Rose Ayling-Ellis health: Strictly’s first deaf contestant says ‘don’t be ashamed’

Action on Hearing Loss tinnitus simulation Audio

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Rose Ayling-Ellis made her debut on EastEnders in 2020, as the first profoundly deaf actor to join the iconic TV show. Before joining the EasterEnder’s cast, Rose had starred in several other programmes including Casualty, and Summer of Rockets. Now, the star will be among the 12 contestants battling it out to get their hands on the glitterball trophy.

Speaking of her role as Frankie, she said: “Frankie’s sassy, blunt and says what’s on her mind. I wish I could be more like her, I’m too polite.”

The character communicates using a mixture of oral English and British Sign Language (BSL), so Rose often performs in Sign Supported English (SSE).

She added: “My ambition is to amplify deaf voices and to stop people assuming deaf people can’t achieve.

“When I use SSE, it’s like thinking of two languages at the same time while performing, so a BSL monitor checks that my BSL is clear on-screen. I also have a BSL interpreter on set at all times, paid for by my Access to Work.”

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Rose discovered her passion for acting on a filming weekend run by the National Deaf Children’s Society.

She then went on to apply to Deafinitely Youth Theatre, where she says she was offered great networking opportunities.

She added: “My ambition is to amplify deaf voices and to stop people assuming deaf people can’t achieve.”

“The challenges of dealing with people’s lack of understanding made me more determined and want to work harder.

“It’s so important not to be ashamed of being deaf. Both Frankie and I are proud of our deaf identities.”

Hearing loss

Sound is created when displaced molecules travel through air to our ears, which have evolved to process vibrations. These waves of air pressure enter our ear canals and bounce off the ear drums.

The vibrations are thereafter carried into the cochlea, when they are transformed into our waves of cochlea fluid. Here, our perception of sound begins to take form.

In people, hearing loss can either be partial, or total, sudden or gradual and temporary of permanent.

Age-related hearing loss affects one in three people by the age of 65. However, surgical advances and technology are providing alternate ways of restoring hearing.

Hearing loss can be isolating, frustrating and embarrassing for those suffering it, and in severe cases it can threaten independence.

But for many, the gaps in communication caused by hearing loss have only worsened during the pandemic, isolating deaf communities around the world.

Without face-to-face communication, and with the introduction of face masks, deaf people have faced unprecedented challenges.

Speaking during deaf awareness week earlier this year, Rose explained: “Probably the hardest challenge for me is the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everyone’s wearing masks, everyone is socially distanced, whereas before, when people wouldn’t wear masks they would come up close to me so I can see their face and lip read.

“But now, everyone is wearing masks and standing well away so I can’t understand everyone. It’s quite hard.

“But luckily everyone here [EastEnders production crew] is very nice, and they’ve adapted to what I needed.”

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