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Win500: Can Anything Be Done To Make It Easier To Use By A Blind User?

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pdevasto

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#1
Hi,

I happen to be totally blind but have used and enjoyed scanners for many years. I purchased a Pro-96 scanner back in 2003, then purchased the Win96 program so i could maintain what was in the scanner. The program worked rather well for me using the special software I need to access a Windows-based computer. In fact, don and I worked together a while back to do a couple of tweaks to Win96 so I would be able to tell when I turned things like delay and lockout on or off.

Unfortunately, my Pro-96 is just about dead, a problem with my BNC connector where I only now get very strong signals, and there doesn't seem to be an easy way for me to repair it. So I'm looking at purchasing a Pro-106 to replace it. These new scanners are going to be a challenge, and I know I'll need some sort of way to program it like I did on the Pro-96. Someone on the RadioShack forum very graciously took my P96 file and converted it to a W500 file so I could get started at least, but when I downloaded the 30-day trial of Win500, I discovered that I can't seem to be able to do even basic things like edit or enter new or existing frequencies. I can't find the edit boxes where information is stored, and I can't find things like the delay or lockout controls. The menus do appear to have keyboard access as was the case in Win96, and I can get through most of the dialogs OK, but it's going to be a challenge for me to maintain my frequency and talk group lists.

I have a cheap backup scanner that I can use to get me by, but I know I eventually want to upgrade to the Pro-106 scanner. I don't think I have a good e-mail address to get hold of Don, and it was suggested by someone in the RadioShack scanners forum to post to this forum in hopes that maybe I could get some help.

Don, it may be that the way you've put the Win500 program together may not lend itself to my needs, and I do understand that. So if we can't get Win500 to work for me, does anyone have ideas of perhaps other software that will work with the Pro-106? I've already tried Arc500, and sadly I'm not having any better luck with that program.

I hope I'm not intimidating anyone by this request. I just hope that somewhere along the line I can come up with a viable programming solution so I can go ahead and by the new scanner. My backup unit gets me the aircraft and railroad frequencies I always monitor, but I miss not being able to monitor some interesting trunked systems in my area.

Many thanks, in advance, to anyone who might be able to help me.

Pete De Vasto
 
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#2
Not exactly addressing the issue here but - why not buy another '96? Yes, it would be used, yes it's not the current model. But it IS what you know how to use. And they aren't bad scanners.

Changing scanners is like changing computer operating systems. It hurts and might take a long time to make it do what you want. The Pro-197/106 was an especially big change from the Pro-96. (see the endless new threads of new folks getting them and asking how to make them play)
 

pdevasto

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#3
Not exactly addressing the issue here but - why not buy another '96? Yes, it would be used, yes it's not the current model. But it IS what you know how to use. And they aren't bad scanners.

Changing scanners is like changing computer operating systems. It hurts and might take a long time to make it do what you want. The Pro-197/106 was an especially big change from the Pro-96. (see the endless new threads of new folks getting them and asking how to make them play)
I actually toyed with this idea and yes it's a very good one. I guess I was concerned about things like support for NFM mode and rebanding, would I be left out in the cold if the Pro-96 can't handle these things?

thanks for the valuable feedback,
Pete
 
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#4
I actually toyed with this idea and yes it's a very good one. I guess I was concerned about things like support for NFM mode and rebanding, would I be left out in the cold if the Pro-96 can't handle these things?

thanks for the valuable feedback,
Pete
Those certainly could be issues but the impact depends upon where you are.

Colorado rebanded the statewide trunked system from 868Mhz range to 853Mhz range which was no problem for the '96. Then they started putting up some 700 Mhz sites which the '96 cannot do.

Still, 700 isn't widespread here so I use my '96 for my 50 mile each way daily commute just fine.

Seems to me that if a '96 was working for you then a '96 replacement would get you back on the air. And since the unit would be older/used then the price should be less.

THEN start working on what it would take to switch to the Pro197. The 197 is a better radio but the operating principles are painfully different for those of us who grew up with normal scanners. It takes time to understand the differences. You may not have any trouble with the thing but you'll still need some special software to be able to make it do what you want.

Best of luck!
 

pdevasto

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#5
Hi again,

Both posts have been extremely helpful, and I'm realizing I probably wouldn't go wrong just replacing my Pro-96 now and working to find a solution for upgrading later on. I went out to Amazon last night, and actually did find a supposedly new Pro-96 available, so I took the plunge and bought it. It's already on its way to me and I'm sure I'll be just fine.

I do sincerely wish that someone who works on the software for the new scanners could contact me off list at some point to see if we could come up with a solution that blind computer users can work with. Obviously, no rush for me right now, but I'd imagine there might be blind folks down the road who will want to work with this next generation of scanners. I'm not, by any means, Mr. Know-it-all, but I am currently working as an Accessibility quality engineer at Adobe, so I do have a good idea of the kinds of things that might help.

Thank you all again for reading and responding to my inquiry.

Pete


.
Those certainly could be issues but the impact depends upon where you are.

Colorado rebanded the statewide trunked system from 868Mhz range to 853Mhz range which was no problem for the '96. Then they started putting up some 700 Mhz sites which the '96 cannot do.

Still, 700 isn't widespread here so I use my '96 for my 50 mile each way daily commute just fine.

Seems to me that if a '96 was working for you then a '96 replacement would get you back on the air. And since the unit would be older/used then the price should be less.

THEN start working on what it would take to switch to the Pro197. The 197 is a better radio but the operating principles are painfully different for those of us who grew up with normal scanners. It takes time to understand the differences. You may not have any trouble with the thing but you'll still need some special software to be able to make it do what you want.

Best of luck!
 
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#6
I'm glad you have a solution to being off the air in the works.

Do you have any links to material describing what features software should have to be accessible for blind folks?

I'm curious. (but since software and I have a kind of bare-skin vs. poison ivy kind of relationship I won't be the source of assistance you seek)


I've been using Win96 and Win500 for awhile now and I still haven't "seen" all the features they have. Exploring the s/w thru a screen-reader (or something like that) is beyond my comprehension.

Good luck to you Pete!

Ron
 
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#7
Pete, have you considered sending your Pro-96 into Radio Shack for repair? Or do you have someone locally that can take a look at it, like a ham operator or another scanner enthusiast? Just trying to think of a way to save you some money.
 

pdevasto

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#8
Pete, have you considered sending your Pro-96 into Radio Shack for repair? Or do you have someone locally that can take a look at it, like a ham operator or another scanner enthusiast? Just trying to think of a way to save you some money.
I did consider that option, but since my scanner is over 7 years old and has taken a bit of a beating (dropped once or twice sadly), once I discovered that I could still get a brand-new unit I figured that now was the right time to make the move. I just got the new scanner last night, and I'm quite pleased with how it's performing. And because I've been able to successfully work with Win96 in the past, getting it up and running took less than 5 minutes. Now I will in fact be looking for someone who might want to take the old scanner off my hands who doesn't mind pulling it apart for possible repair. Pardon my ignorance, but is there a place on this site where people try getting rid of used scanners?

Pete
 

pdevasto

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#9
I'm glad you have a solution to being off the air in the works.

Do you have any links to material describing what features software should have to be accessible for blind folks?

I'm curious. (but since software and I have a kind of bare-skin vs. poison ivy kind of relationship I won't be the source of assistance you seek)

thanks for your words, Ron. Actually, there's a whole wealth of info out there regarding what needs to be done to make software accessible to the special screen readers I use. Short answer: Think about how you might try using your computer if either a) you couldn't use your mouse, b) you can't see what's on screen, or both. There are ways programs can be written so that what they are trying to put out to the screen can be made available to our special screen readers so that the text can be converted to spoken output. If you use Windows, there's a program called Narrator built in that will give you a hint of what is done. If you are on a Mac, Apple also has built-in software called VoiceOver. The other thing one can do with any software is to make it possible for you to access any icon by pressing a keyboard equivalent, such as Control+C, Control+X and Control+V, the standard keystrokes used to copy and paste things. It's also possible to use the tab and shift+tab keys to go to different places on the screen where you could do things like type in frequencies. Unfortunately, the software for the new generation of scanners doesn't give me this ability, but Win96 does. This is very over-simplified because I don't want to make this post long. If you're interested in learning more, go to Section 508, or do a search on Web content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG for short).

thanks,
Pete
 
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#10
I did consider that option, but since my scanner is over 7 years old and has taken a bit of a beating (dropped once or twice sadly), once I discovered that I could still get a brand-new unit I figured that now was the right time to make the move. I just got the new scanner last night, and I'm quite pleased with how it's performing. And because I've been able to successfully work with Win96 in the past, getting it up and running took less than 5 minutes. Now I will in fact be looking for someone who might want to take the old scanner off my hands who doesn't mind pulling it apart for possible repair. Pardon my ignorance, but is there a place on this site where people try getting rid of used scanners?

Pete
That's great Pete. Glad you got it worked out and were able to get another Pro-96, which you are comfortable working with. If you want to sell the older one, there is a "classifieds" section where you can list items. There is a link at the top of the page on RR, but have included a link to it here: Main Index - RadioReference Classifieds

If you can possibly get a picture of the scanner to include in your listing, that would certainly help, as people like to see what they are buying. I am sure there would be someone on here who would like a project.
 
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