Ayah Wehbe is an early career researcher and part of the Disability Research team at the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC), in UNSW Sydney. Ayah worked on many research and evaluation projects about disability, including a Review of the National Disability Strategy (NDS) and Peer Support Practice Review. She also worked for a multicultural community organisation (Advance Diversity Services) on a research project exploring the accessibility of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for people in Sydney from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds. Ayah is currently working on Easy Read projects to make SPRC research reports accessible.
Ayah was awarded a Scientia PhD Scholarship for 2019-2023. Her PhD topic, undertaken at the SPRC at UNSW, focuses on the identity and belonging of Australian Muslim Women with Hearing Loss, which is a build up of her 2016 Honours thesis on women with hearing loss who come from an Australian, Lebanese-Muslim background. Ayah's PhD explores how Australian Muslim women with hearing loss define their identity and sense of belonging, in relation to the mainstream Deaf community in Sydney, the Muslim community, the wider Australian population, and the (growing) Deaf Muslim Community in Sydney. It also aims to take an action research approach and use inclusive methods such as auto-ethnography, participation observation and Auslan (Australian Sign Language) accessible interviews with Muslim women in Sydney with hearing loss.
Ayah has her own blogpage and Facebook called Silent Signs (www.silentsigns.net) where she shares her own personal, research and community experiences as an Australian Muslim woman with hearing loss. She spends a lot of time voluntarily organising events, creating awareness videos and collaborating with different communities, businesses, organisations and people on deaf/disability related projects and bridging gaps between different communities in Sydney. Ayah has connections to different disability/deaf and Muslim communities locally and abroad and has been invited to present her research and experiences at local events and international conferences. Ayah's unique position which includes her lived experiences as an Australian Muslim woman with hearing loss and her active community involvement and international networks allows her to be a researcher and a PhD candidate with an insider perspective.