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Love it or hate it, Love Island will be returning to our screens in a matter of days. The ITV dating show which follows a bunch of young, sculpted contestants on a quest to find love, build relationships and get a good tan – all in a picturesque villa setting – is back for its eighth series.
The show has been criticised in the past for its lack of racial diversity, an absence of different body types and for inaccurately reflecting disability.
While the show has a long way to go – and some are already calling out the lack of diversity in the upcoming series – this year’s line up features Love Island’s first ever deaf contestant.
Dancer and model, Tasha Ghouri from Thirsk, North Yorkshire, has sensory loss, due to the small hairs in the cochlear being damaged or missing when she was born.
Speaking about her upcoming stint on the show, Ghouri says that her friends and family think she is ‘inspirational’ because of how open she is about her cochlear implant.
In an explainer on her Instagram, Ghouri goes into detail about what she calls her ‘super power’, stating that visibility has always been her driving force.
She says that she and her whole family learned sign language when she was young, but that as she got older, she became less reliant on it because of the cochlear implant and learning to lip read.
Answering the question: ‘what is the difference between a hearing aid and a cochlear implant?’, Ghouri explains:
‘Hearing aids simply amplify sound, but if the brain can’t understand the noise, it’s just noise. The implant has small fibre optics pushed into the cochlear to replace the missing hairs that stimulate the fluid and send intelligent messages to my brain. The outer part is a computer that is programmed for the frequency of my loss.’
Another question she anticipates people asking is: ‘Can I hear anything and what do people sound like?’ – again, Ghouri has stepped in with an answer: ‘When the outer piece of my device is taken off I cannot hear anything. I feel beats and vibrations.
People sound a little robotic but my brain has adapted to it and I also rely on lip reading and body language.’
Commenting on why she’d chosen to go on Love Island, Ghouri said: ‘My dating life has been a shambles. This is an opportunity for me to find ‘the one’ and have a great summer at the same time. I’m definitely ready for a relationship.’
Ghouri’s involvement with the popular dating show has seen a wave of support towards the 23-year-old. Responding to the news of Ghouri entering the Love Island villa, Annie Harris, at the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, said: ‘We are really pleased that another major TV show is featuring a deaf contestant. Representation matters.’
Love Island will return to ITV on Monday 6th June, 2022.