Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Handiham World for 08 December 2010

Welcome to Handiham World!

How do you learn to operate a new radio? Or look up something about a radio you've already owned for years?

Pat, WA0TDA looks at his Yaesu VX5R manual.

One of the most popular services that the Handiham System used to offer was audio tape versions of equipment manuals on cassette tape. We have a few of the old manuals still available in that aging format, but let's face it - most people would rather forget how awful finding anything in an audio tape reference book can be. Sometimes the manuals were long, and that meant multiple tapes. Which one had the part about setting the memories? And even then, which track would it be on?

We now take the approach of recruiting a blind user who can teach the radio from a blind perspective. An audio file (or series of files) can be a lot more helpful to another blind user, since learning from a blind teacher pretty much eliminates all the usual dumb mistakes sighted people like me make when we are trying to get a point across.

Thankfully, the radio manufacturers are making equipment support documents like instruction manuals available in accessible PDF via website downloads. The accessible PDF isn't perfect, but it does contain embedded text that can be searched. This puts the blind (or sighted) operator in the driver's seat when it comes to finding the part of the manual that one wants.

The next frontier is to figure out how to make these manuals into a somewhat easier to navigate DAISY format. As we contemplate what our blind and sighted Handiham members really want, I thought it would make the most sense to simply ask:

So here's my question to you: How do you use equipment manuals, and what can be done to make learning about a radio easier? Let me know so that we can figure out where to go with this next new frontier.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham System Manager