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Paralysed using an Amateur Radio

Paralysed and using an Amateur Radio

I am paralyzed from the neck down, but I can still operate an Amateur Radio without any difficulties.

An Amateur Radio is a type of radio that allows you to transmit messages and talk to other people. It offers more capabilities than a Citizens Band Radio, such as the ability to communicate with people who are hundreds of miles away. To get this licence, you need to pass an exam. Don’t worry—it is nothing major, and it’s well worth the effort.

In the UK, the exam consists of a couple of practical tasks and a multiple-choice exam. As I’ve mentioned above I’m paralysed so unable to attempt the practical stuff. I must admit at first I was worried about this. I contacted my local amateur radio group via email. I explained my situation to a really friendly guy called John. He contacted the powers that be and told me that I did not need to do the practical exams.

Due to my disability, I do not leave the house very often. This meant that attending the local radio club wasn’t very easy. So the examiners even came to my house so that I could take the exam. To say that I was happy was a bit of an understatement.

After a week or two of revising, I passed the Foundation Exam. There is loads of free information out there to help you do this. All you need to do is search on your favourite search engine. I would recommend starting with your local amateur radio club.


The next challenge was to be able to physically control the radio. If you have read my other posts you will know that I control my PC via voice. I Then researched which amateur radios could be used via software. After a lot of reading I selected the Yaesu 857D. This radio is also referred to as a shack in a box. This is because it is a fully featured radio covering most of the bands (frequencies)  and modes (AM, FM, Digital and SSB).


There are a few applications out there that allow you to use this radio via your PC.

I control the computer with my voice using the software Dragon NaturallySpeaking, also known as DragonDictate. It has honestly liberated my life as I can now use a PC the same as anybody else.

After a lot of testing I selected the HAM Radio Deluxe software to control my radio. There is a free version and a paid-for version. I liked it so much that I actually purchased the software. This has the advantage of more features and better support.

So what can I do on my radio?


As the heading suggests I can have a conversation with someone. Depending on the frequency and propagation that person could be 2 miles away or 5000 miles away. It can get quite addictive trying to see how many countries and how far you can actually get. At the time of writing this, I have spoken to over 30 countries and covered thousands of miles. I’ve made quite a few good friends, some down the road and some on other continents.

Depending on your radio it also opens up a whole new world of listening. For instance, I listen to the security guards at my local shopping centre. This can be a source of great entertainment! I also listen to various marine traffic in the Northsea. There are many websites dedicated to what is out there to tune into.


This mode enables you to send text or pictures to other people. It is kind of like text messaging but again with far more bells and whistles. This mode is fantastic for me as I can get all my messages ready in advance. For example, if a person is in Italy I send them a nice message in Italian. I’ve been to Italy many times and really like the country. I also can’t resist mentioning Formula One to them.

There is a new digital mode called F8 and it has become the most popular way to communicate. I love it because it’s easy to use and enables you to be heard thousands of miles away. I am in the UK and I’ve had a chat with someone in Australia. That’s more than 10,000 miles using the power of a 40 Watt light bulb.

Using digital modes I have spoken to over 135 countries. You have to admit that’s pretty awesome!

What next?

I have already taken my second exam and now have an intermediate licence. This gives me more transmit power, think of it as going to volume 11 🙂  However, this isn’t really required as the first licence gives you plenty of capabilities.

I would like to encourage other disabled people to get involved with amateur radio. It is a great way of liberating yourself from the shackles of your environment!

You can see my amateur radio logbook by Clicking Here 

If you have any questions use our contact page or our Facebook page

73s 2E0UMF


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I am paralysed from the neck down and disabled not stupid although some may argue about the latter.

7 thoughts on “Paralysed using an Amateur Radio

  • Kudos to you in your achievements. Good luck in getting your full licence. I hope to get you in the log.

    73 de Guy G4DWV/4X1LT

    • Thank you, I am considering taking my full licence.

  • What a brilliant ambassador for Amateur Radio!

    Lovely, informative piece. Really well put together, and a great source of great info.

    Paul – M0PVN

  • I have been paralysed from the neck down since 1986. I’ve been a radio ham since 1995 and I can honestly say it’s a brilliant hobby for anyone who spends a lot of time at home. It’s amazing how many friends you can make from the comfort of your own home. Nowadays using up-to-date software you can operate radios without the need to even touch the radio. Good luck my friend, Best 73 Penn G0VQY

  • Larry Emmerson

    Oh my very best wishes to you friend
    I’m 72 now had a full licence since 1999
    At my age I think I’m justified in getting
    Someone else to move radioes,antennas
    And expect forgiveness with forgetting callsigns
    You put me to shame Sir.
    Hope I have the privilege of speaking to you
    Further down the log
    73s OM best DX
    Larry M1EBH

  • Larry
    I know you mean about forgeting callsigns 🙂

    thank you for your comments, it means a lot.

    Cheers, 73s

    Mike 2E0UMF


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