Press Release

“I want to use my platform, while everyone is looking at me, to reflect that attention onto the whole deaf community” Rose Ayling-Ellis speaks to The Big Issue

Rose Ayling-Ellis, Actress and Strictly Come Dancing winner, has spoken exclusively to The Big Issue.

BSL

Around 150,000 people across the UK use British Sign Language. Photo: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

Today (Monday, 17th January), Rose Ayling-Ellis, Actress and Strictly Come Dancing winner, has spoken exclusively to The Big Issue.

Rose is giving her backing to Labour MP Rosie Cooper’s Private Members’ Bill, which seeks to make BSL (British Sign Language) an official language in England: “It’s about having protection for the language. There’s such a long history of signing. We have come such a long way – in the olden days, at schools for deaf children, they would make them sit on their hands or whip them for signing.

She continued: “There are so many traumas in our history but also such a rich history. If it becomes an official language, which we’ve been fighting for all these years, it will be so emotional for us. Because of the massive interest in BSL recently, a lot of people don’t realise how much of a fight the deaf community have had. I want to use my platform, while everyone is looking at me, to reflect that attention onto the whole deaf community.”

She opened up about why it is so important that BSL becomes a legal language: “We hear so many times that a child who has deaf parents will go to a doctor’s appointment with them and they will have asked for an interpreter, but they are not provided, so they make the child translate for their parents. Sometimes they’re having to translate: ‘you’ve got cancer’, or ‘you’re dying’. It’s not uncommon in the deaf community. So, if the language becomes legal, you have more rights. Because no child should be in that situation.”

Rose added: “I came from the hearing world. People who grew up in the deaf world have role models, but they are not so public. So, I’m so glad deaf children now have somebody to look up to – I just can’t believe it’s me.”

She said: “I see videos of little girls dancing and looking at me on the telly. Some of them have started wearing their hair up to show off their hearing aids and they have kids at school asking what is the sign for this? So, it suddenly became quite cool to be deaf. And I love that for children. Cool to be deaf? Amazing!”

Rose continued: “I’m so grateful for past deaf generations who stepped up and I want to carry on with that. So, there will hopefully be young people now who have even more opportunities than I did.”

She concluded: “I want to use my platform in a good way because it’s so rare. It didn’t happen before. I want to break down more barriers and open more doors – not just for deaf people but disabled people. I can’t waste my platform.”

The Big Issue with the full interview is out now. Please buy a copy from your local vendor or donate to The Big Issue’s Winter Appeal, or subscribe by visiting www.bigissue.com/support.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Big Issue Group responds to Rishi Sunak’s proposed welfare reforms
Rishi Sunak during his speech on the UK's 'sick note culture'
Big Issue Invest

Big Issue Group responds to Rishi Sunak’s proposed welfare reforms

Living in Fitness Receives £55,000 Investment from Growth Impact Fund to Enhance Well-being for Older Adults
Press Release

Living in Fitness Receives £55,000 Investment from Growth Impact Fund to Enhance Well-being for Older Adults

“I’m a very Northern man”: Zayn on Bradford roots and forging his own path in Big Issue exclusive
Press Release

“I’m a very Northern man”: Zayn on Bradford roots and forging his own path in Big Issue exclusive

Investors call for the next government to unlock private investment to drive growth and reduce poverty
a sapling sprouts out of a glass full of coins
Press Release

Investors call for the next government to unlock private investment to drive growth and reduce poverty

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know