Rose Ayling-Ellis' appearance on Strictly leads to surge in demand for sign language courses

Rose's stunning performance on the dance floor has led Sejal Karia has led to a huge rise in interest in British Sign Language

Rose Ayling-Ellis' appearance on Strictly Come Dancing has led to a huge surge in interest in learning British Sign Language, several support organisations have said.

The 26-year-old Eastenders star made headlines recently when she became the first-ever deaf contestant to appear on the show.

The British Sign Language (BSL) Courses website told ITV News they had seen a 2,844% increase in signups for their free trial training programmes the day after Ayling-Ellis' latest appearance on Saturday.

Ayling-Ellis often uses sign language when on the show and has a translator to interpret what others are saying.

She and partner Giovanni Pernice made history again on Saturday after they scored 40 for their Halloween special performance in week six, the earliest the top mark has ever been achieved in the competition.

The Institute of British Sign Language told ITV News Ayling-Ellis's appearance on the show, and the fact she and Pernice had been communicating with sign language, had "without doubt, inspired people to enquire about studying the language."

They said: "We are thrilled to watch Rose and Giovanni as they progress through the competition and wish them the very best of luck."

BSL Courses said the average number of Free Trial enrolments they receive is between 20-30 per day. On October 31, there were 711 enrolments.

Russell Fowler, Director of BSL Courses told ITV News: "Rose is a fantastic ambassador for BSL, exposing it, deservedly, under a bright spotlight in the same manner as those when she is on the dancefloor so that more people can unite in a language that is rich in identity and history, essential and fun to use."

Rosie Eggleston, Participation Manager at the National Deaf Children’s Society told ITV News: “Since she became Strictly Come Dancing’s first deaf contestant, Rose Ayling-Ellis has really captured the public’s imagination.

“We really hope the increased awareness about deafness and deaf issues that Rose has generated persists long after the show has finished.

Ms Eggleston said the charity’s Learn BSL webpage had 675 views in August, rising to 1,155 views in September and 1,468 in October as Ayling-Ellis progressed in the competition.

On October 23, when Ayling-Ellis incorporated sign language into her routine, BSL webpages traffic grew by 193% compared to the previous weekend.

On Saturday morning, Ayling-Ellis, who has played Frankie on Eastenders since 2020, tweeted to thank people for expressing their interest in learning sign language pointing to a 488% spike in Google searches for it.

The pair's dance on Saturday's Halloween special stunned the judges, with Anton Du Beke calling it "perfect."

Around 145,000 people use British Sign Language as their primary language in the UK, with 20,00 of them being children.

Over 900,000 people are thought to be "profoundly deaf."

It is believed around one in six people in the UK has some form of hearing loss.