Rose Ayling-Ellis calls for British Sign Language to be made ‘official’ in UK

BBC photo of Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice during the final of Strictly Come Dancing 2021. Credit: PA Media. Picture by: Guy Levy/BBC

Strictly Come Dancing champion Rose Ayling-Ellis has called for British Sign Language (BSL) to be given legal status in the UK.

The EastEnders actress, who was the BBC One show’s first deaf contestant, described its present status as a “big problem” for the deaf community.

Although BSL was recognised as a language in its own right by the Government in 2003, it has no legal protection.

Ayling-Ellis, 27, said she had spoken to MP Rosie Cooper about her Bill in Parliament, which aims to declare BSL as an official language of the UK.

She told This Morning:

“It’s been recognised as a language, but it’s not been official. That becomes such a big problem.

“I have heard so many stories about deaf people going to a doctor appointment and they ask for an interpreter and they don’t refer them an interpreter, so they end up needing their child to translate, or a family member. That shouldn’t be.

“Because it’s not an official language, we can’t do anything about it.”

She added:

“I’ve called Rosie Cooper the MP, so I think she’s going to start to debate.

“It’s passed the first stage but it has to go through the second stage at the end of January.

“If it goes through, and then they have a third one, it will become an official language.”

Ayling-Ellis and her professional dance partner Giovanni Pernice defeated Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite and his partner Johannes Radebe, the first all-male pairing on the show, in Strictly’s closely fought final before Christmas.

Appearing alongside her, Giovanni said he had decided to have an interpreter on his upcoming solo tour.

He said:

“I think it’s about time. Rose opened my eyes thinking about how a lot of people would maybe love to watch the show.

“It’s important that everybody is inclusive, we have to be more inclusive in general. And also she’s coming to watch the show.”

Dr. Victoria O’Brien (GP) who has had progressive deafness since childhood told the Conservative Post:

“Years ago, a friend asked me how I could dance when ‘I couldn’t hear the music’. I replied just because I couldn’t hear the music like they could, there were other ways I ‘feel’ and experience the music.

“(The joy of music is universal though and I remain thankful to my cochlear implant for restoring so much of the specifics of it to me).

“However, a massive well done to Rose, who has shown that disability doesn’t have to hold you back and that being deaf is not a barrier to being just as good – if not better – than everyone else!”


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