Accessible DigiPan For Blind Hams

Until now, a huge segment of the ham radio (amateur radio) world has not been open to blind and visually impaired (and blind plus deaf) operators.  This segment is known as "digital modes." By far, the most popular digital mode is "PSK31."  Around the world, tens of thousands of hams enjoy having conversations with one another using PSK31.  At long last, now blind hams can also participate because of the adaptive technology we developed - Accessible DigiPan!  Best of all, this is all free!

PSK31 operates in much the same way as an Internet chat room: you type something, and then the other person types a response and so on.  The difference with PSK31 is that, instead of going across the Internet, ham radio operators send their messages out worldwide through their radios!  That is, what you type on your computer goes out through your radio.  Other ham radio operators receive your signal through their radios and onto their computers.  Blind people use a “screen reader” to utilize their computers.  What makes the screen reader work with other programs on the computer is an app, called "scripts."  We created scripts to allow the screen reader to work with "DigiPan", the grandfather of PSK31 programs.  We call this technological adaptation Accessible DigiPan!  Blind hams worldwide can now fully participate in this wonderful part of ham radio.  Would you believe that there are more than 4,400 lines of code just for the scripts alone!  It takes A LOT of technology to bring sight to the blind.

Although Accessible DigiPan is free, we kindly ask you to make a donation to further the creation of adaptive technologies like this.  This project was created by Jim "The Snowman" Snowbarger (WA0PSS) and Richard B. McDonald (KK6MRH, pictured).  They are both blind.  Richard Stutsman (N6IET) helped us translate the many visual aspects of PSK31 into audible and Braille ways that the blind could enjoy this exciting digital mode.  That means that Accessible DigiPan has been built for us - meaning for all of the blind and visually impaired hams worldwide.

Accessible DigiPan will continue to be enhanced.  And, there are many more adaptive technologies that we would like to develop going forward!  So, please, make whatever size of a donation you can.  Help us continue the creation of adaptive technologies for the blind!  Importantly, please share this page with all of your ham clubs, buddies, friends and families.  Tweet it out!  Share it on Facebook!  eMail it to your ham club!

Accessible DigiPan includes everything you need to get started.  We are giving everything away for free - including the scripts, detailed written guides, audio tutorials and many other helpful resources.  Even the installer application for DigiPan itself is included.  The following link will take you to the Accessible DigiPan webpage where you can download it.  This is our gift to blind hams worldwide.  Enjoy!


Richard McDonald
Los Angeles, CA

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