This year’s Love Island will include the series’ first ever deaf contestant

It’s that time of year again, when we all lose our heads and put all our eggs in one basket: ITV’s hit reality show, Love Island, will return to our screens for its eighth season. But this summer, one islander is already making headlines – and history – as the first-ever deaf contestant.

Tasha Ghouri is a 23-year-old model and dancer from North Yorkshire, whose work with ASOS and MNEK has previously gone viral. Tasha has a cochlear implant, a small device that sits behind the ear, with a technical implant surgically placed under the skin. It’s most often used for those that are profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing, so Tasha’s presence on the show – which centres around whispered conversations in the bathrooms and gossip – is a game-changer.

Following in the footsteps of Strictly Come Dancing’s Rose Ayling-Ellis, who competed – and won – the celebrity dance competition last year, Tasha hopes to inspire her community and those with disabilities. With its host of slim, conventionally beautiful contestants, Love Island has previously been criticised for its lack of diversity and many viewers have challenged its tokenism with regards to race, body shape and sexuality. And while Tasha’s presence far from solves the issue, it’s most definitely a step in the right direction for inclusivity and representation. ‘Another win for #DeafRepresentation’, wrote deaf and disabled journalist Liam O’Dell on Twitter; ‘People with a disability can find love and can do anything. Loving the inclusivity,’ one fan tweeted.

Today, the dancer has confirmed that she won’t require an interpreter on the show, and her independence will no doubt inspire many and mean a huge amount to the deaf community. In a Q&A on Instagram, she revealed that dating in particular has caused her huge anxiety in the past.

‘It’s the thoughts of, what if I don’t understand him? What if I can’t hear him in a noisy bar? What if there’s loud music and I’ll keep saying pardon? So many thoughts like this go through my head.’ Often, she prefers to only disclose information about her hearing to those she is ‘very, very comfortable’ with, so taking part in a show that once broke records with 3.2 million viewers is quite a feat. ‘Not everyone is open-minded and because ‘disabilities’ has this negative outlook sometimes on it, we are seen in a different way, which is how it shouldn’t be,’ she explained.

But despite her reservations, she’s determined not to hold back when it comes to meeting the one – and, of course, winning the show’s prize money. ‘It’s a tough one because I’m a girls’ girl but it is a dating show and I’m here to find my man,’ she told ITV. ‘I may have to step on toes but I’ll do it in the nicest way possible.’

READ MORE: Love Island has axed this iconic (but disgusting) part of the show this year