Hands on Ears by Danielle Williams

My name is Danielle Williams, I am 34, happily married to John and we have 4 beautiful children, Lewis 16, Charlie 10, George 4 and Alfie 4.

When my youngest son Alfie was 18 months old, he had a bad virus which affected his balance, his development and his hearing.

In November 2012 Alfie was diagnosed with profound deafness, it took a while for us to accept he would never hear again, we were devastated. Instead of focusing on the negatives we looked to all the positives.

When I would go to the supermarket with Alfie and his twin brother George they would attract attention from people, it would take me ages to get around the shop at times. I would get mixed reactions from people when I would tell them Alfie was deaf, some didn’t know how to react or I would get sympathy from others.

So on deaf awareness week 2014 I wanted to start a campaign to hopefully get people talking positively about deafness, so when Alfie gets older people would know how to react to him and his deafness.

I asked my husband John and my oldest children Lewis and Charlie if they could let me take a photo of them with their hands on their ears and I got mine taken too, so I could post it on Facebook to get people talking. The reason I chose the hands on ears pose was because Alfie would do this before he lost his hearing if something was too loud.

Within the hour I had people “liking” and commenting and even people were taking their own photos and posting them on Facebook, I could not believe it I was so overwhelmed by the positive reaction we were getting.

Then myself and John thought we should try and get some well-known celebrities involved, the next day I started asking people on Twitter to see if they would take a photo with their hands on their ears, it was a bit slow at first but then, Rachel Allen the TV chef sent me a photo, then I stared to get more and more, I got photos from Zoë ball and Norman Cook, Tanni Grey Thompson, Andi Peters and almost fell off the bed when I got a photo from Adam Richman from ‘Man v Food’ which was amazing.

I was so surprised when I got a call from John one afternoon when I was just about to collect the boys from nursery, he said I would never believe who has done a pic for the campaign, when he told me, I almost fell over, it was only the Red Arrows!!!! Because of that photo, my campaign got in the local papers and internet news sites, I also got invited into BBC radio Newcastle to go live on air, which I did, I was also on 3 other local radio stations.

I was still getting pics in from people for weeks afterwards but things started to quieten down for a while, until my son Lewis asked me if his NCS group could use the #handsonears campaign as their community action project, so of course I agreed.

They have done an amazing job promoting it, the group wrote and recorded a song, they all set up a Facebook page for the campaign, the target likes they had set page was 1000, they also held two awareness days in Durham:

On day one, they walked around and asked people to join in by having photos taken with their hand on ears and handed out information leaflets, I was amazed by what they achieved! On day two, they set up a stall, handed out more leaflets and performed the #handsonears song and got more photos of people to add to the ever growing collection. I have been informed that this was the most successful NCS community action project ever!!! The NCS want to continue to work with me as they love my campaign idea.

The Facebook page has 1,240 likes to date and is going really well, there are deaf and hearing people who are on the page; it is amazing how so many people are getting involved.

At the moment I am trying to put together a music video for the #handsonears song, it is going well so far, but I still need a few more volunteers and if you would like to volunteer, please visit our Facebook page for more information.

I for one am extremely excited to see the final video and I hope you are too. 🙂

Thank you to everyone, for being a part of the #handsonears campaign.

~ Danielle Williams.