My Amazing Experience at APH Annual Meeting

The American Printing House (APH) annual meeting was held in Louisville, Kentucky from October 11-14.  I was honored to receive one of five APH Scholarships to attend. The event was amazing, and I learned so much from the professionals in the field.  The energy and enthusiasm was incredible.

The highlight of the trip was the visit to the APH facility. Attendees were given a guided tour of the warehouse. The amount of production and the size of Braille embossers was mind blowing.  They detailed how each Braille book and audio book was checked and rechecked for accuracy.  They also showed us the new enlarged textbooks. While magnifiers work for most, there are still students that need the printed word to be enlarged, and these books were big, bold and easier to store and carry.

A gigantic free-standing embosser at APH: this embosser rapidly produces braille textbooks.

After the tour, we were invited to the ribbon cutting ceremony of the Louis Braille exhibit.  On display was one of the only 7 copies of Louis Braille’s original book on how Braille works. Many other amazing inventions over the years that have made Braille what it is today were also exhibited.

Braille book (1860) in a lighted display case in APH's museum.

The remainder of the APH annual meeting was spent in meetings and workshops. There were demonstrations of the new Braille Blaster  an APH free Braille translator; Matt Connect; a smart viewer; and the Graphiti, a braille display for graphics. The APH staff and developers demonstrated the products, and inspired us all. Between sessions, we would all come together and hear from different agencies and individuals from around the country. They discussed topics that were “hot button” issues, as well as updates on how far we have come in the profession to meeting the needs of teachers, students, and adults.

MATT Connect: Mounted tablet over print map worksheet. A small camera is mounted to the stand for distant viewing.  APH Graphiti: prototype of a full screen braille display that instantly reproduces digital graphs & images with tactile images using raised pins.

Another inspiration was the APH InSight Art competition display. Each year APH invites blind and visually impaired adults and children from around the world to submit art. They announce the winners, the art is displayed, and the winners are invited to attend a dinner and receive their award. The winning exhibits are also featured in a calendar, which is available for purchase at APH.org. The medium of the art varied from paintings, pottery, collages, and sculptures.  I was so impacted by all the art, and artists that each of my students will submit a piece of art this year. Entries open November 1st.

The people I met, and the knowledge I gained at the APH annual meeting, left me energized and inspired. I have been teaching for 23 years, and this event was the best I have experienced. I am surrounded by amazing students each day, and it was awesome to see what lay ahead for them.  I was able to see how blind and visually impaired adults have excelled in many fields, in part because of the work APH has accomplished. The technology is ever-changing, and I can’t wait to see what new products and ideas are at next year’s annual meeting.

 

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