-50 — $265.50
In 2057, Lady Schrapnell endows a time-travel project in return for help in rebuilding Coventry Cathedral. Henry is sent back to 1940 to retrieve an object for the newly restored building before the church burns, but he arrives a few hours too late–which is just the beginning of his problems.

Accidence Will Happen: A Recovering Pedant’s Guide to English Language and Style
by Oliver Kamm: T-N2165-20 — $148.50
A discussion of the formal rules of the English language, their significance, and whether most errors matter. The author explains his view that most purists’ prohibitions may be disregarded and why. Also addresses specific usage conundrums.

Liberty Falling
by Nevada Barr: T-N2161-50 — $171.50
Park ranger Anna Pigeon is in New York to visit her critically ill sister, Molly, but becomes involved in the case of two suicides at the Statue of Liberty. Anna discovers that the deaths are related to a more sinister plot. Some Adult Content.

The Couple Next Door
by Shari Lapena: T-N2164-90 — $134.50
Anne and Marco are having dinner at their next-door neighbors’ house, taking turns going home to check on their sleeping baby every half hour and using a monitor. But when they return for the night, she is missing. And each must hide something from the police. Some Adult Content.

*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 Quick Tips: More Partnerships!

Quick Tips Corner logo features a post with two street signs

Last month, we listed some Quick Tips that are illustrative of partnerships, mainly from a personal perspective. This month, we’re focusing on products APH has developed in partnership with other companies. Have a look!

APH Quick Tips logo: Short videos from APH

You know what another great partnership is? APH Quick Tips and YOU! Check out more Quick Tips at And, to provide feedback or send us your own Quick Tip, contact Kerry at

APH Travel Calendar

on the road with APH


May 1-3, 2017
Annual VAVF Conference 2017
Orlando, FL

May 3-5, 2017
Sight City
Frankfurt, Germany

May 18-20, 2017
Midwest Regional Braille Conference
Fitchburg, WI

June 28-30, 2017
CCSSO National Conference on Student Assessment
Austin, TX

June 30-July 7, 2017
ACB 2017 Convention Reno NV
Sparks, NV

July 10-15, 2017
NFB Convention 2017
Orlando, FL

July 17-22, 2017
AHEAD 2017
Orlando, FL

July 19-22, 2017
AER International – O & M Conference 2017
Pittsburg, PA

July 26-29, 2017
Envision 2017
Glendale, AZ

July 27-30, 2017
CHARGE Syndrome Conference 2017
Orlando, FL


May 1-3, 2017
Franklin Covey’s Speed of Trust Workshop
Sundance, UT

May 7-10, 2017
STC Summit 2017
National Harbor, MD

June 25-July 1, 2017
DeafBlind Young Adults in Action Leadership Class
Washington, DC

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APH News Credits

Dr. Craig Meador
email hidden; JavaScript is required

Dorinda Rife, Vice President, Educational Services and Product Development
email hidden; JavaScript is required

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
  • Paul Ferrara, Social Media Coordinator, Communications
  • Justin Gardner, Special Collections Librarian, Resource Services
  • Rob Guillen, Special Programs Coordinator, Public Relations
  • Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader, Research
  • Kerry Isham, Field Services Representative
  • Stephanie Lancaster, Graphic Designer, Communications
  • Drew Lueken, Support Specialist, Communications
  • Karen Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader, Research
  • Larry Skutchan, Director, Technology Product Research
  • Debbie Willis, Director, Accessible Tests
  • Laura Zierer, Product Development Project Leader, Research

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Louisville, KY 40206

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