What is Multiple Sclerosis, how does it affect people's lives and how can computer technology help?
What is MS?
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is one of those conditions that most of us have heard of, but not many of us know exactly what it is or how it effects people.
MS is a condition which affects the central nervous system. The coating of the nerve fibres (myelin) in your body is affected. This means that you can have difficulty using your hands and arms and your mobility may be reduced. Speech and memory can also be affected. In some people their eyesight can be affected too.
How many people are affected?
- In the UK there are at least 100,000 people affected by the condition.
- Worldwide there are estimated to be at least 2.5 million.
- It's most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 40.
- MS tends to affect almost three times as many women as men.
How can you adapt your computer to help someone with MS?
- Within Accessibility settings within the computer system you can slow down the keyboard via Filter Keys and if you need to you can also slow down the mouse so it doesn’t shoot off across the page the moment you touch it.
- It also might be a good idea to use a rollerball so you’ve got a little bit more control over it.
- As long as the voice isn’t affected too much you can also use voice recognition to control the computer.
- If your sight is affected at all you could use the built in magnification tool within Windows or just simply change the settings within the control panel to make sure that text is in the most visible colour for you to see.
- If your speech is affected but you can still access the computer there are many different communication packages available to help you to communicate your requirements.
Ms S rang us up to see if we could help with a client of hers that uses her MS Centre. The client was finding it increasingly difficult to use the standard computer keyboard. We recommended that she trialled a much larger keyboard with a key guard on it, so she didn’t hit the wrong keys. We also spoke to her support worker about making sure that she slowed the keyboard down by using filter keys so she didn’t get lots of unwanted characters.
How can we 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 www.mycomputermyway.com
- 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 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.
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