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GDA Deaf Awareness video campaign interview

Another interview for my Epic Win talk at the Going for Growth networking event was with Gemma from Gloucestershire Deaf Association to find out why their Deaf Awareness video campaign was such a success.

Your organisation in 140 characters

Gloucestershire Deaf Association enables deaf and hard of hearing people to live independently, without fear, isolation or barriers. (that’s 132, well done!)

How did you come up with the idea

The idea of the videos was the brainchild of my colleagues James and Reg, both of who star in the videos. Reg is profoundly deaf and James is a fully qualified British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter so both have a very in-depth understanding of where deaf awareness is lacking. We were able to produce the videos thanks to some funding from a grant from the Lloyds TSB Foundation – the videos were the finale of the ‘Money Matters’ project that had been running over the last two years thanks to their funding.


What was the intended outcome and did you meet it?

The intention was to get the ball rolling for Gloucestershire to become the most deaf friendly county in Britain. Through the series of videos we hoped to reach as many businesses, groups, individuals as possible with simple and effective ways that could make them and their businesses more deaf friendly. Yes, I think we did, we certainly got the idea of deaf awareness out there thanks to the videos, social media and press coverage.

Was a series of videos better than just one?

I think so, each of the videos had the benefit of being short and concise meaning we could capture people’s attention much more. If we’d put the collection into one I don’t think we would have engaged as many people as we did. The series of videos meant we’ve been able to get across a number of simple messages rather than just one.

What channels (Twitter, Facebook, Email, word of mouth etc) did you promote the videos on? And which worked best?

The videos were uploaded onto Youtube and distributed mainly through Twitter. For us, Twitter offers a much wider audience. Our audience on Facebook is generally people GDA works with, so while it’s valuable they see these videos, given the objectives of the series it was important for us to use whatever means we could to reach a wider audience; local businesses, groups etc. Over the five weeks the five videos were viewed collectively 7,530 times, links to the videos were retweeted 719 times and we received 219 mentions specifically about the videos. Our highest viewed video was ‘Dave the Signer’, our first film which has been viewed over 3,840 times to date. Considering the average number of views for our videos is about 100 these figures are a huge success.

How important is humour in the videos?

We use humour a lot. We’ve found that our audience – mainly Deaf BSL users respond best to something that’s engaging and a little different from the videos that are normally thrusted at them. We get a much better response to the videos when we’ve incorporated Reg’s unique humour into them.

Have you seen an increase in website visitors, followers, likes?

We have yes, our YouTube subscribers have shot up from 11 to 68 at last count. Our Twitter and Facebook followers have both also increased and we’ve noticed a distinct increase in traffic: 24.51% more users while page views went up by 10.68%.

Any unintended consequences?

In response to the videos we’ve been able to make contact with a number of key figures including the Senior Equalities Manager for the NHS, Gloucestershire’s Police & Crime Commissioner as well as being invited to present deaf awareness to local groups.

Why use video over text?

Because video is so much more accessible to a Deaf BSL user. One of the misconceptions about a deaf person is that by writing something down you will break down the oral barrier – I myself used to believe this. However, for a Deaf BSL user, BSL is their first language, English is their second. In comparison to BSL, English is very complex – BSL doesn’t faff about with tenses or words like ‘the’ so to include those in text makes the message very inaccessible to a deaf person, getting these deaf awareness messages across on video meant we were being inclusive to our service users and leading by example.

What have you learnt from the campaign?

We’ve yet to have a full debrief session of the campaign, but personally I would perhaps consider releasing the videos closer to together, I don’t think we needed to have the week gap between each one. I think that way we may have caught people’s attention for longer and have continued the viewing figures of ‘Dave the Signer’ into the other videos.

What’s next?

What isn’t next!! As part of our overall campaign for Gloucestershire to become the most deaf friendly county we will be hosting a pre-election debate on the 16th April where Gloucester’s general election candidate will present their policies to our service users and who in turn, will have an opportunity to quiz them on matters that matter to them – if we can make local politics deaf aware we’re on the right road. We’re also going to be continuing to press for more local businesses to be more deaf aware by taking on board our simple tips and our next big campaign will be a campaign aimed at schools called ‘My Friend Dawn’. Using fun and interactive class room activities we want to make the younger generation more aware of how to be deaf friendly. All this is happening in the next three months so it’s a busy time at GDA!


Follow the GDA YouTube Channel, @glosdeaf on Twitter or find out more on their website