Look No Hands! Don't let Arthritis stop you surfing the web...

Did you know that there are around 10 million people in the UK who have arthritis? What is Arthritis, how does it affect people's lives and how can computer technology help?

Photo of hands Our Look No Hands Campaign runs from Monday 13th May to Friday 17th May so every day this week we will be looking at a number of disabilities which cause people difficulty in using their hands. Some of these conditions are more common than you might think so we will tell you a bit about each disability, what forms of assistive technology can be used and where you can find  more information.

What is Arthritis?

Most of us have heard of Arthritis. You’ve probably been told at some point in your life that cracking your knuckles would give you it. Which, might I add, is a complete myth, you’ll be pleased to hear.  It’s a condition which causes inflammation and pain within a joint, also tenderness, restricted joint movement, joint weakness and sometimes muscle wasting. It affects people of all ages.

There are two type that are most common:

  • Osteoarthritis: Which is the most common where the cartilage between your bones wastes away. This causes painful rubbing and is most common in the Hands, Spine, Hips and Knees.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: This is more severe but less common form. This can lead to reduction of movement and breakdown of bone and cartilage.

How many people are affected?

There are around 10 million people in the UK who have arthritis. Our hands are one of the most frequently used body parts. When you think about it, we have 27 bones in each of our hands.  That’s a lot of joints in which people suffering from arthritis would experience pain. This is one of the many reasons that arthritis can be such a debilitating condition.

Top Tips for computing with Arthritis:

So what assistive technology would be useful for a person with Arthritis in their hands? Using a keyboard or a mouse might be really difficult for someone with arthritis.  So  we’ve got to look at alternatives:

  • A roller-ball mouse might be easier for someone to use as they can put their whole hand on it, rather than just their finger.
  • If they find a normal keyboard difficult to use they might want to look at a really soft touch keyboard or try an ergonimic keyboard or mouse.
  • If using the keyboard is a bit slow they might want to use a word prediction package which makes things just a little bit easier and quicker. It also reduces the level of movement required. Why hit 6 keys when you might only need to hit 3?
  • You can also use voice recognition to control the computer.

How can AbilityNet help?

There are a few ways that we can help:

  • My Computer My Way. A list of free hints and tips that you can use to make your time on the computer that bit easier. http://www.abilitynet.org.uk/myway/
  • Call our free Helpline. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff will discuss any kind of computer problem and do their best to come up with a solution. We’re open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm on 0800 269 545.
  • We have a range of factsheets which talk in detail about technology that might help you, which can be downloaded for free. http://www.abilitynet.org.uk/factsheets
  • Arrange a home visit. We have a network of AbilityNet ITCanHelp volunteers who can help if you have technical issues with your computer systems. They can come to your home, or help you over the phone.

Look No Hands!

Help us raise money to help disabled people in 3 easy steps:

  • Donate Now! Text LOOK132 to 70070 without using your hands to donate £2 to our free services – try using your nose or toes!
  • Smile. Have someone take a picture of you trying to text without using your hands.
  • Share. Share the picture with us and your friends through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram use #abilitynet #looknohands so we can keep track of your pictures.