Technology to support you at work
With February statistically being the coldest month of the year it's no wonder SRUK choose this month for Raynaud's Awareness Month. Raynaud's affects up to 10 million people in the UK yet SRUK's research reveals that only 4% are able to identify the symptoms of Raynaud's and worryingly only 10% of people on average who had Raynaud's symptoms would visit a GP.
If you have cold fingers and toes that change colour from white, to blue/purple and then red, which go numb, tingly or cause pain, then find out more information about the condition and take the test today.
The condition can be triggered by a change in temperature, emotional changes, stress, hormones or using vibrating tools. Cold hands and tingling fingers can make it impossible to use a standard computer keyboard, so as well as making sure a workspace is warm enough what other ways can technology help someone with Raynaud's?
Living with Raynaud's
Ellie, who has Raynaud's and Systemic Scleroderma (SSc) along with Ehlers Danlos Type III (which is unconnected), is learning to manage the condition.
“Since I can remember I've always had hands that felt a bit 'dead'. I went to the doctors because I heard there were treatments for Raynaud's," she says.
“My employers have been a fantastic support and we have sat together and agreed adjustments to help me in my role - from little things, like ensuring I am seated away from draughts, to bigger things - like agreeing circumstances where I feel I need to work from home, where they provided me with equipment to do so."
Adjusting technology to help with Raynaud's
Mary Steiner, an AbilityNet assessor in the Midlands, feels the important thing is to keep the working environment warm, but there are some other adjustments that can be made to make life easier.
One thing to look at, she says, is using voice recognition software to dictate to the computer and minimise the need to type or use the mouse. However not everyone will want to do this, or find it practical in their situation, and there are other options.
“I saw a client who worked all day in a call centre and she found that gripping the mouse made things worse because it further reduced the circulation to her fingers.
"She was having to stop working for 10 or 20 minutes each time her fingers went numb until the feeling returned, so we recommended a flatter, larger mouse which didn't require as much grip.
Tailored support for Raynaud's
“Another was a student whose fingers were sore and cracked because of Raynaud's, I recommended an ergonomic pen," says Mary.
The assessor says these adjustments won't stop the symptoms happening, but it's sometimes about using a "mixture of little things which each help to improve the situation", she explains.
Raynaud's: A quick guide to helpful tools
AbilityNet assessors suggest the following could help those with the phenomenon work more easily -
- Information on Keeping Warm with Raynaud's
- A portable heater
- Heated mouse
- Heated gloves and socks
- Self-insulating gloves and insoles
- Take a look at products recommended by those with the condition at the SRUKshop
- Silver fibre gloves (opposite) can work phones, tablets and your MAC/PC
- Body warming products because keeping your core warm can help
- Voice recognition software
- Word prediction software
- Light / soft touch keyboard
- Ergonomic pens such as PenAgain (above)
- Foam pen grips
- Check out the air conditioning, if it's problematic ask to be moved, turned up or wear additional clothing to ensure you stay warm
Need help adapting your equipment at home, work or college?
A charity set up to support people with disabilities can give helpful information and advice. Call AbilityNet's free Helpline on: 0800 269 545.
Our friendly, knowledgeable staff will discuss any kind of computer problem and do their best to come up with a solution.
Get help at work
Every employer must provide Reasonable Adjustments to accommodate the needs of employees. This could mean support to use the tools we've suggested, or changes to your duties when Raynaud's is affecting your work.
Use Clear Talents On Demand to let your manager know what would help you be more productive. It's free and confidential.
Get help at home
Do you need IT support at Home? AbilityNet At home volunteers can help people with disabilities deal with computer problems at home, either on the phone or in person.
Read more personal stories like Ellie's from people living with Raynaud's.
If you would like to share your experiences of how your employer or colleagues help you manage your condition or have a question around the workplace, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter