For your reading convenients below you will find all the Movers and Shakers published in 2018
American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
Who: APH is a non-profit organization that researches, develops, and produces educational, workplace, and independent living products and services for those who are blind and visually impaired. APH was founded in 1858 in Louisville, Kentucky. It is not only the oldest organization of its kind in the United States, but the world’s largest.
Where: American Printing House for the Blind is located at:
1839 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206.
There are two different guided tours offered at APH. First, you can tour the plant and museum. During this tour, you will see how Talking Books and braille books are created, view demonstrations of educational products, and visit the museum. This free tour is held Monday through Thursday at 10:00 & 2:00. Secondly, there is the guided museum tour, which is available by appointment Monday through Saturday. This tour focuses on the historical and educational components of the museum. The free museum is open from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM Eastern Time Monday-Friday, and 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Saturdays. Also, once each month, there is a special program presented by Museum education staff. The list of events is available online at www.aph.org/museum
What: The American Printing House for the Blind provides several services:
*Textbooks and tests in accessible format
*Tactile Graphic Image Library (TGIL), has a collection of well-designed templates to assist in the development of tactile graphics.
*Custom Media Productions, can make your materials accessible to your employees, customers, partners, etc.
*Accessible Magazines, Reader’s Digest, Newsweek, and Scholastic News are available in accessible formats. The first two mentioned magazines may be free to those U S citizens who meet the necessary criteria.
*Braille Tales; eligible US families receive six print/braille books per year, until the child turns six years old.
APH has a large collection of products that include:
*Product Information, downloadable product manuals and parts lists
*Technology software and downloads, has demos, product information and support
*Videos and webcasts, about products and services
*Instructional Products Catalog, except for textbooks, this catalog list all APH products
Latest Product: Indoor Explorer is a new feature of the Nearby Explorer iOS app, now available in an experimental version. Indoor Explorer helps you navigate within supported venues that have been mapped and equipped with beacons. This exciting new feature has similar functions to the outdoor Nearby Explorer; it allows you to independently learn about the location of entrances, rooms, elevators, restrooms, and more and then navigate to those locations.
APH, just last month, featured and is testing the Indoor Explorer app at Louisville International Airport. From their public release: “APH has taken advantage of Bluetooth, beacon technology with the app for use on iOS devices. Once travelers download the app, they can easily navigate every aspect of the airport from the ticket counter, through security and directly to their gate. It gives travelers the freedom to independently find the baggage claim, security, bathrooms, emergency exits, airport shops, restaurants and specific gate numbers.”
Saturday January 20 (10 am – 3 pm): APH celebrates Louis Braille’s 209th birthday and the gift of literacy he brought to people who are blind by unveiling our newest museum exhibits. The focal point of The Birth of Braille is Le Procédé – the book he published in 1829 to tell the world about his new code. Only six copies are known to be in existence. Two of them are in the United States and the copy in the museum is the only one on display for the public. The Boy Named Louis exhibit tells the story of this remarkable individual.
Tuesday January 23: APH celebrates 160 years of operation in Louisville. Representatives from the governor’s and mayor’s office will each speak. Tours of the plant and museum will be held throughout the day. Employees, along with some teachers and students from the Kentucky School for the Blind, will showcase APH products that provide the essential ingredients for education and independent living. Also, a writing contest will be kicked off for students and adults who are blind and visually impaired, along with the professionals who work them. Nancy Lacewell can provide details to people who are interested. Contact her via phone at 502-899-2339 or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
American Printing House for the Blind
1839 Frankfort Ave
Louisville, KY 40206
Toll-Free Customer Service and Technical Support: 800-223-1839 (U.S. and Canada)
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Brent Harbolt of the Harbolt Company. This business was created in 2014 by the Harbolt family. Currently, Brent is the CEO, and manages just about all aspects of the business.
Initially Brent was selling a variety of items to other people on the side, just for fun. Then, as more and more people began to ask Brent to find or get them something, things started to snowball. Brent decided to create the Harbolt company in order to offer items and special products at great prices to the public.
Brent, a blind individual himself, started the business with the intent to be for both the sighted and visually impaired community. Sighted individuals can visit the website and see pictures of all the products that are available. However, about 99 percent of his customers are visually impaired. Brent does not focus on blind specific items. He takes everyday items, makes sure that they are all accessible, and then post them on the website.
A wonderful feature that Brent has, and receives positive feedback for is his recordings. Brent is very proud to offer recorded audio descriptions for all items that he has for sale. These audio recordings are placed on the web site for listening at one’s convenience. They can also be downloaded to a computer in order to have them so you can come back later and listen.
I met Brent at a convention last summer. This is just one of his ways of introducing the public to the variety of products they carry. Their products can also be viewed via Facebook, the website and through an email newsletter that you can sign up for directly on the web site. They do not have a catalogue as their products are constantly changing.
The items that The Harbolt Company offers are affordable because they do not pay retail. Therefore, they pass the savings on to their customers. They accept most major credit cards, PayPal, and phone orders. Also offered is a layaway option with no fees if paid in full in thirty days. How nice!
For those living in the continental United States there is a flat shipping rate of seven dollars for the first item, and an additional three dollar shipping rate for each additional item within the order. The Harbolt Company ships to Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and many other countries as well.
Brent purchases products from suppliers that he has built relationships with over the years. Brent has a product request form on the website for customers looking for specific items. All one needs to do is complete the form, and Brent will look for it. If he finds it, he will contact the customer and discuss the details and whether or not to purchase it for them. He has some longtime customers that continually are looking for certain items that they want or collect, and Brent will search for them.
The Harbolt Company carries many electronic products, and a variety of other items. Brent says the best thing to do is check the website weekly since the inventory changes so often. Many items are limited in the quantity available. They even have an “only one left” category, so if you want it, better grab it quick!
There are some items that they do continue to keep in stock. For example, the 15,000 mAh accessible portable battery and the reversible micro USB cable. The battery charger can give you nearly seven charges for your iPhone before you need to recharge the battery itself. This battery gives you tones and vibrations to inform you of how much battery is left. It has two reversible USB ports, allowing you to charge two devices at the same time. When the battery starts to run low it will begin to beep. The cost for this product is 89 dollars and 99 cents plus shipping. The reversible micro USB cable is very convenient since it does not matter which way you plug it in, either way will work! The same holds true for the USB side, either way will work. This cable comes in two sizes; 4-foot for 16 dollars and 99 cents, and 6-foot for 21 dollars and 99 cents plus shipping.
The Harbolt Company has a newsletter list which you can subscribe to via their website. Once signed up, you will receive a daily email that will include featured deals of the day at a special price. Those on this list, now at 500, will also receive announcements of new products, featured deals for the day, new features to the website, and any contest that they may be running.
Brent is offering our readers five dollars off their first purchase using coupon code movers5, and this is good until April 1, 2018!
Demetra Edwards, O&M Instructor
This month I had a Q&A with a very special person, Demetra Edwards. Demetra is an orientation and mobility instructor. However, she is not just any O&M instructor, she was my first teacher.
I am sure that I wasn’t the easiest student to teach. But, with Demetra’s patience, persistence, and belief in me, I not only developed good O&M skills, but a wonderful friendship.
Q. What made you decide to become an Orientation & Mobility (O&M) instructor?
I was working as a Physical Therapist Assistant treating people with multiple disabilities. Many of my clients were visually impaired and, through a colleague, I found out about the profession of orientation and mobility. I did not know the profession existed and after a bit of research decided it was the profession for me.
Q. Where did you get your training to become an O&M instructor? Briefly explain the process.
I was trained at University of Massachusetts at Boston. It was a rigorous on-line program culminating in an extensive blind-fold practicum that took place in the city of Boston. After completing the on-line portion of the program, we began the blindfold practicum which entailed about ten to twelve eight-hour, in-person, meetings where we experienced travel under blindfold.
We also had the opportunity to teach our fellow students as they were under blindfold. We learned to teach community travel using buses, trains and the subway. We spent many hours learning to teach street crossings and how to use the environment to remain oriented. We also learned how to use and how to teach white long cane techniques and sighted guide skills as well.
Q. How long have you been an instructor?
I have been an instructor for twelve years.
Q. What ages do you work with?
I work with people from three-years old to elderly.
Q. What is the difference between orientation, mobility, and cane skills, if any?
Orientation skills may include but are not limited to: use of landmarks; use of environmental cues or clues; auditory cues; echolocation skills; types of routes and shapes of routes; mapping skills; use of gps system; cardinal directions; clock-face directions, and self-familiarization techniques.
Orientation also includes awareness and understanding of the many way-finding components in any given environment such as: locator tones, aps signals, tactile warning plates. One must also be aware of curb cuts, blended curbs, shapes and configurations of intersections, traffic patterns and traffic sounds. Orientation skills help one to know where they are at any given moment.
Mobility skills may include but are not limited to: white long cane skills; sighted guide skills; hand-trailing skills; voice guide skills; travel with a guide dog; echolocation skills; cane skills; street crossing skills; and use of public transportation.
Cane skills may include use of a white long cane, pre-cane, identification cane or support cane. It may even include use of a support cane paired with a white long cane. There are many techniques associated with a long cane and the situation and or environment will dictate the techniques used.
Q. Do you have certain steps you follow when teaching blind individuals mobility/cane skills?
Each consumer’s situation is different from the last and training is rarely the same for any two people. However, the first and most important step, is to take the time to learn about the consumer and his or her needs, wants, desires, and concerns. The initial interview is helpful with determining the direction of instruction but it frequently happens that the first few lessons bring more clarity to the consumer’s needs.
Q. How do you deal with difficult clients?
To remind myself to not take anything personally. To remind myself to teach from a place of love and respect. To take a few breaths, be patient, remain mindful of the objective, to remain mindful of my consumer’s place of frustration and anger and to do my best to understand.
Q. Can you share one great experience you may have had with a client?
One client took the cane from my hand, put it in her kitchen drawer, slammed it shut, stood in front of the drawer and said, “good bye.” On a lesson she got lost in a park and became so frustrated she repeatedly smashed her cane against a bench. She said she would “never” use public transportation. On a lesson, she insisted she knew a shortcut and refused to use the route she had been taught and promptly got lost and very frustrated. Mobility instruction for her, at the beginning, was difficult and she lashed out. The process was very difficult for her but I knew she was processing through and knew she would be okay. I felt tested and had to use all my “dealing with a difficult client techniques” and they worked. This was one great experience because of witnessing her work through her frustration and anger and returning to the successful woman she always was.
q. What are the hardest things about your job?
The most difficult thing about this job is closing a case. I never want to stop working with my consumers and have a very difficult time closing their cases.
Pay With Chip
I would first like to thank reader Judy, from New York for suggesting the following person to interview for this month’s Movers & Shakers segment. Thank you, Judy, I found this very fascinating, and I hope you all will too!
I had a Q&A email session, along with a great skype interview with Michael Vinocur, founder and CEO of Pay With Chip, Inc.
Q. What is the Pay with Chip marketplace?
The Pay With Chip marketplace is an assistive software designed to create an easy to use and highly accessible online shopping experience across many online retailers, both in the United States and overseas.
Q. How does it work?
The software works by eliminating the clutter normally found on most retailer websites, and then presents the important parts in a way that is streamlined and well organized. Consumers can casually browse or search for any item, from a variety of retailers, using just four keyboard keys; up, down, enter and escape. Checkouts are a breeze with the complimentary chip payment card reader, which facilitates a safe an independently completed checkout that anyone can do. Because of the consistency in the way we present stores, once a customer is comfortable shopping at a single store they can quickly and easily shop any other store on the marketplace.
Q. Who is this designed for, and what is needed in order to use the software and reader?
The software is primarily designed to address the obstacles or concerns faced by consumers using assistive technologies, such as screen readers or screen magnifiers when navigating or checking out of online shopping websites. A customer who is interested in trying out the experience, will need a Windows based PC and an available USB port. They can download the software from our website at www.paywithchip.com. After the download, the customer will need to install the application to their computer, where an icon will then be placed on the desktop for the Pay With Chip Marketplace. When launched, the first thing a customer should do is register, which will trigger a card reader to be mailed and allow access to the marketplace for browsing. We have a library of recordings available from our home page which walk customers through a full tour of the software.
Note: The Pay With Chip software is currently available for Windows. The Mac and iOS apps have been delayed due to programming changes, but it is being worked on. Michael is hoping to have these two options along with Android devices up and running by late Spring.
Q. Who are the current websites on board?
We have over 30 online shopping websites available at the moment which range from large consumer shopping sites like Amazon, Wal Mart, Petco and eBay to smaller stores like Brookstone or Russel Stover’s chocolate. We have an additional 40 merchants that are awaiting their stores to be added to the marketplace. We will have access to a shopping experience that puts more than 100 million products from around the world at the fingertips of our customers by the beginning of April 2018.
Note: Currently Pay With Chip has the following three categories live; shopping (various stores & products), e learning (free courses), and entertainment (audio & e books). They are working on adding finance and travel platforms to the marketplace. The finance avenue is projected to cover things from home loans, banking, credit information, to investments.
Q. How do you get other websites to join your platform?
Initially we reached out to merchants using the available channels for companies that wish to engage in creating business relationships. That has begun to shift as our platform has grown and now companies are sending requests to us.
Q. Is there technical support?
Yes. Our technical support desk is available everyday and we try to maintain a response time of one to two hours up to midnight eastern standard time. Questions or comments can be sent directly to us from the conveniently located help option inside of the marketplace.
Note: currently this is a two-person operation. Michael is hoping to have two more people on board in the future. This will then enable those late night orders to be processed in real time.
Q. What is the chip payment card reader and how does it work?
Our chip payment card reader is a secure technology for online and in-person commerce, which connects to a Windows based computer with an available USB port. It is designed to allow a checkout at a speed comparable to saving the information online (ex. PayPal or Amazon) to avoid re-entry, but significantly safer. This is because chip card technology also known as EMV and present in most stores that consumer shop at today, is a fast and secure method of sending encrypted payment details that can only be used one time and that a merchant is unable to read or save. Consumers have a faster and safer way to shop at their favorite online stores, without ever typing or saving their payment card information.
Q. Is there a cost for this reader?
Reader’s do not have a cost.
Q. How secure is one’s payment information? Explain.
Microchip payment technology is the safest form of payment technology available. It has been the gold standard for secure commerce in most of the world, and has been mandated as the required payment technology in the United States by 2019. By nature, the information generated by microchips for payment purposes can only be used for a single transaction and are then invalidated by a customer’s bank unless re-occurring use is authorized by the consumer.
Q. Can you tell me what motivated/inspired you to create this software?
I developed the idea working with my father who lost his vision about 10 years ago, and has had to develop the skillsets required to successfully navigate online websites. Online shopping in particular is a challenge, and it’s one that many share. I spent a great deal of time matching what I was seeing on his computer screen and compared it to what JAWS was telling him and there was such a gap in the quality of the information. I decided that I would create an alternative approach to solving the problem of accessibility in ecommerce. The idea for the marketplace was born. A place where consumers could log on to with any assistive technology they were comfortable with using and regardless of the level of training they might have, and be able to exit with a product they want in less than 10 minutes.
Q. What has the feedback from users been like?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Our customers have referred to the software as the easiest and in many cases, fastest way to shop online. The beautiful thing about what we are doing is that customers send us a wish list everyday of the stores they would like to rely on the marketplace to experience in the future.
Michael’s ultimate goal is to be able to offer the Pay With Chip to those in other countries. This would enable those in other parts of the world to download the marketplace in their native language, and have it already tailored for them. Then they too could have access to stores that are specific to them.
Michael Vinocur: Founder and CEO
Be My Eyes
Early last month I had an eye-opening interview with Alexander Hauerslev Jensen. Alexander is the Community Director for Be My Eyes. Please read on to learn about this fascinating app and its newest features.
Hans Jørgen Wiberg is the creator of Be My Eyes. As a visually impaired person himself, he was interested in creating a platform to link sighted volunteers with blind/ visually impaired individuals in order to assist them with a variety of tasks. After two and a half years in development, the Be My Eyes app was launched in Denmark on January 15, 2015.
Be My eyes had no formal marketing prior to its launch, just word of mouth. Apparently, that worked quite well since after just 24 hours, Be My Eyes had 10,000 volunteers, 1,000 subscribers, and was available in 30 countries! Be My Eyes continued to grow by word of mouth by both the volunteers and the subscribers. Be My Eyes became a global phenomenon, breaking down barriers among sighted and blind individuals. As well as different languages, cultures, and time zones.
The Be My eyes app is free and available on iOS and Android devices. You do not need to have wifi, the app will run off your data usage. The volunteers are available 24 / 7, around the world! Check out these impressive numbers, as of the writing of this article:
Blind/ Visually Impaired Subscribers: 70,000
Languages: over 180
The app is very simple and easy to navigate. Once downloaded, tap onto the “Call first available volunteer” button. Then, usually within 30 seconds you will be connected with a volunteer. Next, point the camera on your phone in the direction of what you want the volunteer to help you with. Users ask for assistance with such things as reading an expiration date, stating the color of a piece of clothing, reading mail, finding something that fell on the floor, sorting a CD or record collection (which I did do recently), and many other tasks.
According to the volunteers, most calls tend to run 2 to 7 minutes long. Although there is no limit to the length of the call, it would be considerate to inform the volunteer at the onset of the call that your task may take a considerable amount of time to complete. If the volunteer is able to devote the time to help with the task, then great, if not, then you can always call again for another volunteer that is able to assist you.
Be My Eyes recently launched a new feature called Specialized Help. Microsoft is the first company to be highlighted here. Once on the app, blind/ low vision users can tap on the Specialized Help button, and then the Microsoft button. Users will then be connected with a member of the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk to get support on questions about their Microsoft product or service.
Be my Eyes has received over 600 suggestions for other company’s support lines to add to this platform. They are currently working with several other organizations in hopes of adding them soon. There will be different categories within the Specialized Help. These may include assistive technology, banking, and transportation, just to name a few.
B My Eyes latest feature is Community Stories. On the main page of the app, in the lower left-hand corner tap onto the Stories tab. Once in there, you can flick through the different story titles. If you want to listen to one, just tap on the title, then the play button. These are inspirational, funny, and educational stories from both volunteers and users from around the world.
Alexander concluded the interview with these words:
“there are different solutions for different demands & needs. We at Be My Eyes, have a philosophy that our accessible product should always remain free for our blind and low vision users.”
the Perkins School for the Blind
Part 1: History & Blind Education
In late April Kevin Hartigan, Director of Volunteer Services and Tours, took me on a wonderful journey through the Perkins School for the Blind. Kevin has worked at Perkins for 33 years, 30 years directly with the students.
We began the tour with the history of Perkins, the oldest school for the blind in the United States.
Dr. John Dix Fisher: One of the founders of Mass General Hospital (Boston, MA), first doctor to ever use the stethoscope in the United States, and first doctor to ever use anesthesia for women during childbirth. While working in Paris, he visited a school for the blind. He saw something in that school that he had never seen in the United States, blind children being children; they were running, playing, laughing, and singing in the classroom. Dr. Fisher decided that this needed to happen in Boston. So, when he returned home he persuaded family and friends he knew had both the means and the conscious to help fund an American version of the Paris school. On March 2, 1829 the Boston legislature incorporated the New England Asylum for the Blind. Two years later Dr. Fisher recruited his friend Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe as the superintendent.
Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe: After visiting the European schools, he felt that they were too protective and focused too narrowly on academics. Dr. Howe wanted to teach everything; athletics, arts, music, and most importantly vocational skills. He hired two teachers and in the summer of 1831 he opened the school in his home.
Within a year the demand grew so high, his house wasn’t big enough. It so happened that one of the men who initially helped fund the school was also one of the richest men in Boston. Therefore, Dr. Howe, not one to be shy, asked him for his mansion to house the school, and he said yes. After eight years, the school outgrew the mansion, and a bigger place was needed.
Dr. Howe found a hotel that was for sale, he just needed the money. He again went to the owner of the big mansion. Dr. Howe asked him to sell the mansion and give him the money to purchase the hotel for the school. The rich man once again said yes. The Mount Washington Hotel, located in South Boston remained the school’s location for 73 years. Thankful for his sustained generosity, the school renamed itself The Perkins Institute for the Blind, after the rich man, Thomas Perkins.
The Perkins School for the Blind moved to its present location, Watertown, Massachusetts in 1912. There is now a total of 33 buildings on this spacious campus. I began my tour in the Howe building, named after Dr. Samuel Howe who was acting director for 45 years.
One of the first things Dr. Howe did was to create a system of reading for the blind called Boston’s Line Print. This consisted of raised line letters, excluding capital letters. A printing press was made and books were then made for the students to read. In addition to its difficulty and slowness to read, one challenge since it was made by a printing press was how would they teach writing.
In the classroom, every student was given a wooden frame which had lines in it. They also received a box with letters made of metal. Students would then fit the letters on the frame with other letters to create words, sentences, and paragraphs. This is how the concept of writing was taught. I tried this and it was not easy!
Once students developed the ability to build letters into words, then they were taught to write. The Perkins method of writing was to use all straight lines. For example, the letter o was not a circle, but rather a square. To organize the page so that the lines were straight, and that one doesn’t write on what they already wrote, students were given writing guides. The paper would be inserted into the guide and students could then write on the line. However, there were four trouble makers, the letters g, p, q, and y because they fell below the line. This problem was remedied in the creation of the guide by simply pushing the line down to complete those letters. When the entire line was completed, students would open the guide and slide it down to the next ridge, and so on. This writing guide was from 1890.
When braille was first introduced, the Perkins School didn’t like it. Their philosophy was to always treat a blind person exactly the same as a sighted person. In addition, they saw braille as separating the blind world from the sighted world. Philosophically their reasoning made sense, but practically braille was much faster, efficient, and easier to write. So, eventually Perkins fell in line behind everyone else and accepted braille, and became the makers of the Perkins Brailler.
The original Perkins Brailler was produced in 1951. It has remained the most widely use mechanical braille writer in the world. This durable metal case writer has a key that corresponds to each of the six dots of the braille code. It also has a space key, a backspace key, and a line space key. Similar to a manual typewriter, it has two side knobs to advance the paper, and a carriage return lever.
In 2014 Perkins released the Smart Brailler. This is a regular mechanical Perkins brailler, made of plastic, and with a computer built in. It has a speaker that provides text to speech feedback. As the user is writing braille on the paper, what they are writing appears on the screen, and a sighted person can read along.
Then I had the experience of learning and touching the most important artifact in the Perkins museum. This being the tactile globe that was made in 1837! It is made from 700 pieces of wood that were glued together. The Continents were added in plaster afterwards. It is no longer used in the classrooms since it is not tremendously accurate.
In 1837 the United States only went out to the Mississippi River. Therefore, they painted the rest of the US to please the sighted people. However, none of the tactile features have ever been changed. The important thing about the globe is who touched it; Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan, Charles Dickens, JFK, George H W Bush, and many other famous and well-known individuals. I too, delighted in feeling my way around the world on this impressive tactile globe.
Stay tuned for next month’s article when I write about three important women at the Perkins School for the Blind.
Go back to the beginning of content