How technology gave Lowestoft grandmother her life back
13:26 08 June 2012
A LOWESTOFT grandmother has told how her life has been transformed after new technology enabled her to reconnect with the world.
Doreen Davey was just 27 when she woke up one morning to find that she had lost her hearing overnight.
Doctors told her there was nothing they could do and so the happily-married mother was forced to give up her job as a secretary and bring up a family while coming to terms with 100 per cent hearing loss.
When Doreen’s daughters left home and her husband Paul was out at work, she says she became a “recluse”, going for years without even speaking to her family on the telephone.
But new technology has enabled the her to regain her independence – and her confidence.
Doreen says her Screenphone, which allows her to talk to callers and read their responses on the screen via an operator, is a “vital lifeline”.
Supported by Suffolk-based social enterprise, Sensing Change, Doreen, now 74, spends hours talking to friends and family all over the world – catching up with her Daughter Lyn, 49, and news of her two grandsons.
She said: “With my hearing I also lost my self-confidence and became very timid. I felt very isolated. I was more or less a recluse. I had a few friends, but did not hear much news of the family as they do not have the time to write letters and my husband forgot to relay things to me.
“It is brilliant being able to speak to my family and catch up on what has been happening in their lives. I seem to have a very large extended family now.”
She said: “Now the world has gradually opened for me. On the phone I am as good as everyone else. I can ask questions and get the answers that I need on my own without worrying others.
“My phone is wonderful. It is a vital lifeline. Paul and I got mobile phones so we could text, but in an emergency you have to be able to phone.
“Now I have the reassurance that I can get medical help at any time, for me or my husband and that is wonderful.
“I am still amazed that it has all been free – even the installation. To me it is worth millions of pounds.”
She added: “I have had some funny times with the phone. Once the operator didn’t know what to do so just wrote to me saying ‘I’m very sorry but your friend is singing down the phone’. My friend had had too much to drink.”
Doreen, of Higher Drive, Lowestoft, first met her future husband Paul, 74, when she was 14 and they courted at roller skating sessions.
Doreen and Paul, a retired factory worker at Eastern Coach Works, Lowestoft, married in 1956.
Reflecting on her life with 100 per cent hearing loss, Doreen said: “When I first lost my hearing it was very difficult. There was no help then, you just had to manage. I cannot say that I would not like to hear the birds and the surf coming up the beach. Yes I really would, but my phone has gone a very long way to compensate for all this and through that I have found many people to give me confidence.”
Tina Winwood, senior technical officer at Sensing Change, said: “For Doreen, this has opened up a new world. Using a Screenphone has certainly increased her quality of life.”