Using EchoLink
with a Screen Reader


   This article is for screen reader users who want to operate EchoLink. This popular communication program has built-in keyboard shortcuts for blind and vision impaired amateur radio operators.

   The EchoLink program is described in a separate article.

Explorer View

   It is generally easiest to save your contact list in the EchoLink Favorites folder. The following explains how to configure EchoLink in Explorer View mode so the folder is accessible:

   At startup, the keyboard focus is in the Stations List panel on the left side of the window. (At any time, the command Alt-1 returns the focus to the Station List.) If the contents of the panel is a list of stations, EchoLink is configured for Index View. The command Control-PageDown toggles the view to the desired Explorer View.

   With Explorer View, the Station List panel displays a directory tree of folders for organizing call signs:  Locations, Node Types, Alarms, New, and Favorites. Select the Favorites folder using the Down Arrow. This opens the folder to display your contact list in a panel to the right. The focus remains in the Station List.

   If you exit the program with the Favorites folder open, the focus will be on the Favorites item in the Station List directory when EchoLink restarts.

Using the Favorites List

     1.  Press Tab to move from the Favorites item in Station List
             to the Favorites list panel.
     2.  Move the cursor through the list with the Up/Down Arrows.
     3.  Press Enter to connect to a selected station.
     4.  Press Alt-D to disconnect.

Adding Favorite Stations

   Here are two ways to add a station call sign to the Favorites folder:

Method 1. Automatically add call signs to Favorites. (Tools menu > Preferences > List tab > Select "Add new QSO's to Favorites.")

Method 2. Use the Favorites folder context menu. Right-click in the Favorites list to open the contex menu. DownArrow to the New Call item, press Enter, type the call sign including the EchoLink suffix, and press Enter.

   In JAWS and Window-Eyes the keyboard command for Right Mouse-Click is NumPad-Star (the asterisk key on the number pad).

   Method 1 automatically adds the correct EchoLink suffix to the call sign: -R for a repeater, -L for a simplex transceiver, and no suffix for a computer-only station. If you use Method 2 and do not type the correct suffix, you will not be able to connect to the station using that entry in the Favorites list.

   When in doubt about the suffix, you can check it in the main EchoLink list of stations using the Find command: Press Control-F, type the call sign without a suffix, and press Enter. To return to the Favorites folder, press Escape, which moves the keyboard focus to an item in the Station List. Down-Arrow to Favorites, and press Tab.

Connect-To Command

   To connect without using the Favorites folder, open the "Connect To" dialog box with Control-[letter]O. Type the call sign and press Enter.

Transmit/Receive Switching

   The default PTT control is the SpaceBar. Three other options for the PTT control key are in Preferences:  Tools Menu > Preferences > Connections Tab > PTT Control button {opens the PTT Control panel}.

   You can also enable audible tone alerts at the start and end of each transmission (Tools Menu > Preferences > Signals tab).

   Audible alerts when you connect to and disconnect from a station are enabled by default.

For More Information

     Table of EchoLink shortcuts.
     EchoLink article.


   Thanks to WA4DSP for helpful discussions and feedback.

Author Information

   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.

rev. 5/3/2012

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