Rose Ayling-Ellis welcomes increased respect for the deaf community

·3-min read

Actress Rose Ayling-Ellis has hailed the increased respect being given to the deaf community, affording them “the support they’re supposed to have”.

Ayling-Ellis, 27, who has been deaf since birth, found fame starring as Frankie Lewis in BBC soap EastEnders and went on to become the first deaf contestant to win Strictly Come Dancing.

On Sunday, Ayling-Ellis will make her debut in the CBeebies story corner and become the first celebrity to sign a CBeebies bedtime story.

Speaking to CBBC’s Newsround, she praised the passing of a Bill in the House of Lords to legally recognise British Sign Language (BSL) as an official language in England, Wales and Scotland.

“I feel so happy that it’s happened, because finally, it needs to be a recognised language because it is a language,” she said.

“I think it’s good that we’re getting the respect that we deserve because for so long it’s been ignored.

“So it’s really nice that it’s getting recognised and to be a language, which means so much for deaf people because then they can have their right, they can have the support that they’re supposed to have. It’s a big difference.”

The soap star has actively campaigned for BSL to be recognised as an official language and be given legal status in the UK.

Ahead of her bedtime story airing, Ayling-Ellis said: “It’s the first bedtime stories that has been done with British Sign Language, which is so exciting and it’s never happened before and I think that’s incredible.

“It will be so nice for deaf children to be able to access their favourite programme and it’s in their language. That’s really exciting.”

She also recalled the difficulties she faced when attempting to access news programmes as a child, and praised Newsround’s regular airing of signed episodes.

CBeebies Bedtime Story
The EastEnders actress will become the first celebrity to sign a CBeebies bedtime story (James Stack/BBC/PA)

She said: “It has come a far way because I didn’t have that when I was growing up.

“The subtitles would be live and it was quite difficult to understand the language, so unless you know good English you can’t understand it.

“So, that’s amazing to hear that deaf children can watch the news and understand it in their language. Thank you, because I didn’t have that.”

Newsround began providing a fully signed version of its weekday news bulletin last month.

Can Bears Ski? will be the first ever BSL-signed story on CBeebies and it will see Ayling-Ellis speaking only to introduce the story and at the end of the programme to say goodnight to the young audience. The story will also have subtitles.

Her story will air on Sunday to mark the end of Deaf Awareness Week. It will be the first of two stories she has recorded for CBeebies.

Newsround airs daily on CBBC, with a fully signed version of the programme available on the Newsround website every weekday.

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