Future Reflections  Summer 2006

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Sending A Shout Out
Glasgow students earn ham radio licenses, talk with the world

Reprinted from The Advocate (Kids Avenue), May 28, 2005, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Written by Relma Hargus, staff writer for The Advocate.

Editor’s Note: How well do you think you know blind kids? Here’s a quiz for you: as you read the following article, try to guess which one or more of these students is/are blind. Check your answer on the “Editor’s Quiz” at the close of the reprinted article, then read on for the answer. Hint: more than one answer may be correct. Here is the story:

Although her ham radio contacts are “mainly in United States,” Glasgow Middle School sixth-grader Elizabeth Allen has also talked with people in Bulgaria, Australia, Brazil, Scotland, Great Britain and South Korea.

“You learn the time differences,” Elizabeth said, explaining that she and her South Korean contacts are fifteen hours apart. Early morning in one place means late night at the other.

“Just by listening to call signs, you know what countries they’re from,” she said.

Elizabeth and classmates Zeshum Ahmed, Conan Cai, Jonguk Lim, and Michael Taboada each earned a FCC-granted Technician Class license and their own call signs by passing a multiple-choice examination.

The entry-level exam covers basic regulations, operating practices, and electronics theory.

“They just randomly pick thirty-five questions, so you have to study them all,” Conan said.

As licensed amateur radio operators, or “ham operators,” all five are authorized to talk without supervision on designated radio frequencies.

They are expected to be courteous and follow proper protocol and ethical conduct.

“You can get in trouble with the FCC if you don’t,” Zeshum said.

The five students, as well as fellow classmates who are studying to retake the exams, were initiated into the fun of amateur radio by Charamie Dunlap, their physical science teacher and a third-generation ham radio operator. Baton Rouge Amateur Radio Club donated equipment for the classroom, Dunlap said.

Both Michael and Elizabeth have radios at home.

“I like talking to people I don’t know,” Michael said. “It’s like a pen pal, except I guess we’re message pals.”

Amateur radio facts
Ham radio operators communicate with each other using voice, computers, and Morse code. Some hams bounce their signals off the upper regions of the atmosphere, so they can talk with hams on the other side of the world. Other hams use satellites. Many use handheld radios that fit in their pockets.

Sample questions for technician license:
1. What is a transmission called that disturbs other communications?
A. Interrupted CW
B. Harmful interference
C. Transponder signals
D. Unidentified transmissions

2. How does the frequency of a harmonic compare to the desired transmitting frequency?
A. It is slightly more than the desired frequency
B. It is slightly less than the desired frequency
C. It is exactly two, or three or more times the desired frequency
D. It is much less than the desired frequency.

Answers: 1. B; 2. C;

ON THE INTERNET: http://www.arri.org/


Editor’s Note: That’s the end of the article, now here is my quiz:

Editor’s Quiz:
Which kid(s) is/are blind? Check one or more of the options below:
1. [ ] Elizabeth Allen
2. [ ] Zeshum Ahmed
3. [ ] Conan Cai
4. [ ] Jonguk Lim
5. [ ] Michael Taboada
6. [ ] What difference does it make? They are all normal kids.

Answer:
Here is a short e-mail correspondence which contains the answer to the “Editor’s Quiz:”

From: Warren Figuieredo
Sent: Sunday, May 29, 2005
To: rhargus@theadvocate.com
Subject: Strike a blow against “World of Darkness” press

I read your article “Glasgow students earn ham radio licenses, talk with the world” with great joy because for once, The Advocate didn’t lapse into what I call “World of Darkness” sentimental mode simply because a blind student was involved.

Blindness is not always the focus of our lives even though the uninformed public thinks it is. And no, we don’t do everything “despite our disability.”

And no, we’re not always inspirational. We’re just people who do stuff like everybody else.

What a refreshing change! Thanks for the good reporting.

Warren Figueiredo

From: “Hargus, Relma”
To: Warren Figueiredo
Subject: RE: Strike a blow against “World of Darkness” press
Date: Mon, 30 May 2005

Thank you--for reading the story and sending your comment. Which one was blind? I’m not trying to be facetious. I honestly didn’t know Michael was blind until he whipped out his fold-up guiding cane when it was time to go to the next class. I agree his blindness wasn’t important to the story. He was a precocious, knowledgeable, delightful young man who happened (along with the other four delightful young people) to be smart enough to pass a test for which I didn’t even understand the questions.

Relma Hargus
Kids Avenue
The Advocate
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

From: Sandra Merchant
Sent: Monday, May 30, 2005
To: Cheadle, Barbara
Subject: Fwd: Strike a blow against “World of Darkness” press

This is what needs to happen with our blind kids. As background, Michael and four other children out of fifty-one passed their test for ham radio license. A newspaper reporter came and did an article on these kids. It came out this Saturday and Michael was pictured working with the radio with two of the other children and then each one had a smaller picture individually taken. Comments from three of the kids (including Michael) were included in the article. Nothing was said about Michael’s blindness. Here [above] is what Warren Figuieredo sent to the reporter and what she wrote back. THIS IS WHEN WE KNOW WE HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL!
Sandy [Mother of Michael Taboada]

Answer:

Obviously, number five, Michael Taboda, is the only blind kid in the group, and numbers one through four are sighted classmates. That leaves answer number six. We will let you--our readers--answer this one. Why don’t you raise it as a point of discussion at dinnertime tonight with the family? Send your answer and the rationale for it to: <futurereflections@nfb.org> or to Future Reflections, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. We will post the most interesting, and/or most thoughtful answers to the blindkid listserv and to the NOPBC Web page at <http://nfb.org/nopbc.htm>. For information about how to sign up for the blindkid listserv, go to: <http://nfb.org/listserve.htm>.

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