Modifying the Cursor
I made the mouse pointer larger and slowed down the blinking speed of my cursor. It may not be noticeable to someone without MS, but it really helps me cope with my vision problems. This option is available on Windows Vista and Windows XP and doesn't require purchasing any extra software. –Leslie H.
Using Adobe Reader
When I enlarge text in Adobe Reader, I use a function called "Reflow" so I don't have to scroll back and forth to read. Found under the "View" menu, "Reflow" repositions text to fit within the viewable area of my monitor. No matter how big I need to make the font, the page always rearranges the words for easy reading. —Stephen W.
Virtual Magnifying Glass
I enlarge online images using a "virtual magnifying glass." All I have to do is click to open the magnifying glass and drag it over the area I need to be enlarged (like an online comic strip or an imbedded photo caption). This software is available free of charge and available for download at http://magnifier.sourceforge.net/ —Angie K.
Cell Phone Modifications
I use voice dialing on my cell phone to avoid scrolling through menus, since I have trouble seeing the key pad and often forget who's on which speed dial numbers. I also changed my settings so that the font is large and in all capital letters on my phone’s screen. —Carin M.
I recently purchased a high-contrast large widescreen LCD monitor to assist with vision issues when I am fatigued. It has made a huge difference. —Kurt G.
System Access to Go (SAToGo)
System Access To Go (SAToGo) is an online program that is extremely helpful for people with impaired vision…and it’s free! Once you register and save your settings, you can log-in to SAToGo from any computer and access its online screen reader and magnification program. This allows me to see any computer screen, even if it’s not equipped with vision software. —Patrice F.
Enlarging the Font
I enlarge the font and use a colored background behind the font on my computer to make the text easier to read. It is much easier for anyone who has vision problems from MS like I do!
There are a number of different screen readers available to purchase, but I use Narrator, the free text to speech program built into my Microsoft Vista operating system. The program reads Web pages, e-mails, word documents and even my clipboard to me. Due to my limited vision, I would be lost without it!
Large Print Keyboard
Vision problems made it difficult to read the letters on my keyboard. I purchased a large print keyboard, which has the same size keys as a traditional keyboard but the letters on the keys are significantly larger. In addition, my keys are yellow with bold black print, which gives me much more color contrast than I used to have.
I use a program called SmartButler to make instant messaging with my friends and family easier. The program reads out loud incoming messages and even my responses. It also announces when new friends have signed online. All of these features help with my vision impairment, allowing me to interact online without reading a thing! —Crystal C.
I have a program called ZoomText, which will magnify my computer screen and also read the text on the screen to me out loud. I use the screen reading capability to have my daily e-mails read to me.
Software Speech recognition software has kept me connected. If you are unable to type or have difficulty doing so, you can speak into a microphone and the software types the words you speak on the screen. Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a helpful program available for purchase, and Microsoft Windows Vista comes equipped with a free speech recognition program of similar quality. —Evan U.
I have trouble maneuvering a mouse with my hands, so I use a laptop with an Ultranav device. It has buttons around a small area where I drag my finger to move the mouse on the screen. I can now use my right hand to "move the mouse" and my left hand to do the clicking of the buttons.
I use my laptop computer on days when sitting up is difficult. It allows me to sit in my recliner and still keep in touch with the world.
Blue Tooth technology
I’m very weak on my left side, so I can’t hold a phone with my left hand while writing with my right one. The simple use of a wireless bluetooth headset for the phone (both my cell phone and office set) makes it possible for me to take notes while I'm on a phone call.
WiVik program for Microsoft Word
I have a WiVik program for typing on my computer. I type the first and second letter of a word and then it gives me a list of words to choose from and puts it in Word for me.
Typing shortcuts with “Ctrl” key
The shortcuts associated with the CTRL key are a terrific help. I use CTRL and Z to undo a mistake, along with the other short cuts for cut, paste, select all, underline, bold, italics, send, etc.
Single Click Mouse
I have difficulty holding the mouse still long enough to double click on an item. To help make using the mouse easier, I changed my settings in Windows to allow for a single click as opposed to a double. In the Control Panel, select “Folder Options” to choose “Single-Click to Open an Item.” After doing so, you only need to point and select.
I have shaky hands and find using a computer mouse rather tricky and frustrating. To make things easier, I started using a trackball mouse. The trackball reduces the amount of hand movement required to operate my computer, and the design of the mouse helps to keep my hand and arm relaxed.
Running Errands Online
Another helpful thing I have found is shopping for gifts and everyday items online. I even do my grocery shopping online to avoid the confusion I experience when going to the store. Having items delivered right to my door has been a life saver.
Using the Computer to Manage My MS
I keep a yearly Excel spreadsheet to keep track of everything related to my MS. I track my medical expenses, insurance claims and payments, doctors visits/hospital stays, laboratory work, medical tests and prescriptions. It is very informative to be able to look back over several years to discover when my last MRI was, or how my medicines have changed.
My MS causes numbness and loss of fine motor control of my dominant right hand, which makes it difficult to fill out forms by hand. Now I scan forms onto my computer and save them as a .jpg or .bmp file. Then I use the “text” tool in graphics editing software like PhotoImpact or PhotoShop to fill in the blanks.
We just purchased an iRobot Roomba® vacuum and Scooba® floor washer and I love them both! I can run them when I’m not home and don’t have to worry about physically straining myself in any way.
Voice-Activated TV Remote
I just purchased a voice-activated TV remote, so now I’m able to change the channel by using my voice as opposed to my hands.
Cell Phone Voice Commands
My cell phone company offers a service called “Voice Command,” which allows you to store phone numbers using your voice. When I need to call someone, all I have to do is open my phone and say their name and my phone will automatically dial their number.
I use the Calendar function in Microsoft Outlook to remind me to take my medication. It's easy to do! Just create a new item on the first day you want and hit the "recurrence" button. You can set it up to remind you any day of the week. There are also Web sites that send you medication reminders via e-mail. —Tina N.
Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)
I use my PDA device to write down EVERYTHING! I use the "memo" option to write down questions I have for my doctor, directions, and grocery lists. I use the "tasks" option to record tasks that I have trouble remembering, such as taking my medicine. As my memory decreases, I rely on this device more and more. —Liz F.
Books on CD
I have difficulty reading books because of cognitive delays from my MS. These days, most books are available on CD. By listening to books on CD, I can fulfill my love of novels without having to struggle to read the pages.
I use a digital recorder to jot down notes of things I need to remember. When I get home, I hook it up to my computer to download the notes and play the ones I need to remind my self of. —Harold D.
I’ve found a form fill program called ‘Roboform’ very useful. It stores your repeated information and then fills it in forms for you, so you only have to type it all in once. It will also store your log-in and password information so you don’t have to remember how to access multiple accounts. —Sabilli P.
Computer Sticky Notes
I often use my computer sticky notes – a software application that places “sticky notes” on your computer screen – to remind myself of events and upcoming appointments so I don’t forget.
I firmly believe that playing computer and video games has helped me maintain a better level of thinking and cognizance than if I didn't do these activities. My eye-hand coordination and clarity of mind have improved because I keep working to challenge my brain to think.
Yahoo E-Mail Reminders
I have reminders e-mailed to me through Yahoo every other day so that I don't forget my injection.
I use my word processor to record new symptoms and maintain a diary. I can take this document with me to the doctor so that I remember everything I’ve experienced and need to speak with my physician about.
Electronic Health Records
I purchased Healthfile™ software that holds all of my doctor’s information, prescriptions, appointments and personal medical history. I don’t know where I’d be without this feature!
Syncing Your Blackberry
Using a blackberry cell phone and syncing it up with my computer daily helps me to keep my task lists, reminder lists and calendar with me everywhere I go. I can write down notes while I am on the go to remember back in the office.
I scan all important documents into my computer and then save them with easy-to-remember titles so I can access them in the future.
MS affects my memory greatly and I am often lost even in my hometown. With my new GPS I am always on the right track and always make it to places on time. I even used it yesterday while driving my mini-support-group (just the two of us) to a restaurant just outside of the city – we had a blast and didn't get lost! —Danielle E.
I use my computer to connect with a number of MS Web sites and support groups. Doing so helps me keep abreast everyday of the latest research going on. —Ellen L.
There are a number of support groups on Facebook for people with MS. I joined a group called Fighting Multiple Sclerosis, where I speak with people all over the world who are living with MS. We share everything from symptoms to our personal experiences with MS. —Dianne J.
I do a lot of research online about medications and new MS studies. Keeping informed helps me to feel like I am making a difference in how I handle my disease. —Kurt G.
Recently I joined Patientslikeme.com which is a sort of online support association and symptom management/research data clearinghouse for people with chronic illnesses. I’ve found it very helpful as well. —Leslie E.