Monday, August 31, 2020

Director's Corner: Library Update, Mail


Director's Corner: Library Update, Mail

Contributed by John Owen, Director

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

To our LBPH patrons, caregivers, and stakeholders,

The coronavirus pandemic has presented all of us with an unprecedented situation.  At this time LBPH wants to update you on our service and the challenges we are all facing during this time.  We understand how important reading and information is to you, and we are committed to providing you with excellent customer service. 

Many of you are experiencing delays in receiving your materials, and you have called to let us know that.  We share your frustration, and we are looking at the factors that contribute to this. Especially in recent weeks, the United States Postal Service has experienced challenges with policy changes as well as coronavirus cases impacting their staffing and delivery schedules of mail, including LBPH materials.  Also, LBPH has been quarantining materials throughout the pandemic, and even now we are adjusting that quarantine period to reflect new information.   On August 18, the REALM Project released a study that indicated that the virus can be viable on hard plastic surfaces like our Digital Talking Book cases for up to 5 days.  We are adjusting accordingly for our staff’s and your safety.  

Despite these factors, LBPH continues to do its part to maintain service to you in a timely manner.  Our staff sends out materials daily and process returns promptly after the quarantine period.  We are also adjusting capacities for your library account to allow books to continue to flow to you, mitigating delays in the return process.  We have been fortunate here at our library that mail service has been consistent daily also, so at least here at the hub, there is a steady flow of materials.  We have been able to do this throughout the pandemic and will continue to safely do so. 

Please understand also that the library continues to be closed to the public and working with limited staff on site.  Staff are checking voicemail throughout the day to respond to your requests and questions. 

For you, our patrons, here are some tips for dealing with these delays:

  • Send back books as soon as you have read them.   This helps generate new books to be sent to you. 

  • Fill your request lists either by going to our catalog online at or calling us at the reference desk at 410-230-2443 or emailing us at

  • Register for the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service    And if you are already a BARD user, take advantage of the always-available books in the catalog at

  • Tell us your concerns and your joys, so we can get a good picture of where the biggest challenges are and where things are going well.  Please contact your local post office to see if they are experiencing delays.  Let them know you appreciate them, but that you’d really like to get your books.  Together we can advocate for the importance of this service to the blind and print disabled citizens of Maryland.

  • Listen in on a virtual program or get assistive technology instruction as another means of getting information from our library.  If you are a blind or print disabled college student in Maryland, ask about our Maryland Accessible Textbook program.  Find out all that’s happening at  

Stay safe and well.  

John Owen


Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Monday, August 17, 2020

Technology User Group Meeting: 9/12

 Technology User Group Meeting

Contributed by Jerry Price, Assistive Technology Specialist

On Saturday, September 12, the Technology User Group is pleased to welcome J. J. Meddaugh, who will be giving us a virtual demonstration of the BlindShell mobile phone.  This phone is designed for the blind, having a flip phone design with some smartphone capabilities.  Those who would benefit the most from this demo will not receive this email, so it is imperative that you spread the word to your friends and family.

J. J. Meddaugh from is one of the frequent hosts of the Blind Bargains Podcast.

The presentation will be virtual and may be joined by calling 319-527-4994.  You do not have to RSVP for this event.

The presentation will begin at 10 AM and last about 60 minutes.

We look forward to meeting with you virtually on Saturday, September 12th, and hope that you will join us for other exciting events we have planned throughout the year.

If you would like to listen to previous TUG recordings, please click here:

Upcoming TUG Programs:

  • Saturday, October 3, 10 AM, Lookout, the Amazing Android App
  • Saturday, November 14, 10 AM, AT Gifts for the Holidays
  • Saturday, December 12, 10 AM, Connecting Smart Devices to Alexa & Google Nest

For more information about the Technology User Group, please contact Jerry Price at (410) 230-2446 or via email at

Friday, August 14, 2020

MAT Program: Accepting Materials


MAT Program: Accepting Materials

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

THE MARYLAND ACCESSIBLE TEXTBOOK PROGRAM is accepting textbook conversion requests for print-impaired students attending Maryland’s two and four-year colleges and universities for the upcoming academic year. 

We offer the following formats:

  • ·      Audio (MP3)
  • ·      Large Print
  • ·      PDF
  • ·      WORD
  • ·      Epub
  • ·      Victor Stream loaner with 2gb SD card
  • ·      Textbook and academic document scanning, editing, and conversion

Although the Maryland Accessible Textbook Program team can convert textbooks in many subject areas, we, unfortunately, are limited in our ability to convert math, foreign language, or science textbooks into the audio format. We’re diligently working to erase that limitation and will announce when we find conversion software we’re satisfied with.

So, if the services offered by the Maryland Accessible Textbook Program fulfill your textbook conversion requests or if you have additional questions, please contact us:

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

MAT Program: Apps of Interest

MAT Program: Apps of Interest

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

In the not too distant past, individuals with disabilities were limited to few assistive and mainstream technological offerings. Although guide dogs, canes, human assistants, large print, braille, and alerting indicators were commonplace, there would be a gap in time before advanced accessible technology for the visually impaired offered a full quality of life. In time the absence of advanced assistive and mainstream technology would greatly reverse, spearheaded in part by the advent of the smartphone. This device; portable, user-friendly, and chock full unimaginable capabilities, opened, through applications, a plethora of possibilities in the areas of communication, translation, and information. Presently Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and others, are producing striking and awe-inspiring technology that has tremendously changed the playing field, but even greater contributions to the (mobile) application realm are being made by smaller companies. Below are several mobile application suggestions.

*Although these apps were carefully reviewed, there is no guarantee that they are still in operation.


StorySign by Huawei

StorySign helps to open the world of books to deaf children. It translates children’s books into sign language, to help deaf children learn how to read.

App Website           


Ballyland Magic by Sonokids Australia

The Ballyland Magic app is an educational and fun iPad game specifically designed for children who are blind or have low vision, to learn and practice a number of touch gestures for VoiceOver, Apple’s built-in screen reader.

App Website:


Ballyland Code 1: Say Hello by Sonokids Australia

Get started on your programming journey today! Children who are blind or have low vision can in this fun app learn basic coding concepts and skills that will be applicable to any programming language. Get introduced by way of the Tutorial game ‘Play with Coding’. Then take on your first Coding Challenge with simple coding commands.

App Website:


Android Accessibility Suite by Google

Android Accessibility Suite is a collection of accessibility services that help you use your Android device eyes-free or with a switch device.


Lookout by Google

Lookout uses computer vision to assist people who are blind or have low vision in gaining information about the world around them.

Lookout uses the camera and sensors on your device to recognize objects and text and gives you spoken feedback, earcons, and other signals to inform you about what it sees.


Capti Voice by Charmtech Labs LLC

Listen to documents, news, books, etc. Capti will improve your productivity and make your reading more enjoyable. A great tool for students, language learners, commuters, busy professionals, retirees, people with dyslexia or other learning disabilities, and many more. Capti is your literacy and reading support tool.

App Website:


TextGrabber – Real-Time OCR by ABBYY

ABBYY TextGrabber easily and quickly digitizes fragments of printed text, reads QR codes and turns the recognized result into actions: call, write, translate into 100+ languages online and into 10 languages offline, search on the Internet or on maps, create events on the calendar, edit, voice and share in any convenient way.

App Website 

Image Translator by Sparkling Apps

Image Translator uses advanced AI techniques to find the text in the image. Either translate directly using your camera or use any images stored on your phone.

App Website 


Voice Texting Deluxe by Sparkling Apps

After the massive success of 'Voice Texting Pro', we have now launched 'Voice Texting Deluxe'. It's still simple: just speak into the microphone and convert your speech into text. Then directly send your message to e-mail, SMS, Twitter or Facebook. You can also send it to your clipboard (copy) and paste the dictated text in any other application.

App Website