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.

About Me

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.

I am currently doing my PhD at UNSW on Muslim Women with Disability/ Deafness.

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 silentsignsonline@gmail.com

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 Facebook page:

“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.

Enjoy.

Guest Blog for I Sign. I Wander

I shared my experiences growing up hard of hearing and Muslim, and how awareness is needed in both the Muslim and Deaf community in Sydney. https://www.facebook.com/SilentSigns/posts/1579724262062235?notif_t=like¬if_id=1496231038765020  

Monthly Meetings for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Based on my personal experiences and the findings from my Honours research, I decided I wanted to do something to raise awareness and promote inclusion for other people like myself. That is why I started organised and running monthly meetings and gatherings for...

Research about the NDIS

I am currently working at Advance Diversity Services as a research assistant about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). This is part of a research project being conducted by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the Advance Diversity Services (ADS)...

Care vs Support

It costs nothing to be caring and to care for others. Nothing. Caring is compassion and love and understanding. Support is something you offer to other people and support is sometimes paid work. Support workers or people offering support are doing a job, but sometimes...

Presenting my Honours Research

Today I presented my Honours research to a disability research group. I talked about the methodologies I used and the importance of conducting research on a group of people who have hearing loss or a disability and come from an ethnic background....

Honours Video

 Thank you everyone for assisting my with my honours thesis! https://www.facebook.com/SilentSigns/videos/1377317862302877/ December 11, 2016 Just wanted to make a video and thank everyone who assisted me with my research thesis this year. Thank you for those who...

Handing in my Honours Thesis!

October 19, 2016 Today I finally handed in my Honours Thesis! Thank you so much to all those who assisted in sharing my video and helping me with my research. And to the inspiring women who participated in my interviews, thank you so much. Thank you for opening up...

Ramadan Iftar 2016

I was blessed to join Muslim Deaf Association Sydney and other women with hearing loss, for a Ramadan Iftar Dinner. We also had a sign language interpreter attend! Yay for accessibility and inclusion!...

School Visit with Muslim Deaf Association Sydney (MDAS)

I was invited by Muslim Deaf Association Sydney to visit a school with a hearing support unit to give a talk to students, staff and parents about Islam, the holy month of Ramadan and what's it's like being a deaf Muslim in Sydney.        ...

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