Rose Ayling-Ellis has made history as Strictly Come Dancing's first ever deaf contestant. As she and Giovanni Pernice take to the ballroom, fans are captivated by her talent as she sails through each week of the competition - yet lockdown was anything but plain sailing for the Eastenders actress.
SEE: Rose Ayling-Ellis couldn't take part in Strictly without her hearing aid
Taking to Instagram stories to raise awareness of her hearing impairment, the 27-year-old star gave several candid responses to fan questions regarding her hearing aid during a Q&A earlier this year. In a heartbreaking confession, Rose admitted lockdown paired with mask-wearing has been "hard" as a member of the deaf community.
WATCH: Rose Ayling-Ellis close to tears on Strictly's It Takes Two
"Luckily sign language has really helped me to communicate with my deaf friends," explained Rose.
"But when I meet people who don't sign, I ask them to take their mask off, most people are happy to do so. If not then I use my phone to write down".
SEE: Strictly's Rose Ayling-Ellis announces game-changing deafness news
RELATED: 'Mask-wearing has made me feel vulnerable and anxious': how the pandemic is affecting the deaf community
Rose was born deaf and has spoken out about her journey on Strictly without being able to hear in several interviews, including one with the BBC in which she explained how she dances without music.
She said: "I’m not really relying on the music. I’m relying on counting and the beat. Giovanni is helping me with counting to make sure I get my count first, start[ing] at the most important beat, and then hopefully from onwards it’s okay."
Strictly judge Shirley Ballas also recently shared that the stars of the show are banned from clapping as Rose and Giovanni perform so that Rose can "feel the vibrations" of the music.
As the latest change in government guidance makes mask wearing a legal requirement, it's never been more important to appreciate the difficulties of the deaf community who rely on lip-reading to communicate with those who can't sign.
Not letting her deafness phase her, Rose says she "loves being part of the deaf community", and when asked if she would change her hearing, she simply replied: "no".
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