EchoMac Accessibility (Mac OS X)
EchoMac is a Mac OS X application that allows amateur radio operators to connect to the EchoLink VOIP system. This article is about the accessibility of EchoMac for blind and vision-impaired hams.
EchoMac is freeware developed by N9YTY. The first time you run the program it prompts you to enter your call sign and EchoLink validated password in the Preferences file. To get a validated password you must download, install, and run EchoLink on a Windows system; then register and submit a copy of your ham license. N9YTY refers users to the EchoLink Web site for information on using the EchoLink system.
No Sysop Mode
EchoLink software can work alone without a radio, or in Sysop Mode it can be a VOIP gateway to the Internet for a transceiver or repeater. In contrast, EchoMac is not a gateway for a radio at your end of the line.
EchoMac depends on incoming UDP traffic on ports 5198 and 5199. The EchoLink Web site and the EchoMac Readme file explain how to configure port forwarding by a router.
The EchoMac user interface (Figure 1) is much simpler than EchoLink (Figure 2) because it has fewer functions. There is no menu bar or tool bar, and there is no way to store favorite stations.
You can search the list of active stations for a call sign or for text in the Location column. Figure 1 shows that out of 5600 EchoLink stations online at that time, nine have "server" in the location description.
Figure 1. The EchoMac user interface.
Figure 2. The EchoLink user interface (Windows OS).
On a 13" screen the EchoMac window is 5.2"W x 6.2"H. Text for labels is 0.18" high. Characters in text-view windows—the station list, station information, and text messaging—are 0.15" high. There are no font options, so a large screen and/or magnification may be helpful.
The simpler interface is more visible. EchoMac works well with the Mac OS X Zoom utility, which has a font-smoothing feature.
EchoMac is accessible using the VoiceOver screen reader included in Mac OS X. Using only keyboard commands, you can select text to be spoken and operate the EchoMac controls. An example of a QSO is printed on a separate page.
EchoMac for Mac OS X has a simpler, more visible interface than EchoLink for Windows. EchoMac can be used with the Mac OS X Zoom magnifier, and it is accessible with the VoiceOver screen reader.
Peter DeNeef, AE7PD, is an Extra Class amateur radio operator in the U.S. This Web site has no ads or conflicts of interest.
Email: HamRadioAndVision "at" gmail "dot" com.