Rose Ayling-Ellis has urged television channels to “fix the problem”, 100% subtitle their shows, and called on the entertainment industry to improve access and representation for the deaf.

The 27-year-old actress became the first deaf person to give an Alternative McTaggart talk at the Edinburgh Television Festival while speaking candidly about the challenges she and other deaf people have experienced in the industry.

Ayling-Ellis said from the beginning of her speech that being deaf is her “proud identity”, but that often the responsibility of being the first deaf person on the show is “a blessing.” At the same time, it can also be a curse.”

The actress, who first rose to fame playing Frankie Lewis on the BBC soap opera EastEnders, became the first deaf contestant to take part in and win last year’s Strictly Come Dancing, describing her “feeling happy and positive.” I talked about what I always feel that I have to express. She has a persona of “she is”, but the reality is that she faced “countless walls” to get to where she is today.

“My reality isn’t always good. It’s not good for my access to be compromised,” she explains, with a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter by her side on stage.

“It’s not good to realize my presence is a token. It’s not good to not have subtitles on your favorite TV shows.

“It’s not good to feel frustrated or feel unheard.”

Ayling-Ellis reflected on the many challenges she faced while working on her acting project. This includes being expected to teach the rest of her BSL in the cast, as well as time explaining how the script could be improved to make the deaf experience more accessible and authentic. . , but her changes are often left out of the final cut.

she said:

“I’m torn between representing the deaf community and telling our story, but I want to build good relationships and build my career.”

Ayling-Ellis said one of the essential elements of the creative industry is having consultants involved in all stages of working with deaf people, saying, “Without the voice of the deaf, , cannot write about the deaf, ”explained.

On feeling the need to improve subtitling, she explained that not all channels need to subtitling 100% of their programming, and that media watchdog Ofcom said that “regulatory decisions is based on affordability and audience size, sometimes with technical issues.”

The actress was the first deaf person to participate in and win Strictly Come Dancing (Guy Levy/BBC).

For comparison, she asked whether viewers would be willing to use only audio 80% of the time in their television series.

She continued:

Eyring-Ellis announced earlier this month that she was stepping down as Frankie Lewis in EastEnders. When he joined in 2020, he became the first deaf person to play a regular soap character.

In a speech for Alternative McTaggart, she said she was “grateful” for the job and the opportunities it gave her, but “because I was playing a deaf character who was written as deaf. , can be frustrating.” She or she as a stereotype of the deaf.”

Ayling-Ellis also revealed that she has created a new female-focused comedy-drama series that will be bilingual in speech and BSL and is currently in development.

“Whatever I do next, one thing is certain: I am no longer just a deaf person. A diverse, rich and engaging deaf story. is ready to go mainstream and we believe we can do this together.

She added:

“What I do know is that disabled people should not be held responsible for curing the ignorance of non-disabled people.”

In an interview after her speech, Eyring-Ellis said she was “really excited” to make a comedy drama and wanted to tell stories “that haven’t been told on TV yet.”

She also revealed that she was making a documentary to document her journey and that a film crew was at the festival because they wanted to show this side of her and document her giving the speech. I made it

This documentary reveals the daily challenges, discrimination and barriers faced by Deaf people.

Soapster, a pioneer in the deaf community, is campaigning for BSL to be recognized as an official language after it was passed by the House of Lords earlier this year.

Alternative McTaggart’s talks provide a platform for the diverse and diverse voices of the television industry, formerly delivered by actress and host Jameela Jamil, former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn and American television host Jerry Springer.

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