Rachel Shenton uses sign language to deliver acceptance speech

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Rachel Shenton might not look familiar to everyone, but for everyone who was part of the Switched at Birth family, you know her well.

Written by former Hollyoaks actress Rachel Shenton, who also starred in the film, and directed by her fiancé Chris Overton, The Silent Child stars Maisie Sly, a profoundly deaf six-year-old who was just four when producers chose to cast her within seconds of her audition.

Rachel has appeared in a handful of British TV shows, including Genie in the House, Sophia's Diary, and the soap opera Hollyoaks.

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Chris - who is engaged to Rachel - served as director on the film, focusing on a deaf four-year-old girl named Libby, played by deaf actress Maisie Sly, who lives in a world of silence until a caring social worker teaches her the gift of communication.

"Our movie is about a deaf child being born into a world of silence". You can't see it and it's not life-threatening, so I want to say the biggest of thank you's to the Academy for allowing us to put this in front of a mainstream audience.

The Silent Child - written by and starring Shenton and directed by her fiancé Chris Overton - won the Academy Award for Live Action Short Film at last night's 90th Academy Awards. Overton later told BBC 5 live: "When we won I could see her up there jumping up and down and that was surreal". So, deafness is a silent disability. "She always said we'd win".

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Rachel learned sign language following the death of her father, who lost his hearing after having chemotherapy when she was just 12.

Rachel is one of just a few actresses to give their Oscars acceptance speeches in sign language. The couple thanked their parents for helping fund the motion picture, and friends and fans who donated via Indiegogo to raise £10,000.

As she accepted her award, Frances took the moment to celebrate women who were nominated, and in a bold statement in the midst of the Time's Up movement, invited all female nominees to stand in solidarity with her during her speech. "We crowdfunded this all by ourselves and we had the support of so many people, but it was made on a shoestring".

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