by Craig Meador, President, APH
As another year unfolds, the world anticipates with eagerness — or maybe some trepidation — the changes that lie ahead. Here at APH, we’ve been talking a lot about change for the last 18 months. You might feel like it’s been a lot of talk, but we’ve been hard at work preparing to implement changes that will make APH a stronger organization and give people who are blind or visually impaired even more innovative tools to achieve their full potential.
This is the year we’re going to deliver. We’re ready to make big things happen in 2018, and I’m excited to tell you about the bold steps we’ll be taking.
This is the year when BrailleBlaster makes it possible for unprecedented numbers of people to use braille — at work, at school, and at home. This revolutionary software tool translates text into braille quickly and accurately, so students can have braille learning materials on the first day of class along with their sighted peers, instead of weeks or months later. But it’s not just students who will benefit. BrailleBlaster is free and easy to use, making printed materials more accessible at work, at home, and in our communities. With the broader availability of braille materials, we think we’ll see even more people of all ages taking advantage of the literacy benefits only braille can provide.
This is the year when Graphiti will change the way the world thinks about accessible graphics. The device — which uses 2,400 movable pins and image software to create tactile displays of any image — will revolutionize lesson plans and classroom experiences. Students who are blind or visually impaired will finally have real-time graphics alongside their sighted peers, closing another educational gap. People of all ages will be able to experience graphics with Graphiti, including maps, charts, graphs, photos, and drawings.
This is the year when APH expands Indoor Explorer and Nearby Explorer to communities beyond Louisville, which is leading the way in creating accessible cities. In sites across the city, including Louisville International Airport, the Indoor Explorer program places low-power Bluetooth beacons in public buildings, which feed information about amenities and points of interest to APH’s Nearby Explorer app and its new Indoor Explorer feature, which turn a user’s smartphone into an audio guide. Indoor Explorer empowers people who are blind or visually impaired to find their own way to ticket counters, boarding gates, baggage claims, emergency exits, restrooms, and more, when used with a white cane or dog guide.
This is the year when the Orbit Reader 20 becomes the lowest-priced refreshable braille device on the market. APH partnered with Orbit Research to develop a rugged, low-cost display that allows information from a variety of digital sources to be displayed as mechanical braille, generated by computer-driven pins. We’re proud to have dramatically decreased the cost of braille access to electronic files, which is essential to literacy in the digital age.
This is the year when we’ll see more companies committed to accessibility so they can harness the vast potential of a diverse workforce that includes people who are blind or visually impaired. We’re better prepared to be part of that revolution than ever before thanks to technologies like BrailleBlaster, Orbit Reader, and Graphiti.
This is the year when APH will unveil our new brand identity and website that reflect our proud history, but also demonstrate that we’re a forward-thinking organization that’s breaking down barriers to accessibility in every area of life. In addition to being more informative and easier to navigate, our redesigned website will be more accessible than ever before.
Throughout 2018, APH will be introducing new products and innovations. I’m enthusiastic about what lies ahead for APH and the people our products and services benefit, because I know what we have in store — and I know what we’re capable of doing, along with our partners.
At APH, we’ve spent the last 18 months laying the groundwork and implementing our plans, and 2018 is the year we’re going to make big things happen. We’ll keep our partners and supporters informed as these things unfold, because we could not achieve our ambitious goals without you.
This is the year when APH takes a giant leap into the future of our organization, and we are proud to have you with us every step of the way.