Communication devices and technology

Some people with Parkinson’s find that they have difficulties with communication, including their speech and writing. But technology can make this easier. 

Being able to use a computer and the internet can open up lots of opportunities for you. You can:

  • handle day-to-day correspondence through email, video calling or using speech-to-text software, which can be useful if you have problems writing by hand
  • keep in touch with your friends and family, and share experiences with other people affected by Parkinson’s through online communities and social media

A smartphone is a mobile phone that can do many of the same things a computer does, such as access the internet and emails.

Tablets are very slim, lightweight computers. Many people with Parkinson’s tell us that tablets, such as the Apple iPad, are easier to use than desktop or laptop computers because they have touchscreens, rather than a keyboard and mouse. 

Smartphones and tablets come with apps, which are pieces of software that can be used to perform a variety of tasks you may find useful, including:   

  • Voice activation – most smartphones and tablets either have built-in features to enable voice control, or you can install an app to do the same job. You can use voice activation to help you:
    • call someone in your phonebook just by saying their name
    • search the internet 
    • dictate text messages and emails
    • open apps
    • record notes as reminders or to send as messages

Global Positioning System (GPS) trackers – these allow a nominated person, such as a partner, family member or carer, to see on a map where you are (as long as you are carrying your smartphone or tablet and are not in a signal black spot). 

Video calling – lets you see and hear the person you are talking to  during a call.

Medication managers – these apps remind you when your medication is due. They may also let you store medical information, for example care plans or details of local healthcare professionals.

We've worked with Our Mobile Health and a panel of people living with Parkinson's to create a list of the best and most useful apps and devices on the market. Our Mobile Health are experts in identifying and reviewing trustworthy, relevant and engaging mobile health apps.

Everything in the library has been reviewed by people with Parkinson's. This means we only include apps and devices that our panel found genuinely useful, would recommend to other people with the condition and would continue to use after testing.

There are apps available to help with a variety of symptoms including sleep, mental health and wellbeing, and speech and communication.

If you need help with communication, you should ask your GP or Parkinson's nurse to refer you to a speech and language therapist. You can also self-refer yourself to the local hospital trust or community therapy team. 

A speech and language therapist can assess you to see if you would benefit from an electronic communication aid, a communication app on a smartphone or tablet, or a low tech paper communication aid such as a book or board.

Find out more about speech and communication problems in Parkinson's.

Getting to know...a speech and language therapist

"I have been doing Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) for the last 15 years and love seeing the improvements people make by the end of the course."

Meet Sheila Wight, an Advanced Practitioner, Speech and Language Therapist at Denton Park Health Centre, Newcastle.

Last updated October 2020. We review all our information within 3 years. If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at [email protected]