Reduced dexterity can make using the phone or a keypad a challenge.
If you find it hard to use a handset, or to type a text message or email, there are lots of things you can do to help you communicate more easily.
What limits dexterity?
Dexterity, or the use of hands and fingers, can be affected by lots of things like injury, illness or (most commonly) a medical condition such as arthritis.
Arthritis and similar joint conditions in the arms and hands can be extremely painful and cause stiffness, pain and fatigue. Joint problems and hand injuries can make even small movements hard work, and basic tasks like using the phone, writing or holding a book can become a challenge.
We know this can be difficult – but there are things you can do to make life a little easier.
Recognising dexterity issues
Having reduced dexterity can sometimes be hard to come to terms with – the pain and discomfort can have a big impact. But it doesn't mean that you have to stop leading an active life.
At home, you may be able to make a few simple changes to make your day-to-day jobs easier.
Which phone features should I be looking for?
If you have problems with dexterity, you don't have to struggle with small buttons or fiddly switches. Here are some features that can help make using a phone easier:
- easy grip handsets
- hands free and headset options
- large or well-spaced buttons
- memory store, to reduce the number of times you have to press buttons to make a call
- speed dial options so you can store frequently used numbers under dedicated buttons for one-touch dialling
- pre-dial facility to check you’ve entered the right number before dialling
- dedicated 1571 buttons for easy message retrieval (you may be charged for using this service – see your call package for details).
Getting help with dexterity
There are lots of organisations that can help if you have dexterity issues. Your local authority might be able to help by assessing your needs and providing specialist equipment. An occupational therapist might also be able to give you advice on what kind of help would be useful.
Other good sources of information about dexterity are:
As well as learning about your rights and available benefits, there are product recommendations and community pages to help you connect with others.
Oxo’s ‘Good Grips’ range is a nice example of how everyday utensils can be designed for easier use by people with impairments – as well as looking great.
Simple tips to help with dexterity
Making simple changes to how you go about your day-to-day tasks can make a big difference. Here are some suggestions:
- keep things you use regularly in places that are easy to reach (a cordless phone could be a good idea)
- don't use your hands for a long period of time without breaks (a hands-free phone could help)
- think about making adjustments to your home (like adding hand rails or lever taps)
- invest in a few gadgets to help you – like Oxo’s Good Grips utensils or one of BT’s Big Button phones
- if you like reading, think about using the internet to access the wide range of talking books you can find online and downloading them to an e-reader or tablet.
We've got lots more tips on our Making calling easier page.