The Handi-Ham System:
People with disabilities will find the world of Amateur Radio easy to enter, and for individuals
restricted to the confines of a bed and four walls, Amateur Radio can be a vehicle for
communication, fraternity and fellowship with other human beings in the outside world. A valuable
therapeutic tool, Amateur Radio continues to hold a profound appeal for individuals with physical
handicaps. It is a means of people-to-people contact on a basis of absolute equality - two minds
communicating and relating on a level of mutual and equal empathy.
A special-interest organization is set up for radio amateurs with disabilities. Called the
Courage HANDI-HAM system, this group is an international service organization of over 2000
handicapped and ablebodied radio amateurs working together to bring ham radio to individuals with
physical handicaps. There are HANDI-HAM members in every province, state, and in 20 other countries
ready to help. They can provide text books (or cassette recordings thereof), code practice tapes, a
key and a code practice oscillator. There are local HANDI-HAMs to assist you with studies at home.
Once you receive your license, the Courage HANDI-HAM system may lend you basic ham radio equipment
to get you started on the air.
Morse 2000 Worldwide Outreach is giving Morse code a new lease on life to help rehabilitate and
educate people with special needs and disabilities. The first Morse 2000 World Conference was set
for late October in Minnesota.
Because it can be sent using a binary-opposition movement pattern, Morse code can be generated
with left-right, push-pull, and puff-sip control.
The code, used in communication for the past 150 years, and being phased out in many spheres, has
proven to be among the best of several adaptive computer-access methods and augmentative or
alternative communication techniques for many people with special needs.
We now have over 2000 participants in 27 countries, says Debra King, N9GLG, the director of Morse
2000 Worldwide Outreach. King manages the Office of Continuing Education in Human Sciences and
Services at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, and enthusiastically promotes the use of Morse
code in rehabilitation and education.
Through her encouragement, various Morse code programs are being used or tested to allow people
such as those with spinal cord injuries to converse.
She provides information for occupational therapists or speech pathologists and promotes the
advantages of using Morse code to help their patients. The information that she provides can save
the therapist-patient team years of research attempting to find the best methods and selecting
Results have generated heart-warming success stories, especially at learning centers and
childrern's hospitals around the world, as reported in MORSEls, the Morse 2000 newsletter.
One researcher told of the case of a woman with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) who had lost her
ability to speak but was able to communicate using Morse code, at first by blinking her eyes and
later by using an optical switch activated by jaw movement that was wired to a PC. The same
researcher told of a stroke patient who employed his very limited movement to send Morse code
messages to his wife. Another report tells of a stroke victim who is able to talk in Morse code by
activating a chin switch.
Speech pathologist Thomas King, WF9I, Debra King's husband and the editor of MORSEls, called
Morse code one tool of many in providing adaptive access for those unable to communicate through
conventional means. He told of a young man who had been severely injured and rendered a quadriplegic
after being hit by a car as a youngster. He retained facial movement and can speak (although he's on
a ventilator), but he can use Morse via a puff-and-sip switch to write 20 wpm or