Strictly's Rose Ayling-Ellis marks a Loose Women first for Deaf Awareness

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Strictly's Rose Ayling-Ellis in Loose Women firstKen McKay/ITV/Shutterstock

Strictly Come Dancing winner and former EastEnders actress Rose Ayling-Ellis has made her debut as a Loose Women panellist in a very special instalment of the hit ITV daytime show.

The former soap star joined the panel on Wednesday's (May 3) episode to mark Deaf Awareness Week.

In a Loose Women first, ITV viewers were able to watch a "fully accessible" version of the programme with an in-vision signer on-screen and subtitles available.

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Ayling-Ellis was welcomed onto the panel alongside regular stars Nadia Sawalha, Jane Moore and Kaye Adams who opened the show by signing the phrase "Welcome to Loose Women" in British Sign Language (BSL).

During the episode, the Strictly star detailed some of her first-hand experiences as a Deaf actress and discussed issues surrounding loneliness in the Deaf community.

"One in four hearing people have mental health but one in two deaf people have mental health issues," she explained. "That probably comes from isolation, not being included."

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"A lot of people assume that your problem is that you can't hear," Ayling-Ellis remarked, reflecting on her own past experiences. "Ok, we can’t hear but that’s not the problem. I love that I can’t hear."

"I love being deaf. It’s a part of who I am," she revealed. "It’s a culture and a community, and it’s something I belong to. When you try to fit me to make me more hearing, I don’t belong to it. I never will.

"So instead of trying to help me overcome my deafness, let me embrace my deafness."

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In addition to having an in-vision signer for the viewers at home, Loose Women’s live audience was filled with members of the Deaf community, along with family and friends, and both BSL signers and live captions were available to them.

The special episode for Deaf Awareness Week was set up with the support of charities: RNID, SignHealth and the Deaf Talent Collective.

Organisations in the UK including the NHS, Every Mind Matters, Samaritans, Mind and the Campaign to End Loneliness can provide information and support if you or someone you know is experiencing loneliness. Readers in the US can find resources via the CDC website.

Loose Women airs on weekdays at 12.30pm on ITV1 and streams on ITVX.

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