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Changes: Rose Ayling-Ellis

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Annie [00:00:03] Hello. I am Annie Macmanus. Welcome back to Changes. So, we start May in Deaf Awareness Week with an actor and the 2021 Strictly Come Dancing champion Rose Ayling-Ellis, our first ever deaf guest on Changes. Rose has been deaf since birth. She is a British sign language user. She's known for playing Frankie Lewis in EastEnders. She's also the recipient of the Visionary Honours for Inspirational Person of the Year. In week eight of her appearance on Strictly Come Dancing, Roses 'Couples Choice' dance with her dance partner Giovanni Pernice featured a period of silence as a tribute to the deaf community. The music just stopped, but they carried on dancing. It was incredibly moving and it earned them the 2021 heat Unmissables Award for TV Moment of the Year. Rose's appearance on Strictly prompted a 4,000% increase in uptake of British sign language classes. That is just phenomenal, and she has now been backing the campaign to make British sign language a recognised language in England, something which Rose explains more about in our chat. There is so much to talk about with Rose. She is a walking, talking example of change: personal change, making change happen, changing perceptions, changing the law. She changes things by the very nature of just being present, and I think you will agree that her presence is so charming and irresistible when you hear this conversation. Welcome to Changes, Rose Ayling-Ellis. 

Annie [00:01:39] Rose, you are so welcome to Changes. Thank you so much for being here. 

Rose [00:01:45] Thank you! Thank you for having me. 

Annie [00:01:46] And how are you in general? 

Rose [00:01:48] I'm good, yeah. I feel like I'm trying to get back into a routine of normal life because it's been so long of not a normal life at all. So, it's nice to get back into routine, seeing friends and family, even driving my own car is quite nice. It's nice to drive my car. 

Annie [00:02:11] Yeah. Well, listen, we're really happy to have you here. First of all, can you show me the word 'change' in British sign language? 

Rose [00:02:19] So, you put your forefinger over the top of your thumb, both hands, and then one is to your chest, one is away from your chest, and then you just swap them around. 

Annie [00:02:29] Oh wow, yeah, it looks like change. Exactly. Yeah, I love that. Yeah, love that. So let's start with you and your childhood change, Rose. Give us a little picture of growing up in Hythe and what it was like to grow up and talk us up to your childhood change, please. 

Rose [00:02:47] I live in a very small town and I'll probably be the only deaf person in the whole town. I went to a school with not very many deaf people, so it can be quite isolating. And I remember growing up thinking I was the only deaf person in the world, but I'm not. And it wasn't too much later when I went to nursery and primary school that I started to meet other deaf children. The biggest change in my childhood that changed everything in my life was probably sign language, learning sign language. Yeah, because my family were told by the experts, so called experts, that if I just speak and not sign, that's the best thing you could do to your child. But my mum was struggling trying to teach me to speak. But how can you teach a very deaf child how to speak? That's just, nah. So, she went to a deaf event where the families come together, to meet deaf children, and she saw so many parents communicating with their child with sign language and the child could communicate back. And she got quite upset because I wasn't communicating back to her, and she was really really upset and she was like thats it, I'm teaching her sign language, I'm not listening to anybody, I'm doing this. And I think that was a moment of a big change because that gave me identity. If I didn't have that, I think I would be very lost. 

Annie [00:04:21] How old were you? 

Rose [00:04:22] Well, she found out I was deaf when I was about 18 months. 

Annie [00:04:25] Right. 

Rose [00:04:26] Quite late to find that out, because back then it was in the nineties so they didn't really have hearing tests. And apparently I went to have a hearing test and the doctors just clapped their hands behind me, and I'd turn around and I'd get a sweet. So I get a reward. So I learnt that every time I look at a doctor, I get a reward. So I kept passing my hearing tests. 

Annie [00:04:50] *laughing*. 

Rose [00:04:50] So my mum was like, "No! She is deaf, she is deaf, she's just smart enough to look at you!". 

Annie [00:04:54] She just likes sweets and understands your game. Yeah. 

Rose [00:04:59] Yeah. It's just a game for me so I kept passing my hearing tests and then eventually I got diagnosed as being deaf. And that's where it all changed for my mum and my family as well because they'd never met anyone deaf. They didn't know anything about the deaf culture, so it was a completely new experience for them. But now my mum says when she looks back she thinks actually it's not that bad, it's really fun. But at the time it was like the whole world changed.

Annie [00:05:26] What age were you when she taught you how to sign? Were you still very young?

Rose [00:05:31] I was very young because my mum went to sign language classes, the BSL, once a week and she had to travel for about an hour, a long way for her to get to the class. And she was a single mum as well, so she was on her own so she was learning and teaching me at the same time. 

Annie [00:05:54] Wow.

Rose [00:05:55] And then I didn't really speak properly till about five years old, but I knew sign language from probably two, three years old. So it was a long, long process of me to be able to speak like this now. 

Annie [00:06:09] And how was your school years then? 

Rose [00:06:11] It was challenging because I did have to go to a school that had a deaf unit. But my mum had to fight a lot to get the needs and the support so that I can get the same access as everybody else. It can be quite tough, still can be. But I was quite lucky I had other deaf students as well, I didn't feel alone or anything like that. I had other deaf friends. I think that's really important to be around with people that are similar to you.

Annie [00:06:39] Yeah, and so your mum had to fight for an interpreter for you in the classroom, yeah? 

Rose [00:06:46] Yeah. So, I had support in class, I had a note taker, but I didn't always have an interpreter in class. So sometimes, teachers well, they're not always deaf aware. For example, I've been in a classroom, they've turned their back writing on the whiteboard and I can't lip read them. So I miss what they say and I just read what they write on the board.

Annie [00:07:08] Okay. And after a while in school, did you just take that that was how it was? Or did you ever say, 'I need to see you!'?

Rose [00:07:15] Yeah, I think I didn't know that I could make it more accessible. So they were, obviously there was a moment where I felt like everyone could have a better awareness but I felt like this is what the world is. This is what it's going to be like for me. I just have to adapt for the world not meeting me halfway. So I always had that mentality that you know what, this is what it is and no ones going to adjust it for me because that's not how the world works. 

Annie [00:07:49] And also, probably you had the idea of everything being a fight ingrained in you, like your mum having to fight for your access just to be able to have the same education as everyone else. 

Rose [00:08:00] Yeah. Yeah. So literally since nursery, all the way through education, through college, through university and still now. So fighting for what I need is my second nature now.

Annie [00:08:18] So you said you had deaf friends in school. Did they end up being your friends, the other deaf people? 

Rose [00:08:22] Yeah. My mum is probably the only one that really was fighting a lot. She never gave up. And some other parents, they love their child of course, but they don't always do the fighting for them. So there were some other deaf children that did have problems, they were a bit naughty, a bit of trouble. But it's not them at all. 

Annie [00:08:46] Of course. Yeah. 

Rose [00:08:47] They were frustrated. 

Annie [00:08:49] Yeah. Yeah. 

Rose [00:08:50] And that's really common in the deaf community, a lot of people think their so naughty but nah they're not. They're just frustrated. 

Annie [00:08:58] Yeah. 

[00:09:05] *short musical interlude*. 

[00:09:05] Can we talk about music? You know, we all know obviously, you from winning Strictly and just having these beautiful moments on strictly and changing so many people's perception of the deaf community on Strictly. But just the technicality of how you hear music. I read somewhere that you said 'hearing it does not really mean hearing it through my ear'. And I was interested in that. I wonder, could you tell me a bit about that, please? 

Rose [00:09:28] It's quite hard to explain because I don't know what you hear. So I don't really know what I'm comparing it with, but I can try and say well I've got my hearing aid in, sometimes I can hear it but sometimes the room is too echoey, or it's too big. Normally, I play music really loudly in my car because it's small and compact, so I kind of pick it up. But in a big hall it can be quite echoey. I don't necessarily feel vibrations. Some deaf people do, but I don't. I don't really have a superpower. It's not like, oh my God, I can hear everything if I touch something. Nah, it doesn't really work like that. It's just ---. And I think with the dancing I rely so much on counting and I was following Giovanni, so I would just follow him. So he listened to the music, i'd follow his lead, and it became a muscle memory so it looked like I was on time with the music but it's actually because I was listening to Gio.

Annie [00:10:27] And then there has to be an element of rhythm when it's all about counting and timing, right? 

Rose [00:10:31] Yeah. So, like, I can hear like the beat in the song. I can hear someone singing, but I don't know exactly what they're saying. But if it was like heavy rock, like metal rock music it. It just sounds like a bin rolling down a hill for me. I just can't stand rock music. 

Annie [00:10:46] Yeah. And there's another thing I read about that I was really interested in is what you talk about with regards to the hearing world, versus when you're with people from the deaf community. And how being in the hearing world is stressful because there's so many more challenges to you in terms of being able to navigate life and conversations and all of that because of accessibility. Whereas in the deaf community, everything is just easy and you feel comfortable there. I was wondering, could you talk me through the two kind of places when you inhabit them and how you feel when you're in each? 

Rose [00:11:22] So, I do love the hearing world because I do have some really good hearing friends and my family is all hearing. 

Annie [00:11:29] Yeah. 

[00:11:31] Erm, but there are certain times where it can get a bit too much. So, for example, I've been around with hearing people for a long time. There are always moments where I'm like *sighs*. I'm constantly, it's tiring because I'm lip reading all day long and trying to sort of explain what it's like to be deaf. And if I'm with a group of hearing friends I'm always constantly lip reading, trying to understand what's going on, trying to catch up with conversation. But when I decided, you know what, I'm going to hang around with my deaf friends, and then I have my friends over who are all deaf. They're all sign language. I can understand what's going on all the time. I don't have to make effort. It's less tiring. And also if I want to talk about certain things or things that frustrate me, I don't have to explain. And then for them to feel like, oh, yeah, that would be frustrating. I can just be, 'oh, this is what going on' and they're like 'yep yep, this is what's happening to me too'. We don't have to explain in depth. We all know what it feels like and sometimes you have those days you're frustrated, and the best people to talk to are the deaf people. So I suppose there's a sense of community. We all want, when we're not part of a community, we want to go to our own community to feel included.

Annie [00:12:50] And can you tell me a bit about the deaf community and what it's like? And I'm also really interested in just your favourite parts, your personal favourite things about British Sign Language. You know about the language of British Sign Language. 

Rose [00:13:04] It's so much, I think sign language is so beautiful. It's such a beautiful language. So basically you can be a metaphor in your English, but with British Sign Language you can't be a metaphor. Everything has to be literal. So you say a sentence, we don't sign word by word, we sign the whole sentence. So we sign the feeling of the whole sentence. And that's why I think sign language is so expressive, because you can be so creative with it. Like for example, you have  different tones in your voice that show you different meaning. But with sign language it can be --. So like 'smelly' for example, so normally it’s smelly, you would just use your hand and you're like 'eugh!', smelly across your nose. But now when it's really smelly, you do it really small and intense in front of your nose and you go 'pheww!' with your face expression. 

Annie [00:13:58] *laughs* And I presume you can have your own dialects within it and your own slang. 

Rose [00:14:03] Yeah. Oh yeah. We have a slang, it has a meaning but we can't explain what it is, it's just there. So when we translate English to BSL it's not always easy.

Annie [00:14:15] Mm hmm. I love it. I'm just wondering the the idea of communicating in this way, it feels like something you would be able to do from way younger than you would be able to actually talk. 

Rose [00:14:25] So, yeah, you can sign before you can speak, 100%.

Annie [00:14:28] Right. 

Rose [00:14:29] And they are evident that the baby can communicate what they knew before speaking.

Annie [00:14:37] Right. 

Rose [00:14:38] So sign language, actually helps. So, for example, like milk, the baby would just do this. They use their hand and they just squeeze it together. Like you're milking the cow basically. But they can tell you, they're hungry. So you get a less crying baby at an earlier age.

[00:15:10] *short musical interlude*. 

Annie [00:15:10] Rose, let's talk about your next change now. So this is the change that we asked you to talk about when you're a bit older, out of childhood or nearly in this case. Tell me about this one. 

Rose [00:15:22] I was pretty about 16. So turning into an adult sort of. And I went to a deaf weekend event where you can do some filming and I was really interested in art at the time. And I thought I could be into animation, but then as I started, actually I found the filming really really boring. It was just so long and dragged on. So then at the weekend this director was like, why don't you just try out acting? And because I was in a room full of deaf people, I was in my comfort zone. So I act and I really love it because at school it was all hearing people and it was always the popular kids that did drama. So I was way too shy to do acting at all. It's nothing that I ever thought of. And I think from that moment it changed everything because my whole career wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for that weekend. 

Annie [00:16:22] And first of all, I cannot imagine you being shy in school. *laughs*

Rose [00:16:26] I was very shy. Yeah. 

Annie [00:16:30] So amazing that you were able to go to this thing and meet a whole community of deaf people and try this stuff out. Like, that's so wonderful. What a wonderful opportunity. And it's basically informed your whole career. 

Rose [00:16:42] Yeah, yeah. I think because at school, I was very shy because I wasn't in my comfort zone. So I think I was always very confident, I was always happy, but even as a child I used to put on a show for my family or like start dancing in the front room and make them watch me. So I used to be that type of child. But when I went to secondary school I felt like I couldn't really be myself. I felt very self conscious. I think that's quite normal for teenagers, but I was in a mainstream school so I was already different, so I didn't want to be too different. I wanted to be just different enough. So I was very shy.

Annie [00:17:21] Yeah. And so when you came home from that event and you had opened this door in your head where you were like, whoa, I love acting, I think I want to do this, what happened next? And what did people around you say when you kind of told them what you wanted to do? 

Rose [00:17:38] So basically that director who set up the event, he was writing a short film. Then he asked me to do a part in his film. So then I did that. And I think that was when I was like, you know what I really like acting. I want to take it up as a hobby. So I was looking online to see if there's anything for deaf people out there. I didn't want to do drama at school, no way, I couldn't do it. Because they would do singing as well, I can't sing. So I had to do drama. And there was one theatre in the whole of the UK that is for deaf children and adults as well and it was Deafinitely Theatre. And then from there I decided to take it up as a hobby for my weekend, so I used to travel on the train to go up for the weekend. But I never thought it could be a career. I just thought it was just a really fun hobby to do because I didn't see anyone deaf on TV. I didn't think, you know what, I'm going to be an actor. So I went to university and did fashion design because I always loved art, I loved being creative. But I always made sure I had more than one option because I couldn't just pick one path because I knew that society might be quite tricky. So I always had two as a back up.

Annie [00:18:59] And had that always been the way, you know, had you always kind of had that where you gave yourself a couple of choices for things? 

Rose [00:19:05] Yeah, yeah. I felt like I have a safe option and I have one that I really want to do, but I have a safe option just in case society won't let me do what I want to do. 

Annie [00:19:13] Wow. So, the safe option was fashion design? 

Rose [00:19:17] Yeah, because I can do some sewing. I don't have to talk, I don't have to communicate. It's just making the clothes *laughs*.

Annie [00:19:25] Yeah *laughs*. And then the acting was a hobby and at what point did it start looking like it would be a career or it could be a career? 

Rose [00:19:32] So my very first payed job was in radio. And I did a radio play about a deaf girl that heard a murder, but no one believed her. And I thought ahh one paid job that's great, and then it started to pick up and people started to ask me to be a teacher. But it wasn't very often it was very slowly so I had like one or two projects per year, for example. But I think when I did Summer of Rockets, I found that job on Facebook because they couldn't find any deaf actors because no agency had a deaf actor. So they advertised it on Facebook. So I applied for it, but I didn't hear back from them until about a year later. They asked me to do the audition and then I got the job and then because of that I finally got an agent. I did acting for like seven years before I actually got an agent. 

Annie [00:20:27] Wow. And you got the agent because you had proven that you were successful? 

Rose [00:20:32] Yeah, because of Summer of Rockets. I was only meant to have her for the project. But then she asked me, oh, can you show me all your other work? So I showed her all my other work and they're like 'can we represent you?'. I was like, oh yes please! Thank you!

Annie [00:20:48] And then did things change considerably after that? 

Rose [00:20:51] Definitely, massively. So they started to give me jobs that I would not be able to find on Facebook or online. I wouldn't be able to find them. And, so I start doing more theatre work and when I did theatre, that really put me to the next level for acting and they started to make me do jobs that isn't a deaf role. I'd go for an audition anyway. And then they got me the EastEnders job as well which then leads me to Strictly. It all like leads to a place, It's all like meant to be almost.

Annie [00:21:26] Totally. But, like, when you were out there, you're on the hustle, you're a new actor, you're going for all these auditions, like you say. What were people's reactions to you? Because you say that it was hard to get an agent. I can't imagine there was many agencies that represented deaf people. So there weren't that many actors on stage or screen that were deaf. So you must have been a real exception for a lot of people. And how did they react to you being around? I suppose. 

Rose [00:21:53] Sometimes I do have people that look quite surprised that I can act and then I get an email back from them saying we really love you, we'd love you to be part of it. But we're looking into like a smaller role for you. 

Annie [00:22:05] Got it. 

Rose [00:22:06] That used to quite frustrate me, because I'm like, how good do I need to be to have the role that I went to audition for in the first place. But for you to offer me a smaller role is almost like a token basically. 

Annie [00:22:21] Mmm. Mmm. 

Rose [00:22:21] But that's quite controversial for me to say. Quite a big thing to be saying. But it's just, that's where the change really happens, is when you break out of a uncomfortable situation because they don't know. They never ever work with disabled actors. So it's completely new for them. So of course I understand how overwhelming it is for them. And that's why we've got the companies like DTT, a deaf talent collection that was set up. Because then they can consult on them and help them and get everything prepared for them to feel comfortable to hire these people. That's the thing I have to kind of understand that they don't know. So they're obviously a bit nervous to hire people who are a bit different. But if they're willing to learn and willing to make a change, and that's what Strictly did, they listened to everything that I said I need and gave me that, which means it went so much better than it is because I came to work and not have to think about my access. I just come to work and be myself and learn how to dance, that's all. Just the same as any other people did it.

Annie [00:23:35] But EastEnders came first, right, before Strictly obviously. So what was that like? You were on the biggest show on BBC. 

Rose [00:23:41] Yeah, so really that happened so quickly because I was just finishing my theatre show and then that day I did the audition and then I got offered a role at EastEnders two weeks later. So it happened so fast. And then they gave me the role and I was only meant to be in it for like one month. No, three weeks actually! And then on my first day before I even start acting, they're like actually, we want to give you a six month contract. I was like whoa, whoa, whoa! I haven't even done my first scene yet. 

Annie [00:24:12] I could be awful, give me- come on guys! 

Rose [00:24:15] I know, I was so nervous. And then she offered me that contract. I hadn't even done my scene, but it was really funny I was shaking so much on my first scene. 

Annie [00:24:22] Yeah. And how long have you played Frankie now? 

Rose [00:24:26] Only about two years. Coming up two years. 

Annie [00:24:29] And do you feel like there's a blending of sorts where Frankie and Rose are starting to meet and like you're starting to take on some of Frankie's own personality traits? 

Rose [00:24:41] Yes, I think Frankie's very confident, and I think that's what kind of made me more confident. She's quite cheeky. I've always been quite cheeky but I just sort of hide it. But now I'm like, you know what, I can be a bit cheeky, why not? *laughs*

Annie [00:25:00] And what's it like being part of that EastEnders team? You know, that whole group of amazing actors. 

Rose [00:25:06] I've been told that it's actually one of the hardest things you can do as an actor because you get given so many scripts in such a short time. You have to film them in a short time and it turns really really quickly. So sometimes you go in first thing in the morning and you're meant to be crying, and in the next scene you're laughing and in the next scene you wanna have a fight and then you go back to crying and then you're laughing again. And you do so many scenes. But it's a really good training ground almost. 

[00:25:49] *short musical interlude*. 

Annie [00:25:49] I know you've talked about Strictly a lot, but we have to talk about you on Strictly because you have some real perspective on it now. What are your thoughts of that whole thing now in 2022? 

Rose [00:26:00] Well, I'm still processing it all because I was so into the bubble. I so into the Strictly. You only get what? One day off a week. So now I'm like processing it all, I start to see more messages and I've started to read my fan letters, you know, and I start to realise how much it really impacted so many people out there. Like parliament was talking about me, that's just crazy. And it was more than dancing. It became so much more, it became the messages behind what we do and the diversity as well of not just me, but John and AJ. We were all in the final of the most diverse cast ever. And then with my silent moment, the dancing and the sign language and then people are doing --. Last week I went to -- for the BSL, erm to make it into an official language. And I seen about 3000 deaf people. And it's the first time i'd seen that many deaf people in quite a long time since before Strictly. And one other lady came up to me and she said she had been in the court fighting for her rights because she got discriminated at work and she almost gave up, but then because I came on to Stricly and she saw how people's attitudes changed, she decided to not give up. And because she didn't give up, the court became more aware about deaf people that she won the case very quickly.  

Annie [00:27:39] Wow. That's just one story of probably so many other deaf people who were changed by seeing you on the screen.

Rose [00:27:47] Yeah, and it's all because of people's attitudes changing around them. That's the thing, it's not deaf people. It never was. It's people's attitudes. 

Annie [00:27:56] Yeah. And what about kids, like young kids who are deaf growing up and seeing you on the television? That must have been so profound for a small child.

Rose [00:28:06] Yeah. I would love to know what that would feel like because I didn't have that. So I can't imagine what it's like for them honestly. 

Annie [00:28:15] So what did the deaf community say and feel about, about you being on there in general? 

Rose [00:28:21] A couple of my deaf friends were saying to me, 'oh my God, everything's changing', because they go to a cafe and they've ordered some drinks and suddenly this person goes thank you. And they're like oh. But everyone's saying thank you at the moment and everyone's doing their little clap. And that came from Strictly. Every time they see them, they seem to be really excited to meet a deaf person. Whereas before, it used to terrify people. And I think that's really really lovely that it's not becoming such a scary thing. Even I experienced that as well. I was on a train the other day and this ticket man came to me and he realised I was deaf --. I don't think he recognised me from Strictly which is fine, but he was like, oh, I have training, we have level one training in sign language, I've forgotten it all, and now I really miss it because I have met about three deaf people already this year, and people want to learn sign language as well. 

Annie [00:29:21] Yeah, yeah, it's wonderful. And you mentioned the silent moment, Rose, so for those who don't know, would you mind explaining what that was and also whose idea was it? 

Rose [00:29:32] Well, it was Giovanni's idea. He wanted to do a dance and then the music stop and then carry on, and then the music comes back on. And then he did talk to me about it and I was like, yeah, I love this idea completely. But then we were talking about what should we do with the dance? I said one thing that it has to be, is it has to be a positive. It can't have any sad moments. It can't have anything pitty. I don't want people to be like all crying about it. I don't want that. I just want it to be a very joyful dance. So then he went off and met the people to choreograph it. And funnily enough there was one choreographer and he showed me the video of it, I was like nah I don't like it. So then he was like right, we're changing it to two people and the two people work with me so they know me. So it's really nice to have someone, a choreographer that knows me which means it becomes more personal, my story. And then we just developed it through the week. It was one of the best weeks ever to create that dance. 

Annie [00:30:39] I mean, I watched it today again and it's so powerful I cried. It's the most impactful, simple way for people to understand what's going on. The best ideas are the simple ones, I think. And it was so powerful. 

Rose [00:30:56] Thank you. I think it's interesting because Giovanni said it himself, sometimes he forgets that i'm deaf because of the way I dance, I just really follow him. So sometimes he forgets. He'd sort of come up with that idea because he kind of wanted to remind people that I am deaf. And I am learning it in a completely different way, so is he. And I think that's what made it really powerful. And one thing that I really love about this is that Giovanni was given this sort of equipment that vibrates the beat so he can count along, because he was so worried about being out of time. But then eventually he started to realise, well Ro's been doing it for the last eight weeks at that point, with none of this, so I should be able to do it. So then he decided to take it off and just do it my way. And it worked. 

Annie [00:31:45] Wow, that's amazing. So you taught him? 

Rose [00:31:49] Yeah. 

Annie [00:32:04] *laughs*. You mentioned there that you were on a rally and I would love you, if you don't mind, Rose, to tell us a little bit about this campaigning that you're doing for this bill and explain what the bill is, please. 

Rose [00:32:18] In this country, British Sign Language is not an official language. For some bizarre reason, I don't know why. But it's been recognised as a language but it's not an official language. So what we are doing, we're trying to make the law to make it happen, which means deaf people can have more access and more rights. So for example, you go to a doctor appointment and you say, I need an interpreter to understand what's going on with my health for example. And then they don't provide an interpreter. And you go to the doctor appointment without any access. At the moment, we can't do anything about it because it's not an official language. But because if it becomes an official language, it means the doctor will have to provide these interpreters. There are many, many cases of families going to the doctor and then they end up needing their child to translate to their deaf parent, what's going on with their healthcare. And sometimes they have to tell their parents, you've got cancer, and a child shouldn't be doing that. And it's happening all the time. It's still happening now. 

Annie [00:33:24] So, that's just one example of what I can imagine are hundreds of deaf people not being provided with interpreters in kind of situations that involve the authorities and, you know, any sort of systemic situations. So it makes total sense. So it's trying to make British Sign Language an official language. 

Rose [00:33:46] Which means we can have our rights basically. Yeah, I just want them to make it the law, but what I heard is that it becomes a law, but it's a very, very fresh law so it's not going to be overnight everything's changed. It would have to be something that you work on. It's a bit like mental health law. I'm sure when it first had been created it was a bit rubbish. And then over the years it's added on to it. So as long as we've got that first thing, then hopefully build up on it.  

Annie [00:34:16] Mhm, mhm. What has Strictly done for you in terms of how you feel about yourself?

Rose [00:34:19] Oh that's a big question. I think it definitely made me more confident. I feel like I could really be myself because I suppose on live TV and such a big show the most scary thing you could do is to be yourself. Because then you might be thinking, well if I be myself and everybody hates me, what am I going to do. But I realised, you know what, I can just be myself. I really love dancing. I really enjoyed that. I started to realise I'm capable, more capable, than I think I am. I was a bit worried if I was really bad at dancing, not because I can't hear but because I'm a bad dancer, it's going to look like I'm a bad dancer because I'm deaf, but I don't want it to come across like that. 

Annie [00:35:06] There's this whole other burden on top of your anxiety of kind of letting down not just yourself, but a whole community of people. 

Rose [00:35:15] Yeah, exactly. So, I knew if I was bad at dancing, it's just not going to help as a stereotype that deaf people are bad at dancing. Because there are some amazing dancers out there, I just was hoping that I was ok at it, you know, just to prove it. 

Annie [00:35:30] Yeah. So you've just, you've just surprised yourself all your life. Like, it's like you keep surprising yourself and finding out that you can do things that maybe you didn't think you could. And I'm wondering, is there anything else that you are feeling that you want to do in the future that you may surprise yourself by doing for real?

Rose [00:35:51] Yeah. So, one thing I say to myself every single year and never achieve it - I really would love to do a backflip. I really would love to do a backflip. But I never, I don't know how to train myself to do a backflip. *laughter*. Every single year, I've not yet achieved that!

Annie [00:36:08] Rose, you've got to be able to do that. Come on. If you can win Strictly, you can do a backflip. 

Rose [00:36:15] I can do a backflip, I just need to learn how to do it safely. 

Annie [00:36:19] Yeah, it's pretty hard. I mean, you might have to do a bit of training. Maybe there could be some sort of television situation where you become an amazing gymnast. 

Rose [00:36:27] Yeah, yeah. Maybe I'd be like, 'okay, I'm going to try it'. And then do one backflip, I'm like 'oh my God', and then that's it. 

Annie [00:36:33] See you guys. I'm done, bye now. 

Rose [00:36:36] I'm done, I'm done. I've done the backflip. 

[00:36:36] *laughter* 

Annie [00:36:39] But what is, what is ahead in terms of the rest of this year and the next? What are your plans? 

Rose [00:36:44] There's a lot of talking, a lot of talking at the moment. A lot of planning, but nothings been confirmed yet. But I'm very excited. 

Annie [00:36:54] Wooo! That sounds exciting. 

Rose [00:36:57] I've got very itchy feet at the moment. You know that saying? But personally, I think now I'm just going to process it all, get back to my routine, try and be a bit normal ish. But I don't think anyone is normal really. So, I think I just try and enjoy my life one day at a time, I think. 

Annie [00:37:20] Well, Rose, it was an absolute pleasure to speak to you and hear you on today's episode because again, you being on this podcast has made us completely change how we do the podcast. Because I had never thought and this is completely my bad, how a deaf person could consume a podcast and how we could make it accessible. So from now on we're going to make the podcast accessible. We're going to transcribe it every week on the website, and thank you for basically making me see what we weren't doing. I'm really grateful for that. 

Rose [00:37:52] Ahh that's amazing! That's what I want, just a little small change, everyone's learning one thing at a time. That's amazing that you're doing transcripts because then maybe I can be a bit more involved with the radio world. See what that's like. 

Annie [00:38:06] Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. The world is your oyster. I love it. Thank you so much. 

Rose [00:38:11] Thank you very much. 

[00:38:12] *short musical interlude*

Annie [00:38:19] Thank you to Rose and to her interpreter, Kirsty, who joined us for that interview. You can catch Rose on EastEnders every week and we can't wait to see what she does next. And as we mentioned, there will now be a transcript of each episode of Changes on my website going forward. There is a link in the show notes. This is now an accessible podcast for deaf people and I'm really proud of that. Please spread the word. Anyone you know with hearing difficulties, let them know that Changes is now accessible for deaf people. Next week we will be hearing from David Harewood, actor, director and now author who you may know from Homeland. His memoir 'Maybe I Don't Belong Here' looks at the racial abuse he has suffered in his life and the psychosis it fuelled. It is an incredibly candid, honest and fascinating interview, and I can't wait to bring that to you.

This episode of Changes was produced by Louise Mason through DIN Productions. Thank you and goodbye.