Visually Impaired Girl Sees World Through Ham Radio

Anita Campbell
County Reporter
Blind since birth, Kelly Stanfield of rural Lincoln didn’t let her disability stop her from become a ham radio operator.  Stanfield came to Benton County from Kansas and soon found a group of people who enjoyed talking on the airwaves like herself.  She joined the Benton County, MO ARES and Twin Lakes Amateur Radio Club in August 2017.  She attended meetings, contributed ideas and participated in weekly nets.  She attained her General Class and then Extra Class licenses within a span of two months.
“I became interested in ham radio because my grandfather enjoyed it and he encouraged me as well,” said Stanfield. 
When Jim McNally and Rick Wade heard Stanfield had obtained her General Class license, they wanted to give her the ability to speak with people all over the world. They worked with members of the BC ARES to raise the funds needed to purchase a Kenwood TS- 590s HF radio with a VGS-1 voice synthesizer board, and a Powerwerx 30 Amp power supply. An 80-10 meter dipole antenna with a Comtec 4:1 current balun, 140 FT of coax, insulators, wire, and PL-259 connectors will be installed outside Kelly’s home. Kelly’s uncles, Joe, Lee and Roger Krout purchased a flight case for Kelly to store and transport her new radio easily!
In order for a sightless person to operate a complex radio like this, the radio must ‘speak’ when settings change. The Kenwood has this ability with the synthesizer board installed. Wade ordered and paid for the VGS-1 voice synthesizer board and McNally installed and tested the voice synthesis feature that will allow the radio to verbalize and interact with  Stanfield. During all of this, McNally was in contact with  Stanfield’s uncle, Joe Krout (KR0UT), and best friend, Craig Martin (KY0O), so they could take part in the surprise as well.
“I had no clue to what my friends had planned,” said Stanfield.  “I really enjoyed my surprise.”
Stanfield is a third generation Amateur Radio operator on her mother’s side of the family. She was very excited to recently acquire her grandfather, Harry Krout’s callsign (W0YQG) since he became a Silent Key. It was obvious to the group she wanted to keep up the family tradition. Her first radio was a Kenwood TMV71A, which she still owns and uses to this day for local contacts and participating in BC ARES nets and activities.
Amateur Radio operators are able to send out messages when other forms of communication may be out of order due to bad weather.
“You never know who you are going to talk to,” said Stanfield.  “Sometime I call out to a specific person but many times I just call out to see who is listening and who wants to talk to me.”
Rick Wade, then Emergency Coordinator for the BC ARES and current President of the Twin Lakes Amateur Radio Club, was astounded by her capabilities.
“I don’t know how she does it,” he remarked upon meeting Stanfield. “She’s pretty amazing. She doesn’t complain about her disability or use it as an excuse.”
Before moving to Missouri, Stanfield worked as a cashier and customer service representative.
“Since I moved to Missouri, I have been concentrating on obtaining all the necessary licenses to become an amateur radio operator,” Stanfield said.
Those who contributed to the gift to Stanfield’s gift included:  Jim McNally (KA0DXU), Rick Wade (KD0CNC), Samantha Henley (KE0LMY), Joe Krout (KR0UT), Craig Martin (KY0O), Rick Harkins (W0YGH), Michael Schley (KB0LW), Steve Pierce (WA5ICX), Rebecca Pierce (W5RNX), Robert Scott (KD0AFI), Della Scott (KD0AFJ), Roger Henley (KD0WXT), Renee Cason (KE0LMZ), Lee Krout and Roger Krout.
So all of the amateur radio buffs out there, call Stanfield (W0YQG) and find out what she is up to now.