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

Strictly Come Dancing champion Rose Ayling-Ellis has called for British Sign Language to be given legal status in the UK (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)
Strictly Come Dancing champion Rose Ayling-Ellis has called for British Sign Language to be given legal status in the UK (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

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 Labour 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.”

Strictly Come Dancing 2021
Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice on winning Strictly (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

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, Pernice 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.”

The Italian pro, who joined Strictly in 2015 but had not previously won a series, said he had left his Strictly trophy at his parents’ home in his native country

He said: “My mum and dad are massive fans, so I think it was the right thing to do. It’s there with them, hopefully another one to come.”

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