Jump to: General and Computer Resources Training Centers for the Blind Blindness Related Mailing Lists Note Takers and Other Similar Devices List of U.S. Guide Dog Schools
This page lists resources for the blind. Note that if you don't find a certain resource here, you might refer to the other pages on this site or the Blindness Resource Search box below. This list does not reflect all of the blindness related resources that there are, but rather the ones that I have had the most experience with and like.
If you're looking for a specific resource, then try out the new Blindness Resource Search box below. After you find what you need, remember to use the Back button or Alt+Left Arrow to return to this page.
WhiteCaneDay.org is the official site for the White Cane Day celebration in Austin, TX. Don't know what White Cane Day is? Check this site out and learn, as well as read about how other people celebrate White Cane Day, and more.
Accessible World is an online community which features weekly presentations and conferences through voice and text chat.
The Accessible World website runs a weekly technology voice and text chat program where they feature different guests talking about a variety of blindness technologies and other topics. Visit the Tech Talk Training Archives and browse, download, or listen online to their different shows. The live sessions are held each Monday evening at 7 CST in the U.S. These archives are updated either the following Tuesday or Wednesday with that week's show.
Adjustment to Blindness, maintained by Robert Leslie Newman. Mr. Newman not only writes the short stories and thought provokers, but he also maintains forums where you can comment on his stories and how you interpret them. You can read all this and more on the website.
The American Printing House for the Blind is located in Louisville, Kentucky, and has been operating since 1858. They have many high tech, low tech, and no tech adaptive products for the blind and low vision person, such as large print calendars, Braille watches, different kinds of Braille paper and writing supplies, and much more. Click here for a complete list of products.
Beyond Sight, in Littleton, CO, is similar to the American Printing House. There is a distinct difference though: at Beyond sight, you can either place orders through their website, or you can physically visit their store. Beyond Sight is not necessarily a mail order catelog company. In fact, they rank higher in my view, since you can visit their store and take a look at nearly all of their products before you buy, if you happen to live in or near Littleton, Colorado that is. One other distinguishing thing is that, within the last year or so, Beyond Sight has introduced a voice chat forum, where you can either participate in seminars, or download and listen to past seminars on your computer.
The Blind Online Success System is an Internet marketing group that seeks to help the blind enter the world of marketing and home-based businesses. The things that jumped out at me about this group is that they target the blind/low vision user, that their software is accessible, and that they are free; there's no hidden fees in joining their group. If this is something you're interested in or have wanted to get involved with but have put off for whatever reason, check them out.
The Blind Planet strives to be a one stop resource for all things blindness related, whether they be blogs, podcasts, audio, video, resources, materials, and much more. This is a community driven site, which means that anyone can contribute content. Check it out.
From the people that brought you the KNFB Mobile Reader, comes the Blio Reader. Blio is a platform for reading books where you not only see the text of the book but are also able to see full color pictures and graphics from the same book. Plus, this e-book reader will be accessible with JAWS and likely other screen readers. Blio is expected to launch on September 28. It will give access to 1,000,000 books, plus the ability to buy books from an online store at retail prices, and download them to be read on the Blio Reader. The Blio is expected to run on computers, netbooks, mobile phones, such as the iPhone, Windows Mobile, and Symbian, and other devices. Considering that specialized sites usch as the National Library Services offers access to only thousands of books per year, and Blio offers 1 million, that's a big difference. Keep watching this site for Blio's launch, and, get ready to read!
BookShare.org: books without barriers. On February 21, 2002, Book Share opened their virtual doors to allow blind and print disabled people, or people that cannot easily read standard print, to join and download any of the books from their site. They started with around 7,000 books and at last count, they had over 55,000, and the numbers are growing all the time. The reason that Book Share can allow the download of copyrighted materials, and Napster couldn't, is that Book Share.org falls within the recent copyright laws. Go to their site and read more. Whether you are a member or not, you can perform title or author searches from their home page, or browse categories of books. The formats for downloading are the Daisy format and BRF formats. You can read the Daisy format in several Daisy readers, including Kurzweil 1000, and some specific software or hardware packages. The BRF format is compatible with any recent Freedom Scientific note taker, a Braille or Voice Note, with Kurzweil 1000 version 6.01 and above, or wiht any of the popular portable devices like the Victor Reader Stream, the Booksense, the BookPort Plus, and others. Members and nonmembers can also order embossed Braille copies of the books from the Braille Institute. Read more at the Book Share site.
If you don't live in the United States, or are looking for other sites where you can freely download and read books, then give one or more of these a try:
The Book Port and the Book Courier are two small portable devices that allow you to read documents of different formats, such as RTF, text, HTML, etc, and listen to audio, such as MP3, DAISY, and even Audible content. The Book Port is made by the American Printing House for the Blind and is meant for a blind person. The Book Courier is made by Springer Design and is meant for someone with a learning disability. I know of many blind people that use both though. You can find several podcasts about both devices on Blind Cool Tech.
Are you a blind student that needs material transcribed, a business that needs business related materials put into an alternative format, or do you have another need? If so, then Braille Plus may be able to help. Read more at their site.
Enable Link: an online community of the blind. Enable Link has made their mark in the adaptive technology world, as far as I'm concerned. On their site, you will find articles about technology, life style, health, diabetes, and all points in between. They also do movie reviews for really popular films, of course from a blind person's perspective. Check them out.
The Hadley School for the Blind offers a number of correspondence courses for those interested in distance education, such as: rehabilitation professionals, high school students, parents or friends of blind/low vision people, or the blind/low vision person. Check it out.
If you're looking for a nice leather case that will protect your note taker or laptop, or another kind of case, then consider Executive Products. They make cases for many of the Freedom Scientific note takers, including all of the X series of PAC Mates. I have their PAC Mate QX 440 case, and am very pleased with it. Check them out.
Handi Works is a company which sells cane holders, backpacks, and other storage items for the blind or vision impaired. They have harness signs for a guide dog. They also sell the Executive Products PAC Mate cases referenced above. Check them out.
I Can Work This Thing is a site that has a growing collection of manuals for many different home or consumer electronics, and more. The manuals are available to read online or download in accessible form. Contributions are welcome.
Independent Living Aids, located in New York. This company stands out to me because, not only do they have the usual types of blindness and low vision related products, but they also have tutorials for purchase and, at the time that I bought it, they had the only electric talking clock around. I still have the clock and it works great.
Info Eyes is a site that allows the blind or vision impaired user to either email or have a voice chat with a live librarian. Personally, its about time that one of these librarian chat sites was made accessible. This will surely help blind students or other people that need to do research on a specific topic.
If you like doing taxes on your own, then be sure you have the right materials by going to IRS Accessible Tax Publications. The documents are in text and electronic Braille formats. You can get forms from the IRS Accessible Talking Forms. Though these forms are in Adobe's PDF format, they have been made accessible and can be used with a screen reader like JAWS, or a voice recognition package like Dragon's Naturally Speaking. Notify the website if you have any problems.
The Kurzweil 1000 is an optical character recognition (OCR) program made especially for the blind. This type of program works in conjunction with a scanner, and helps make sense of the scanned images and words. So, if you have ascanner and just want to scan text in without using a recognition program, you won't get very far. In essence, you will have jibberish. With a program like Kurzweil 1000 though, you can make sense of the jibberish. Sure, you can buy off the shelf OCR packages in computer stores, but show me an off the shelf package that can be scanning page 5, recognizing page 4, and reading page 2 all at the same time. That I know, Kurzweil is one of the few that can. Plus, it has many other functions built into it that you just don't get from an off the shelf version. For instance, as of version 6.02, you can convert Adobe's PDF formatted files into recognizable text, and you can convert the Daisy formats of the BookShare.org books, referenced above. In version 9, Kurzweil 1000 has included several utilities that you can use inconjunction with the software, such as a photocopier. I have found this particularly useful since it saves money from having to go to Kinkos.
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has lots of information on books and publications in Braille and on tape. You can search for books, read about their publications, including newsletters, read about the new digital talking book players and initiative, and much more.
The Booksense from GW Micro debuted on 6/30/2009 as an accessible DAISY/book reading device that can also record and play MP3 and WMA files. Though similar to the Victor Reader Stream, the Booksense seems to pick up where the Stream leaves off. Visit this page and learn more about this new and exciting option for enjoying portable media, as well as read the Booksense manual and view a comparison chart that covers the Booksense models, the Stream, and the Plextalk Pocket players.
The Victor Reader Stream is one of the players that can play the NLS digital talking books. However, it can also play many other file formats, such as MP3, text-based Daisy, such as those books from Book Share, make short or long recordings, read HTML files, and more. This is a small hand-held digital player that has great potential. Many people that have seen it can't stop talking about it. Considering that it only costs $329 retail and can do so much, I'd say that this is a steal for such a versitle machine. The Stream is the newest in the line of Victor Reader players from HumanWare Canada. Read more on this page, listen to audio reviews, or read the manual.
For those that don't want to go through the HumanWare site for the Stream's manual, you can click here to read the VR Stream manual online. This page is structured very well with headings for the various chapters and sections.
Living Blind is a site that offers information on all aspects of blindness, such as daily living, getting a guide dog and related issues, college, relationships, employment, and many other categories. There's also information on custom made guide dog harnesses from the site's author. Check it out.
The National Federation of the Blind has put much of their literature online. This literature can either be ordered from the NFB's Independence Market or read online. The online documents are in a range of formats, such as Word, PDF, and HTML. Red more at the NFB Literature Table of Contents page.
The National Federation of the Blind has redesigned their website. If you're looking for a particular resource, publication or other page and can't find it, then check the NFB Topic Index.
The National Federation of the Blind has compiled an Accessible Home Product List and resources on Consumer Electronics. Check out these sites if you are wanting to know what consumer electronics are accessible and usable by the blind.
Laws and Legislation page from the National Federation of the Blind. On this page, you will find all relevant laws and legislation which affect the blind. Some of the topics covered are: the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), model Braille Bill legislation, and more. I have found this page especially helpful, because some of this legislation has become harder to locate on the Web, and this page puts it all in one place.
If you've ever wanted to know exactly what the Americans with Disabilities Act says, then check out the ADA Home Page. This is a government site where among other things, you can read the Act itself and see how it applies to you, your place of business, someone with a disability, etc.
For information on the current laws and protection afforded to guide dogs in airports, be sure to check the Helpful tips for traveling by air from The Seeing Eye, and the Transportation Security Administration's guidelines for service animals.
The National Center for Blind Youth in Science is a new initiative from the National Federation of the Blind's Jernigan Institute. Read on this page about the science camps and the 2007 Youth SLAM that will take place next summer, along with other programs, projects and information.
NFB-LINK is a new program from the National federation of the Blind, which "links" people together to share information about blindness, careers, life activities, and more. If you are a blind student, senior, professional, diabetic, etc; and want to know about how you can achieve your goals, live your life, or handle daily activities, then this service is for you. If you feel like you could be a mentor to someone like this, then this service is also for you. Read more on this page.
OcuSource.com networks with many websites on blindness and visual impairment. Here is a sample of the kind of information you can get from OcuSource:
Optasia Ministry seeks to provide Biblical study materials and other Christian ministry resources to blind and low vision people free of charge. Among the resources are Bibles in various formats that can be read on a computer, note taker, or other reading device.
Read This to Me allows blind and low-vision people to have printed documents read to them over the phone. All the blind person needs is a phone line and a fax machine (no computer is required.). Refer to the site for more details.
Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic, in Princeton, New Jersey. This organization, RFBD for short, has thousands of textbooks and other books on tape, for blind students and professionals. Although I never have a semester where I've gotten all of my books on tape from RFBD, they are still a good resource, and the books I am able to get from them save me reader money. In recent years, RFBD, along with other groups, have been undergoing testing and research of development of digital talking books, which would replace the taped textbook. As of last September, RFBD officially launched their digital talking books program. check them out for more details.
Accessible publications from the Social Security Administration can often be hard to find. Here is a listing of the Social Security Administration Publications, many of which are in web format (HTML) and in Word, in addition to the usual PDF format. If you need a specific publication and don't want to wait for the Braille copy that the local office "says" they'll send you, check this page out.
The Traveller is a new device designed by the National Federation of the Blind's Research and Development team to assist the blind in navigating better when they travel. Read more about it at the site.
The Million Web is a site that I recently discovered which has several blind friendly features, such as a couple of games (including an accessible beta of Wheel of Fortune), a chat area, a bulletin board, and more.
White Stick is a site with all sorts of information on it. In particular, this site has a very active downloads area, and often is where I turn for the latest versions of programs like Winamp.
If you're looking for Christian materials in alternative formats, then the World Christian Resource Directory will likely have what you're looking for, and then some.
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Everyone at the state agency I now work at is required to read Freedom for the Blind: the Secret is Empowerment by James Omvig. I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in or involved with the rehabilitation or services for blind people, or anyone who wants to know about how successful programs for the blind should be run.
The Colorado Center for the Blind, in Denver, CO, is where I received training between January and August of 1999. I highly recommend them because, not only do they teach you how to make an omlet, but the skills for making that omlet, so you can make other things. They place lots of emphasis on skills, but also on confidence, attitudes, and philosophy of blindness. IN fact, everyone that is low vision, wheres blindfolds during their training and all the teachers are blind or under blindfolds, so that they can relate to the student better. What better way to learn how to cross a street safely, than with a blind instructor? One that can not only instruct, but be a role model. This is one of the three National Federation of the Blind's adjustment to blindness training centers. The other two are the Louisiana Center for the Blind, in Ruston Louisiana, and Blindness: Learning in New Dimensions, BLIND Inc., in Minneapolis, MN.
The Division for Blind Services is the separate state agency for the blind in Texas. Also, the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center is the main state training center for the blind that DBS sends most of their clients to. They have really turned their attitudes and practices of blindness around in recent years, so that they are now very similar in their teaching methods to NFB training centers. If you're interested in this, then contact me and I'd be glad to talk with you about it.
Assessing 3 Rehabilitation Agencies. This is an article that was compiled by Dr. C. Edwin Vaughan, in the December, 1998, issue of The Braille Monitor. The article, which is based on a study conducted by Dr. Vaughan, compares the three NFB training centers with a state training center for the blind, and looks at some subtle and some not so subtle, differences between them. If you are thinking of which kind of training center to go to, then this might provide you with some information.
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Top Tech Tidbits is a weekly newsletter, available in email, RSS, or web formats, that Dean Martino sends out which summarizes the week's technology news, mostly adaptive but some mainstream. On this page, you can subscribe to his email and RSS feeds or just read the issues he's posted. New issues come out on Thursdays.
Yahoo Groups has taken over the lions share of mailing lists that are out on the Web, including boht blindness and many other kinds. Several of them that I have had experience with or have been on include:
NFB Bulletin Board Service. On this site, you can see all the lists that are run through the NFBNet website. You can also search through the archives of the various lists or browse entry by entry on the lists. For those old school people, you can Telnet to this site as well. Check it out.
Circle of Friends, on Smart Groups: This isn't actually a blindness related mailing list, but its run by a blind friend of mine, Lynn White, so that qualifies it in my mind, :) This list is just what it sounds like, a circle of friends chatting about whatever, which might include: cooking, hobbies, kids, and more. The intent of the list is to bring together people who are serving Christ or looking for answers about Christ. Or, if you just want to meet people and don't know Christ, I'm sure you'd be welcome as well. To subscribe, send a blank message to: firstname.lastname@example.org, reply to the confirmation message, and you will be subscribed.
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First before I get into the list, for those that don't know, a note taker is not someone who takes notes for a blind person--well, actually it could be. In this instance though a note taker is a small computer that a blind person can take notes on, such as a laptop but much smaller. If you want an analogy, think of what the Palm Pilot has done for the mainstream realm. Read on and discover the recent boom and competition in note taking for the blind.
there are two main note taker groups on the market today. One is the BrailleNote and the other is the Pac Mate. Both note taker groups use Windows CE, which is what many of the note takers and PDA's for sighted people are based on. The BrailleNote has more of a proprietary file and menu structure, menaing you don't have to learn all about Windows in order to open a document or write an email. While the Pac Mate uses the Microsoft Windows Mobile suite of software as its base, with a few proprietary programs thrown in. Both note takers have different versionf or different types of people, such as a qwerty (computer style keyboard) and a Perkins (Braille style keyboard), along with your choice of a Braille display, or a speech only unit. Read more on the individual sites for mor details on the combinations you can have. The Pac Mate has released portable Braille displays which can be "integrated" into the Pac Mate, which certainly present options for the user. For instance, one could attach the display to their Pac Mate while at work, and then remove the display and attach it to their home computer as a refreshable Braille display, which would work in conjunction with a screen reader like JAWS.
For more information:
Freedom Scientific have done it again by releasing another great free program for the PAC Mate BX and QX, this time for controlling devices with the Infra-Red port on your PM. Check out FS Commander, and soon you too will be controlling your TV and Cable box from the comfort of your easy chair, all through the PAC Mate.
Level Star has introduced a new kind of note taker for the blind called the Icon. In the world of note takers, this one is truly unique. It consists of a detachable unit, like a remote control, from a docking station. With the Icon, you can do many of the things that other note takers can do, like create documents, send and receive email, maintain a calendar and contacts, and more. You can also do other things, such as subscribe to and retrieve podcasts and RSS content. The Icon is still in development from being introduced early last year. However, this product has captured the attention of many blind people, and I can see why. There are various Icon audio demonstrations you can listen to about the Icon's applications. Check it out.
Independent Living Aids is one of the places that's selling the Olympus DS-50 digital voice recorder. Though they refer to this recorder as the one that can record up to 275 hours, you can read more about the recorder on this page, as well as download a copy of the manual in Word or MP3 audio file formats. Or, click here for a Olympus DS 30/40/50 Voice Recorder manual to read online.
The Jot a Dot is meant for those that don't want, or may not need, an electronic note taker. Or, perhaps for those that might just need to write a quick note. The Jot a Dot looks like a cross between a slate and stylus and a Braille Writer, but without the bulk and weight of the Brailler. You can fit an index card, like 4 X 6, in it and braille away like you're using a standard Perkins Brailler. In fact, the keys are in the Perkins format. Plus, since it is totally mechanical, the price is very affordable, or at least more affordable than a PAC Mate or BrailleNote. Visit their site and learn more about this nifty device.
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The GDUI School Survey 2006 is a great way to find out about many differetn guide dog schools without physically making the trip to see them. If you're looking for a guide dog school or want to know more about one, then check out this comprehensive survey. While it wouldn't be a wise idea to base your decision of the next school to go to on this survey alone, this can give some good information on the school, their training methods, the kinds of dogs they use, and so forth.
If your school is not listed here, or if you want to know more guide dog information, then visit the National Federation of the Blind's National Association of Guide Dog Users.
Eye Dog Foundation For the Blind, Inc.
211 S. Montclair St., Suite A
Bakersfield, CA 93309-3165
Eye Dog Foundation
EDF Training Center:
8252 South 15th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85041-7806
Email the EDF Training Center
Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, Inc.
P. O. Box 142
Bloomfield, CT 06002
Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation
Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind
1210 Hardscrabble Road
Cassville, NY 13318
Fax: 315-822-5132 (call before faxing)
Email Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind
Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc.
371 East Jericho Turnpike
Smithtown, NY 11787-2976
Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind
Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc.
P. O. Box 151200
San Rafael, CA 94915-1200
Guide Dogs for the Blind
Guide Dogs for the Blind (Oregon Campus)
32901 S.E. Kelso Road
Boring, OR 97009
Guide Dogs of America
13445 Glenoaks Blvd.
Sylmar, CA 91342
Guide Dogs of America
Guide Dogs of the Desert, Inc.
P. O. Box 1692
Palm Springs, CA 92263
Guide Dogs of the Desert
Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Inc.
611 Granite Springs Road
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598
Guiding Eyes for the Blind
Kansas Specialty Dog Service
124 West 7th
P. O. Box 216
Washington, KS 66968
Kansas Specialty Dog Service
Leader Dogs for the Blind, Inc.
1039 South Rochester Road
Rochester, MI 48307-3115
Leader Dogs for the Blind
Pilot Dogs, Inc.
625 W. Town St.
Columbus, OH 43215-4496
The Seeing Eye, Inc.
P. O. Box 375
Morristown, NJ 07963-0375
The Seeing Eye
Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc.
4210 77th St. East
Palmetto, FL 34221
Southeastern Guide Dogs
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I realize that this page is long, but I appreciate you reading about the different materials and services offerred. I'm open to any thoughts, questions, or other comments you might have on the products or things I have said., please fill out my Feedback Form.
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