I forgot to blog this at the time. A few months ago, I was looking for a cell phone for my girlfriend’s grandfather, so he could always contact his family when he needed help. He doesn’t hear so well, he’s not from the computer generation, and he’s not eager to use a magnifying glass and a tooth pick just to call his kids. The market for a simple, usable, large-button mobile phone, must be huge. But, amazingly, there’s almost nothing on the market. Don’t their salesmen ever get tired of people telling them how difficult the phones are? Don’t they want these customers, with their regular incomes? One O2 salesgirl maintained that older people just need to spend longer to learn how to use them. Complete muppetry.
The best I could find was this 3-button Vitaphone from Vodafone. The 3-button idea is good (1 button for a helpdesk, 2 for friends/family, and 2 (superfluous) buttons for on/off and key-lock). It’s cheaper than the 50-euro-per-month alarm-button-thingy that many people have. But it’s a bit annoying that you’re forced to pay the extra 5 euros per month on top of a normal contract just to get your hands on this simple piece of hardware.
And, incredibly, this phone has no vibrate mode, and even the helpdesk can’t change the volume or activate a speakerphone mode. Surely this is not the first time an elderly person had hearing difficulties.
In other news, my father, who was largely deaf for most of his life, seems to have near-normal hearing after his stroke.