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Ryan Ayling-Ellis fronts British Sign Language documentary

Rose Ayling-Ellis

Rose Ayling-Ellis examines how attitudes are starting to change since British Sign Language has been officially recognised by law in a new BBC documentary.

In Rose Ayling-Ellis: Signs for Change the actress, who lives with hearing loss, highlights that despite the way forward, more still needs to be done to include members of the deaf community into society.

Reflecting on her own personal experiences growing up she speaks to others with hearing loss as well as medical professionals.

On a more personal level Ayling-Ellis also discusses her childhood closer to home in an intimate conversation with her parents.

We see the ex-Eastenders star interview ex-MP Rosie Cooper on how, through sheer determination, she managed to pass the British Sign Language bill through Parliament last year.

Not content on being a regular in Albert Square, hearing loss ambassador and a finalist on Strictly Come Dancing, Ayling-Ellis found time to make her West End debut last year in Shakespeare’s As You Like It where she used sign language on stage every night to a sold-out audience.

Speaking to What to Watch Ayling-Ellis said: “I love being deaf and Strictly was so positive, but we need more awareness of how hard it is to be deaf in the UK. It's not because of us being deaf, it’s because of society’s attitudes. Sign language is the only language where I understand 100% of a conversation. But people underestimate how useful it is. They see it as something to support language but it’s a language in its own right.” 

There's a moving segment with Katie, a mother from Cornwall, trying to support her deaf daughter, Alvie.

“It was lovely but the emotion Katie was going through was similar to what my parents did,” Ayling-Ellis explained. “I felt frustrated, because it's a hard battle. Learning sign language can still cost parents thousands.”

In the programme we also see cameras follow the actress around as she undergoes tests to determine her reading age and the ability to use sign language.

[ Rose Ayling-Ellis: Signs For Change is on BBC One, Monday 26 June at 9pm, available afterwards on BBC iPlayer ]

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