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By Scarlett Hutton & Manish Pandey
When ex-Love Islander Tasha Ghouri recently posted on TikTok, she sounded different.
The 25-year-old was the ITV2 show’s first deaf contestant and spoke openly about using a cochlear implant – a small electronic device that helps her to hear.
But one morning, while filming a Get Ready With Me edit of her daily routine, she decided not to put it in.
Then she hit “record” and posted her first full video without her implant, speaking to followers in her “deaf accent”.
The term refers to the way those who are deaf or who have hearing loss sound when they speak.
Every person is different, but the way people acquire speech – learn to talk – can affect how they produce language, and being able to hear yourself also has an impact.
In her video, Tasha told fans: “I don’t know how loud I’m speaking, or how clear I’m speaking.”
She tells BBC Newsbeat she’s recorded lots of short sections – about five seconds long – without her implant before but never made a whole video.
“I normally never put it in in the morning,” she says, adding that she realised similar videos recorded with her implant weren’t showing the “true” Tasha.
“That’s not what I do,” she says. “So I’m going to change that.”
Tasha says she felt anxious about posting the clip and the feedback she’d get but says the reaction has been “just incredible”.
Since she uploaded it, it’s had almost 3 million views and been widely shared on TikTok.
It’s also been praised by the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID).
The charity works to raise awareness of the challenges and stigma deaf people can face and to highlight effective communication techniques.
“It’s great to see Tasha opening up about her deaf accent and educating her followers,” says Michael Quinlan, RNID advocacy manager.
“Raising awareness of the different ways deaf people communicate is really important and will help change attitudes in a positive way.”
Seeing people in the public eye talking openly about their disabilities can raise the profile of certain conditions.
Rose Ayling Ellis’s appearance on Strictly Come Dancing sparked a surge of interest in learning sign language, and Tasha’s used her post-Love Island fame to encourage more people to learn.
Her time in the villa also inspired some, like Lacey Arthur, from Dorset, to look into getting a cochlear implant.
The 18-year-old says her hearing had begun “dying down” after years of using hearing aids, which made her “really stressed and really angry”.
It also left Lacey relying on lip-reading or worrying she’d need her mum around to help her.
She says getting her implant fitted “was the best thing I’ve ever done”.
“I can hear so much more,” she says.
“The kettle pinging, phone ringing and my dad’s sniffing – which drives me mad – but I can hear that now more than ever.”
Even though she felt comfortable posting a video with her deaf accent in 2024, Tasha says she can relate to having “lots of social anxiety” when she was growing up.
“I have it now to this day,” she says. “When I go to events on the red carpet, interviews with so much noise around can be a lot, and you don’t know what people are saying.”
“After Love Island, it wasn’t the right time for me to do it.
“I had to build myself for the past year and a half, build my platform, audience and my people that support me.”
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While she says it’s time to “start normalising deaf accents” Tasha doesn’t want others to feel pressured into following her lead.
“I would say it’s OK to be stressed, nobody else is in your position,” she says.
“When I get social anxiety or just any feeling of insecurity I think: ‘just take a moment’.
“You’re not here to make everyone happy… you’re here for yourself and you’re going for your journey.”
SOURCE: BBC NEWS