Frances recounts her journey of discovering new technology at Signal: The Hub, enjoying phone calls with her family again, and going on to use her own experience of hearing loss to help others…
I was buying a new mobile phone and trying to make the shop assistant understand that all I wanted was a package with text messages and email. I am hard of hearing and I rarely used my phone for actual calls, being unable to hear the caller.
A person in the queue behind me apologised for butting in. Like me he wore two hearing aids, and he said that I needed a Bluetooth gadget, which had solved his problems with voice calls. ‘Go and see Paul at Signal: The Hub,’ he recommended.
Bluetooth was a mystery to me, but I dropped into The Hub in central Shrewsbury. Paul, the manager, was extremely helpful and explained how the technology works. He offered me a demonstration, which was when I discovered that my hearing aids were incompatible with the technology.
I put off contacting the NHS Audiology Department to see if my hearing aids could be updated. However, a month or so later my car broke down and I had to call for roadside assistance. I found it almost impossible to hear what the call handler was saying. Eventually, I was sent text messages, but this made me realise just how vulnerable I was in this type of situation.
I contacted Audiology and was fitted with Bluetooth compatible hearing aids. Paul helped me to try out a Bluetooth streamer at The Hub. Streamers channel sound from electronic equipment, like a phone or TV, directly to hearing aids. I went into the busy shopping precinct outside The Hub and I could now hear every word of my phone call, so I bought the streamer.
This has made a huge difference to me. I used to get very stressed when making or receiving calls. The worst thing was being unable to chat with my family and friends. Any phone calls were brief and to the point, and we communicated by text or email, which is better than nothing but not ideal.
Now it is such a joy to be able to talk with my granddaughter on the phone
It is wonderful to be able to chat with my son and daughter and granddaughter. If my granddaughter wanted to tell me something, I could hear her speaking but I was unable to make sense of the sounds, although she has a clear voice. Now it is such a joy to be able to talk with her on the phone.
I have also trained to become a volunteer befriender for Signal. I am happy to be visiting and offering support to Sheila, who is coping with hearing loss. I can understand how she feels.