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!”