Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Tech Tip: Free Audiobook Service

Tech Tips: Free Audiobook Service

libravox logo

Contributed by Jerry Price, Assistive Technology Specialist


Recently, a podcast that I was listening to suggested a couple of books by well-known authors:
The Last Man by Mary Shelley and Scarlet Plague by Jack London.  Unfortunately, neither of these titles have yet to be produced by the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled.  However, a free service called Librivox had both titles.  Librivox is an audiobook producer made up of volunteers who provide books that are in the public domain.  Popular authors such as Isaac Asimov, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, and others.  Books can be downloaded and played on your computer, digital Talking Book Player, or on a smart device through the Librivox app.  Take a moment and visit their website www.librivox.org.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Book Review: Magic Bites

Book Review: 

Contributed by Chistina Nixon, Contributor

book review; teddy bear with glasses reading book
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
(Found on Bookshare)

Kate Daniels is a plucky heroine whose smart-aleck comments often land her in trouble.  However, her quick wits and strong morals help her improve the dicey situations in which she finds herself.  The author utilizes Kate's strengths and weaknesses with style and creates snappy dialogue and a fast-paced plot.

The almost post-apocalyptic setting is interesting as are the effects the shifts between "Tech" and "Magic" have on the environment.  Andrews also adds more original flavor to this urban fantasy series with her unusual portrayal of vampires.

The only complaint I have about this book is that it was over too quickly.  Readers who prefer slightly darker urban fantasy will enjoy this first book in the Kate Daniels Series.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Teen Advisory Board

LBPH Teen Advisory Board

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

Contributed by LaShawn Myles, Youth Services Librarian

The Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH)

Wants YOU!

Join the Teen Advisory Board (TAB)

The Teen Advisory Board (TAB) consists of a group of teens in grades 9 - 12 who are interested in making a difference in teen services and programs at the MD LBPH library.

What are the specific activities of teens who serve on the TAB?
Plan and promote teen library programs/ services @ MD LBPH
Make suggestions for ways to promote the teen collection
Assist with library programs for children
Meet and work with other teens and have fun at the library

To learn more, join the TAB meeting via teleconference on April 29th from 6:00- 7:00 p.m. 

Registration is required. The conference call number, access code, and any materials will be sent to the email address used for registration. 

Register at:  TAB Registration Form

Please contact LaShawn Myles, Youth Services Librarian: lashawn.myles@maryland.gov | 410-230-2455 with questions.

Upcoming Event: Going blind movie discussion

Upcoming Event

Going blind event boiler. Collage of images from the film

Contributed by Ashley Biggs, Marketing and Outreach Librarian

Going Blind Movie Discussion

​LBPH is excited to share that we will be having a facilitated discussion with the director of Going Blind, Joseph Lovett, and the Lovett Production's Manager, Jordan Hawks. This event will be held via teleconference and will feature patron submitted questions. 

Patrons are encouraged to watch the film Going Blind by April 30th. That evening, join us for a facilitated discussion about the film, featuring your questions. 

Movie summary: 
GOING BLIND is a documentary film by Peabody Award-winning producer/director Joseph Lovett, that looks at each aspect of vision loss: detecting, treating, and coping. Joe Lovett has glaucoma, a disease that robs 4.5 million people worldwide of their vision. After years of slowly losing his sight, Joe decides to take action: to investigate how people all over the country respond to vision loss. His search begins in his home of New York City with people Joe meets on the streets, and gradually leads him to places and people around the country, all of different ages and backgrounds. Each has a fascinating story about dealing with the vision loss caused by sight-robbing diseases, infections, and accidents.  

To watch the film:
Original Version: 

With Captions: 

With audio descriptions: 

To submit up to 3 questions for the facilitated discussion, please click here: https://forms.gle/gZS1tG4omqZnPewU8

Then join us Monday, May 4th at 6:30 PM via our teleconference line: (319) 527-4994 to listen to the facilitated discussion. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Tech Tip: Siri Always On

Tech Tips: Siri Always On

ios logo

Contributed by Jerry Price, Assistive Technology Specialist

Apple has introduced IOS 13.4 to iPhone and IPad users.  One of the new skills presented in this update gives users the option to have Siri always on.  As you are aware, Siri is the personal assistant available in most I-devices.  By default, the always-on feature is not activated. 

If you would like Siri to always be listening, here is what you must do.  If you don't have "hey Siri" set up go to settings, Siri and search, listen to hey Siri.  If Hey Siri is not on this button will be off.  Double-tap with one finger to turn it on and it will walk you through the process.

Now that Hey Siri is turned on; do this so that it is "always-on".  Go to Settings, Accessibility, Siri, and make sure the "always listen for hey Siri is on.  If it is off, double-tap with one finger to toggle it on.

Now you are set.  As long as Siri can hear your voice, it will respond to you regardless of where your iPhone is located or whether it is face up or face down.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Book Review: The Kitchen Witch

Book Review: The Kitchen Witch

Contributed by Christina Nixon, Contributor

book review; teddy bear with glasses reading book

The Kitchen Witch (found on Bookshare):

The Kitchen Witch is a fun, captivating read. The characters draw you in from the beginning and keep hold of your interest throughout the book. The heroine Melody is quirky and amusing while Logan, the hero, tries to do the right thing in a way that is touching and endearing. The supporting characters are also well written, the dialogue is realistic-sounding, and the plot is believable and not forced as is the case with so many romance novels.  All in all, it is a very enjoyable story.

I plan to read the other two books in The Accidental Witch trilogy as soon as I can get my hands on them.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Tech Tips: Staying Informed about COVID-19

Tech Tips: Staying Informed about COVID-19

Contributed by Jerry Price, Assistive Technology Specialist

Podcasts are capsulized information that can automatically be added to your Victor Reader Stream or through the Podcasts app on your Smartphone.  There are literally hundreds of choices when it comes to the coronavirus.  

Here are a few: Coronavirus Daily, coronavirus 411, and Corona Virus Global Update.  Check out the complete list on your dedicated device.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Marylandia Collection: Black Eyed Susan Awards

Marylandia Collection: Update

Contributed by Mary Ramos, Assistant Director

Marylandia Boiler Plate

LBPH staff recently enjoyed recording several short books that were each nominated for Maryland’s Black-Eyed Susan Picture Book Award. A project of the Maryland Association of School Librarians, the Black-Eyed Susan Book Award is a student-choice award for the state of Maryland that seeks to promote literacy and lifelong reading habits. Through the Black-Eyed Susan program, students are encouraged to read quality literature that broadens their experience and provides new insights into their own lives. Nominations include books in several categories to cover different grades and formats.

Children’s Books

DBC 12551 A House That Once Was, by Julie Fogliano

Narrated by LaShawn Myles, Youth Services Librarian

“Deep in the woods is a house. Just a house that once was, but now isn’t, a home.” Who lived in that house? Who walked down its hallways? Why did they leave it, and where did they go? Two children set off to find the answers by piecing together clues found, books left behind, forgotten photos, and discarded toys, creating their own vision of those who came before.

DBC 12552 Do Not Lick this Book: It’s Full of Germs, by Idan Ben-Barak

Narrated by Kevin Middleton, Computer Network Specialist

Min is a microbe. She is small. Very small. So small, in fact, that you would need to look through a microscope to see her. Or you can read this book and take Min on an adventure to amazing places she's never seen before – like the icy glaciers of your tooth or the twisted tangled jungle of your shirt.

DBC 12553 Are You Scared, Darth Vader? by Adam Rex

Narrated by Joseph Beckett, Education Coordinator, Maryland Accessible Textbook (MAT) Program

It's midnight and the moon is full, but Darth Vader isn't scared. Nothing can scare Lord Vader! Not monsters or witches or ghosts, and especially not the dark. So what is Darth Vader scared of? Read on in Adam Rex's hilarious and spooky Star Wars tale to find out!

DBC 12554 A Place for Pluto, by Stef Wade

Narrated by John Owen, Director

Pluto gets the shock of his life when he was kicked out of the famous nine. His planet status was stripped away, leaving him feeling lost, confused, and left out. He doesn't fit in anywhere. But when Pluto is about to give up, he runs into a dwarf planet that helps him figure out who he really is and his true place in the solar system. 

DBC 12555 Geraldine, by Elizabeth Lilly

Narrated by Ashley Biggs, Marketing & Outreach Librarian

No, no, NO! Geraldine is NOT moving. Not to this new town where she’s the only giraffe. Not to this new school where she has no friends. Not to this new place, where everyone only knows her as That Giraffe Girl. But soon Geraldine meets Cassie, a girl who is just as much of an outcast as she is, and as time goes by, she realizes that being yourself and making one really good, unusual friend can help someone who literally stands out fit right in. Together, Geraldine and Cassie play by their own rules.

DBC 12556 The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson

Narrated by Brittney Lee, MAT Program Associate

There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you. There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it's how you look or talk, or where you're from; maybe it's what you eat, or something just as random. It's not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. This story reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes – and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.  

DBC 12557 The Rabbit Listened, by Cori Doerrfeld

Narrated by Mary Ramos, Assistant Director

When something sad happens, Taylor doesn't know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn't feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that's not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to act, and one by one they fail to offer comfort. Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen . . . which is just what Taylor needs.

DBC 12558 Inky’s Amazing Escape: How a Very Smart Octopus Found His Way Home, by Sy Montgomery

Narrated by Taryn Tranby, Patron Services Specialist

Inky, the Octopus, had been at the New Zealand aquarium since 2014 after being taken in by a fisherman who found him at sea. Inky had been getting used to his new environment, but the staff quickly figured out that he had to be kept amused or he would get bored. Then one night in 2016, Inky, about the size of a basketball, decided he’d had enough. He slithered eight feet across the floor and down a drainpipe more than 160 feet long to his home in the sea. An octopus is a curious animal, and Inky wanted to again explore the rest of the vast ocean he called his home.   

DBC 12559 The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs, by Kate Messner

Narrated by Taryn Tranby, Patron Services Specialist

All it takes is one: one coral gamete to start a colony in the ocean, one person to make a difference in the world, one idea to help us heal the earth. The ongoing conservation efforts to save and rebuild the world's coral reefs – with hammer and glue and grafts of newly grown coral – are the living legacy of environmental scientist Ken Nedimyer, founder of the Coral Restoration Foundation. In telling the story of this sea conservation pioneer and marine life protector, the author creates a stunning tribute to the wonders of nature and the power of human hope, a power even the youngest readers can access in their quest to aid our extraordinary planet.

DBC 12560 Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb and the Boston Marathon, by Annette Bay Pimentel

Narrated by Amanda Gonzalez, Reference and Patron Services Librarian

This is the inspiring story of the first female to run the Boston Marathon. Because Bobbi Gibb is a girl, she is not allowed to run on her school's track team. But after school, no one can stop her, and she is free to run endless miles to her heart's content. She is told “no” yet again when she tries to enter the Boston Marathon in 1966 with officials claiming that it is a man's race and women are just not capable of running such a long distance. So what does Bobbi do? She bravely sets out to prove the naysayers wrong and show the world just what a girl can do. 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Partner Post: Maryland Attorney General Consumer Alerts

Partner Contribution: Maryland Attorney General Consumer Alerts 

Beware of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) Scams and Fraud

On March 27, 2020, the federal government passed the CARES Act, which aims to provide financial relief to individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic here in the United States. Key provisions of the Act include direct payments to some individuals, based on income (a “stimulus check”); extended unemployment benefits; small business relief; no-cost testing for COVID-19; and more.

 However, along with the Act comes a higher likelihood of scams and fraud schemes taking advantage of people unfamiliar with how these benefits work. Please take note of the information below to protect yourself against scams.

Neither the State of Maryland nor the federal government will contact you by text, email, or call with instructions about receiving a stimulus check. Anything like that is likely just a ruse to steal your personal information or money. Any communication claiming to be able to get your stimulus check early is also a scam.

Anyone who calls claiming to be from the government and asks for your Social Security number or any financial information (bank account number or credit card number, for example) is trying to scam you.

You will NOT need to pay any money to the government, or anyone, before receiving a stimulus check.

You do NOT need to complete the U.S. 2020 Census in order to receive a stimulus check.
If you have questions about stimulus payments to individuals, communicate directly only with the IRS. More information is available at www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
COVID-19 virus testing is always free, but it MUST be carried out by a qualified health care entity, such as your doctor or a hospital. Anyone claiming that they can sell you an at-home test is a fraudster.

The federal Small Business Administration does NOT directly administer loans to small businesses. It backs other lenders (such as banks) to provide these loans to businesses. Any unsolicited contact from someone claiming to be able to get your business an SBA loan is a scammer.

“Scammers are hard at work trying to come up with ways to steal your personal information or money. Don’t fall for it,” said Attorney General Frosh. “If you need help determining whether something is a scam, our Consumer Protection Division can assist you. Call us at 410-528-8662 or email consumer@oag.state.md.us.”

Podcast Review: The Adventure Zone (pt. 3, final)

Podcast Review

Contributed by Taryn Tranby, Administrative Assistant

Part Three: The Adventure Continues!

The Adventure Zone has now begun its next great campaign, with a new ruler of the world: Travis. Travis has taken over the role of Dungeon Master or DM for their latest great project: Graduation. Graduation takes place at Hieronymous Wiggenstaff's School for Heroism and Villainy where Griffin, Justin, and Clint play as Sir Fitzroy Maplecourt, a yet unnamed firbolg, and Argo Keane. The McElroys play as individuals who weren’t qualified to be Heroes or Villains, but were good enough to train as sidekicks or henchmen. The three start their story as roommates at this school and are steadily introduced to their peers and courses. There doesn’t seem to be a definite goal as of yet, but Travis has created intrigue at every turn to keep listeners wondering at his next moves. It’s important to note that Travis places a heavy focus on exposition and a significant amount of introduced non-player characters which may make it confusing listening to the first time around. While I’m not completely sold on this campaign, I’m hopeful and excited to see how it progresses in the coming months. 

The McElroy family is also prone to conduct live shows all over the country and has created smaller arcs and bonus episodes such as (K)nights, Elementary, Fur, Hootenanny, Inheritance (Dadlands), and even a Holiday Brawl episode. While their main focus has always been a comedy, there are plenty of heartwarming moments in each main campaign that makes you fall in love with their characters and growth. It’s easy to see how this hit podcast gained traction with so many listeners and has also been adapted as a graphic novel, tabletop board game, and is now undergoing development as an animated series. As someone who had only started listening to the podcast in 2018, it’s been great fun catching up on the backlog of episodes and listening to the story grow and change with the McElroys themselves!

The Adventure Zone can be found on the Maximum Fun Network or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Partner Contribution: NFB Newsline

Partner Contribution: NFB Newsline

Taken from: https://www.nfb.org/programs-services/nfb-newsline

LBPH Patrons qualify for FREE access to NFB Newsline. 

NFB-NEWSLINE is a free audio news service for anyone who is blind, low-vision, deafblind, or otherwise print-disabled that offers access to more than 500 publications, emergency weather alerts, job listings, and more.

NFB-NEWSLINE subscribers have access to:
  • National newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and USA Today
  • Breaking news sources, including CNN, BBC, and ESPN Online
  • International newspapers, including Financial Times and Vancouver Sun
  • Magazines, including Family Circle, Time, Consumer Reports, Guideposts, and Smithsonian
  • State newspapers
  • Emergency weather alerts and seven-day forecasts localized to your zip code or GPS location
  • The information that scrolls along the bottom of your television screen during emergency alerts
  • More than 100,000 job listings from two national job sources 
  • TV listings localized to your zip code and provider
  • Retail ads
  • NFB's national channel, including the ebook Building the Lives We Want, the Braille MonitorFuture Reflections, and presidential releases

How to Sign Up for NFB-NEWSLINE

Anyone who cannot read printed publications due to vision loss, dyslexia, or a physical disability is eligible to receive NFB-NEWSLINE.  Please register by calling your state's Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped or the National Federation of the Blind at 866-504-7300 to request an application. You may also download and mail an application or complete our online application. After your registration is processed, you will receive a message containing your activation codes and instructions.

Access Breaking News for COVID-19 Updates

In response to the current situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19), the National Federation of the Blind has decided to provide up-to-date information to all eligible subscribers of the service. 
COVID-19 updates are available in the "Breaking News" category of NFB-NEWSLINE. This information is being obtained by the system searching the thirty-four publications in the Breaking News category for "coronavirus" and displaying the results. This information will also be available for those few states that are currently not sponsored for the next sixty days starting Monday, March 16.
Access the coronavirus COVID-19 information using the telephone by pressing 5 from the main menu, then press 1 for the Breaking News category, followed by pressing the 1 key which will bring you to the virus information. If you are using the NFB-NEWSLINE mobile IOS app, look for the virus information under the "All Publications" section. The content can be accessed with Braille devices such as notetakers and refreshable Braille displays.

Ways to Access NFB-NEWSLINE

After you sign up for NFB-NEWSLINE, you will be able to access it in any of the following ways. If you are a current subscriber, you do not need to create a new account or obtain new codes to use additional methods. Your current codes will allow you to access NFB-NEWSLINE using any method you choose. If you’ve forgotten your codes, please call us for assistance.


  • Access NFB-NEWSLINE through your phone with the touch of a few buttons
  • Create your own favorites list, skip articles or sections, and repeat items you wish to re-read
  • Enable the continuous reading mode which allows you to start, stop, and skip articles
  • Alter the reading voice by changing the volume, speed, and pitch
For more information, please visit our NFB-NEWSLINE phone instructions page.

Amazon Alexa 

  • Access NFB-NEWSLINE hands-free on any Amazon Alexa product, including Echo and Echo Dot
  • Alter the reading voice by changing the volume, speed, and the voice itself 
  • Use dozens of voice commands to navigate to sections and articles that interest you
Learn more about the Amazon Alexa family of devices and enable the NFB-NEWSLINE Alexa skill today. For more information, please visit our Alexa instructions page.

iOS Mobile App

  • Access NFB-NEWSLINE on your iPhone, iPod, or iPad
  • Global search function allows you to find articles on specific topics
  • Immediate access to breaking news stories


  • Access NFB-NEWSLINE on a secure, text-only website that is screen-reader friendly
  • Easily navigate and search every available publication
  • Email a full publication, a section, or single article to your inbox
Visit nfbnewslineonline.org to access NFB-NEWSLINE online.


  • NFB-NEWSLINE can email your news, customized job listings, and information directly to your inbox
  • Provide us with an email address, choose your favorites, and select frequency (once daily or updates throughout the day)
Please call us at 1-866-504-7300 to set up your NFB-NEWSLINE email service. 

Portable Players

  • Access NFB-NEWSLINE through many popular digital talking book players
  • Portable, plug and play, wireless download for Victor Reader Stream 2nd Generation
  • Easily navigate sections and articles with the use of DAISY-standard formatting
Visit nfbnewslineonline.org to learn more.

More Information

For more information, please call us at 866-504-7300 or 410-659-9314, extension 2317, or email us at nfbnewsline@nfb.org.

Monday, April 6, 2020

MAT Program: Tech Tip

MAT Program: Tech Tip

Contributed by Joseph Beckett, Program Coordinator for MAT

MAT Program boiler plate: girl looking at camera; text states MAT provides accessible college textbooks to Maryland students

Accessibility for Kindle

From: www.amazon.com

Kindle devices, the Kindle reading application on Fire tablets, iOS and Android, and Kindle for PC are accessible to all, regardless of ability.
Individuals with moderate vision impairments or other reading disabilities can make reading more comfortable by customizing the font type, size, and weight, controlling the screen brightness, margins, and line spacing, or inverting the background and text colors.
Individuals who read with assistive technology can use Amazon’s VoiceView screen reader to read on Kindle devices and with the Kindle app on Fire tablets. Fire tablets also work with popular Bluetooth refreshable braille displays. Individuals who read on iOS, Android, or PC can use the screen readers supported on those devices to read more than 9 million screen reader supported books with Kindle.
Amazon continues to improve how Kindle apps work with assistive technology. With Kindle for PC 1.23 and later, individuals using the NVDA screen reader can interact with math equations and efficiently navigate tables using familiar keyboard commands.

Blind and Visually Impaired

Blind and visually impaired individuals can use popular screen readers including VoiceView on Kindle devices and Fire tablets, VoiceOver on iOS, TalkBack on Android, and NVDA and JAWS on Windows to enjoy over 9 million screen reader supported titles in the Kindle Store.
Use VoiceView, or other screen readers to read character by character, word by word, or continuously, as well as move forward or backward in the text. Look up words in the dictionary and Wikipedia. On the latest release of Kindle for PC, read MathML content with NVDA and MathPlayer and navigate tables using NVDA table commands.
Amazon’s Fire tablets, the Kindle app for iOS and Android, and the Kindle for PC app enable you to read with refreshable braille displays by connecting them to the device via Bluetooth. Kindle for iOS provides additional support for Apple accessibility features such as Speak Screen, Zoom, Assistive Touch, and Stereo to Mono audio.

Navigation and Exploration

Navigate your library or within a book using the consistent title, menu, and button names. Explore content and navigate item-by-item as well as by touch using VoiceView gestures on Kindle devices, your Fire tablet, or common accessibility gestures on VoiceOver, Talkback, NVDA or JAWS. Search for a book within your library or search within your book and navigate to specific locations.

VoiceView screen reader

The VoiceView screen reader is available on Fire tablets and Kindle devices. It provides spoken feedback to describe the actions that take place on your screen.
VoiceView can be activated from any screen on a Fire tablet by holding the power button down until you hear an alert and then holding two fingers slightly apart on the screen.
The Kindle Audio Adapter activates VoiceView on Kindle Paperwhite when plugged into the Micro-USB port. Just plug your headphones or speakers into the audio jack on the Kindle Audio Adapter to use your e-reader with an audio interface. To activate VoiceView on a Kindle Device with Bluetooth support, see the setup instructions below.