Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Tech Tips: Shared Resources: COVID-19

Tech Tips: Shared Resources

ios logo

Contributed by Jerry Price, Assistive Technology Specialist

All of these websites are accessible to screen readers and give up to date, accurate information relating to COVID-19:

Center for Disease Control

Coronavirus Resources 2019

Maryland Department of Health

Coronavirus Resources

Maryland Counties Resource Page


Accessible COVID-19 statistics tracker


Monday, March 30, 2020

Tech Tips: Games with Smart Speakers

Tech Tips: Games with Smart Speakers

Smart Speakers

Contributed by Jerry Price, Assistive Technology Specialist

Games are a great source of fun, excitement and building brainpower.  They are also useful for filling the gaps that often occur in our day-to-day routine.  As an extra bonus, they can keep the kids busy for hours at a time.  Here is a list of games that you can play with your Google device:

Animal Trivia
Are You Feeling Lucky
Carz Adventure
Disney Princess
Dustin from Stranger Things
Dwarf Mind
Hogwarts’s Identity
Islamic Quiz
Mickey Mouse Adventure
Multiplication Test
Powerful Quiz
Question of the Day
Song Quiz
Space Trivia
Tantalizing Trait Test
Test My Brain
Which Actor Do I Look Like
Which Avenger Am I
World Foods Trivia

Friday, March 27, 2020

Tech Tips: Questions you can ask Siri

Tech Tips: iOS update

ios logo

Contributed by Jerry Price, Assistive Technology Specialist

Questions you can ask Siri

Siri has some helpful skills which can assist you in your day-to-day life.  It can give you the weather, play radio stations and podcasts, and tell you a joke.  Here are some other questions you can ask Siri:

  • What is the current Dow Jones?
  • Where is the closest pharmacy?
  • What audio described movies are playing on Netflix?
  • How do you spell asparagus?
  • What is the definition of demeanor?
  • How do you say the bathroom in Spanish?
  • What is the highest-rated restaurant in my area?
  • What are some facts about Neptune?
  • What is the third Tuesday in May?
  • How many tablespoons make 1/4 cup?

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Shared News: Senior Call Check Information

Senior Call Check Program Recommended During COVID-19 Outbreak

Baltimore, MD – The Maryland Department of Aging is issuing additional information on the Senior Call Check program as a free resource to MD residents over 65+ and recommending all seniors use the program as a resource during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Senior Call Check phone lines are open M-F 8 am-5 pm and Saturday 9 am-3 pm.  During these hours, seniors can call toll-free 1-866-50-CHECK (1-866-502-0560) and register.  Registration is also available online at aging.maryland.gov. 

 The verification and enrollment process can be completed within 24 hours Monday – Saturday.

•This service will provide free daily calls to Marylander’s 65 and over who register. We will provide messages and updates regarding the COVID-19 outbreak where to find support if you need it.

 Finally, regarding our emergency preparedness for handling possible disruption from COVID-19, we can provide you information at this time of need.

Additional information on the release of the Senior Call Check program

Maryland Secretary of Aging Rona E. Kramer and Senator Benjamin Kramer worked cooperatively to legislate and implement a new program called Maryland Senior Call Check.  This program is the first-in-the-nation, statewide, free program designed to help keep older adults safe while aging in their homes. All Maryland residents, 65 and older, are invited to sign up for a daily call at a time convenient to their lifestyle.

“Our department is committed to providing our seniors who wish to age in place with the necessary resources to stay safe,” said Secretary Kramer. “This is an essential service to prevent someone from languishing on the floor after a fall or other calamity. I encourage all Marylanders 65 and older to sign up for this free program.” 

The Senior Call Check participants receive an automated call every day. These calls will take place within a time frame chosen by the participant. If the participant does not answer their first call, they will be called two additional times in the same day. If those calls go unanswered, an alternate person, selected by the participant, will be notified. This alternate could be an adult child, a neighbor, or anyone designated as a reliable contact. The alternate will then be asked to check on the participant. For those who do not have an alternate or whose alternate is unresponsive, the state will call local law enforcement to conduct a wellness check.

There are future opportunities for the program to be used as a notification service.  As the program evolves, the call check program can notify participants of impending harsh weather conditions, CDC recall notices, and serve as a reminder for flu vaccines. The Senior Call Check program has lots of potential to help our aging population.

For more information on this program and to register, call 1-866-50-CHECK (1-866-502-4325) or visit aging.maryland.gov. Please help spread the word to seniors living alone at home. 

About Maryland Department of Aging

The Maryland Department of Aging helps establish Maryland as an attractive location for all older adults through vibrant communities and supportive services that offer the opportunity to live healthy and meaningful lives. For more information, visit aging.maryland.gov. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

Tech Tips: iOS Update

Tech Tips: iOS update

ios logo

Contributed by Jerry Price, Assistive Technology Specialist

On March 24, Apple is releasing IOS 13.4.  IOS is the operating system that runs your I-device.  From an accessibility point of view, here's what you can expect:

  • Siri is always on.  Just like with Alexa and Google products, your personal assistant will be at your beck and call.
  • New mail toolbar.  Your mail client will feature a new toolbar which will have 4 options:
    • Send to Trash, Move Message, Flag, and Reply.  
  • The reply option will also present a myriad of choices such as reply, reply to all, forward, etc. 
  • iCloud sharing.  No more third-party apps needed to share material with other Apple users.
  • Mouse and trackpad support.  IPad users will have the opportunity to add a mouse or trackpad to their device.

Just like with other IOS releases, these changes may happen all at once or another release may be necessary.  Remember that IOS 13.4 will not work with iPhone 5 or older.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Director's Corner: Library Update

Director's Corner: Library Update

Contributed by John Owen, Director

Image of player on a table with a book and a coffee cup

In accordance with directives from Governor Larry Hogan, all state buildings were closed to the public as of March 13.  Also, the staff of state agencies were instructed to work remotely as much as possible to practice social distancing.   In compliance with these directives, only a core staff are on-site at the library to provide service.

We move into this new phase of operations with goals of keeping our patrons and staff safe, and of continuing to provide service to our patrons, as best we can.  We are trying new ways of serving you and there will be bumps, but as we have always been committed to you, our patrons, we will persevere to make sure your requests for service are met.

The library will continue to send out materials to patrons on a daily basis.  With limited staffing, it may take us longer to get materials out to you.  We ask for your patience during this time.  Over the next week, we will be making an effort to send you more books than you normally would get, as we anticipate a time when further closings may occur.   You don’t have to immediately return them.  We are taking steps to make sure you don’t max out on materials and that we continue to maintain a flow of materials to you. 

When you call us at the reference desk, please leave a voicemail.  Our staff are able to check messages both onsite and remotely throughout the day and give you a call back.  If you can leave a full message of what books you want or the book numbers, we’ll fill that request for you.  There may be a delay in returning your call, but we are making every effort to connect with you.   We will also be checking email on a regular basis, and in many ways that’s the best way to reach us for giving requests, submitting applications or asking questions.  

Our reference desk email is reference.desk@maryland.gov and our reference desk phone number is 410-230-2443.

For uninterrupted service, the library strongly encourages patrons and caregivers to download books and magazines from the Braille and Audio Reading Download service (BARD).  BARD allows patrons to download materials directly to their mobile device via app, or onto a flash drive for use with the Digital Talking Book Machine. Patrons are also encouraged to explore our Bookshare collection, which is available for FREE to LBPH patrons. If you do not have an account, need assistance, or have questions about BARD or Bookshare, please reach out to reference.desk@maryland.gov.

Our onsite programming is canceled until further notice, but in some cases, we have been able to switch these to teleconferences or other remote programs.  You can find out about our programming changes in these ways:

Announcements will also be made via listserv and Newsline as well. 

Please continue to reach out to us with your questions and concerns.  Stay safe and healthy.  And if books can be a bright spot in these times, we are happy to send them to you.

Happy reading!
John Owen

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Tech Tip: Bookshare

Tech Tips: Bookshare on NLS Players

Bookshare logo: a Benetech initiative

Contributed by Jerry Price, Assistive Technology Specialist

Bookshare is an organization that has publications that are not always available at LBPH.  These books when downloaded will play on the digital talking book player via a flash drive or if placed on an NLS cartridge which you can buy from many retailers.  When downloading a publication from Bookshare, you want to make sure that you choose the proper format.  In this case, you would select Daisy with Images.

Full instructions below.

For more information about the library's partnership with Bookshare, please visit:https://www.marylandlibraries.org/Pages/Bookshare.aspx

To listen to our books on your NLS Player you'll need to first download the book in DAISY Audio format. If this is your first time downloading a book in DAISY Audio, please update your download preferences in your account.

Update your audio download preferences:

  1. Log in to your Bookshare account and select the My Account link on the top left corner of the page. 
  2. Under My Summary, select the Edit Preferences link.
  3. Under the Download Preferences heading, select DAISY Audio from the Audio Format drop-down box.
  4. Select the Save button on the bottom of the page to make your changes.
Download the book to your computer:
  1. Search for a book using the text box near the top of the page. 
  2. Once you've located the book, select its title from the search results.
  3. Under the title and author of the book, select Audio from the Download Format drop-down/combo box.
  4. Select the Download button. You will then be taken to your My History page.
  5. Your My History page shows the title, format, and status of books you've recently downloaded. Audiobooks take a bit longer to prepare to download, so if the status of the book indicates “In Progress” you may need to wait a few minutes to a few hours before you can save it to your computer. You'll receive an email once the book is ready for downloading.
  6. When the book is ready to download, navigate to your My History page and select the Available link under the status of the book.

Unzip the book folder:

  1. Locate the book you just downloaded. Books are saved to the Downloads folder by default.
  2. Right-click the folder (or press Shift plus F10), then select Extract All. This will open the "Extract Compressed (Zipped) Folders" dialog box.
  3. Select the Extract button. If you wish to save the folder in a different location, first press the Browse button and choose a new location. 

Transfer the book to your player:

  1. Select the book folder, then press Ctrl + C to copy the entire folder.
  2. Connect your thumb drive to your computer and open your thumb drive.
  3. Press Ctrl + V to paste the book on to your thumb drive.
  4. Eject the thumb drive, then insert it into the USB port located on the right side of your NLS player.

Community Post: NFB- MD Scholarship

NFB- MD Scholarship

Contributed by Ronza Othman, 

President - National Federation of the Blind of Maryland

community post - sticky note image

The National Federation of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland each administer a separate scholarship program for post-secondary students.  The deadline to apply for an NFB scholarship is March 31, 2020, and the deadline to apply for an NFBMD Scholarship is April 15, 2020.

National Scholarship Program:

 Each year, the NFB awards 30 merit-based scholarships totaling at least $120,000.  Scholarships range in amount from $3,000 to $12,000. Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement, leadership, and community service. The 30 scholarship finalists are announced in the spring and attend the National Convention, where they are awarded a specific scholarship. Application materials must be submitted (online or postmarked) by 11:59PM on March 31, 2020.
To be eligible, applicants must:
  • Be legally blind in both eyes;
  • Reside in the United States, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico;
  • Be pursuing or planning to pursue a full-time, post-secondary course of study in a degree program at a U.S. institution in the Fall of 2020 (one scholarship may be awarded to an individual who works full-time and attends school part-time); and
  • Attend the entire National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind (and all scholarship activities) in Houston, Texas from July 14 through 19, 2020 (scholarship finalists will receive convention assistance).

To apply:
  • Submit an application using the online application system at https://nfb.org/civicrm/scholarships/login; or
  • Download, complete, and email or mail in a hard copy application form by visiting: https://nfb.org/programs/scholarship-program.

State Scholarship Program: 

Each year, the NFB of Maryland awards the John T. McCraw Scholarship to two students in the amounts of $2,000 and $1,500 each.  NFBMD may award a third scholarship to a former McCraw scholarship recipient. Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement and community involvement. Application materials must be submitted (online or postmarked) by 11:59PM on April 15, 2020. To be eligible, applicants must:
  • Be legally blind in both eyes;
  • Be a legal resident of Maryland or be pursuing post-secondary studies at a school in Maryland;
  • Be pursuing or planning to pursue a full-time, post-secondary course of study in a degree program in the Fall of 2020; and
  • Attend the entire National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Houston, Texas from July 14 through 19, 2020 and the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland in Towson, Maryland from November 6 – 8, 2020 (scholarship finalists will receive convention assistance).

To apply:
  • Submit an application using the online application system at http://nfbmd.org/scholarship/apply; or
  • Download, complete, and email or mail in a hard copy application form by visiting: http://nfbmd.org/scholarship.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Marylandia: Update

Marylandia Collection: Update

Contributed by Mary Ramos, Assistant Director

Marylandia Boiler Plate

The Marylandia Collection is produced by the LBPH Recording Studio. This collection includes books by Maryland authors and select regional authors and books of particular interest to Marylanders.  The Marylandia Collection is available for download through Braille & Audio Reading Download (BARD).  


DBC12446 – Man in the Street, arranged by Zachary J. Dixon
Narrated by Seema Reznick

Most people probably don't give a second thought to street names or what they are named for. We use them every day as a way to get us from point A to point B. But little do we know that Baltimore street names date back to the colonial days of Baltimore Town and preserve and the names of the royals, warriors, politicians, and entrepreneurs who played important roles in the development of this city and this country. This book tells the stories of these noteworthy individuals.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Podcast Review: The Adventure Zone (pt. 2)

Podcast Review

Contributed by Taryn Tranby, Administrative Assistant

Part Two: Finding their Footing in Amnesty

With a touching ending to the Balance campaign, the McElroys needed to find something else to appeal to their audiences and fill the void. Unfortunately, it was difficult for them to decide how to proceed with so many tabletop gaming options out there for them to test their tales on. After sampling a few test runs with mini-arcs for the campaigns of Amnesty, Commitment, and Dust, they decided to loop back around and build on the groundwork of Amnesty. Much like the Balance campaign, Griffin has returned to compose more music for the family’s adventures and has all of his original music posted online via his Bandcamp. The Amnesty campaign begins in 2018 with Travis, Justin, and Clint creating characters through a game design known as Monster of the Week which utilizes the game engine from Powered by the Apocalypse. All that to say, moves are decided with two standard D6 dice; a much simpler system than D&D. This campaign, run by Griffin, takes place in a small town named Amnesty in West Virginia. The campaign centers on three player characters: Aubrey Little, Duck Newton, and Ned Chicane, played by Travis, Justin, and Clint respectively. With similar humor and love, Griffin crafts a Twin Peaks meets X-Files tale of two connected worlds, cryptids disguised as humans, and an alien force that is out to destroy the peace that was so difficult to create, to begin with. 

The Amnesty campaign, despite only lasting thirty-six episodes, takes on a much more serious tone than Balance but still incorporates a lot of the childish humor and boyish charm that the McElroys have made their brand. 

The Adventure Zone can be found on the Maximum Fun Network or wherever you get your podcasts. Look out for the next article on this rowdy family and their subsequent Dungeons and Dragons campaigns!

Click here to listen: https://maximumfun.org/podcasts/adventure-zone/

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Notice: LBPH Closure

Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped Update


On Thursday, March 12, 2020, at 4 p.m., Governor Hogan elevated the State to Advanced Level II of the Pandemic Flu and Infectious Diseases Policy. In his Executive Order, he declared ​public access to State buildings will be prohibited. Therefore, effective immediately, and until further notice, the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped will be closed. This includes all activities planned for Saturday, March 14, 2020. ​ The Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped will continue to provide services through direct mail and via the library’s Braille and Audio Reading Download Service (BARD).​ More information about the BARD and other library services can be found on the library’s website: www.lpbh.maryland.gov.

Monday, March 9, 2020

LBPH + MSB Job-fair! *Youth/Students*

LBPH + MSB Job-fair!

Teens jumping; youth services; book, events, and more...

Contributed by LaShawn Myles, Youth Services Librarian

LBPH + MSB Spring Job Fair 2020

The Maryland Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped &
The Maryland School for the Blind

Location:   MSB Campus – 3501 Taylor Ave. – Baltimore, MD 21236
Time:         9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Date:          Saturday, March 28th

This is a family event for students that are visually impaired or blind preparing for the transition from high school.

Job, Career and Secondary Education resources available from DORS (Division of Rehabilitation Services), The Disabilities Department at UMBC, MSB’s Career Education and Transition Programs and other community organizations.

It’s never too early to start thinking about your future. Join us for a day packed with opportunities for networking and creating a game plan for your future. It’s time to make those connections for the next steps.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Youth Program: Build a Better Book!

Build a Better Book Workshop

Teens jumping; youth services; book, events, and more...

Contributed by LaShawn Myles, Youth Services Librarian

Build a Better Book Workshop

Location:             Anne Arundel County Public Library
                           Linthicum Community Library
                             400 Shipley Rd, Linthicum Heights, MD 21090
Time:                   6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Date:                   Monday, March 16th

How do you make a book better for all?  The Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH) will partner together with public libraries to execute the Build a Better Book Project. The purpose of this project is to help middle and high school youth develop technology skills and learn about STEAM careers.  Youth will learn about Universal Design Principles to design and create accessible, multi-modal picture books, graphics, and games that can be seen, touched, and heard.  Join us and learn more.