Common questions about fibromyalgia and computing

At AbilityNet we often talk to people who have conditions that impact on them, both physically and cognitively.  Fibromyalgia is one of these conditions. People who have the condition can experience musculoskeletal pain and cognitive impairment. According to Arthritis Research UK up to 1 in 25 people can have this condition. It is a little known condition and national fibromyalgia week ran from Sunday 4th-11th September 2016. Famous people with Fibromyalgia include US actor Morgan Freeman.

Here are some of our often asked questions:Image of woman with muscular pain in hands

From day to day I have really sore fingers. I’ve heard about voice recognition. Is it difficult to set-up?

No! Not at all. If you have a fairly new Windows or Apple computer then you have built in voice recognition. It is easy to use and as long as you practice for a while you should be able to get fairly good recognition. We’d always suggest getting a USB microphone though as normally the external microphones on a computer never tends to be of a high enough quality to be effective at recognizing your voice.

I want to keep on typing to control the computer. What might work for me?

Depending on how you are affected by fibromyalgia there are a couple of solutions that might work for you. There are keyboards which are known as “compact”. These don’t tend to have the number pad on the right hand side so it means you don’t have to “stretch” from one side of the keyboard to the other.  Other keyboards have a bit of a “softer touch” so you don’t need to hit the keyboard quite as hard.  Other technology might include word prediction software.

Fibromyalgia causes “brain fog” and I have real issues trying to work. I find software with many options confusing. What can I do?

Within software packages like Microsoft Word there are lots of ways of making things easier for you. One of the most effective is the ability to delete icons from the software that you never seem to use.  This should help you focus more effectively on the functionality that you need to use.

Case study

Harry’s daughter Yvonne has fibromyalgia and it is really having an impact on her job as a social worker. Our A&I officer chatted to Harry about possible options and we suggested Yvonne ought to have a work place assessment where she could try voice recognition out so she could better cope with her case-load. We can also make recommendations on alternatives to her current keyboard and mouse.

How can we help?

AbilityNet provides a range of services to help disabled people and older people.

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.

If you are in work your employers have a responsibility to make Reasonable Adjustment.   For more details on this have a look at www.abilitynet.org.uk/ctod and www.cleartalentsatwork.com

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.

We have a range of factsheets which talk in detail about technology that might help you, which can be downloaded for free. You may find our factsheets talking about voice recognition and keyboard alternatives useful.

My Computer My Way. A free interactive guide to all the accessibility features built into current desktops, laptops, tables and smartphones.

Related Resources