Rose Ayling-Ellis Strictly success: Surge in signups to British Sign Language courses in Leeds

The director of a centre offering British Sign Language courses in Leeds has revealed a surge in interest following the success of Rose Ayling-Ellis on Strictly Come Dancing.

By Daniel Sheridan
Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 4:45 pm

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The actress triumphed in the BBC One show alongside partner Giovanni Pernice, defeating Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite and his partner Johannes Radebe, the first all-male pairing on the show.

Rose won over viewers in the final with an emotional contemporary routine featuring 10 seconds of silence in tribute to the deaf community.

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Undated BBC handout photo of winners Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice with the glitterball trophy during the final of Strictly Come Dancing 2021. Issue date: Saturday December 18, 2021.

Elizabeth Bojas is the director of Reflect BSL.

The centre is a deaf-run organisation based in Leeds, West Yorkshire, providing services throughout the region including the BSL courses.

Elizabeth has praised Rose's victory and said it has made a huge difference to awareness of the deaf community.

Speaking to the YEP, Elizabeth said: "I'm certainly aware that we have been receiving queries about our courses much more regularly and constantly since Rose began appearing on Strictly.

Elizabeth Bojas

"We are used to people contacting us at the end of summer or September time as the new academic year begins, or in January with the New Year, but since Strictly started we have had at least two or three queries coming in every single week.

"I have come across lots of people who have told me they are interested to learn more about British Sign Language having seen Rose on TV.

"While they don't yet know much about BSL itself, they have been made aware of the deaf community and our language thanks to Rose."

Rose's involvement in Strictly "definitely seems to have increased levels of awareness about deaf people", Elizabeth told the YEP.

Andrew Shaw

"For example, when I'm out in public now and I sign 'thank you' to someone, you can see them light up as they recognise the sign from Strictly, and they sign 'thank you' back to me.

"Historically, the deaf community has been subject to really difficult circumstances and we still face many barriers in society.

"The deaf community has been effectively invisible to most people.

"Now that Rose is appearing on primetime T.V, she has brought our community into the limelight and sparked this enormous interest in who we are and what we face in our lives.

Reflect BSL

"Significantly, Rose has made people realise that deaf people can do anything."

According to Elizabeth, Rose has had "an incredible influence on the public".

She said she hoped the trend would continue and that Strictly would be seen as "just the beginning".

"I hope people will look to engage with deaf people in their local communities too", Elizabeth continued.

Andrew Shaw is the Reception Team Leader at Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital.

He told the YEP he has completed a BSL taster session run by Leeds BID to support patients better at the hospital - many of which have 'multi-sensory impairments'.

Andrew said Rose's appearance on Strictly had "really helped raise awareness" and was "incredibly positive for all concerned".

Speaking to the YEP, he said :"I completed the BSL taster in July run by Leeds BID, but have also completed a Multi-Sensory impairment awareness course more recently on December 1 - an online course through The Mandatory Training Group.

"I am the Reception Team Leader at Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital and we see patients with multi-sensory impairments and I wanted both myself and my team to be able to support these patients better, which is why I have attended these courses.

"On a national scale I think Rose has really helped raise awareness which is incredibly positive for all concerned."

The EastEnders actress said her victory on Saturday night “didn’t feel real” the following morning, and that she is still coming to terms with it.

The 27-year-old appeared alongside professional partner Giovanni Pernice on BBC Breakfast on Monday morning, after defeating Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite and his partner Johannes Radebe, the first all-male pairing on the show, in the weekend’s closely-fought grand final.

Showing off her trophy via video call on the show, she said: “It is so lovely because I didn’t have that when I was growing up. I didn’t have anyone to look up to.

“But also it is important to inspire hearing people to think about what they are doing and to change their perception, so when a deaf person comes for a job interview they don’t have to panic or freak out.

“They can be like ‘They are just deaf, that’s all’ and making it accessible, like how Strictly did.

“I am really excited and I am looking forward to seeing what happens next and how it will carry on.”

Reflect BSL offers British Sign Language courses as well as Translation services, translating English documents in BSL.

The centre is now advertising new BSL courses beginning from January onwards.

Anyone who would like more information should contact Reflect BSL.

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