Communications News: Campaign of the week - Deaf campaign tailoredfor election

The UK Council on Deafness has altered the content of its campaign for Deaf Awareness Week to maximise its media coverage during the run-up to the General Election.

The umbrella body, which organises the awareness week, has reshaped its plans because the third annual campaign week coincides with the last week of electioneering before polling day on 5 May.

It has ditched the annual awareness week reception for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Deafness at London's Queen Elizabeth II Centre and replaced it with 150 mini-receptions with local election candidates around the UK. About 40 MPs attended the event during each of the past two years.

Almost 100 deafness organisations are involved, and the umbrella group has decided to boost the chances of media coverage at the smaller events by inviting local election candidates to open days to meet deaf community club members.

The council's director, Jonathan Isaac, said the annual London event does not normally attract a large amount of coverage and he is confident the switch to the regions will grab media attention. Many of the 1,400 local and national newspapers and magazines informed about the open days have intimated they would mention the local receptions in their election coverage.

He admits that the pressure on local candidates' time could scupper the plans, but hopes the letters written by local deafness charities will lure candidates to a photo opportunity.

"We have advised candidates that one in seven of the electorate is deaf or hard of hearing, which includes many older voters," he says. "We have told them about the need for the political system to be inclusive by producing manifestoes in sign language and by sharing policies with deaf community groups through interpreters.

"We are confident the week will be a success in terms of raising awareness of the deaf community. So much is going on around the country that some of it is bound to come off as planned."

Separately, the RNID has sent an audio news release to 300 local radio stations to promote the week.

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