Richard Oehm is a self-described workaholic who decided to start his own business 20 years ago when he knew that he had developed a customer base through word of mouth, reputation, and consulting work. Oehm’s interests include cell phone towers, switches, and getting a television signal in to a rural area. This blind engineer has always had these interests, until the switch over from analog to digital television three years ago forced him to reinvent himself.
He first started working on some custom built projects like a security system in Columbus, Ohio. In that city, the streets and highways have cameras which transmit a variety of information like traffic patterns, violations, and so forth. Oehm’s equipment sends this information to the engineers for interpretation.
Another custom project which led to the invention of the DTV Radio for the blind was developing a conversion system for transmitting television signals to rural areas for the Bext Corporation.
“I was testing a variety of chip sets for the project,” he explained. “We needed to find the best chip set for converting, say, a television signal transmitted from the top of a hill that needed to go up and down other hills and into remote rural areas. In doing so, I noticed a unique quality of the Broadcom chip set: It was the only one that I didn’t need a sighted assistant or Optacon to see what was going on.”
The DTV Radio was also encouraged by a caller named Catherine Thomas who was an Optacon customer from New York in 2010. When she spoke about her frustration with digital TV, she encouraged Oehm to manufacture a radio that would pick up the audio portion of digital television. It was then that he remembered the Broadcom chip’s capabilities and an idea was born.
The Oehm Electronics Model ATSC-25 DTV radio is manufactured by a blind person for a blind person. Every connection on the back of the radio is labeled in braille as well as the AC adapter. The user guide is offered in Braille, large or regular print, or CD. It’s a digital TV–with no screen.
Two-thirds of the front part of the radio is taken up by the speaker, enabling the radio to have superb sound. On the right side is a remote control device. It also has a telescopic whip antenna. The user guide also tells you how to install an indoor or outdoor antenna.
When you first set up the radio, you must scan for stations. The radio is capable of receiving TV stations 2 through 69. It also has an SAP function where you can receive foreign language broadcasts or audio described programming as well. Not only does this allow the user to listen to digital TV very easily, but if the program includes alternate audio, like described video, the stream can be heard at the press of a button. To improve audio quality even more, the jacks in the back are there to add speakers or to connect the radio to amplifiers or stereo receivers.
When inquiring about the radio, I found out that it costs $185. Oehm said that it would take three or four weeks to manufacture the radio.
To either inquire or purchase a radio, you can contact him by either email or phone at email@example.com, Oehm Electronics (408) 971-6250.