UK Oscar winner's sign language speech raises profile of 'silent disability'

Former Hollyoaks actress Rachel Shenton uses sign language as she wins Oscar

Former Hollyoaks stars Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton won the best live action short film Oscar for The Silent Child, about a little deaf girl, last night - and their one-time colleagues were the first to shower them in praise.

The film tells the story of Libby, played by six-year-old Maisie Sly, who struggles to communicate until a social worker, played by Rachel Shenton, teaches her sign language.

She picked up her award alongside her fiancé Chris Overton, who worked on the film with her. "My hands are shaking so I apologise".

"Millions of children all over the world live in silence and face communication barriers - and particularly access to education". Shenton, who is originally from Stoke, used sign language in her acceptance speech at the Oscars.

It stars Maisie Sly, aged six, from Swindon, and Rachel Shenton, who played Mitzeee Minniver in the Channel 4 soap.

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As Shenton comments, deafness is an invisible and non-life-threatening disability; consequently, it is often overlooked, leaving many children isolated from the rest of the world.

Admitting the win still hadn't sunk in, she added: "We were being serious when we were saying we're so honoured to be nominated, we really, really meant it".

"I don't how we're going to top this!" she laughed. And my kids. And I wanna say, like Jimmy Cagney said once, 'My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my brothers and sisters thank you.

"Deafness is a silent disability, I want to say the biggest of thank yous to the Academy for allowing us to put this in front of a mainstream audience". She is an ambassador for the National Deaf Children's Society and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2013 in aid of the charity. The couple thanked their parents for helping fund the motion picture, and friends and fans who donated via Indiegogo to raise £10,000. But lastly, my fiancée, Rachel Shenton, it's really your hard work for the last 12 years that has really made this project authentic.

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