IT with only one hand: Making the most of the advantages provided by a phone or tablet

When I was recovering in hospital after my stroke my son bought me one of these phone stands. It is probably the most enabling phone accessory that I have. My stroke left me unable to use my right hand but with the stand I am able to do most things that I need to with IT. If you have a friend or a relative who has had a stroke don’t buy them grapes or chocolates get them one of these! You can get a good one for under £10.

This post is about this and other ways of making the most of the advantages for one-handed use provided by a phone or a tablet.

Get a phone stand or tablet stand

Putting your phone or tablet on a stand and makes it easy to:
Select an app – having the phone or tablet mounted vertically, and stably, makes it easy to choose and manipulate apps;
Enter text – similarly, having a stable platform for the phone makes it easier to use the on-screen keyboard;
Use a video conferencing app such as Zoom, Skype or Facebook – when videoconferencing it is important to have an easily adjustable position that isn’t too close to you (see Skype, FaceTime, Zoom or WhatsApp video: 3 tips for grandparents). Often people end up balancing the device on something which then collapses!

Get a stylus

A stylus looks like a pen (see pictures above) and mimics the effect of a finger touching the screen. My fingers are quite large and I need this additional accuracy for some tasks. A pack of five will cost you less than £5 from Amazon.

Use the address book (“Contacts”) to dial phone numbers

I find it quite hard to dial phone numbers, it must be a side-effect of the stroke. You don’t have to dial a number more than a couple of times to make it worthwhile to store it in your Contacts. It is then just a matter of searching for the entry and touching the number. Similarly, phone numbers will be automatically detected in webpages and emails and can often be touched in order to dial them.

Try dictation

The on-screen keyboard on any Apple or Android devices has a key in the shape of a microphone. Touch it and you can dictate text. You will have to return to edit some words but it’s amazingly accurate. My phone can recognise the word “physiotherapy” with unerring accuracy! The basic text for this blog has been created by dictation.

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Try drawing

There are a number of apps which can be used to create pictures. Hockney has famously used these to create real works of art. You will need something larger than a phone i.e. a tablet. You might also like to invest in a fancy stylus for more accurate drawing. My favourite drawing app is Sketchbook. Learning to use a drawing app will require a considerable investment in your time but it could be worthwhile. To get started see Chapter 6 – Getting creative, photos and art, in Monk, “Explore your iPad – for seniors” Download as free iBook

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