Charities hail Rose Ayling-Ellis's Strictly win as ‘victory for deaf community'
Strictly Come Dancing champion Rose Ayling-Ellis has been hailed as “a shining example to deaf and hearing people alike”, while her win is “a victory for the deaf community”.
The deaf actress has used an interpreter during the series and her couple’s choice dance, which she repeated during the final, shared her experiences of deafness and featured a long period of silence.
Disability equality charity Scope has now has called on more broadcasters to feature disabled people’s talents, saying there is still a long way to go to improve representation of disabled people on TV.
James Taylor, executive director of strategy at the charity, said: “For Rose Ayling-Ellis to have starred week after week on Saturday night prime time – and then lift the glitterball trophy – is a massive step forward.
“However, there is still a very long way to go until disabled people are featured fairly on screen. There are 14.1 million disabled people in the UK and their lives and stories are not being told.
“Seeing disabled people on TV will only help improve understanding and break down barriers.
“So, the fact that Rose’s journey has been beamed into living rooms week-in week-out is excellent progress and must be the start of real change.
“We have seen a victory for representation on our screens, challenging the stereotypes of what disabled people can do.
“We want more broadcasters to step up and feature the talents of disabled people.”
Mark Atkinson, chief executive at the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, said Ayling-Ellis’s appearance on the show has given audiences “a beautiful insight into the deaf community and deaf culture”.
He added: “Her victory isn’t just a personal achievement, but also a victory for the deaf community.
“She has shown that deaf people can do anything, if society addresses those barriers and provides the right access and support.
“Giovanni has been a perfect example of this, working with Rose and adapting his teaching style to help her succeed.
“At RNID, we are all thrilled that Rose has won, and we are confident that her legacy will mean lasting change for the one in six people who are deaf or have hearing loss.
“We hope Rose’s success will open up employment opportunities for deaf people and reduce barriers, and we’re excited to see what she will undoubtedly go on to achieve in her future career.”
Susan Daniels, chief executive of the National Deaf Children’s Society, said Ayling-Ellis’s victory will have a lasting effect.
She said: “It’s hard to overstate just what an impact Rose has made, not only on deaf children and young people, but also on the public’s understanding of deafness.
“Throughout her Strictly journey, she’s been a shining example to deaf and hearing people alike.
“This could be a new dawn for deaf children and young people everywhere because it’s clear for all to see that with the right support and the will to succeed, they can aim for the stars.
“Strictly may have come to an end, but we sincerely hope that this surge of interest in deafness and the desire to engage with deaf people continues long into the future.”