August 21, 2012 |
The pages rolling off the conveyor belt to the sound of the clattering of presses bear familiar magazine titles: Kiplinger's, Popular Mechanics, PC World, Spider, Seventeen. But inside, the magazines do not look like typical editions of these popular periodicals. These issues have no pictures and no glossy pages. Page after page, the publications consist of thick white paper bearing hundreds of tiny raised dots. They are entirely in braille. At Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired's nonprofit braille book factory in Center City, even Playboy, the men's magazine known for its risque images, is printed in photo-free form.
May 8, 2012 |
Already singed by the state plan to downsize Philadelphia's branch library for the blind, the Free Library of Philadelphia has now been sued by four blind patrons who cannot use the library's new electronic book readers. The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, said that the e-reader lending program, begun in November at the main library off Logan Square, uses devices that are not accessible to the blind. And that violates the rights of blind people under the federal Rehabilitation Act and Americans With Disabilities Act, the lawsuit contends.
May 3, 2012 |
Keri Wilkins is incensed. She is a librarian passionately committed to serving the blind and physically handicapped in 29 counties, the entire eastern half of Pennsylvania, sending out almost a million digital books and recorded cassettes a year. "I am appalled. I am angry," she tells me at the branch at Ninth and Walnut, founded in 1882, the nation's oldest library serving the blind, where almost a half-million mint-condition recorded cassettes are, by state mandate, headed for "recycling," that is, the trash.
January 25, 2012 |
Four years ago, teams of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and elsewhere made headlines by restoring some sight to blind people, though it was a form of blindness few had heard of. Now some of the same researchers are making progress with a far more common kind of blindness, retinitis pigmentosa, which strikes many thousands. This week, the scientists reported success in treating four dogs with forms of the disease. And they are optimistic that their findings will, like the earlier study, translate to humans.
April 5, 2011 |
Thanks to Viola, Jordan Ortiz won't need to take anyone's arm when she walks across the Rowan University green to accept her diploma next month. Ortiz, who as a child lost her vision to cancer, will let her golden retriever guide the way in style - as Viola has done since freshman year. "She earned her degree, too," Ortiz says. That's why her thoroughly adorable guide dog will walk up to the dais in her own cap and gown May 13. It's also why Ortiz and classmate Danielle Larsen have been helping train a golden retriever named Zara for the last five months.
December 25, 2010 |
After more than a century in Philadelphia, the nation's oldest library for the blind is facing the potential loss of most of its materials and services to its Pittsburgh counterpart. A state-commissioned study has recommended that the Philadelphia Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped be significantly downsized - at a savings of about $600,000 a year for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which funds it. Although the principal heir would be the Carnegie Library for the Blind, the study also suggests moving Philadelphia's Braille collection - at 95,000 titles one of the country's largest - to Iowa.
December 17, 2009 |
By the last day of 2009, the Pennsylvania Ballet will have danced its annual holiday confection, The Nutcracker, 24 times - but one performance will be like no other. In fact, as far as anyone knows, the show at 4 p.m. Sunday will be unlike any dance performance in Philadelphia. In a dressing room off a hallway to one side of the stage, a woman named Ermyn King will watch a TV monitor beaming the show live from the stage. She'll wear a headset-microphone and will straightforwardly describe the dancing - how many performers are onstage, what they're wearing, what they're doing, how they're interacting - as well as the scenery, the storyline, even the lighting.
March 13, 2008 |
Sabriye Tenberken has experienced firsthand the prejudice that blind people are subjected to in her adopted homeland of Tibet. She has heard the curses directed at students from her training center, Braille Without Borders, when they venture out on the streets of Lhasa. This shocking treatment stems in part from ignorance and in part from religious beliefs in this Buddhist country. There is a remarkable scene in the new documentary Blindsight, capturing the attempt of six of Tenberken's blind students to scale a 23,000-foot peak in the Himalayas, that shows a Tibetan boy musing about the crimes he must have committed in a previous life to have earned the terrible karma of blindness.
April 29, 2007 |
The night they named David Simpson poet laureate of Montgomery County, his mother showed up. So did his twin brother, Dan. When it was all over, Miriam Dell bought each a book from a vendor at Arcadia University, where Simpson was feted April 13. Then she turned to Joanne Leva, founder and director of the laureate program, and poet Carolyn Forche, celebrity judge for this year's competition. "I don't know why they want books," Dell said. "They both have so many of them, and they can't read them.
February 28, 2007 |
In the early 1800s, a blind child hadn't much of a chance in Philadelphia - or anywhere else in the expanding nation. Social stigmas and stereotypes abounded, touching the lives of every one of the roughly 8,000 blind people living in the United States in 1830. Blind children were said to be ineducable. Their parents were thought to be sinful. Best to keep the sightless out of sight. But in Europe, particularly in France, schools for the blind were forging ahead with great success - so much so that a group of progressive Philadelphians took particular notice.