This being International Women’s Day, you’ll have already seen a selection of our most admired disabled women. I’d also like to nominate two more: Rachel Shenton and Maisie Sly, even though Rachel isn’t disabled!

By Tom Jamison

If you’re more interested in Hollyoaks than Hollywood, you may not have seen that Rachel Shenton (who played Mitzeee in the soap) picked up an Academy Award at the recent Oscar’s ceremony as screenwriter for ‘The Silent Girl’ which won best live action short film.

The Silent Girl is a film about a young girl (Maisie Sly) who through discovering sign language, learns how to communicate. The film has already raised awareness about the importance of British Sign Language (BSL) from the exposure that the award has generated.

Shenton has campaigned on behalf of hearing loss charities and organisations for several years and even though she isn’t hearing impaired herself, in 2011 became an ambassador for the National Deaf Children’s Society.

Such is Shenton’s passion for hearing loss issues that she and her fiancé and director, Chris Overton, sold cakes to raise the £10,000 they needed to fund the movie.

The star of the film is six year old Maisie Sly, from Swindon, who auditioned for the role after her parents responded to a Facebook post appealing for a Deaf child who communicates through sign language.

Although Rachel isn’t disabled, it’s clear that it’s worth bending our rules to get her onto our most admired women list, as we celebrate International Women’s Day. As for Maisie, she definitely deserves a slot (and becomes our youngest entry) since her performance in the movie is nothing short of astonishing!