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Throwback Thursday Object: Swail Dot Inverter

Ever since Louis Braille adapted his “Braille Tablet” to write his system, people have been bothered by the downward writing involved in using a braille slate and stylus.  In order to read braille that you write on a standard slate, you have to turn the paper over, so you have to reverse both the direction you write and the characters as you write them.  There have been a lot of different efforts to overcome this perceived deficiency, but I’m not going into that here.  Our object this week is a Swail Dot Inverter, introduced by APH in 1965.  It is a humble little aluminum stylus with a faceted handle and a hollow tipped steel blade.  When not in use, you can store the blade in the handle.  It was designed to emboss raised dots, useful for constructing simple tactile graphics.  You can still buy one!  Although the Swail works with paper, it seems to give the best results with plastic Brailon paper from American Thermoform, which also appeared in the APH catalog for the first time in 1965.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

Quick Tip: Bear Hunt in UEB. Bear Hunt, an award-winning tactile book, is an exceptional vehicle for building a foundation for early literacy. It provides the perfect recipe to stir up a desire to read in young emergent and early braille readers, as well as readers of all ages and visual abilities.


August 2017 APH News

A Few of This Month’s Headlines:

Coming in August: MATT Connect
  • NEW! Bear Hunt - UEB; Indoor Explorer; Explorer Bright Ray; and ECC Icon Poster
  • Order Fall 2017 Textbooks Now!
  • Field Tests and Surveys
  • “A Daring Adventure Awaits” at the 2017 APH Annual Meeting of Ex Officio Trustees and Special Guests!
  • Braille Badges Contest Begins This September
  • STEM Corner
  • Treasure From the Migel Library
  • Social Media Spotlight
  • APH Travel Calendar and more…

Throwback Thursday Object: The Talking Wallet

The talking wallet recognized paper bills and announced their value.  It was developed by the Boston Information & Technology Corporation in cooperation with the American Foundation for the Blind(AFB).  In a 1992 edition of AFB's Braille Monitor, BIT’s President, Mohymen Saddeek, reported that roughly 150 were manufactured before the company failed in a dispute over the product.
There are many tools that supply a voice reading of the information normally gained by sight. Such aids include the talking scale, clock, watch, timer, blood-pressure monitor, thermometer, blood-glucose monitoring kit, talking wallet, label makers, calculators, and computer-speech output.
Photo caption:  The Talking Wallet was black plastic, about 4x6 inches, and opened up to accept the paper bill.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

Quick Tip: A Closer Look at Field Services Events. What does an APH Field Services event look like? Here’s just one example!


Throwback Thursday Object: Flyer Announcing a Concert by Students from "The Perkins Institution for the Blind" from 1873!

Our object this week is a small paper broadside from 1873.  In bold print letters it proclaims the appearance of “Mr. J.N. Marble and his associates from the Perkins Institution for the Blind” for a “Concert at Town Hall.”  These were likely pasted up all over town and handed out on the street.  John N. Marble was a student from Massachusetts at Perkins between 1868 and 1871.  Samuel Gridley Howe, the superintendent at Perkins, regularly exhibited his students all over the country, but this show was a money making venture.  It cost a quarter to get in.  We can’t be sure whether “Town Hall,” where the program was staged, was the Old City Hall in Boston or in some other community.  The repertoire featured a variety of popular tunes, primarily American, and concluded with “America,” although that song was not the “America the Beautiful” so familiar today.  That old favorite was not published until 1910.



Photo caption:  Nine by six inch concert flyer with a program listing

Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

 


Quick Tip: National Instructional Partnership (NIP) Events. APH sponsors National Instructional Partnership Events with experts in the field to initiate national, state, and regional training opportunities for parents, consumers, and personnel who serve children who are visually impaired.


Use the OrCam to Identify Objects, Read Print and More!

The following article comes from Hannah Ziring of OrCam Technologies. I have read about this device, viewed YouTube videos about it, and saw it in action very briefly at one of the summer conventions. You may find the device quite useful for the reasons listed in the article.
Glasses for a Person Who is Blind
The OrCam device is a smart camera that sits on the user’s glasses and reads text aloud to people who are visually impaired or blind.
While the OrCam device is not exactly “
glasses for blind person
”, it definitely looks that way. The device is so small and discreet, it is barely noticeable.
Besides its compact size, there are many amazing OrCam features that make the device unique and accessible.
Easy to use: OrCam MyEye is an intuitive wearable device with a smart camera that clips onto a regular pair of glasses and is able to 'read' text and convert it into speech relaying the message to the user. The device is activated by a simple intuitive gesture – pointing your finger or pressing a single button.
Using OCR - optical character reading - technology, the device can read printed materials on almost any surface such as newspapers, books, computer screens, menus and more.
Portable: Many people who are visually impaired or blind have to carry around a heavy magnifying glass to read text. The OrCam MyEye is small and light and simply attaches to the right side of the user’s glasses frame. The camera weighs ¾ of an ounce and has a thin wire, easily hidden behind the ear, which connects to the base unit or “brain” of the device. The base unit is about the size of a cellphone and can easily sit in one’s pocket or on a belt strap.
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Wearable: “You are what you wear.” Wearable technologies have grown tremendously in the past few years. Smart electronic devices that can be worn on the body are practical and discreet. The OrCam is no exception. the device is so discreet that it can barely be seen by others allowing the user to fit in with the crowd.
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Privacy: Unlike other OCR technologies, the OrCam does not require a scanner connected to a computer or internet connection. All the information stored in the device is private and only accessible to the user.
Independence: For people who are visually impaired or blind and have conditions that cannot be corrected by glasses or surgery, the OrCam MyEye can be life-changing. Who would have thought that this little camera situated on a pair of glasses could help people who are blind or visually impaired regain their independence.
To contact OrCam, 1350 Broadway, Suite 1600 New York, NY 10018. Phone: 1-800-713-3741 or visit their website where you can request a demo and join their email list. http://www.orcam.com/

Throwback Thursday Object: Humble Wooden Workstand



Our object this week is a humble wooden workstand, made and used here at the American Printing House and painted a nice industrial gray.  Historic photographs show similar custom-made tables in a variety of shapes and sizes used as work stands in a number of processes around the building.  In this picture of the stereograph room where embossing plates were made, you can see a table much like this one in the left foreground.   These tables are an endangered species around APH today.  A few years ago our production department installed a Kaizen construction area where our production staff can put together special purpose tables and materials carts in a jiffy from metal tubes and particle board.  I guess you could say that these old work tables were the Kaizen equivalent of their day.
In the second photo, probably from 1950 or so, office manager Jane Kent guides a group of well-dressed ladies on a tour of the stereograph room at APH.  A transcriber sits in front of a stereograph, translating braille onto metal embossing plates.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind


Quick Tip: Sense-able Ways to Build Tactile Literacy Skills. Karen Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader, recently presented a session entitled "Sense-able Ways to Build Tactile Literacy Skills" at the AER International Orientation and Mobility Conference in Pittsburgh, PA.