My name is Ayah.
I am a social researcher, advocate for d/Deaf Muslims in Sydney and blogger of Silent Signs.
I am also doing my PhD at UNSW on Muslim Women with Disability/ Deafness.
I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia and I come from a Lebanese-Muslim background.
I also have a hearing impairment.
Growing up, I faced many challenges due to both my culture/religion and hearing loss.
Until one day I realized, I do not need to fit anywhere. My identity is just that: an Australian, Lebanese-Muslim woman with a hearing loss.
My journey of self- discovery and passion to understand the world around me, led me to pursue a career as a Social Researcher and become an advocate for Deaf and hard of hearing Muslims living in Sydney, Australia.
I graduated in 2016 from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) with a degree in Social Research and Policy (Hons). My Honours thesis was about Australian, Lebanese-Muslim women in Sydney with Hearing Impairment.
Since then, I have worked as a social researcher on many projects about disability, including research about the National Disabilty Insurance Scheme and people from CALD communities.
I am currently doing my PhD at UNSW on Muslim Women with Disability/ Deafness. (https://www.sprc.unsw.edu.au/education-training/postgraduate-research/current-students/wehbe/)
I first created the Silent Signs Facebook page on December 2014 to try and share my experiences as someone with hearing loss and my journey of getting the cochlear implant. I shared some of my stories, thoughts and the silent signs I’ve experienced.
Over the years my page has progressed and now I also share some of my research and PhD journey, and community events I am involved in.
I also have Facebook, Instagram (silentsigns.online) and Twitter (AyahWehbe1).
My aim is to raise awareness about hearing loss in the Australian and Muslim community, as well as experiences of d/Deaf people coming from different cultural and religious backgrounds.
My friends and I have been working hard to raise awareness, create social events and community inclusion for Deaf Muslims in Sydney Australia. We are working towards building a Deaf Muslim Community in Sydney.
For more information, inquires, presentation and bookings please message or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why Silent Signs?
The term ‘Silent Signs’ crossed my mind from reflecting about an encounter that happened to me. While I do not claim ownership of this name, Silent Signs can mean many things. But being hard of hearing or Deaf is a silent struggle with silent signs. This is the the first ever post which I shared on my :
“How do you feel about being the only hearing-impaired in your family?”
Before I could answer, before I could stop myself from laughing at the absurdity of such a question, to my amusement I replied with one word: “lonely”.
It’s not the question that has engrossed my mind, it is my response that has baffled me. Surprised me. Not because it’s the first time this question has been posed, but because my reply is one that exposed me.
How can I be lonely? I come from a large family, I have many friends and heck I’m Middle Eastern, a lot of cousins! I’m friendly and I’m loved. I’m social and I’m blessed. And my family are soo supporting, loving and encouraging.
So why did I say “lonely?”
Why did I blurt it out before even blinking.
It was like the words uttered from my mouth without thinking.
From then, I took it as a sign that something deeper is eminent.
There are things so hidden, they’re prominent.
Signs have many different meanings.
Heavenly signs, sign language, road signs.
Some signs are visible, vivid.
Some signs are symbolic, others literal.
Some signs indicate a certain path you might take, or signal laws to obey.
But some signs are silent.
So silent that sometimes you may miss them.
So silent that their sudden awareness opens up infinite mysteries and possibilities; things about you, yourself, the world, that you never knew existed.
And those signs may just be the most powerful signs of all.
I am hearing-impaired and blessed to be so. Being deaf or hard of hearing is a silent battle with silent signs. I always say that it’s a blessing and a curse.
While my hearing-loss poses limitations, it has given me a unique perspective about the world.
I’ve created this page to share some of my stories, thoughts and the silent signs I’ve experienced. Writing has become an outlet for me to explore, vent and express my thoughts and feelings.
It took me a long time to finally make a page because what I will share are personal. And I do not want to seem up myself. But then I figure, what if other people are feeling the same? What if other people are suffering their own silent battles or have silent signs pass them by?
I only wish to share and inspire.
We had a 'Muslim Deaf Community Stall' for the 2nd time ever at the NSW annual Deaf Festival 2018. A few years ago, I went to the deaf festival for the first time. I still remember I was the only visible, Muslim person wearing the hijab. A few people came up to me and...
"How old are you?” I got asked this question 3 times during my business trip. I recently travelled to Hobart, Darwin and Melbourne for work. I got asked how old I am, by 3 different men. All taxi drivers. All from different backgrounds. The first was a...
We were blessed to have organised another Ramadan Iftar Dinner for Deaf Muslims and their family and friends! Thank you to MuslimCare Australia for allowing us to use their office space/ facilities and massive thank you to Fatooums Kitchen for donating all the food...
I was honoured to present my honours research at the Symposium on The Agency of Muslim Women in the Australian Context on 21- 22 February 2018 at Darling Harbor! Click here for program details of the symposium! It was a wonderful and much-needed event where it gave...
My Trip to Indonesia made the from the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre Newsletter! Check here for link: https://mailchi.mp/unsw/sprc-highlights-dec2017
On January 16th I was asked to present at a new and exciting project called Start-Up Ummah! click here for link to event page! Houssam Bizri, the man who helped me create this Silent Signs page, asked me to present on Disabilty Focused Start- Ups! While I am not a...
Selamat datang Hello to all! Last week I went to Indonesia! I went there for the first International Conference Disability and Diversity in Muslim Societies: Experiences from Asia! The conference was held at the beautiful Hotel Grandhika in Jakarta, organised and...
On Saturday 21st October was the annual Deaf Festival at Parramatta River. And for the first time ever, we set up a Muslim Deaf Community stall! Silent Signs, along with Muslim Deaf Association Sydney, Deaf Muslim Australia, Deaf Muslim Wellness and...
I've been asked to present twice at the 3-day Australian Social Policy Conference 2017 at the University of NSW this week. On Monday afternoon I joined the Round-table panel discussion on "Research Community Partnerships". I shared my experiences as an aspiring social...
So my friend and I wanted to watch 'Victoria and Abdul' at the Cinema yesterday. "When will we watch it"? She asks me one day. "Whenever there is closed captions available"! I reply. Going to the movies has always been a frustrating experience for me. I can't simply...