Best QRP field transceivers for operators who are blind/visually-impaired?

I recently received the following inquiry from Vic (K7HSS) who shared that he is blind and seeking a field-portable transceiver that is user-friendly to those who are visually impaired. 

Vic notes:

I’ve actually owned the KX2 before, but it was now sold, because I realize that I was sitting on a lot of money, and I wasn’t doing that much portable operations at the time.

The KX line is ideal because it has CW read outs. Having said that, I will be able to make do if a radio somehow stops or notifies me at band edges. From there, I could put some sort of markers on the knob, so that I could roughly gage where I am base on how many spins I’ve given the knob. I’m not very sure how the single band radios like the QCX mini operates. Does it stop once you reach the band edge?

Anyways, those are some thoughts that I have. Also, I’ve been following your Youtube channel and blog for quite a while and is definitely a fan.

I hope you will have a lovely day.

Best and 73,

Vic (K7HSS)

Thank you for the kind words, Vic. 

I’m not visually-impaired so feel like I can’t really comment here, but I do know of at least two other hams who are completely blind and use the Elecraft KX3. From what I gather, it is loved for the CW read outs (as you mentioned) and for there being a dedicated tactile button and/or knob for most of the important functions and features one would use in the field.  

Vic would welcome your comments especially if you are visually-impaired or if you can provide insight about radios with features (like band edge notification) that make it more accessible.  Click here to comment!

8 thoughts on “Best QRP field transceivers for operators who are blind/visually-impaired?”

  1. Hi, I am not visually impaired. I do think the SGC 2020 or any rig that uses buttons and not a memory menu would be a good choice. Learning which buttons to push is tactile and might be easier.
    Hope this helps.

  2. If a user is visually impaired, it is assentual to try the radio hands on, or, at least have a carer or helper to help with the manual.

    The IC-705, like a lot of ‘modern’ radios beeps when you hit the band edge. In addition, they have some kind of voice announcement built in, which needs to be turned on. On OLDER radios, a speech synthesizer module had to be fitted.

    For partially sighted users, it can be really hard as manufacturers rarely consider them when doing the basics, like choosing colour schemes for buttons, knobs or displays.

    I sold my FT817nd because I was finding it increasingly hard to read the tiny display..

    You can forget all the Chinese radios. I have an x5105 and an IC-705, which both have larger than average displays.
    What radio to go for depends on the extent of you disability.
    AFAIAA, the IC-705 is the only portable/QRP radio in current production with speech and band-edge alert.

    I guess you need make a list of essential features and make a checklist.

    Speech synth is a big plus and saves me having to reach for my glasses.

    You would think manufacturers would put more effort in considering that the average radio had is typically in their late sixties, at least.

  3. Suggest the MFJ Cub or Adventure Series radios, I still have (and operate) both. Not the most modern design but robust, reasonably power efficient and fun to use. The Cub range tune to an end stop (upper and lower), the Adventure Series also have a pointer which you can feel.

    Interestingly, the Adventure Series make great mobile radios and can be fitted for both SSB and CW and are physically switchable through simple mechanical buttons. You can drive, operate and don’t need to look at the radio – thus also ideally suited to visual impaired.

    Richard MM0RGM

  4. The Elecraft KX1 has an option in the menu called CFB. If you turn this option on it provides audible CW feedback on frequency changes and all button presses. The rig, of course, is CW only.

    Michael VE3WMB

  5. I have the ic-705 and note that it does have band edge “beeps” indicators. (which are programmable) It also has voice read-outs of frequency at the push of a button. It may have other features for visually impaired that I am not aware of. I am not visually impaired so have not investigated additional features this radio may have. Hope this helps.

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