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for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Browse By Topic: Reading

Obtaining Access to E-books ...Again

The American Foundation for the Blind was pleased to learn that the Librarian of Congress had approved the US Copyright Office’s recommendation to exempt certain classes of works from copyright restrictions to improve access to those works by people who are blind or visually impaired. Every three years, the Copyright Office conducts a rulemaking procedure to determine which classes of works should be exempt from the "prohibition on circumvention of copyright protection systems for access control technologies." In general, these access control technologies are any technologies designed to protect the copyright on a given work, such as an e-book, motion picture, or software program. Under Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), enacted in 1998,

AFB Applauds Senate Approval of the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act

Mark Richert, AFB's Director of Public Policy A hearty kudos to the United States Senate for ratifying the Marrakesh Treatyunanimously, I might addand passing its implementing legislation, the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (S. 2559), which aims to facilitate access to materials in a specialized format to eligible individuals, including and especially individuals who are blind or visually impaired. It has been the longstanding belief of the American Foundation for the Blind that access to books is a basic human right, the denial of which should not and cannot be tolerated

AFB Urges Progress on Marrakesh Treaty in Honor of World Book Day

Mark Richert, AFB's Director of Public Policy Every year on April 23, the world comes together to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors. World Book and Copyright Day was created by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to encourage everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading. The American Foundation for the Blind joins with the World Blind Union in highlighting the importance of books and promoting our

Celebrating Louis Braille's Birthday and AFB's Commitment to Braille Literacy

Every January 4, we celebrate the birthday of Louis Braille, who developed his famous braille code when he was only a teenager. Learn more about the creation of the braille code by exploring AFB's Louis Braille Online Museum. The American Foundation for the Blind's recognition of the importance of braille has been a constant throughout the 95 years of our existence. AFB took the lead to standardize the English braille code, making it cheaper and easier to produce. Our first CEO, Dr. Robert Irwin, was in the forefront of the delegation that successfully brought

Transcribing Digitized Letters from the Helen Keller Archive: A Transcriber's Account

We are delighted that our next post in this series of posts devoted to the Helen Keller Digitization project is contributed by Susan Pearce, a volunteer transcriber, and a very valued member of our "Captains of Transcription" team. From Susan Pearce, transcriber: This is an unbelievably interesting project. I have been getting to know Helen Keller better. Miss Keller travelled the world and affected so many people's lives. What has been wonderful to transcribe are the handwritten letters from young students in school who thought of her as a heroic person and also had read her books; notwithstanding the many

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Reform and the Right to Read

“At the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), we have worked for nearly a century to break down societal barriers and eliminate discrimination by achieving equal access to the world of copyrighted works. But for all the promise of technology to provide equal access to copyrighted works, the copyright laws that protect those works have sometimes served to impede that technology.” Mark Richert, Esq., Director of Public Policy, was part of an expert panel at a free Public Knowledge luncheon today, entitled “DMCA Reform: Lessons from the Copyright Office’s Triennial Review.” Read his post on the Public Knowledge blog,

16 Braille Resources in Honor of World Braille Day 2016

"Braille is knowledge, and knowledge is power." - Louis Braille Louis Braille, the inventor of braille, was born two hundred and seven years ago on January 4, 1809. In his honor, we've gathered 16 braille resources in celebration of World Braille Day 2016! 1.What is braille, anyway? It’s not a language, but a system of raised dots that can be read with the fingers by people who are blind or who have low vision. Braille is a code by which many languagessuch as English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and dozens of othersmay be written and read.

Movie Magic: Helen Keller in Paris to Honor Louis Braille, 1952

Two hundred and seven years ago, on January 4th, 1809, Louis Braille was born in Coupvray, France. His invention of a system of raised dots representing letters, numbers and punctuation revolutionized the way blind people read and write and opened a wealth of knowledge to visually impaired audiences. In 1952, one hundred years after his death, Braille's body with the exception of his hands was removed from his home town to the Pantheon in Paris. Helen Keller was asked to give the speech on that occasion. AFB is thrilled to bring you this marvelous movie clip of that event. The clip includes her giving an address in French and accepting the French Legion of Honor for her work on behalf of those with vision

CSUN 2015: Cameras for Everybody!

Editorial note: For 30 years, the Center on Disabilities at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) has hosted an Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, known as a forum that showcases cutting-edge technology and practical solutions for people with disabilities. AFB director of web services, Crista Earl, checked out the exhibit hall and sent this report. The exhibit hall opened here on Wednesday, and I made my first pass. I missed a lot, but I can tell already that there are a few

10 Braille Resources From the American Foundation for the Blind in Honor of Louis Braille's Birthday

“O the delicious taste of independence that comes with an embossed book, and a Braille tablet!” - Helen Keller To celebrate World Braille Day 2015, marked annually on January 4th in honor of Louis Braille, the inventor of braille who was born on this day in 1809, we've gathered 10 braille resources and articles you'll want to bookmark and share. Happy World Braille Day! 1. AFB's online museum celebrating "200 Years: The Life and Legacy of Louis Braille" honored the Louis Braille Bicentennial by tracing his life through

The Need for Access: AFB Testimony on Intellectual Property Law

Note: The following is testimony made by Mark Richert, AFB's director of public policy, on how copyright law affects those with vision loss. For a primer on this topic, please see All Rights ReservedHow Copyright Law Can Leave People Who Are Blind Out. Video of this testimony is also available from the U.S. House of Representatives. Before the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Hearing on Chapter 12 of Title 17

Helen Keller's Love of Reading

Helen Keller was a voracious reader. She describes her love of reading in her second autobiography entitled Midstream, published in 1929. "More than at any other time, when I hold a beloved book in my hand my limitations fall from me, my spirit is free. Books are my compensation for the harms of fate. They give me a world for a lost world, and for mortals who have disappointed me they give me gods. I cannot take space to name here all the books that have enriched my life, but there are a few that I cannot pass over. The one I have read most is

Win an e-Book for the Beach!

As we have traveled around the country talking with teachers, we have been amazed at how many of you told us that you catch up on your professional reading while on vacation, and even read AFB Press books and JVIB on the beach! So to recognize your amazing dedication, we are giving away 3 e-books that can be read on tablet devices while also enjoying sand, surf, and sun. To enter, simply enter a comment below, or on the

Celebrating the Life and Work of Louis Braille, 205 Years Later

Saturday, January 4, marks the 205th birthday of Louis Braille, the inventor of his eponymous code for people with vision loss. In celebration of his birthday, as well as National Braille Literacy Month, we’ve assembled a roundup of braille-centric content throughout AFB's family of sites. Read up, reflect, and appreciate what braille has meant to so many. Braille continues to be a driving force for people with vision loss. Throughout January, we will be sharing information relevant to braillehistory, technology, and so forth. Here's a collection of articles to kick things off. We would

AFB Press Interviews Cynthia Sun, Mother of a Visually Impaired Student

[Editor's note: In 2007, AFB Press published "Cortical Visual Impairment: An Approach to Assessment and Intervention" by Christine Roman-Lantzy. Pictured on the cover was 12 year-old Jeremy Sun. We recently caught up with his mother, Cynthia, to see how Jeremy, now 18, was doing.] Tell us about Jeremy. How has he been doing? Jeremy is now 18 years old and ready to move on to a new environment this

Dr. James Jan Publishes Final Contribution in Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

This summer, the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) will feature the final publication by a giant in the research of neuroplasticity of the brain and how it relates to vision. Dr. James E. Jan, founder, retired professor, and senior research scientist emeritus of the Visual Impairment Program at BC Children's Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is best known for his groundbreaking work that contributed enormously to the field's discussion of the nature of cortical visual impairment. The article, "Windows into the Visual Brain: New Discoveries About the Visual System, Its Functions, and

On June 27, Support the Anne Sullivan Macy Act – Here's How

On June 27, the anniversary of Helen Keller's birth, you are invited to participate in a unique opportunity to honor the legacy of Helen Keller's beloved teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy, and to advocate for improved educational results for all students living with vision loss, including students who may have additional disabilities. Be a part of the National Call-In Day to support the Anne Sullivan Macy Act, and tell Congress to get moving on making America's special education system more accountable for meeting the unique learning needs of students who are blind or visually impaired. Find the full text of the Macy Act and an online support petition at

New Amazon Kindle App Shows Improved Accessibility

Readers of AccessWorld know that I have written several articles over the years condemning the lack of accessibility found in Amazon's Kindle devices. A couple of their devices have had some half-baked solutions for accessibility, and their mobile apps have never been accessible or usable at all. However, on May 1 we learned that Amazon's new update for the Kindle app for Apple's iOS mobile platform has improved accessibility for people with vision loss. We took a quick look at it on an iPhone 5 in our AFB Tech product evaluation labs this morning, and although there are still some things

Expanding Literacy and Beyond

On May 1, I'll be attending the Reading and Literacy Summit hosted by our good friends, Lions Club International. This event presents a promising opportunity to share vital information on topics such as accelerating global literacy, improved reading material distribution, expanding inclusion, and overcoming illiteracy through technology. AFB has been working with the Lions over the past year to

You're Invited! AFB Bookstore Virtual Open House - Save 20%!

We invite you to tour the newly redesigned AFB Bookstore and save 20% on all publications during AFB's Virtual Open House this Wednesday through Friday, March 27-29, using code AFBSTORE13. Other activities include giveaways and contests to win AFB Press books and DVDs. AFB will announce details each day of the Open House on the AFB Bookstore page at and through the AFB Press Facebook page at beginning Wednesday morning. The redesigned store makes it

All Rights Preserved? How Copyright Law Can Leave People Who Are Blind Left Out

Did you know that since January 1, you can get in serious legal trouble for unlocking your cell phone? That is, the process of liberating your phone from the specific mobile carrier, such as Verizon or AT&T, to which your phone is likely linked right out of the box? Before, you had the freedom to unlock your phone without being subject to the severe penalties of the draconian Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). So what happened on January 1? Well, the DMCA permits the Librarian of Congress to exempt from liability behavior that would otherwise run afoul of the DMCA. The Librarian of Congress had been recognizing the right of cell

Braille Roundup: Celebrating the Life and Work of Louis Braille

Today marks the 204th birthday of Louis Braille, the inventor of his eponymous code for people with vision loss. In celebration of his birthday and National Braille Literacy Month, we’ve assembled a roundup of braille-centric content throughout AFB's family of sites. Read up, reflect on, and appreciate what braille has meant to so many. Braille continues to be a driving force for people with vision loss. Throughout January, we will be sharing information relevant to braillehistory, technology, and so forth. Here's a collection of articles to kick things off. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

One Major Step Closer to Ending an International Book Famine

Convenient and affordable access to books in formats that can be read by individuals who are blind or visually impaired has long been a major struggle. With high-quality audio and braille production, and more recently, digital production, books are now far more available for those of us with vision loss, at least in the wealthier nations. Although copyright laws in many nations allow production of accessible books for people who cannot read print, it is quite difficult and often illegal to share these accessible books across international borders. And, even with all the progress we've made, only a very small percentage of published books

Erik Weihenmayer is off to new adventures; new book may help others follow suit

[Editor's Note: The following post is authored by Paul Ponchillia, Professor Emeritus at Western Michigan University and Olympic Torch runner. Dr. Ponchillia is the founder of sports camps for children with visual impairments nationwide and also co-author of Physical Education and Sports for People with Visual Impairments and Deafblindness: Foundations of Instruction, recently published by AFB Press.] If you’re a New York Times reader, perhaps you saw the

Braille Authority of North America Formally Announces Adoption of Unified English Braille

Regarding our recent blog post on the Unified English Braille Code, the Braille Authority of North America has formally announced the adoption of Unified English Braille, a move that should, among other important things, pave the way for greater materials availability through cross-border sharing among English-speaking countries. AFB extends appreciation and congratulations to BANA for this historic move, and we especially thank Dr. Frances Mary D'Andrea, AFB's BANA representative and Chair of BANA, for her tireless work to achieve this milestone in the history of braille. Please

Braille Remains Vital, But Modifications Needed

Since its inception, the American Foundation for the Blind has been dedicated to promoting the use of braille. We have championed braille literacy, the use of technology to facilitate access to information in braille, the development of effective codes to allow for efficient production of braille material, and even for sharing of braille material across international borders. We continue this work by stating our strong endorsement of the Unified English Braille Code (UEBC) and call upon the Braille Authority of North America to adopt this code. Adoption of the UEBC is all the more important as it would allow the United States to take advantage of

Congratulating Bookshare on its 10th Anniversary

On Thursday evening, March 8, Mark Richert and I were thrilled to join Bookshare at its celebration in Washington D.C., commemorating ten years of bringing books to people with print disabilities. The event featured remarks by Senator Tom Harkin, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) who set the tone for the evening, noting that timely and affordable access to books is essential for truly equal opportunity. Donna McNear, a noted educator and leader in the blindness