Jarrod Jicha demonstrates and provides basic instructions in the use of the Chinese Wouxun dual-band amateur radio handheld transceiver. This partially-accessible radio provides a level of limited voice output that surpasses anything currently available in other radios.
Buddy Brannan has written a mini-manual describing battery installation, orientation and programming of the Wouxun radio from a blind user’s perspective. We thank Buddy and the Courage Center Handiham System for making this information available to the blind community.
After listening to Jarrod’s demo, I am uncertain how I feel about this rig. On one hand, it represents a step forward in the accessibility of handheld amateur radio equipment. Alinco, Icom, Kenwood and Yaesu, the prominent manufacturers of amateur radio transceivers, do not include voice output in their handheld radios. On the other hand, in many respects, it provides little more accessibility than we have with radios that don’t include voice output. As I listened to the demo, I was struck by how voice output was provided in areas where we could learn to navigate without it, while important tasks like reading the frequency and selecting from menus remained silent. This radio reminds me of cell phones such as the LG enV3 or my wife’s Motorola I350 NexTel radio that don’t go far enough in providing fully-accessible voice output of all functions. One wonders about the level of thoughtful research and testing that didn’t go into the development of electronics featuring limited accessibility. The radio’s accessible battery indicator is a very nice touch. There are some concerning reports that the Wouxun radios aren’t as durable as those from the leading manufacturers, so be careful not to drop this rig. Despite the potential downfalls, I am excited about the availability of a radio that gives blind hams one more usable choice in a field that is sadly too limited.