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ARRL General Bulletin ARLB059 (1997)

ARLB059 ARRL seeks changes to CW waiver rules

ARRL Bulletin 59  ARLB059
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  October 3, 1997
To all radio amateurs

ARLB059 ARRL seeks changes to CW waiver rules

The ARRL has asked the FCC to change the way Morse code exam
exemptions for severely handicapped applicants are handled. The
League wants to change the procedural requirements in Part 97 that
must be met, prior to granting examination credit.

Under the League's proposed changes, a candidate at least would have
to attempt the CW test--with any and all necessary
accommodations--before being granted an exam waiver based on a
physician's certification. Also, Volunteer Examiner Coordinators
(VECs) would be entitled to request medical information pertinent to
an applicant's handicap from the certifying physician. VECs also
would be required to have this information on file before the
application is forwarded to the FCC for processing.

In its petition filed September 23, the League said the two ''rather
minor changes'' are needed to restrict the waiver process to use by
severely handicapped individuals ''for whom the process was intended
in the first place and who deserve the substantive accommodation.''
The League also said the changes would ''stem abuses'' of the waiver
system without putting unreasonable burdens on examinees.

The CW waiver system has been in effect for seven years. The League
says that experience has shown that many applicants without severe
handicaps ''have abused the process'' by obtaining physicians'
certifications of inability to pass the telegraphy examination. At
present, 8 of those applying through the ARRL-VEC have requested a
medical exemption from the higher-speed code requirement. Another
large VEC reports similar experience. The League cited ''a growing
suspicion'' in the ham community of anyone who has upgraded by using
the waiver route. But the League said this is ''completely unfair to
those who require and deserve the exemption because they cannot be
accommodated by procedural means.''

FCC rules requires volunteer examiners to exercise broad latitude in
administering CW exams to accommodate handicapped applicants.
Measures include using a flashing light or vibrating surface for
hearing-impaired applicants, pausing in sending after sentences,
phrases, words or even characters to allow an examinee time to
interpret, or even substituting a sending test for a receiving test.
Instead, the League observed in its filing, there is ''a tendency for
applicants to seek exemptions instead'' of accommodations.

The League said it believes the procedural changes alone will help
to deter those who might abuse the process while still allowing
exemptions to deserving applicants.


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