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APH News: November 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!
Read on to learn about these new products – now available!
- NEW! Increasing Complexity Pegboard
- NEW! Large Magnetic/Dry-Erase Board
- NEW! DeafBlind Pocket Communicator
- NEW! Braille Datebook, 2018
- APH Fall Harvest Sale
- APH Braille Book Corner
Major Release: Blasting Braille Into the Future
by Dr. Craig Meador, President
APH has been making educational materials more accessible for almost as long as braille has existed. And now we’re transforming access as dramatically as braille did back in the 1850s, with the introduction of BrailleBlaster™ software.
This revolutionary new software tool translates text into braille quickly, easily, and accurately. This breakthrough means that students can have braille learning materials on the first day of class along with their sighted peers, rather than waiting weeks or months for their textbooks.
Instead of a painstaking manual transcription process, BrailleBlaster efficiently converts print into braille. BrailleBlaster gives students who are blind or visually impaired the power to learn at the same pace as their sighted peers. In the past, these students were at a disadvantage because they couldn’t learn alongside their classmates until they received braille versions of their textbooks.
What’s more, BrailleBlaster is available to download at no cost. We think that’s the right thing to do, and it reflects APH’s commitment to making sure people who are blind or visually impaired have the same educational and entertainment opportunities as anyone else.
BrailleBlaster can be used by braille transcribers, teachers, students, and parents—anyone who needs to produce braille material. The software provides all the tools to efficiently produce a high-quality embossed braille textbook from an original publisher file using Liblouis, an open-source braille translator. Early testers of BrailleBlaster told us they saw a substantial increase in the number of pages a braille transcriber could produce compared to current methods.
We invite you to learn more about the technology behind BrailleBlaster and download the software at so you can experience it for yourself. When you do, I know you’ll be as excited as all of us at APH are about this new technology and the equal access it represents for millions of students.
NEW! Increasing Complexity Pegboard
1-08160-00 — $169.00
A manipulative developed for children with visual impairments, including those diagnosed with CVI.
The Increasing Complexity Pegboard was created for children with visual impairments, including those diagnosed with Cerebral/Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI). Paired with diagnostic teaching strategies, the pegboard set helps to determine and support the child’s color, lighting, movement, and complexity needs.
Children diagnosed with CVI frequently have difficulty in understanding objects presented in a complex array. The Increasing Complexity Pegboard provides materials for parents and teachers to create background templates specifically for their learner.
Increasing Complexity Pegboard Kit Includes:
- Black pegboard with 25 peg holes, measures 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 inches
- 25 colored pegs
- Variety of 5 templates with openings for peg placement
- Colorful, reflective pre-cut stickers
- Hook and loop coins for optional reuse of stickers
- Large Print Guidebook
Note: The APH Tactile Graphic Image Library (TGIL) has access to 3-D printing files, allowing additional pegs to be printed on your own 3-D printer, according to its ability. Just sign in or register for a free account. The Increasing Complexity Pegboard allows you to create low to high complexity backgrounds against which to present peg activities. Use the information that you have gathered through assessment and observation to design the peg activities.
Use related APH Products with the Increasing Complexity Pegboard!
Use the Light Box to provide light to guide the learner, add a colored Light Box Overlay under the pegboard to provide a light color cue. The APH Invisiboard can help block out distractions and the All-in-One Board can be used when light is no longer necessary to illicit attention.
NEW! Large Magnetic/Dry-Erase Board
1-03557-00 — $41.00
A magnetic/dry-erase board that’s useful for a myriad of learning activities.
The Large Magnetic/Dry-Erase Board can be used as a standalone product to accommodate activities involving magnetic-backed pieces or activities requiring dry-erase markers. The working surface of the board measures 21 3/8 x 13 1/2 inches and is affixed to a blue, rigid vinyl that provides a visual border. This board is intended to be used on a flat, stable working surface. Visit APH’s shopping site to locate products and components that work on the magnetic/dry-erase surface, or use the board in combination with commercially-acquired or handcrafted items.
- Large Magnetic/Dry-Erase Board
- Cleaning/Care Instructions, in print and in braille
Recommended ages: All ages.
NEW! DeafBlind Pocket Communicator
1-06999-00 — $57.00
A no-tech, on-the-go communication solution for people who are deafblind!
APH’s DeafBlind Pocket Communicator (DBPC) is durable, washable, and easily fits in your pocket or bag. The smooth side for numbers and the matte side for letters lets you know "at first touch" which side you need to chat with someone. The breakaway lanyard option gives you some freedom to carry other items and to access the DBPC with ease.
Communication cards can be helpful when using the DBPC with people at a coffee shop or in a store. Sample messages might include: "How much does this cost?" or "Use my finger to show me the answers on this device." Feel free to design your own communication cards to meet your unique needs.
For more information and examples on developing communication cards with people who are deafblind, please contact these agencies:
- Helen Keller National Center, https://www.helenkeller.org/hknc/communication-training
- Teaching Deaf-Blind People to Communicate and Interact with the Public: Critical Issues for Travelers who are Deaf-Blind by Eugene Bourquin and Dona Sauerburger, www.sauerburger.org/dona/REviewdbcomm.html
- DeafBlind Services Minnesota, visionlossresources.org/programs/dbsm
- Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind, Deaf-Blind Program, www.deafblindlh.org/service.html
- National Federation of the Blind, Deaf-Blind Communication Technology,
3-D Print Your Own DeafBlind Communicator for Free!
The APH Tactile Graphic Image Library (TGIL) has a file which allows you to print the DBPC on your own 3-D printer, according to its ability. Sign in or register for a free account today!
NEW! Braille Datebook, 2018
1-07899-18 — $81.00
The Braille DateBook is an attractive planner-organizer designed specifically for braille users! Keep track of appointments, addresses, family schedules, class assignments, and more. Use it at your desk or on the go — it is sturdy, compact, and fits in a backpack or brief case.
The Braille DateBook is housed in a small, rugged binder. The binder holds one hundred pages, including the calendar and other tabbed pages. Its hook/loop fastener keeps all materials together. The binder includes a slate pocket that is on the inside of the front cover. Note: A slate is not included with the Braille DateBook. The pocket on the inside spine of the binder includes an APH Saddle-Shaped Stylus.
The tabbed calendar pages are made of durable plastic. Note that you will need to buy a new calendar for each year.
The included filler paper pack contains 250 sheets of punched, 4×6 inch braille paper. Blank tabs are packaged with the filler paper. Use tabs to create sections such as addresses, family schedules, financial transactions, emergency contacts, medical information, travel itineraries, shopping lists, or to do lists.
- Calendar pages
- Blank filler pages and blank tabs
- A Saddle-Shaped Stylus
- Print and braille tips pamphlet
Recommended ages: 11 years and up.
Field Tests and Surveys
Joy Player Cartridge for Easy Push/Pull Action
The American Printing House for the Blind seeks field test sites to test a newly designed digital cartridge for the Joy Player. Field test sites must have a Joy Player and students whose hands and fingers present muscle rigidity, permanent shortening of muscles, problems with coordination, stiff muscles, overactive reflexes, involuntary movements, muscle weakness, or muscle spasms. To register for the field test, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/joyplayercartridge.
O&M for iPad
APH is seeking field evaluators with pre-K/1st grade students ages 4 to 7 years to test Going to the Playground, an iOS app with tactile overlays. Beta versions of the app are forecast to begin field testing in late January 2018 and will last four to six weeks. Selected field testers will be notified in mid-December before winter break. This app was developed to be used in conjunction with clear braille/tactile overlays that make the screen accessible to children who are blind or visually impaired. This story targets beginning tactile graphics and map reading skills such as positional relationships in an interactive app. The kit comes with a frame which will adhere to the iPad through suction and keep the overlays in place, yet allow for easy switching of overlays during the story.
Warning: Frame and overlays will NOT fit the iPad mini and will not cover the entire screen of the larger iPad Pro models.
If you are interested in field testing the O&M for iPad Kit, Going to the Playground, please visit
APH’s Websites: We Want Your Feedback on Accessibility!
APH Fall Harvest Sale
Load up a world of savings on selected APH products with APH’s Fall Harvest Sale 2017, October 1—December 31. As always, first come, first served.
Dr. M. Cay Holbrook Awarded APH’s 2017 Wings of Freedom Award
Cay Holbrook has been an important member of the APH family for over 20 years. Her accomplishments have strongly benefited the teachers, students, and families we proudly serve. Her professional credentials as a vision teacher in several states, as vision program director and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins, associate professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and professor at the University of British Columbia, make her uniquely qualified to guide projects and author policies that make us, and our field, stronger.
Other facets of Dr. Holbrook’s amazing career include her work with the Carter Center in China, her co-creation of the biennial Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference with Janie Blome (GITWL), and countless edited and authored textbooks, articles, and curriculums, including her groundbreaking work with Alan Koenig to create the Learning Media Assessment that continues to be used internationally.
Cay has been honored throughout her career by a grateful field. Recognitions include AER’s Warren Bledsoe and Alfred Allen Awards, CECDVI’s Distinguished Service Award, GITWL’s Alan J. Koenig Research in Literacy Award, the Holbrook-Humphries Literacy Award, JVIB’s Reviewer of the Year Award, and UALR’s Faculty Excellence Award in Public Service.
In 2005, APH proudly announced Dr. Holbrook as our first Executive in Residence. Thanks to a well-earned sabbatical, Cay was able to join APH from September through November of 2006, when she primarily assisted with department of Educational Product Research projects. Among her many areas of interest were developing a research matrix – matching research topic needs of APH with possible field solutions, providing forums with department staff to discuss research techniques, working on product development, and looking at "tried and true" products with new eyes…for expanded use. One very important and timely project that Cay undertook while in residence was the creation of the company’s Expert Panel process, as required by the Department of Education. A team of nationally-drawn experts continues to meet annually to rate new products on a variety of criteria, generating a report that is sent to the federal government. Another important project that Cay offered her expertise on was APH’s flagship literacy product known as Patterns. Cay became lead consultant on this landmark effort that became Building on Patterns. Cay continues to serve as an active participant in this ongoing work.
Cay’s favorite teacher was Anne Sullivan who once shared, “I cannot explain it, but when difficulties arise, I am not perplexed or doubtful. I know how to meet them.” Cay personifies her hero, for she never appears perplexed or doubtful but seems to instinctively know how to meet the challenging tasks that lie before her. For this, a grateful field says thank you!
Some Daring Adventurers from Annual Meeting 2017!
Jack DuPlessis (center) is pictured with his parents. Jack and GE Appliance subsidiary FirstBuild were the recipients of APH’s Extra Mile Award for Jack’s development of a Talking Laundry Module.
Susanne Dalton, Florida Instructional Materials Center (retired) and APH’s longest-serving Ex Officio Trustee, received the Exemplary Advocate Award for her tireless advocacy for students in Florida and across the U.S. who are blind and visually impaired.
Cay Holbrook (center), University of British Columbia, pictured with APH’s Craig Meador and Dorinda Rife, received APH’s highest honor, the Wings of Freedom Award. Holbrook’s research and scholarship, along with her direct service teaching in personnel preparation programs, has been highly influential in the field of blindness and visual impairment.
Award-winning APH InSights artist Zach Greenhow is pictured with his artwork The Rainforest. More than 15 winning artists in this international competition were honored in person during Annual Meeting 2017.
The Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field inducted two new members during Annual Meeting. Accepting for Robert J. Smithdas was David Goldstein (left). Accepting for William B. Wait was Bernadette Kappen. Billy Brookshire (center), former Hall of Fame Board Chair, presented the inductees.
What an Adventure!
APH Annual Meeting 2017
The 2017 Annual Meeting of Ex Officio Trustees and Special Guests, "A Daring Adventure," was an inspiring and productive gathering of nearly 400 attendees. Here is a brief recap of a few of the many highlights of the meeting:
Wide Variety of Sessions: The days were action-packed as attendees had numerous opportunities to learn about new APH products, hear about ongoing research and field testing, have input into product design, and hear updates from blindness organizations during a general session. The second annual APH/AER Rehabilitation Institute was well-attended and featured Roxanne Mayros of VisionServe Alliance.
We invite you to view three of the key sessions. Additional Annual Meeting 2017 photos and video will be posted in the future:
Keynote Speaker: Jack Lavine, a child advocate from Florida and founder of the 4Generations Institute, gave an inspirational presentation to set the tone of the meeting.
Awards from APH: We were proud to recognize outstanding achievements in our field with the Extra Mile Award, the Exemplary Advocate Award, and APH’s highest honor, the Wings of Freedom Award. Please enjoy the accompanying photos with captions.
Cutting-Edge Products Featured: Among many, many exciting products, we announced the release of BrailleBlaster™ software, held a hands-on session featuring multiple Graphiti™ prototypes, and had the Hyatt hotel mapped and fitted with beacons for our new Nearby Explorer™ mobile app featuring Indoor Explorer.
We Honored Artists and Legends in Our Field: On Friday, inducted two new giants in the field’s Hall of Fame, recognizing legends Robert Smithdas and William B. Wait. Friday evening, winning artists were honored during the APH InSights Art Award Ceremony, which featured artwork created by students and adults who are blind.
ACVREP Credits Offered: For the first time, these credits were offered at Annual Meeting and many attendees took advantage of this opportunity.
Exploring the Hallowed, Haunted Halls of APH: For the first time, the Saturday evening social event was completely created by a "cast" of APH staff. Teams of adventurous attendees were guided through the darkened halls of APH to meet many ghostly characters and complete puzzling challenges!
Annual Meeting 2018: There were far more activities at Annual Meeting than we can list here, so make plans to experience it yourself at the 150th Annual Meeting on October 4–6, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Louisville!
Essay Contest Coming Soon – APH 160th Anniversary!
APH is celebrating its 160th anniversary in 2018. Founded before the Civil War, APH has been serving students and adults who are blind and visually impaired for generations.
As part of our 160th anniversary festivities, APH will be hosting an essay contest. More details about the contest and other 160th celebration activities will be released in the upcoming months, look for them soon!
APH InSights Art Competition 2018 Now Open!
APH warmly invites artists who are blind or visually impaired to submit artwork for the 2018 APH InSights Art Competition and Exhibition. For 27 years, our renowned international contest has delighted the senses, provoked discussion, and most importantly, allowed artists who happen to have vision loss the opportunity to share their creative imagination with the world.
Artists may enter original artwork created in any medium, including (but not limited to) painting, drawing, printmaking, fiber, metal, and wood. This year’s deadline for student artists from preschool through high school is March 16, 2018. The deadline for adult artists is March 23, 2018.
Winning artwork in nine categories and other selected pieces will be displayed at the APH InSights Art Exhibit during APH’s 2018 Annual Meeting in Louisville, October 4-6, 2018.
DEADLINE EXTENDED! Be a Braille Badges Designer – Contest Ends December 31!
Digital Art Competition and Exhibition for Artists Who are Visually Impaired and Blind
Braille Badges are APH’s accessible set of Apple’s iOS iMessage® Stickers. These fun, expressive badges include themes related to visual impairment and are connected to holidays, special events, APH products, characters, and more.
Imaginative artists from schools across the country are invited to help APH stock our stickers archive by submitting designs for Braille Badges. We will choose three winners from each level (Pre-K through Elementary; Middle School; and High School) and award first, second, and third place prizes based on originality and creative style. Deadline for submissions is now December 31, 2017.
Make Your SMART Brailler Even Smarter – Free Upgrade for UEB!
As of September 5, 2017, APH began shipping SMART Braillers with updated software that makes Unified English Braille (UEB) available in the Language Settings! To change to UEB, choose "English-U.E.B."
Any SMART Braillers you already have can be updated with this latest free software. Download the instructions and latest software to update your SMART Brailler.
The APH SMART Brailler by Perkins is an updated Perkins Brailler that displays, vocalizes, and produces embossed braille based on what a student types. With the built-in app “Building on Patterns: Kindergarten,” early braille students can have continual access and opportunity to practice braille outside of traditional braille lesson plans with TVIs.
APH on the Road
Northern Rockies AER in West Yellowstone, MT
In mid-October, Field Services Representative Kerry Isham exhibited products and presented at the Northern Rockies AER Conference. This event was held in beautiful West Yellowstone, MT, and drew 100 attendees. Kerry ‘s presentations covered the Intervention Continuum (Sensory Learning Kit, SAM – Symbols and Meaning, and Tactile Connections), and the ToAD, Tadpole, and NewT kits.
Social Media Spotlight
Twitter: Did You Follow the Excitement of Annual Meeting?
We recently sent tweets live from the exciting sessions and award presentations at Annual Meeting 2017 in Louisville. In addition to live events, each week we send tweets about new and recently released APH products, sale items, upcoming Museum events, our fun Quick Tip videos, and other APH happenings. We also highlight resources from many organizations that benefit the community of people who are blind and visually impaired. Join us!
"Like" APH at Our Facebook Page!
From the Field…
Growing Good Communicators: Empowering Students with Sensory and Multiple Disabilities
A teacher and student begin a Sensory Learning routine by removing a lotion bottle from an APH “now” expandable calendar box.
A Full-Day Workshop: Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 (6 PDHs)
For children with sensory impairments, communication can be difficult—how can you talk about things you have never seen or heard? While augmentative communication devices can help, they are not enough. That is where you come in.
In this special workshop hosted by CEC’s Division on Visual Impairment and Deafblindness, you will learn how to recognize and encourage communication behaviors and environmental responses. You will learn about effective assessment and interventions for students with sensory and multiple disabilities, and how to work with parents and teams to overcome sensory barriers to a child’s understanding and develop communication skills.
- Identify three ways to build trust and rapport with students and their teams.
- Identify the sensory systems that support the students’ access to learning, participation, and communication.
- Incorporate a student’s interests into communication and learning goals.
- Design motivating learning activities that maximize the student’s sensory access for communication.
- Share your knowledge with colleagues and family members to support students’ communication.
This special full-day workshop, hosted by CEC’s Division on Visual Impairment and Deafblindness and sponsored by The American Printing House for the Blind, will be at the Manhattan Center-Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System in Tampa on Tuesday, Feb. 6. This workshop is worth 6 Professional Development Hours. It is a separate event from the CEC 2018 Convention & Expo.
About the Presenter
Millie Smith has over 30 years of experience working with students with visual and multiple impairments. She taught at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the University of Texas at Austin, and as a professional development trainer. Millie is a prolific author and respected consultant for the American Printing House for the Blind.
APH offers a number of recreational books in braille available with Quota funds. Each of these titles was originally transcribed and produced by APH for the National Library Service which has graciously granted permission for this offering. As usual, these titles have been added to the APH Louis Database where you can find thousands of titles produced in accessible formats.
Note: all books are produced upon receipt of orders, therefore, please allow several weeks for delivery.
My Paris Market Cookbook: A Culinary Tour of French Flavors and Seasonal Recipes
by Emily Dilling: T-N2149-60 — $99.00
Takes readers on a tour of Paris’s growing artisanal and craft food scene. Brings the experience of shopping for, and cooking with, fresh locally grown products into readers’ homes and kitchens.
by Lindsey Drager: T-N2168-60 — $39.00
A group of aging librarians must decide whether to fight or flee from the rise of electronic publications. Meanwhile, the parents of a girl who died at that library struggle with their role in her death, and a pair of lovers mourn each other’s deaths. An investigation of the anxiety that accompanies change. Some Adult Content.
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin
by Erik Larson: T-N2154-20 — $248.00
A remarkable story set during Hitler’s rise to power. The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history. Some Adult Content.
Theodore Boone: The Fugitive
by John Grisham: T-N2089-90 — $73.00
When his eighth-grade class goes on a field trip to Washington, D.C., Theodore Boone spots accused murderer Pete Duffy. But Theo’s good intentions to help secure the fugitive put him in danger. Sequel to Theodore Boone: The Activist. Some Adult Content.
by Paul Vidich T-N2164-80 — $107.00
Washington, D. C.; 1953. As the Cold War ramps up, the CIA reels from a double agent in its midst, selling secrets to the Soviets and compromising agents around the globe. George Mueller, a dedicated agent, is entrusted with finding the mole. But Mueller has secrets of his own. Some Adult Content.
November Quick Tips!
Typically, November is the beginning of that time of year when we may consider more deeply our ties to family and people we love. In keeping with that sentiment, this month’s Quick Tips focus on products that foster togetherness. Whether it’s teachers and students, parents and children, friends playing games together, coworkers, or all of us communicating effectively with important people in our lives, relationships are what makes life meaningful – and APH is here to help!
- SlapStack Math
- Getting to Know You
- Almost 300 Employees at APH? What Do They Do?
- Parenting with a Visual Impairment
- VIPS@Home Parent Empowerment Program
- Game Kit
We at Quick Tips wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving and special times with those in your life who matter most to you.
APH Travel Calendar
November 2-4, 2017
BANA Fall 2017 Board Meeting
November 11, 2017
Product Development Association Conference
January 30-February 3, 2018
November 15-16, 2017
November 17, 2017
December 6-9, 2017
13th Biennial Getting in Touch with Literacy
New Orleans, LA
December 10-11, 2017
San Francisco, CA
January 7-10, 2018
Craig Hospital Brain Injury Summit 2018
January 9-12, 2018
Consumer Electronics Show (CES)
Las Vegas, NV
January 22, 2018
Training for LP Assessments and APH Early Childhood Products
Las Vegas, NV
January 30, 2018
Perkins Innovation Advisory Group
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APH News Credits
Dr. Craig Meador
Dorinda Rife, Vice President, Educational Services and Product Development
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
- Rob Guillen, Special Programs Coordinator, Public Relations
- Anthony Jones, Art Production/Design Manager, Research
- Kerry Isham, Field Services Representative
- Stephanie Lancaster, Graphic Designer, Communications
- Drew Lueken, Support Specialist, Communications
- Tristan Pierce, Multiple Disabilities/Physical Education Project Leader, Research
- Mary Robinson, Assistant, Field Services
For additional recent APH News, click the following:
- October Issue
- September Issue
- August Issue
- Archive of all previous issues – www.aph.org/news/archive/
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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