“There is nothing wrong with being deaf, society is the problem”



She points out that last year, before the lockdown, BSL interpreters were initially absent from daily government briefings on Covid. “It’s so shocking,” she said. “It makes me so angry. The deaf died because they did not know what was going on. But she’s used to being left out of the conversation or having to work really hard to keep up. When I ask her if the widespread use of face masks during Covid has made her life more difficult, she gives me a look that suggests difficult is exactly what she’s used to.

“With the masks, I get by because lip reading is never 100% reliable anyway,” she explains. She got used to guessing what people might say in different contexts. “In a supermarket, they always say the same thing: ‘Do you want a bag? Do you have a club card? It costs so much ”. She plays an air of bored nonchalance. “And I’m like ‘yes, yes, thank you!'”

Today she conducts our interview through a combination of lip reading – she thanks me for putting on shiny lipstick, as it makes things clearer – and the help of Giovanni, who translates when she is not. could not understand. It’s only because of its inclusion that Strictly Come Dancing now has a version on iPlayer that includes a BSL performer – as Rose explains, the live captioning, while better than none at all, can be pretty dismal. So sad that Channel 4 hasn’t even had one in recent months, due to a technical error. ” This is completely normal [as a deaf person] wanting to watch something, then realizing that there are no subtitles, ”she adds.

What does the hearing world take for granted, I wonder? “Well, you can go to the movies whenever you want. I can’t. I have to plan it, see if they have screenings with subtitles. Sometimes they say there are subtitles, and you arrive to watch but they are not lit so you have to go. She hardly bother to go anymore and tells me that she is amused by everyone watching Squid Game – because of the subtitles of the foreign films and television, she has been a fan of Korean creativity for many years.

“And then there are the little things, like needing a new Sim card. They say you can register it online, but then you have to call a number for security reasons. She rolls her eyes. “Everything has to be done by phone for security reasons. And I’m like, nooooo!

She does, however, feel lucky because her parents quickly learned BSL after she was born with profound deafness, thus implanting the language in her brain from a young age while growing up in Kent. But, she explains, this is not the case for all deaf children. “A hearing child learns spoken language all the time, but a deaf child who has never learned sign language will not understand speech, which is unnatural. This means that it is much more difficult to have the language in your head. It delays a lot of deaf children later in life. They cannot communicate their feelings or what they want. It becomes self-insulating. It’s horrible.”

She explains to me that deaf people are twice as likely to suffer from depression as hearing people. “I have a very loving family and I have a language so I’m lucky. But I know a lot of deaf people who struggle. And if you want to go see a therapist, it is not accessible, because there is no interpreter for them.

She went to a regular school that had a small deaf unit. But even there she had to push for the right support. “It was difficult. A lot of schools get extra funding because they have a deaf unit, but my school didn’t really use that money for us. There were three note takers for 11 deaf students. , and we were in different classes. We were just placed in a classroom and expected that we would understand everything that was going on. But luckily my mom is really struggling, so I had a note taker all the time. ”At that, she bursts into one of his beaming smiles.

She discovered the profession of a child, by participating in a filming weekend organized by the National Society of Deaf Children. From there she joined the Youth theater definitely, which was featured on Strictly last week. Acting seemed natural to Rose, used to having to speak out to be heard. “I love her so much. It’s so fun. It’s creative, and you can tell a story with your emotion, but also, it’s about feeling what other people would go through. Her first role on TV was in the BBC’s Summer of Rockets, alongside Keeley Hawes. It brought her to the attention of deaf screenwriter Charlie Swinbourne, who works on EastEnders, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Rose hopes to one day be known as an actress rather than a deaf actress. She would love to play a villainous, Villanelle-style in Killing Eve: “Someone who’s interesting not because she’s deaf, but because she’s a psychopath.”

While she’s gotten used to the spotlight since joining the cast of EastEnders last year, Strictly, I Feel, is another level of dazzling. When I try to talk to her about her personal life, she becomes shy while apologizing. This is her first real newspaper interview, and she tells me it’s an “honor” to have been considered for it. As Giovanni explains: “Rose is one of those people who is easily overwhelmed. So when someone says to her, ‘Rose, you’re making history!’ she’s getting nervous in a way. She tells me that her mother, Donna, is a receptionist and that her parents and brother are “incredibly proud” of her. Her six-year-old boyfriend, who is also deaf, is irrelevant. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I want him to stay very private. “

She’s much happier to talk about Strictly. As Giovanni says, her dancing every weekend is truly an amazing feat – not just because she’s so good at it that she’s never done it before (she got the perfect first grade from the history of the series with her tango), but also because she cannot hear the music properly. Some people have suggested that she is guided by the vibrations, but she hastens to dispel them.

“I don’t put my hand on a speaker and I’m like ‘I can feel it all!’ She laughs at this. As she says, she is deaf, not a superhero. She actually dances through a combination of counting and muscle memory. The audience was asked not to applaud as it might deter her from counting. Giovanni says teaching Rose has been “the most rewarding thing I have done as a dancer. She has to work three times, four times harder than everyone else. She works three times more than me. She counts, she thinks of technique, and she also thinks of performance. But sometimes, because she dances beautifully, people forget that.

For Rose, it’s more of a mental challenge than a physical one. “It’s about how far you can push yourself. You have to put yourself in an uncomfortable place. You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I understand myself better, in a strange way. I understand how my mind works.

Giovanni bursts with admiration for his dance partner. “What you’re doing right now is actually remarkable,” he said, looking at her. “I’m sorry Bryony I’m going for it, but what she’s doing right now is giving the deaf hope.” It’s incredible. It’s incredible. Rose is a superhero. You are a superhero. She rolls her eyes at his enthusiasm, but it clearly means how much he respects her. As he explains to me, “It’s the biggest TV show, and a lot of people come [on it] for different reasons. Sometimes people come for popularity, sometimes people come because they want to learn to dance. But Rose came here with a mission. She came with a goal: she wants to help the deaf community.

Rose has a look of affectionate embarrassment on her face. “I want to enjoy it, be myself and hopefully make a change. And for deaf children, I didn’t have a role model on TV growing up. So so the kids have this now… ”She pauses, but as always, Giovanni is able to finish his sentence for her. “I think the audience is behind Rose because she’s real. She doesn’t try to play games, she doesn’t try to please anyone. And I think the only reason it’s all possible is because she did it herself. Since she was little, she has imposed herself on everything, on life. I’m not saying this just because she’s my dance partner. I don’t care if we win or not.

He strokes her hair playfully and they smile at each other. “We’ve already made history anyway.”

Strictly Come Dancing is on BBC One tonight at 6:35 p.m.


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