Accessible Transceivers for
Blind and Vision-Impaired Hams
This article is about features that increase the accessibility of transceivers for blind and vision-impaired amateur radio operators. Two ways to increase the usability of a radio are discussed here:
• audible reports to the operator
• rig monitoring
Most radio manufacturers offer models that can announce the operating frequency and mode. Depending on the radio, the feature may be standard or an option you can install at any time. Here are links to articles about speech synthesizers for radios from major manufacturers:
The speech synthesizers for Kenwood radios and the Elecraft K3 can report much more information than frequency and mode:
For example, Kenwood TS-480, TS-590, and TS-2000 transceivers with a speech card installed can announce menu and control settings in addition to the frequency and mode. N3AIN reviews TS-480 accessibility in detail here (mp3 format).
The Kenwood TS-590 with a VGS-1 speech card can also announce power, S-level, SWR, ALC, and compression readings from the multi-meter. It is rated very highly in the excellent accessibility review by M0AID.
The HamPod K3 Reader provides access to the control settings, screen data, and menu configuration data of a K3 transceiver.
Rig monitoring makes use of a computer to display transceiver settings on a large screen. If necessary, you can also use magnification software.
The basics of rig monitoring are described in a separate article. It describes how to connect the radio to a computer, and it uses the free Ham Radio Deluxe program as an example.
Monitoring capability is built into programs intended for controlling a radio remotely. Some, such as Ham Radio Deluxe, work with transceivers from a number of manufacturers. Other programs, such as Icom's RS-BA1, are designed to work only with radios from a single company. Here are links to articles about software that can be used for local rig monitoring:
Spoken meter readings are available from two radios: (1) Precise Elecraft K3 multi-meter measurements can be read using the
K3 Texter program and a screen reader or using the standalone HamPod K3 Reader device. (2) As mentioned above, the Kenwood VGS-1 Voice Guide accessory can announce multi-meter readings from the TS-590.
Most rig monitoring programs display multi-meter readings, although the form and precision of the display varies, depending on the program. For more information there is a Transceiver Multi-Meter section in the HamRadioAndVision Table of Contents. The article on Icom multi-meter monitoring compares the displays from three programs: Icom RS-BA1, Kenwood ARCP, and Ham Radio Deluxe.
For More Information
www.active-elements.org is a new Web site with evaluations of rig accessibility for blind operators.
Access to transceivers can be enhanced with audible reports and rig monitoring, both of which are easy to use.
Peter DeNeef, AE7PD, is an Extra Class amateur radio operator in the U.S. This Web site has no ads or conflicts of interest.