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Love Island’s Tasha: ‘A Little Sign Language Goes A Long Way’

September 9, 2022

Tasha Ghouri was Love Island’s first deaf contestant. Now her time on the show is over, she wants to use her on-screen fame to make a real-life impact for other deaf people.

“I never had anyone to look up to that’s like me on websites or TV,” says Tasha – who finished fourth in the ITV competition this summer.

Before the villa, the 24-year-old modelled – for websites such as ASOS – with her cochlear implant visible, yet she was a rare example.

But according to Tasha, the depiction of the deaf community on TV is “moving in a very positive direction”.

“I think representation is really coming a long way from where it was a couple of years ago,” she tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

“For example, Rose [Ayling-Ellis] on Strictly, and then I’m on Love Island,” she says.

Eastenders actress Rose, Strictly Come Dancing’s first deaf contestant, won the show last year.

“That’s a massive thing for the deaf community, and in terms of representation, [it] doesn’t happen enough in my opinion,” says Tasha.

‘Don’t cover your mouth!’

But away from the screen, Tasha says there is still work to do – something she wants to help to address.

“A lot of people never know how to approach people that are deaf or hearing impaired because they don’t know how to communicate,” Tasha tells Newsbeat.

“[You can be deaf-friendly] by learning basic British Sign Language, because if you just learn basic conversation, that really does go a long way.”

“Always make sure your lips are based on them, because a lot of deaf [and] hearing-impaired people lip-read. Especially me, I’ll always look for you 24/7. Another thing is don’t cover your mouth!”

She also encourages others to “be open and not to be judgmental”.

“Don’t say comments like, ‘I never knew you were deaf’, or ‘I couldn’t tell because you’re quiet’. I find it quite offensive.”

Tasha is encouraging others to learn BSL, and to become more deaf-friendly.

‘Left out of conversations’

A month since the final, Tasha is still with her Love Island boyfriend, Andrew Le Page.

But for fans to understand their latest announcement on social media, they’ll have to know BSL, as they talk about their search for a house.

The islander says this is to highlight how deaf people can sometimes feel left out of conversations.

Tasha wears a cochlear implant, a small electronic device that electrically stimulates the nerve for hearing.

While Tasha was on Love Island, her dad explained in a social media post how Tasha’s cochlear implant can make day-to-day life more difficult.

“Not many people are educated on how cochlear implants work and the side effects they come with, so it can be very draining for me,” says Tasha.

https://emp.bbc.co.uk/emp/SMPj/2.45.0/iframe.htmlMedia caption,

‘I’m very proud of Tasha’

She says wearing the device can take a physical toll, with the magnet and coil inside the device sometimes giving her bad migraines.

“I’m socially active and I’m constantly having to lip-read. Being in group situations, I’m having to really focus on one person’s voice, so I can miss out on many conversations.”

“Even [on Love Island] when somebody said, ‘I’ve got a text’, and read out the message, the amount of times I missed out on what was said,” she adds.

“So it can really strain, there were days in the villa where I was absolutely drained and exhausted.”

But Tasha tells Newsbeat that the response to her time on the show has been better than she expected.

“It’s honestly been so overwhelming, but in the most positive way, seeing all the beautiful messages from so many people in the deaf community.

“I did not expect it at all.”

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