Caryl writes:

 I have XP, Service Pack 3.  What do you recommend for an up-grade?  I do very few letters from either me or for a friend who does not have a computer.  I do check my e-mails.  But with my hands being my disability, I don’t spend that much time on the computer.

Caryl,  I’d suggest an upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8 and I would also suggest activating the speech recognition that comes with both of those systems. Windows XP also has limited speech recognition, but with 7 and 8, you can use your voice to control just about everything on your computer.  As long as you have a microphone, you can train your computer to recognize your speech and control it without using your hands at all.

With speech recognition, you can not only control your computer by running programs, you can also dictate and edit text.  That’s pretty easy on your hands.  If you don’t already have a microphone, you should be able to get one in the $10 range. 

For Windows 7, you simply go to the start menu and start typing speech recognition, then click on the Windows Speech Recognition in the results.

A wizard will open to walk you through the set-up process.

The set-up process is simple and step-by-step.

Once it’s finished, you’ll be amazed at what you can do with your voice. For Windows 8, you just type speech recognition in the Search Charm and select the icon.

And you’ll be walked through a step-by-step process.

You might also want to consider switching to a tablet. Many Android tablets and the iPad all feature voice control. A tablet would work fine if you mostly use your device for checking e-mail, but could be a little more of a challenge to print from.

But with voice control on your device, you may find that you use your computer a whole lot more.

~ Cynthia