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 Hearing Loss.
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.arts.unsw.edu.au/our-people/ayah-wehbe-0)
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 email@example.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.
Check out these YouTube videos!
10 Amazing things that happened for Deaf Muslims in Sydney!
Alhumdillah! What an amazing month! This month of Ramadan was certainly a month of blessings, mercy and generosity. So much awareness, support and first-time-ever initiatives occurred for the Deaf Muslim Community in Sydney! I can’t be grateful enough or fathom all...
Ramadan Iftar 2019
The Sydney Deaf Community Iftar was held again in May 2019 for Ramadan. It was my 3rd time organising this and Alhumdillah (All Praise be to God) for making this bigger and with more community awareness and support! Check out the Facebook post for photos!...
Review of the National Disability Strategy 2010 – 2020
So proud to have worked with an amazing team on an important, national project! Seeing my name on a report in a federal, government website is also rewarding! The Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) was engaged by the Department of Social Services (DSS) to conduct an...
Peer Support Practice Review
I have enjoyed working in this project! Check out the video that briefly explains the project: https://youtu.be/Be15xABfp8s This project, led by researchers from the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) and Social Policy Research Centre...
Leading Together Program 2018
This year, I decided to take a Leadership Program by MuslimCare Australia. The leadership program is a course designed for young people to build the resilience, character, mind-set and broader perspective required to take up leadership roles. Once a month,...
Our Stall at the 2018 NSW Deaf Festival
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...
Travelling alone as a Muslim woman in Australia
"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...
Ramadan Iftar 2018
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...
Symposium on The Agency of Muslim Women in the Australian Context
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...
Social Policy Research Centre Highlights
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